Have you ever tried to investigate what the purpose of education is? Take the time to look up the question in a large search engine. You’ll discover that every John and Jane believes that he or she knows what the purpose of education is. These understandings often vary wildly so I set out to find some standard of the purpose based on known authorities over education.
I started my search at the U.S. Department of Education (ED). I thought that ED would have an idea of the purpose of education because it invests money into local school systems. I went straight to the about ED page on ED’s website. The first thing I came across was ED’s mission statement. It reads: ED’s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. This statement gave me an understanding of the end goals ED plans to achieve through its participation in the education process; however, this information wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.
I continued to navigate ED’s website for 40 minutes to see if I could find the purpose of education defined in ED’s ideology. Then I thought, maybe I’m looking in the wrong place. ED mostly sets policy and gives money out which means it’s not on the ground like other institutions. So I searched the websites of the Maryland, New York, California, Texas, Illinois, and South Dakota’s department of education. I wanted to search random states. I looked through their mission statements and used their built-in search engines to look for an answer. What I discovered was none of these institutions took the time to explain their philosophy on the purpose of education. Just click the links if you’d like to look for yourself.
Some of you may be asking at this point, why does it matter if they define the purpose of education. Well the absence of a purpose raises this question: What is being accomplished by school systems if they do not (appear to) have a purpose of their education?
Just raising critical questions
This is not an attack on the public education system, but it is simply the encouragement of thinking what purpose do you desire the public education system to serve.