Competing Goals in College and Career Readiness Policy: An Equity Analysis of the 2013 Texas House Bill 5
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Since its origins, the U.S. education system has wrestled with competing goals to define the pur-pose and process of public education. Early 19th century advocates for universal public schooling found themselves in the minority against dominant business and philanthropic groups that ad-vocated an educational system that spurred economic competition while maintaining social strat-ification along racial and class lines (Anderson, 1988). Just as the birth of the universal schooling system was forged through opposing views, today’s objectives for college and career readiness encapsulate the tension between conflicting attitudes of the purpose and goals of education. Texas House Bill 5 (2013) represents the latest attempt for the state to direct public secondary school curriculum toward postsecondary readiness goals. The bill implemented a new public high school curriculum structure that divides vocational training and advanced college prepara-tory curriculum through different course sequences or “endorsements.” Endorsements are in-tended to advance the state’s college and career readiness goals while optimizing students’ indi-vidual choice of study. Although proponents of the bill argued against the notion that endorse-ments were “tracks,” the endorsements reflect subject-specific sequences that align with a college area of study or career choice. While there are numerous accounts on the sociocultural impacts of racially and socioeconomically differentiated curricular tracks in schools (e.g., Anderson, 1988; Gonzáles, 1999), this review applies economic theories of social mobility and competition to ex-plain the context of the competing educational goals contained within HB 5 and the potential implications for inequitable social stratification as a result.