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Public Policy and Education - Essay Example

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In any organized government, some type of control must be maintained. This is the purpose of public policy, a method by which both legal and political constraints or limitations are set up by the government in order to create boundaries for the population to follow…
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Public Policy and Education
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Download file to see previous pages In the United States, education has been the responsibility of state governments, and local politics have a great deal to do with determining public policy. Even so, the federal government has recently intervened, and the state government bodies in some cases resent this intervention. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislature of 2001 initiated by President George W. Bush has created controversy in every area of educational public policy. Special interest groups and organizations are focusing on areas such as special education, literacy, teacher certification, religion, scientific research, and lack of funds, which means that those most influential in the field of education are presently acting as political lobbyists. With the growing intervention of the federal government in education, politics rises to the forefront, even more than it has in past years.
In an effort to show how various factions of education influence public policy, this paper will cover the areas noted above, noting specific controversies. Two areas in which state education policies are quite different are in New York State and in California. Because of this, different methods of applying federal policies have been necessary.
In New York State, the Education Department is under the control of the University of the State of New York (USNY). USNY is the most complete interconnected system of educational services in the United States. It is not the same as the State University of New York (SUNY), which is the State's system of public colleges and universities. The Board of Regents heads USNY and sets overall educational policy for the State. The Board appoints a Commissioner of Education who heads the State Education Department and also serves as the president of USNY (Mills, 2007). This system revolves around education as a separate entity, and this allows for more political freedom to make decisions.
In California, the State Board of Education (SBE) is the governing and policy making body of the California Department of Education. Unlike the New York State system in which the Board of Regents appoints a Commissioner of Education, the Governor appoints the members of the SBE (California, 2007). In this process, politics determine changes in public policy.
No Child Left Behind
According to Christopher T. Cross (2004), the "evolution of the federal role in education is a study in American politics" (Chapter 1, p. 1). Special interest groups in the last part of the twentieth century have covered a broad range of interests-bilingual education, women's studies, African American studies, and prayer in the classroom, to name a few. At present, recognition of these issues has been incorporated into the NCLB law, which has been in effect since 2002.
Cross believes that federal policy in education will have an increasing impact in the coming decades and calls for policymakers and practitioners to gain a better understanding of the history of U.S. education and the future role of a federal Department of Education. He covers 50 years of federal education policy in his book and discusses the most recent effort in this field-the No Child Left Behind law of 2001, which he considers the catalyst for change brought about in this country by "consistent ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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