Law in Contemporary Society

Law and the Education System

It seems that in today’s modern society, education, specifically public education, has become more controversial than ever. The controversy surrounding the American education system has become increasingly polarizing as well. From one point of view, the current education system exists only to indoctrinate the children of the country. Furthermore, this indoctrination is, of course, full of ideas these individuals cannot support: gender identity, minority history, etc. The other point of view not only supports the current education system, but advocates for its expansion as well. Those of this view point seem to argue that the education system can be used to better society as a whole; a very progressive, and promising, standpoint. While both these viewpoints seem to be gaining, at least some, traction throughout the country they both have one thing in common: the law.

In the current discourse surrounding the American education system, the law seems to be the one common thread among both sides. It seems as if, no matter what viewpoint one holds regarding the matter, the law is the only method to remedy the problem. As a result, this essay attempts to uncover the law’s influences over the education system and its role in the restructuring of the nation’s education system.

Utilizing the law as the avenue for educational reform produces both drastic and profound impacts on the education system as a whole. To illustrate this point, there are quite a few examples of this already occurring in various parts of the nation. First, and most notably, would be the attacks on the education system in Florida. The governor of the state has recently announced plans to ban certain books from being taught, read, or used throughout the public schools in the state. This was done in order to regulate the school’s curriculum and prevent the “indoctrination” of children that so many conservatives fear. The effects of this legislation, or even the simple proposal of the legislation, was enough to create an immediate impact. Books of all different calibers were pulled from the shelves to be locked away, hidden from the sight of children. Another example, also done in Florida, is the banning of the course of AP African American studies. This also had immediate effects on the students in the state as a certain portion of American history, albeit ugly, is hidden from students.

While these examples may be alarming, they are far from the only ones. Throughout the nation the most radical conservatives are launching an all out attack on the education system using the law as a way to complete the task. What comes off as strikingly ironic is the reason cited for the enactment of these laws: the prevention of the indoctrination of children. Instead, it appears as if these laws do in fact indoctrinate children, just on issues that are more palatable to the ones in charge.

Conversely, a valiant attempt can be seen by those on the other side of the issue as well. Legislation in favor of the education system, or its expansion, can be seen popping up in various parts of the nation as well. Most prominently, or most consequential, is legislation dealing with school lunch programs. Advocates for the education system aim to expand the school lunch program so that students can enjoy free meals from the school without the looming worry of debt normally associated with school lunches. Advocates for programs like this often turn to the law to accomplish the goal. Government funding would be used to ensure these children are able to eat; a basic human right that some don't recognize, or rather, would relegate to second place behind charging for said food.

Regardless of one’s position on the education system, as mentioned above, the law is the common avenue to seek relief. This method, while providing some benefits, also creates some interesting challenges as well. For example, the education system is not completely regulated by the federal government. Instead, the states are often left to create and maintain their own individual education systems. As a result, there is no uniformity throughout the country. One foreseeable problem this creates is regional differences, if not individual differences, among the states in the way they conduct their education systems. This problem could lead to curriculums taught in one state being drastically different from one taught in another. How would this solve the education system of the country? Instead it would be as if there were 50 different education systems held within one nation, each indoctrinating their children with different views.

One way to solve the problem mentioned above would be to forgo the idea that states can create and regulate their own education systems and create a federal system instead. This would eliminate the problem of differing, and often conflicting, educational systems and create a unified system throughout the state. While this idea may solve the issues mentioned above, even more would arise with its implementation. For example, given the diversity of each state, and the citizens therein, would it even be possible to establish a federal educational system that would be adhered to by all the states? Could statutes be drafted in such a way that would encompass the desires of so many different groups of people? Could teachers, school officials, or even lawyers, then interpret these statutes in such a way that would benefit their own means instead?

Overall, it seems as if the education system is in a perpetual state of crisis in the country. Without a uniform, federal system the states are left to do as they please. This often, as we now see, ends with drastic standards of education across the board. On the other hand, a federal system seems impossible to create.

Keeping all this in mind, the one burning question we should be left with is this: is the law, or the legal system, the best way to fix the education system?

-- AndresAguilar - 16 Feb 2023

A good start, defining the issues you want to learn about and asking useful questions. But trying to be for or against local control of American education from first principles is probably not as effective as referring to the history. The first half of Richard Kluger's Simple Justice might interest you. It does seem to me that perhaps the simplest route to improvement is to bring not controversy but scholarship to bear. Education policy isn't mostly made on Twitter, after all. Picking one or two influential public intellectuals who write about the state of public education and discussing just one of their ideas in context would be an effective jumping off point, for example.


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r3 - 21 Feb 2023 - 18:35:06 - AndresAguilar
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