Public Education Policy in the United States

Public policy is a collection of deliberations that shapes the manner in which a country is managed (Kraft and Furlong 1). The study of public policy majorly aims to bring into perspective the importance of governments as well as how the efficiency of these governments can be enhanced. Today, the general trend toward enhancing intervention by the federal government and even individual states in economic matters has resulted in disagreement and a concentration on the areas the intervention is to be applied as well as to the acceptance of the intervention (Sirico 25). The issue at hand is the trend towards collectivism. In this case, this paper aims to examine the activities of government in the education sector. Specifically, this paper aims to explore the public education policy in the United States and more specifically emphasizes the involvement of the federal government in reaching at agreeable policy and the politics of making decisions in public sector.

Situation in Public schools

In reality, public schools in America are not just struggling with budget deficits through sustained cuts, but also are under intense pressure to redirect their resources to other areas not connected with public education (Sirico 115-133). For instance, new education policy is compelling traditional federally and states funded schools to redirect the money meant for development to other areas such as non-traditional programs. In this situation, public education policy needs to concentrate on the issue of sufficiently providing funds that cater well to all students in public schools.

The role of the Government

There are many aspects that are considered when determining the role assigned to government in education sector. Obviously, this must be based on the accepted values for the general good of the society (Meier and Bohte 4-5). To begin with, it must first be recognized that the American society is one that respects the freedom of not only families, but also individuals. Therefore when examining the policy it will be considered that the organization of public sector policies or economic activities is largely reliant on voluntary sharing or involvement amongst the general public.

The United States is well established as a free or liberal enterprise exchange economy (Sirico 26-27). In this case, the main responsibility of the federal government is to ensure that all contractual rules are respected, maintaining a free market and deterrence of intimidation (Meier and Bohte 10-14). Outside the mentioned scope, the government can only intervene on justifiable grounds such as existence of monopolistic behaviors, which makes it hard for the market to function. In addition, the government may intervene when a private entity has imposed a cost on people and it would be hard to compensate them and finally, when there is a societal concern particularly for the education of children.

Import of Education

It is hard to achieve an established and democratic society without a certain amount of education on the general public (Meier and Bohte 26-30). Education helps in achieving a society that is stable and democratic as well as one that freely espouses common set values with a certain degree of understanding. Ultimately, the educational benefit of children accrues to the general public and not just their individual families alone. The education of any particular child significantly contributes to the welfare of many other people simply by promoting a society that is highly democratic (Sirico 81). This therefore brings in the idea of “societal effect “as it is not easy to calculate in monetary terms the educational benefit of children and their families in order to cost them for the services offered.

Justification of government role and cost

In such a case, the “societal effect” may justify the action of the government. That is, making it compulsory for all children to receive a certain amount of education (Sirico 81-82). This kind of action may be imposed upon the general public or families without any other action taken by the government. This further action could be something such as subsidies or scholarships. However, this action may disfranchise families that cannot afford to pay the full cost of that education and as such it would be in contravention with the aspect of relying on families as the fundamental social units as well as the American belief in the sovereignty of people or individuals (Kraft and Furlong 12-14).

The government compels parents to pay the cost of education as a way of being responsible in terms of not just feeling the cost of having children, but also having a sizeable family they can easily manage (Sirico 169).

In a free market economy, the “societal effect” does not dictate or even determine the amount of education that should be supported and by how much (Meier and Bohte 34-40). Presumably, the social benefit from publicly funded education is highest for the minimum or very lowest levels than high levels such as vocational training. The premise is that unlike higher education there is usually some consensus on the amount or content of education at the lowest levels.

The argument here is about the form or amount of education to be offered or the one that benefits the community socially and the amount of the resources the community needs to sacrifice for it to be provided. This argument and similar questions are well settled through agreed political means (Meier and Bohte 10-15). As it has been established, the “societal effect” justifies the role of the government in terms of funding and imposing of a certain amount of education to the general public. However, these factors do not justify the administrative role of the government in education sector or simply nationalization of education system in American schools (Sirico 133). Even though it has always been the desire of the government to also administer public schools based on the fact that it is the main sponsor, the two roles are separate.


To avoid any conflict, the education policy provides that the government should finance a certain a mount of education particularly a minimum level (Kraft and Furlong 31-34). In this case, both the federal and state governments may provide parents with some vouchers that could be redeemed annually provided they are spending on the specified level of education. As such, in a free market economy and respect for individual choice, parents would be at liberty to take their children to schools of their choice provided they have been approved by the government. In this case, other stakeholders like private enterprises could render the services and the government would restrict itself to funding as well as other roles such as making sure certain educational standards are met and provision of the content to be included in the curriculum.

Works Cited

Kraft, Michael E and Scott Furlong. Public Policy: Politics, Analysis, and Alternatives, 4th Edition, Thousand Oaks, California: CQ Press, 2012. Print.

Meier, Kenneth J and John Bohte. Politics and the bureaucracy: policymaking in the fourth branch of government, Belmont, California: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2007. Print.

Sirico, Robert. Defending the free market: the moral case for a free economy, Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2012. Print.