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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Drawing the Battle Lines in the War Over Education

Currently there is a war that is bubbling under the surface, just waiting to erupt into a vicious battle between parents of school children within the Philadelphia School District.  This is not a battle that is isolated within the city of Philadelphia, as news of Governor Tom Corbett's proposed budget cuts within Pennsylvania would put educational funding squarely on the fiscal chopping block.  Seemingly inevitable comparisons between Governor Corbett and Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey have already been drawn.  Both are first term governors, both are Republicans, and both have presented themselves as being determined about balancing their state's budget, no matter what the cost might be.  If this situation were to be viewed in terms of a dramatic event, with the children attending schools in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey being clearly understood as the protagonists we would have not other option than to identify Governors Corbett and Christie as the antagonists.  This brief synopsis of the state of education in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and any other state where legislators are trying to balance the belief in the importance of a quality education with the financial concerns of both local and federal governments which are still painfully conscious of the financial catastrophe that has haunted the country since 2008.  Clearly this is an issue which has justifiably engendered strong reactions from all parties involved.  I, as a writing instructor, would certainly be the last person to claim that this is a subject that fails to warrant such an intense focus.  Since all parties seem to be in agreement that obtaining a quality education is a right that all students should enjoy, and all schools and educators should strive for, I think that it is important to step back from the heated exchanges of protesters, politicians, and the familiar media buzz surrounding this issue.  I think that what is necessary is to step back and identify some key terms of the debate that is being played out in town hall meetings, in state houses, and across the various visual media that are presenting these stories to people all across the country.  With that being said, this will be the first of several blog entries that seeks to address the question, how do we understand the role of education in the 21st century.  As I set out on this blogging journey, I invite anyone who feels compelled to respond to my posts to do so.  I welcome the opportunity to use this blog as an opportunity to open up an active discussion pertaining to the issues that I will be writing about here.  Stay tuned!

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