Higher education in America is the final stage of formal learning that comes after secondary school and is optional. Higher education in the country has made significant strides over the years but has a substantial room for improvement. However, the domestic policy adopted by the federal government over the cause of time has resulted in stagnation in K-12 education with the costs of colleges on the rise due to the ballooned federal subsidies. The federal control of higher education has limited the state and local control and imposed various compliance burdens on the local institutions. With the increased efforts to impose an education, policy that fits the national standards and tests makes it difficult for higher education to change at the local level. By the year 2014, taxpayers pay $140,000 b y the time a child goes through education from kindergarten to high school. It is even more expensive for any child to get a tertiary education leading to difficulty in the majority of individuals getting opportunities to get a critical education (National Conference of State Legislatures). It is because of the adopted domestic policy that puts the control on the federal government. It is essential that the families get more control of the investment and have the empowerment to choose schools and education options of their children and not just complying with federal policies that are largely limiting in most instances. Therefore, it is the time that the domestic policy on higher education is separated from the control of the federal to the local authority to keep up with the dynamics that exists in society and the unique realities of given areas.
Higher education has come a long way from its colonial roots. Over time, a college education has evolved from an elite privilege to an essential part of every career source. The dynamic domestic policy on education is because of developments that have spun over the last century and beyond. The curriculum of the university started as based on liberal arts aimed at educating young Puritan ministers. However, with time it has grown to accommodate other fields with such as business, sciences, and technology to suit the changing needs of the society. In the 17th century, Harvard University graduated over 70% clergymen by the 18th Century it had dropped to 45% and in the 19th Century there was just 10% of clergymen f=graduates. The curriculum changed to accommodate a broad array of courses and fields (Thelin, 421).
The Second World War, the academic field available had changed the higher education curriculum and hence the need to amend the domestic policy on it to suit the available needs. However, the demography of higher education remained highly unchanged. Although more colleges were established for women and minorities, higher education remained a reserve of the upper-class white male. However, two developments revolutionized higher education. Bo, the G.I Bill, and the affirmative action policies during the Civil rights period, changed a lot in the higher education arena. The G.I bill aimed at aiding the post-war economy back to normalcy and hence the need for increased graduates (Eisenmann, 304). The federal government adopted a policy to paid college for 8 million returning GIs. The bill provided the necessary bridge between the social classes reducing the gap through the creation of a middle class. It also put higher education on the road map for a better life in the United States. It emphasized the importance of higher education opening up opportunities for all individuals despite the social class. The civil rights era also shaped the education policy in the United States. It pushed for equality of opportunity for all the Americans to get access to higher education. It resulted in policies on equal representation and opportunities for all (Eisenmann, 304). The education policy, therefore, established criteria for joining a college that was fair to all. The affirmative action to ensure that more women and a minority member of society got an education also shaped higher education. Policies such as scholarships for women and minority groups revolutionized education.
The domestic policy on higher education under the firm grip of the federal government has experienced a period of stagnation. Despite the efforts and changes adopted over time, it has not yet enabled the country to achieve its objectives with higher education. Achievement gaps between low-income students and their more affluent peers are still visible, and the higher education in some areas remains a reserve for those that are economically able. It is a consequence of generalized federal policies. For example, what is accepted as affordable in New York City or Washington may not be the reality in Texas or California. There is a need to have policies that are custom made to the public depending on their facts and that is only possible if the federal government allows the states to run the higher education. The policies should be made at the local level where individuals enjoy more control and influence on what should be adopted or otherwise (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2012).
In conclusion, higher education policies in the United States have made tremendous advancements over the course of time. The changes in domestic policies have led to visible change. However, they are yet to keep up with the changes that the society is experiencing and hence the failure to attain the ultimate goals of making higher education affordable, accessible and a first choice for the majority of Americans. It is because the policies are made in Washington and not at the grassroots level where the realities of those affected are put into consideration. Therefore, the domestic policy on higher education should be state controlled and not under the federal government.
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