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A better education should not be for sale

Students listen to a lecture during a General Chemistry section at San Jose State University in San Jose, California, Wednesday, April 7, 2010. The course is what’s known as a “bottleneck” class, meaning that it’s a prerequisite for many of the courses that are required for a wide range of majors. Fifty years after the so-called ‘master plan’ was created by the state legislature to guarantee a college education to every California high school graduate, the campuses are coping with shrinking funding. (Pauline Lubens/San Jose Mercury News/MCT)

Education must absolutely not be privatized.

Sure, many public schools across our nation are underfunded, overcrowded and educationally stagnant. But even still, our education system must not be privatized.

Even if you do not believe education is a right for American citizens, we cannot let socioeconomic class become even more of a factor in a child’s education.

It’s estimated that 10 percent of students nationwide attend private schools, according to the Council for American Private Education.

But twice as many Caucasian and Asian students are enrolling in private schools as black and Hispanic students, according to the Harvard Civil Rights Project.

One in three white students, in the largest 40 school districts, attend a private school. Contrast that to the number of black students: one in 10.

It’s hard to argue that, in our current education system, wealthier families are the ones enrolling their children into private schools.

But when profit becomes a factor in education, those who come from a higher economic bracket will be able to buy better education for their kids.

Schools with better test scores would be able to charge more for education in a free marketplace, essentially making a successful future for your child an expensive commodity.

Private schools would also be able to be more selective about the students they admit, further diminishing the diversity of children entering good schools in the first place.

That would be the first step to an already critical economic disparity problem.

According to Salon, an online news and entertainment website, charter schools may not be much better. They perform about the same as public schools, and there’s evidence that any educational improvement may be the result of public school closures.

Charters can also be very selective about the students they enroll, excluding special education students, low-performing students, or students in poverty.

Special needs students also drop out of charter schools at a much higher rate than public schools, the article said.

Call them underfunded, call them failing, call them government liberal training camps. The fact is that public education is a necessity to a free and well-functioning democracy. Letting the economically and scholastically disadvantaged rot in inferior schools is edging our country ever closer to a plutocracy.

The reason our education system is in crisis isn’t because it’s a public institution. It’s because we’ve lost the humanity in learning; we’ve degraded human beings — children — to nothing more than numbers and test scores.

There are ways to fix this. One way, suggested by Gawker writer John Cook, is the idea of banning private education.

If all private schools were banned, wealthier students would be forced to go into the public school system. As wealthier families are more likely to lobby for reform, it wouldn’t be hard to believe that our education system would steadily improve.

With those in higher socioeconomic brackets at stake, and with a larger pool of resources backing them, maybe we’d take a harder look at education equality.

Although not a likely solution, the idea does have its merit.

If our children are our future, then we must demand that all of them — every single one — has an equal opportunity at a worthwhile education.


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A better education should not be for sale