There’s no denying political climate change. The past 18 months have seen an enormous swing in the Washington power balance, a shift that has heightened the polarization that has characterized our public life for more than a decade now. How has this divisive political climate influenced public opinion on education policy and reform? And how much, if at all, has the new president swayed the public’s views?
Of all the 48 continental states, the Grizzly Bear State, as it was originally known, has the hottest, driest valley (Death Valley), the highest hill (Mt. Whitney), the largest living tree (Sequoia), the most people, and the greatest number of domestically raised turkeys living outside the state capital (Sacramento). But when it comes to K-12 education, are the views of Californians any different from those living elsewhere across the United States?
In its 10th annual survey of American public opinion, conducted in May and June of 2016, Education Next finds that the demise of school reform has been greatly exaggerated. Public support remains as high as ever for federally mandated testing, charter schools, tax credits to support private school choice, merit pay for teachers, and teacher tenure reform. However, backing for the Common Core State Standards and school vouchers fell to new lows in 2016.
With Donald Trump set to enter the Oval Office, Vice President-elect Michael Pence seems likely to shape the federal role in education for the next four years. As a former governor who made school reform a top priority, Pence will interpret the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as a barrier to federal oversight of state and local decisions. Testing will continue but how to respond to test results will be left to the states. The lowest-performing schools will be identified but the federal government will be reluctant to instruct states as to the steps that need to be taken to improve them.
Throughout this campaign season, Democrats have feigned confusion about why disaffected Republicans have not embraced Hillary Clinton, given Donald Trump’s character defects. But the K-12 education plank in the Democratic Party platform does a lot to explain the hesitance. The party’s promises seem designed to satisfy teachers unions rather than to appeal to ordinary Democrats, much less opposition moderates.
As the United States entered the 21st century it was trying to come to grips with a serious education crisis. The country lagged behind its international peers, and its half-century effort to erode racial disparities in student achievement had made little headway. Many people expected action from the federal government.
Americans have generally wanted much the same things taught in their public schools. Elementary students should learn three “R’s”—reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. In high school, it’s time to prepare for college or a career by studying core subjects, such as English, history, algebra, biology, and a foreign language. That basic understanding has not prevented political spats over school spending and school attendance boundaries. But the core operations of schools have usually been left undisturbed.
n 2014 the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice, acting together, sent every school district a letter asking local officials to avoid racial bias when suspending or expelling students.
Will 2013 come to be known as the year of presidential decree? The year the president ignored Congress, changed the rules of government, and put into place whatever policies he saw fit? The year the United States ended what has been called its “obsession” with its Constitution?
At the turn of the 21st century, the United States was trying to come to grips with a serious education crisis. The country was lagging behind its international peers, and a half-century effort to erode racial disparities in school achievement had made little headway. Many people expected action from the federal government.
The American public is displaying its independent streak. Critics of testing will take no comfort from the findings of the 2015 Education Next poll—but neither will supporters of the Common Core State Standards, school choice, merit pay, or tenure reform. The unions will not like the public’s view on their demands that nonmembers contribute financially to their activities.
A comprehensive exploration of 21st Century school politics, Teachers versus the Public offers the first comparison of the education policy views of both teachers and the public as a whole, and reveals a deep, broad divide between the opinions held by citizens and those who teach in the public schools. Among the findings:
• Divisions between teachers and the public are wider and deeper than differences between other groups often thought to contest school policy, such as Republicans and Democrats, the young and the old, the rich and the poor, or African Americans and whites.
Stockton, California, recently became the largest American city in history to declare bankruptcy, having incurred a debt as high as $1 billion. Since 2010, seven U.S. cities, towns, or counties have filed for bankruptcy, while many more teeter on the brink of insolvency. Not since the Great Depression has America witnessed such grand-scale municipal bankruptcies. The Global Debt Crisis looks at this growing crisis and its implications for governance and federalism, both domestically and internationally.
Updated in a new 7th edition, The New American Democracy offers a stimulating, analytical approach to American government and a unique perspective on contemporary politics with an emphasis on elections and their importance in the American political system. The authors -- among the most well-known and well-respected scholars working in political science today --propose in their text that politicians today are perpetually engaged in the election process—a “permanent campaign”—which has profoundly affected how our government functions today.
With an emphasis on elections and their importance in our political system, this groundbreaking text offers a stimulating, analytical approach to American government that engages students as it gives them a unique understanding of their political system as it exists and functions today. (Succinct presentation of material in The New American Democracy)