Outside Forces Affecting Decision Making

Education-related decisions by officials at all levels of government may be influenced by varied concerns. The U.S. recession of the early 1980s and pressures created by global competitiveness heightened the public’s economic concerns, and in particular, those of business leaders. Some influential leaders who view education as the key to a stronger economic future have promoted new accountability initiatives and provided incentives to stimulate improvements in schools.

Similarly, corporations and their representatives have become involved in influencing education policy at local, state, and federal levels, in their pursuit of employees who possess the skills and knowledge needed by a productive workforce. Individually and through organizations such as the Business Roundtable, businesses offer advice to elected officials regarding educational policies.

Educational concerns may motivate professional organizations, parents, and others to work toward particular goals. For example, education and professional associations and their government relations representatives lobby federal and state lawmakers regarding policy decisions, including financial allocations. Teachers and administrators may use information from national associations to encourage local school officials to limit the sizes of classes assigned to laboratory rooms, select particular textbooks or curricular programs, or increase funding for instructional technology. Parents concerned that their children’s educational interests are not well served by high-stakes assessments may speak out in opposition to state-level testing or even keep their children at home on state-testing days.

In particular, concerns regarding equity, stemming from efforts of organized groups, federal legislation, and court orders, may affect decisions about resource allocations, testing accommodations, and curricular offerings. At local levels, parents and guardians may work to ensure their children’s access to high-level mathematics courses,

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