No Child Left Behind: Representative Democracy, Bureaucracy, and Accountability
Representative Democracy has its roots as a concept or principle in the very fabric of the founding of the United States of America. Early settlers were looking for a place to live while being free to choose their leaders. They were eager to say bon voyage to the old way of rule by monarchy or dynastic family rule. The new wave or system of government that was born is known as Representative Democracy. People or ordinary citizens can now govern themselves through capable elected leaders chosen to represent them. As an elected representative one has to first campaign and during that process the people’s goal, visions, and dreams are aligned with the candidates principles for governing. Through these elected representatives, citizens have direct input on every issue. An issue that affects us all to be sure, and constantly receives a tremendous amount of attention is the No Child Left Behind Act. This act was enacted for the purpose of totally overhauling and transforming the United States educational system. Representatives from both major political parties voted by majority to pass the law. This is a classic example of Representative Democracy at work. Apparently nearly everyone agrees that the nation’s educational system is in need of immediate remedy, reform, and overhaul. Since the passage of the bill, though left unfunded in many regards, many state’s school districts have implemented programs to revive failing schools and replace underperforming teachers, principals, and superintendents. Moreover, unnecessary schools have been closed in those districts. This is the result of “rigorous new standards that require educators to align and improve their instruction.” (Bleiburg & West, 2014, p.3) This exercise of Representative Democracy also gave rise to a competitor to the public schools known as the charter school. These charter schools provide an alternative to struggling, failing, stagnant uncompetitive schools, giving parents and students another option. The fact that districts lose money each time a student is unenrolled causes them to get their proverbial acts together! Without Representative Democracy this would not be possible and children would in fact be left behind. Representative Democracy, in my opinion, is the closest the world has to a perfect governing model. For by it, the people rule and govern themselves, while always holding accountable those elected to represent them. While the No Child Left Behind Act showed the brilliance of the Representative Democracy, it also revealed flaws within the system. Bureaucracy, a system of government in which most decisions are made by state officials rather than by elected representatives, is also a component of this democratic system of government. These positions are often appointed and the office holders normally stay in these positions longer than elected officials. Contrary to the elected position, the citizens have no direct input for who holds these positions. The Bureaucracy poses a problem since oftentimes it is easy to become complacent because these positions are relatively secure. In this case, the elected officials are responsible for replacing individuals in these positions. They are also responsible for reforming bureaus and departments so that government operates effectively, providing quality service to the citizens. A major player in the world of Bureaucracy is the teachers unions across the United States. While the mission of these unions is lofty and worthwhile, in some instances, their behavior and attitude have led to failing classrooms.