A Question of Balance


100619_142250_0.pngA Question of Balance -

To whom does the responsibility of providing a suitable education belong?  Is it a national responsibility, a state responsibility, a local community responsibility, a parent responsibility?  And ultimately, is it working?

In the United States, the question of equitable educational opportunity belongs to the states.  It's fundamentally a states rights issue and a state responsibility.

Oftentimes, the federal government can influence education outcomes which they do by providing or withholding grants and funding, but the core responsibility for education is a state responsibility.  It's just where we as a country want it to be, and we should always be aware that other countries view this issue differently.

Though education is a state responsibility, the state often devolves responsibility on the local community, and in Maine, most local communities take great pride in the fact that we are supposed to be a "local control state."  This means that determination of programs, curriculum, and funding are largely determined by the local government and local school boards.  What we do in one district is not necessarily what we do in other districts.

Of course, the state can pass laws and influence educational practice by setting minimum standards and funding requirements - though it must be noted that the state of Maine has not met the 55% funding mandate for several years, forcing local communities to shoulder more of the burden, and in turn forcing local property taxes to increase to meet that burden.

If in fact the local community faces both the educational responsibility and the financial burden of meeting that responsibility, it does seem to me that more of the educational outcomes in any community should be re-directed to the well-being of the community.  Does that happen?  Is the community really involved in the education of its young people?  Could they be more productively involved?  Or, could the schools in a community be more involved and more interactive within the community?  

These are challenging topics because all institutions want a measure of autonomy - yet they also have a measure of responsibility to the people who work to create and support them.

The essential question becomes - How can schools and communities work together to build synergistic relationships?

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