UBC Theses and Dissertations
Evaluating attempts to influence public education Grant, Michael
Teachers and others who are not representative participants in the authorized governance structure often find they must make decisions concerning the legitimacy of attempts to influence public education. These "evaluators-at-the-fringe' of the formal policy-formation structure find themselves being 'gate-keepers' for what will be considered legitimate attempts to influence public education. Having defensible criteria for determining the legitimacy of attempts to influence public education policy is important. Without such criteria, resources will be wasted on the implementation of inappropriate attempts to influence public education. Or, just as important, influences which could be beneficial for the students, or for the society as a whole, may never be seriously considered. In this paper it is argued that criteria for evaluating attempts to influence public education can be derived from the obligation to participate in the promotion of the public good, the right of individuals to self-preservation, the obligations associated with justice as fairness, and the duty to acknowledge the insights of the `marketplace of ideas.' It is argued that there is an underlying tension between the rights of citizens to influence public policy and the rights of children being raised. It is established that the right of citizens to participate in the debate concerning the nature of public education policy follows necessarily from the conditions for a satisfactory democratic social arrangement. The legitimacy of individual attempts to influence public education policy is evaluated using a two part process. The first step in the process is to categorize the attempt to influence according to the kind of interests that appear to be motivating the attempt. The second step is to evaluate critical aspects of the attempt in terms of the criteria. Only attempts which are judged legitimate in terms of these criteria are eligible for any consideration as a possible influence on public education policy. The paper concludes with an application of the framework to several examples of attempts to influence public education policy.
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