Is education bringing real equity?

By Wei Yang

I finally start my blog 3 connecting to my blog 1 as I promised, but I have a lot of thoughts that I just can not put them all out into a tidy and neat blog.

We keep on saying that education is the only way for people who come from a low social class to get equal opportunity to fight for what they want, to live a life that the so called rich people can live. So we hope an educational system that is efficient, respects diversity, assists economic growth, provides accountability to citizens, and gives parents reasonable control over the values their children learn (Godwin & Kemerer, 2002). But the truth is with the huge gap between the rich and poor getting bigger and bigger, only a small number of people get benefits from education or only the people who can afford to go to good schools benefit from education.

With the education fee increasing tremendously year by year, there are more and more families which can not support their children continue their studies or can not afford to receive a sufficient and qualified education. So the children from working-class families have to stay in the schools which are affordable no matter what the education quality is. Meanwhile, the children from rich families have more opportunities to receive higher and better education, they have more chances to choose the majors that will bring a huge commercial value in the future. Because usually, their parents are more informed than those who come from poor families. And the schools which are located in the more developed cities are with a better environment, better infrastructure, better teachers and better pedagogy. Of course, such schools are more expensive than the ones in less developed places. So the parents will send their children to such schools instead of choosing the schools which reside in their community. These parents are fully aware that when their children study in these schools, what they received is not only better education but also the additional values they get.

First of all, the children can receive education in a more cozy environment which is beneficial for the students. Second, the teachers in these schools are usually more knowledgeable and qualified, because these schools can pay teachers well so that they have a higher requirement for recruiting. Third, the information that the schools can offer are more advanced and thorough contrasted with the schools in a less developed area, which are crucial for the students. Fourth, the classmates are different. Usually, the children of these schools are coming from families which are above middle-class social status. The network that children construct will be different and these children’s parents usually received a good education, too. Moreover, the children will achieve a positive spillover from their classmates compared to those who come from a school with students all coming from working-class families. The positive influence the students get from their classmates will, in turn, improve their learning. All these leads to the rich get richer and more educated while the poor get poorer and inadequately educated.

So how can we change the situation? How can we make good and qualified education available for everyone? Please feel free to share your ideas with me.

Reference:

Godwin, R.K. & Kemerer, F. R. (2002) School choice tradeoffs: liberty, equity, and diversity.   

      Austin: University of Texas Press.

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2 thoughts on “Is education bringing real equity?”

  1. Hi Wei,

    Thanks for your blog. I like your question and some issues you illustrated in unequal education. I think if we want to change the situation of education inequality,first of all,we need to find out what causes the inequality. In different areas,the causes are different.

    If the problem is related to educational resources,the schools may ask for help to the government and hopefully,the government could allocate more money on those schools in less developed areas, e.g. pay the best teachers a premium to teach in deprived areas with poorer results or spend money to improve the school’s facilities. If the inequality is caused by students’ economic background, then the school may reduce or remit their tuition. If some students are disabled, the school could have a special program for them. If the inequality results from parenting or stereotypes(gender discrimination), we may try to change their thoughts but it will be very hard. For example, teach them how to be parents or tell them girls should also go to school.

    6th Comment by Yuting Zhao

    Like

  2. Yu-Ting, Liu

    Hello Wei!

    This is a fun question to think about! I worked in a private school where all the kids were from at least middle-class families. I’m afraid I will have to say the result is a product under Capitalism. It is true that kids from a richer family receive better education, or at least they don’t need to worry about their domestic finance. In my school, each kid paid 6 times more than a kid who goes to public school for each term. If they have extra time and money, their parents would send them to “cram school” to review what they learn in school, or to take a violin class after school. The teachers in my school were strictly evaluated by the students, parents and the supervisors. Even though I wasn’t an official teacher, I could feel the tense that the teachers. Just because it’s a private school, it has more money and resources to hire qualified teachers as you said.

    I think the main problem is not on the rich. The government should make suitable policies to give those remote area students who get less resources a fair chance to learn. I know in reality it might be hard to conduct, but high salary does attract nice teachers. Or the government should provided after classes with a very little amount that the students have to pay, so that they learn at the same starting line.
    I’m not sure if my opinion is correct, but I hope my sharing makes sense to you!

    Like

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