The Presidential campaign will soon begin to focus on education, an important issue for many Americans.
Specifically, Democrats will attack President George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” policies.
The Republicans will be offering a tax cut to make up for their inefficiencies while third parties will offer “radical” ideas that will be quickly muted by the press.
But maybe the third parties have something to offer.
The Democratic and Republican parties are indirectly responsible for the poor state of American public education because they have been in power since the advent of our current system.
Public schools are crowded and understaffed. Educators lack the resources needed to teach effectively. Schools are deteriorating and unsafe.
There are huge inequalities between private and public education.
In response to the lack of funding for public schools, Bush has initiated tax cuts that force the government to cut spending in key areas, usually including money spent on the classroom.
Some of this money allotted for education is simply wasted on unnecessary expenditures like private vehicles for superintendents and technologies that aren’t needed in the classroom.
Colleges and universities are struggling as well. Tuition rates rise every year, while politicians undermine the guarantee of government subsidies.
State budgets around the country are falling apart, and the only way to balance them is to cut programs tied closely to the common people.
Students from working and middle class families are the ones who will be affected the most by these budget cuts, just because they are the ones who attend public schools.
Industry and the wealthy have the power to retaliate against funding cuts that damage their interests.
Unfortunately, common people cannot sufficiently threaten the stability of the political system, so politicians are not concerned about their reaction.
Instead of involving educators and students in strategic planning, the Bush Administration looks to standardized test scores and throws money at problem spots without a constructive approach to improvement.
Under a Democratic president, education may have enjoyed higher priority, but public schools saw little benefit.
The current conditions inside public schools are proof of this.
It is time to look to the marginal parties for assistance because the old parties have failed to make improvements.
Ideally, a new political party would come to power and designate education as a priority, supported by unlimited funds.
Students and educators would work with administrators, economists and politicians to draft new realistic strategies.
The United States has an economy that could support a decent education for all citizens.
But the primary political parties will not take the initiative to restrict funding to the military-industrial complex, ask the wealthiest citizens to contribute their fair share to American society or take any other meaningful steps toward the proper funding of public education.
In the third parties, we may find politicians who have the courage to put education over financial interests.
Silas Chambelin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org