Date of Award

Spring 5-2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

Advisor/Committee Chair

Timothy Weaver, Ph.D


This paper is an analysis of today’s American education system, how it has come to be, and why it seems to consistently fall behind when compared to other countries. Beginning with an evaluation of American education today, this paper follows the implementation of recent policy, the deep issues facing the education system and what can be done to address them. Specifically, it explores why, despite such bipartisan legislation like the No Child Left Behind Act, many students and teachers are still being left behind, and why common arguments about education policy continue to fail students. I argue that, although new legislation like a nationalized civics program could help our failing system improve programmatic priorities, we wrongly place blame on schools when the deepest limitations of the education system cannot be solved by education policy. They instead represent a broader issue of poverty in the United States and the failure of neoliberal ideology. I evaluate the social determinants of education and the factors that are currently holding many students from receiving opportunities available in schools, as well as promote a new way to view education on a national level. Stemming from a discussion of a Reagan-era report called A Nation at Risk, this paper explores how such failures in education require a meta-level discussion that asks whether the way American policymakers view competition and our global economy is truly beneficial to our students and society as a whole.