Sunday, October 5, 2008

On Education

I took an “Education and Society” class last semester, in which we touched on the issue of school voucher. As a controversial policy in US, we tended to have more critiques than support for it. We also read Jonathan Kozol’s book “The Shame of the Nation,” which mainly talks about unequal education among different socio-economic students and the trend of re-segregated education in America. Based on the above background knowledge, I obviously have more doubts on school voucher.

The first question is whether education is a commodity and should be under control of free market. Coulson argues that education in a free market pushes schools to be more competitive. But I think education is not only a commodity, at least it’s a special one. Commodity may be good or bad, but each kid has the right of receiving good education. Hence, society and government should ensure the right of children and the quality of school.

However, school voucher is not the right way. Though the intention sounds good, which is “allowing the poor to have the more varied educational choices which are currently enjoyed only by the wealthy,” it causes a lot of problems in practice. If the government has the money for poor kids to good schools, then why not use the money to change those bad schools, so poor kids could also have good education? Are those good schools and those rich kids willing to welcome poor kids and not worry about the quality of education? Do those poor students improve their study after using voucher? If students use the government money to religious school, is it in accordance with the constitution?

I always thought the Chinese education system is very problematic, but when looking into the American education system, it’s not that idealistic as I originally assumed. Each system has its own problem in related to the society. But still, comparatively saying, American kids have more choices for different kinds of schools, and more happiness within their school experiences.

Here’s a link to the topic of voucher and other school choices:

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