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Under Fire: The Public Education System

by Summer Lash

Dr. Melissa Marks, associate professor of education, spoke about the attack on the public education system and its impact on current educators and education students. Although this longstanding attack has been occurring for more than a decade, more threatening aspects are continuing to gain momentum due to a rising number of individuals endorsing anti-education stances and political campaigns.

Regarding the impacts of this attack, Dr. Marks said that to those who “aren’t in the field” or those that believe “school didn’t get [them] a great job,” anti-education standpoints seem to be better than the alternative.

According to Dr. Marks, there are two main parts of this problem: anti-education stances in government and an increase in privatization. Anti-education stances stem from a change in opinions regarding the importance of education and learning. The increase in privatization grows out of the belief that qualifications are not necessary in regard to teaching, and public education is more expensive overall than privatization.

Dr. Marks went on to say that students from low socioeconomic areas are the ones that are really being hurt, especially by privatization.

Students are, of course, not the only affected party—current and future educators are also impacted heavily. There are many things deterring students from going into education, including cost, mandates, and a lack of respect for the career.

Dr. Marks stated that, because of these deterrents, “numbers for people going into education [in Pennsylvania] have plummeted and there is going to be a crisis.”

Andrew McDonald, a senior history education double major and vice president of the southwest chapter of the Student Pennsylvania State Education Association (SPSEA), also spoke on the matter.

McDonald said that the big problem with the current system is that the quality of education is decreasing because so much is based solely on funds and the lack thereof. Funding for public schools has been moved to fund charter education, which makes it harder for public schools to offer services. Teachers in many public schools are also facing larger class sizes.

“Because we’re cutting funding in public schools, less jobs are available,” McDonald said when asked about why the current system of public education is unfavorable, “There is no job security to go back on.”

Overall, the attack on public education is a growing issue in the nation, and Pennsylvania is being hit hard by the repercussions of the overarching problem. It is affecting both educators and their students, and it is causing the quality of education to decrease, in addition to deterring college students from pursuing education as a career.

As a final response to this, McDonald encourages everyone to vote pro-education by stating that it “is not about [political] parties” and is rather about “doing what’s right.”

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