Education Policies: Are They Really Meant To Help Education?
Education is a topic that is never missing from any major political debate. Solutions and accusations regarding education have and still are being thrown from one side of the isle to the other. However, nothing really seems to change, a fact that is most ardently felt by the students and their families.
The reason why education is such a salient political matter is that its consequences affect the entire society for generations. Depending on availability and quality, the level of education that members of a given society receive can alter the path of the economy, political outcomes, demographics, and the quality of life for decades.
Prohibitive And Unjustifiable Costs
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, between 2005 and 2015, education costs for public institutions rose by 33%. Tuition, fees, room, and board all add up and amount to a prohibitive cost for many Americans.
The inflated costs of enrolling into college can be explained from a budgetary point of view. Colleges, as institutions, have simply become too large. The costs their technological investments and salaries cause each year have to be shouldered by raising the rates for students. For example, US public and private colleges and universities expanded their payroll by 28% between 2000 and 2012. Despite the rise in student population that occurred since 1999, colleges seem unable to control their budgetary expenditures.
Moreover, the student services and courses they created as a response to the increased number of students cannot be explained in terms of quality. The diplomas these students receive no longer guarantee a high-paying job that would cushion the excessive costs of their received education. The only safe havens have been the best marine biology colleges, which continued to produce high-paid experts in the field.
The Endless Debate
In the political spectrum, everyone seems to be discussing education. From city councilors and small town mayors to presidential candidates, politicians rush to give their take on the issue. Liberals and democrats promise affordable, accessible education, while conservatives angrily point the finger at the unjustifiable costs that colleges have taken.
Forgotten in the middle, voters have become wary of any political promise regarding education and view colleges as just another form of profit-hungry business. The roots of this problem can be traced back in time. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, passed by president Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, expanded the role of federal government regarding schooling. However, 40 years and tens of millions of tax dollars later, the gap in standardized test scores between kids coming from low and high-income families has only widened.
Simply put, ESEA set more money aside for schools, away from the reaches of local administrations. However, the legislation lacked oversight and the money that was meant to help poor children ended up covering school budget gaps. Democrats also pushed education along with other societal reforms, prompting Republicans to change them as soon as they got in power.
In 2001, a bipartisan compromise created the No Child Left Behind Act, an act that failed to satisfy anyone – including the students. Treated as a separate matter, away from other social policies, education remains the subject of political strife. Meanwhile real results are still lacking.
In 2011, a survey administered by the Babson Survey Research group uncovered that 65% of all reporting educational institutions considered online learning to be a critical part of their long-term strategy.
The academia heading these educational institutions has had different stances on the issue of online, free publication of scholarly articles. However, the last few years have seen a surge in online publication, free sourcing being the option of a greater and greater number of scholars. This occurred due to the generational change.
Younger professors eager to get ahead take no issue with publishing their articles in free scientific journals. Free online colleges now exist and provide education for people around the world, basing their financial necessities on the number of accesses alone. From film studies to criminal justice or mathematics, their courses provide a viable alternative to traditional education.
A few years ago, the academic world found in Mongolia a boy genius that had acquired MIT-level knowledge by following online courses. By the name of Battushig Myanganbayar, the boy actually did enroll in the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology a year later, crediting his success to online education.
Ahead of the pack, corporations have also started to invest in eLearning as a means of educating professionals tailored to their needs. Information-sharing, made potent by the reach and availability of the internet, is leading to new heights in education. The age-old mindsets that require a glistening diploma from a well-known establishment are now being torn down.
On a smaller scale, learning apps have sprung up as complementary features of information sharing, aiding students in better understanding key issues. Even educators have forsaken manuals and turned to free educational apps developed by experts half the world away. Inter-connectivity is improving both the quality and the availability of education at costs that universities would not dare dream of.
Modern education policies have been undermined by political conflict. Time and time again, politicians have rallied their supporters against a piece of legislation aiming to change or reform education only because their opponents were its authors. The result was a belated education system that is no longer able to provide education of the highest standards to most of its students. Conversely, eLearning and online courses have gained momentum in the field of education, challenging the old establishments. The trend is clear and the next few years we will witness its results become even clearer.