• CFP EXTENDED: Politics, Purpose, and Education: What/Whom Do Each Serve?

    Posted by Katie Anthony on 2020-05-21

Who gets what, when, how?

-Harold Lasswell


Since the inauguration of mandated education in America during the mid-17th century, a relationship has existed between the academy and the political sphere. Massachusetts was the first state to require education, with the purpose of teaching the young the ways of Puritanism, showing just how powerful the academic influence could be (Gutek, 1991). This began the relationship between politics and education, one that was being used to promote agendas and ideologies. From there, educational policies continued to lean on outside entities such as race, class, ability, and more to determine the level of education learners receive and how they are governed based solely on their abilities. These entities remain powerful and the relationship between politics and education is still one of predominance.

Statement of the problem

Politics and education have a well-established and interdependent relationship. The influence of politics on education often occurs both individually and institutionally. Politics play a factor in the way individuals engage in the classroom and exerts control over the educational institutions in which they occupy. In doing so, politics wield power over the decision making of both parties. Although this has been suggested, scholars disagree on what politics in education looks like and how to define it. Scholars’ thoughts on this relationship range from politics being non-existent in the classroom (Crick, 2013), to not being able to separate politics from the classroom (Fine, 1993), through the introduction of theories like organizational theory and political scholars (Bacharach & Mundell, 1993). Largely, the relationship between politics and education can fall under two areas: micro (individuals and/or small groups using power to make decisions) and macro (district, state, federal-level decision-making).

The call

As a result of disharmony, determining the purpose of education is often left to government leaders, rather than educational experts and consumers. Zion and Blanchett (2017) described four various interest themes that are embedded in US education: Egalitarian, economic, civic, and humanistic. These four themes in education represent the P-20 spectrum in a number of ways and also breakdown political interest areas. 

The Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis invites submissions for a special issue focused on politics and education. We invite manuscripts that fit into one of the below themes, based on the four interest areas proposed by Zion and Blanchett (2017) that show how these interest areas may be included by the political sphere. 

  • Theme one: An egalitarian concern: Focused on the quality of educational opportunity and the potential of education to create opportunities for individuals and sees education as the great equalizer;

    • In what ways have systems made the relationship between politics and education necessary?

    • In what ways are educational policies impacting egalitarian classrooms and educational practices in historically marginalized communities? 

    • In what ways compulsory education as it is implemented in 2020 serving  egalitarian concerns? 

  • Theme two: An economic concern: Focused on the economic vitality of the nation/state, to equip citizens with needed workplace competencies and skills;

    • How might dynamics between politics and/or education be leveraged to achieve the desired capitalistic outcomes of both policy makers and educators?  

    • Who are the powerholders making economic and educational policy decisions, and how is this power enacted (higher education, community college, non-traditional education, P-12 education, etc)?            

    • In what ways can the connections between educational and economic concerns be transfigured to develop more equitable educational outcomes? 

    • How might community and state stakeholders be working with schools to fill much needed positions through Career and Technical Education, permitting businesses to have more representation in decision making?

  • Theme three: A civic concern: Focused on ensuring that members of society are prepared to participate in public life and to own the national identity or pride

    • How do politics and education function together within our democracy? What purpose does this relationship serve and for whom?

    • What is the role of compulsory education for members of society who fall outside the legal definition of “citizen” within the United States?

    • How does P-20 seek to engage students to be active members of democracy and its institutions in 2020?

  • Theme four: A humanistic concern: Focused on education as a fundamental human right, supporting the right of each individual to develop their highest potential.

    • How might politics and education function together towards advancing goals of social justice?

    • How are educators responding to the marginalization of humanistic concerns in the current system?

    • How is the system working for educators from marginalized identities?

We call on scholars, practitioners, activists, and professionals from a range of disciplinary and professional positions to submit work (research articles, conceptual essays, book reviews, and poems) that illuminates the dynamic between education and politics. As an interdisciplinary journal, JCTP welcomes work from a variety of epistemological, theoretical, and methodological traditions from the sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities.

Above, we have presented four themes and potential questions for author(s) to consider and potentially attend to while working on manuscripts. When you submit, please make sure you indicate in the “Additional Fields” box which theme above you are submitting for so that it is clear to the editorial board which educational issue you are addressing in your manuscript. This will automatically populate with options under the “Article Information” portion of your submission. Again, the themes are: 

  1. Egalitarian 

  2. Economic

  3. Civic 

  4. Humanistic 

Submissions extended to July 31, 2020

Planned publication: Late 2020


  • Bacharach, S.L., & Mundell, B.L. (1993). Organizational politics in schools: Micro, macro, and logics of action. Educational Administration Quarterly, 29(4), 423-452.
  • Crick, B. (2013). In defence of politics (4th eds). Bloomsbury. 
  • Fine, G. (1993). “You can’t just say that the only ones who can speak are those who agree with your position:” Political discourse in the classroom. Harvard Educational Review, 63(4), 412-434. 
  • Gutek, G. L. (1991). A historical introduction to American education (2nd eds.). Waveland Press. 
  • Zion, S., & Blanchett, W. J. (2017). On the Purpose of Schooling. The Wiley Handbook of Diversity in Special Education, 69.