The institutions of higher learning contribute significantly to how society is shaped. As such, politicians have often explored ways of enhancing democracy. Just months after his inauguration, President Joe Biden, through the ministry of education, allocated a significant amount of money to colleges and universities that were most affected by the COVID 19 pandemic. Half the fund was channeled to individuals by directly supporting vulnerable students, while the other half was intended to support the institutions as normalcy and learning resumed. Although some scholars have proposed that politics should not interrupt the education sector, it is apparent that there is no way to completely separate the two.
To start with, inequitable distribution of resources has historically been politically instigated. For example, institutions with a higher population of blacks and Hispanics are likely to receive less funding. Thus, the Biden administration has shown its commitment to narrowing down the racial and socioeconomic divide. Moreover, the institutions of higher learning are often affected significantly by disastrous events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which increases the chances of dropout. Cautioning students through political events such as equitable funding prevents attrition rates. In addition, when students from traditionally marginalized communities are empowered, they become more democratic. They may also reciprocate the commitment shown by the government to engage in civic duties. In sum, it is vital for the ruling government to show commitment to promoting education through affirmative action, just as the Biden administration has done.
Educational institutions are one of the beacons of society that must be protected by enhancing quality and affordability. As such, just like healthcare, incarcerations, and policing, academics is a vital area used by politicians in selling their manifestos and campaigning. For instance, Texas is known for supporting access to higher education through the establishment of the lowest tuition rate for undergraduates when compared to other states. At the federal level, different politicians have also capitalized on funding as a way of depicting their areas of priority in governance. Notably, it is crucial for the ruling government to have emergency funding for any unplanned event. Fulfilling the manifestos that a politician made during their campaign by supporting educational institutions helps in creating a favorable legacy.
For example, President Biden’s administration disbursed $36 billion in relief funds to universities and colleges that have been worst hit by the Coronavirus pandemic (Camera, 2021). Noteworthy, the amount is a record-breaking high, and most of the beneficiaries were institutions of higher learning that are predominantly for African Americans. In doing so, the president is viewed favorably by the minority populations who were the beneficiaries of the relief fund; moreover, given that the president’s action did not depict favoritism but an affirmative action, it is likely to narrow the existing political polarization. The objective of this essay is to utilize this event to learn the ways in which politics and education interrelate.
Summary of the Event
Following the COVID 19 outbreak, many educational institutions suffered significant drawbacks to learning. For instance, statistics reveal that there was a 6% decrease in enrolment and a dropout rate of 11% in 2021 Spring as compared to last year (Camera, 2021). Worse still, the attrition rate for students in community colleges was highest, with scholars aged 18 to 20 recording a near 15% enrolment failure (Camera, 2021). Remarkably, even the public colleges which offer low-price opportunities for students to start their associate degree recorded an admission drop of 10% when compared to 2019 (Andersen & Douglas, 2021). Thus, colleges and universities in regions with a higher population of the minorities, such as blacks, were the most affected.
Therefore, as a way of curbing the negative effects and cautioning the vulnerable students, the ministry of education provided the relief funds. Specifically, the $36 to 5000 universities and colleges with more focus on those that were hades hit by the pandemic (Camera, 2021). Part of the funding is expected to give direct relief to students so that they can comfortably cater for their meals, accommodation, childcare, internet, and other essential needs. The remaining half of the money is intended to boost the colleges and universities in their response to COVID 19.
Analysis of the Political Event
The politics of education have a significant influence on the societal process, including modernization, development of political institutions, and relations, among others. Thus, as much as there are scholars who have proposed that politics should be separated from education, this position remains contentious. Notably, rejecting the connection of politics to education will only result in a rapid expansion of wealth inequalities, cannibalizing democracy, and darkening the future of the marginalized (Timashova & Strohanova, 2020). Such characteristics were influenced by past politics and, therefore, can only be changed through better governance.
Importantly, higher education is a significant democratic sphere in the public as it is committed to producing young people who can think and make civic decisions. Graduates who emerge from these institutions of higher learning are capable of criticizing the narrow-minded views of politicians that have, over the years, divided the country (Giroux, 2020). Therefore, by offering to fund these institutions, the students can be empowered to confront key leadership issues. For example, Texas, which is leading in funding its educational sector, is likely to produce citizens who champion democracy (Nations, 2017). In sum, institutions of higher learning are great champions of democracy and should therefore be provided with the required support.
In addition, universities and colleges experience man-made and natural disasters just the same as other jurisdictional counterparts. For instance, terrorism activities are increasingly targeting institutions of higher learning (Dunn, 2018). Similarly, schools were also hit hard during the COVID 19 pandemic, which shows the vulnerability of such institutions. The Biden administration showed its ability to tackle emergency events when it gave out relief funding to the learning institutions. It was also prudent to allocate half of the money specifically to individual students because as much as the administration is affected, some individual students are often suffering disproportionally and need assistance if they are to continue with their education.
Political polarization is evident in the manner in the historical distribution of schools which shows that even without the intention, the arrangements and funding of a school can predict election outcomes. For example, Avi-Yonah (2020) provides a map of the United States with the distribution of red and blue voters, which shows that the distribution of funds in colleges and Universities is a major predictor of the way people vote. For example, during the 2020 presidential elections, most of the African and Hispanic American communities. For instance, during the Trump administration, the Detroit suburbs region received average funding of $12,000 per student, whereas the cash allocated for learners in Detroit was $7000 (Avi-Yonah, 2020). Evidently, the regions which received less funding were those with high racial segregation. Such trends have negative implications for both students and the future of democracy in the United States.
The implication is that regions that are more likely to be racist received more funding, which in turn increased the political polarization. As stated by Giroux (2020), the current state of inequality in higher education is pronounced as evident in the rising tuition fee as well as the increased exclusion of middle, and working-class students. Zhang et al. (2016) also concede that resource allocation is crucial for higher learning institutions is crucial for its success. Therefore, president Biden has shown his commitment to ensuring that the education sector is empowered.
Thus, it is vital for the education sector to increasingly fight for the rights of all students regardless of their demographic background. Such empowerment is evident in federal relief, which amounted to the purchase of 630 laptops and 400 hot spots for Grand Rapid Community College (Camera 2021). The people that benefited most were Native and Hispanic Americans. Such expansion and motivation are likely to reduce political polarization and make the youths vote based on merits and not people with whom they share similar ethnicity.
Last but not least, political events such as the distribution of funds in the education sector enhance the chances of students increasing their engagement in civic duties. Much as the university curriculum may be packed and fail to offer a user-friendly experience, people are naturally likely to feel more obliged to offer their input when they receive services from the government (Dunn, 2018). For instance, if the president calls upon the students to engage in other civic responsibilities such as volunteer or military engagement, they are likely to respond positively. Furthermore, by assisting the institutions of higher education, the president is also achieving personal political goals, which may enhance his legacy (Kangas & Aarrevaara, 2020). Therefore, showing concern for the students by providing finances that caution them from disastrous occurrence increases their engagement in Civic matters.
It is apparent that educational institutions are the hotspots for political events. In other words, the politics of the United States is closely intertwined with learning institutions. During the period of the COVID 19 pandemic, most learning institutions were closed as the lockdown started; hence, students’ syllabus was disrupted. Moreover, people lost their jobs which meant that even after the spread of the disease was subsidized, most students would not be able to resume classes. As such, the record-breaking relief funder channeled by the Bidden administration to colleges and universities that were most affected by the COVID 19 outbreak will go a long way in shaping the future politics of the country. Importantly, the relief fund showed that President Biden was committed to overturning the trend of institutions in Detroit suburbs receiving more funding, as has been the case historically. Biden’s administration provided more funding to marginalized institutions can be justified as affirmative action.
First, funding educational institution is an expression of commitment to learning. Secondly, it is a fact that some institutions of higher learning in the United States have fewer resources and the main students are Hispanics and African Americans. The more equitable the resources are distributed in the school, the more the country will become more equitable. In the case of Biden’s administration, it ensures that the communities that were previously marginalized are empowered. Moreover, the administration has proved that it can handle emergency situations positively. The event can only be equated to affirmative action meant to enhance justice among previously marginal communities. It is the start of the restoration of democracy, seeing the current state of political polarization abolished. Moreover, the fact that students can see the effort of their government to help them achieve their dream is likely to motivate them to engage more in civic duties.
Andersen, N., & Douglas, D. (2021). Community colleges at a crossroads: Enrollment is plummeting, but political clout is growing. The Washington Post. Web.
Avi-Yonah, R. S. (2020). Overcoming political polarization: Federal funding of education is the key. SSRN Electronic Journal. Web.
Camera, L. (2021). Education department directs $36 billion in relief to colleges and universities. US News. Web.
Dunn, K. (2018). The oregon trail: An exploratory case study for higher education emergency management programs [Thesis]. Homeland Security Affairs.
Giroux, H. A. (2020). Higher education and the politics of disruption. Chowanna, 54(1), 1-20. Web.
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