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Assignment #2
Reasoned Argument

Adam Wurst
G# 427

ED671, Educational Policy and Practice


Dr. Roger Wilson
Grand Valley State University
Winter, 2015

Entrusting an organization to invest in the future of children, especially


that of education, may be one of the most important decisions families face

across generations. It is no wonder that demands on the quality of education


and the outcome of student learning continues to be a high stakes discussion
politically, economically, socially, and developmentally. Most students spend
more time in the school environment engaged with teachers and peers than
they spend directly engaged at home. Because of this, schools are largely
seen as a viable environment for influencing challenges that impact learning
and are tied to specialized funding sources. These factors, such as poverty,
special needs, and social issues, are critical secondary concerns that have
the potential of distracting from the goals of education support and
preparation for a changing work environment.
The need for public education reflects the progress and improvement
of our society. Employment and entrepreneurship are driving forces and core
values of American society, and its role has dramatically changed from
agricultural to industrial to service and technology. The level of education
has become known to equate to earning potential as well as national
development and the general quality of life. (Nelson, Palonsky, & McCarthy,
2010) Because of these relationships between education and quality of
living, it is proper and reasonable for communities to expect a high quality

education experience for their children that is backed by systems of


accountability and reporting.
The idea of being a consumer of education has become a driving force
for families seeking greater potential for student achievement, which
translate to greater opportunities once outside of school. While this type of

mindset is understandable, it is largely an individual pursuit of education and


is a substantial departure from the idea of school reform, which is
substantiated on the premise that education is for the public good. Reform
efforts are largely seen as providing an answer to social problems, the
solution of which is shared by society regardless of whether or not a family
have children enrolled in school. (Labaree, 2011) Providing services that
contribute to the challenges and needs of a community, including building
resources, cultural enrichment, social programs, helps to create a social
capital that promotes the satisfaction and perceived value of the role of the
local school. (Neal & Watling Neal, 2012) In this way, the local school is seen
as a democratic endeavor encouraging input for everything from student
achievement, extra curricular opportunities, social services, and food service
and transportation needs.
Looking at public education from a consumer point of view
necessitates seeing schools as providing products, which is on the surface
students, but also providing a broad range of benefits for children and their

parents. As the community integrates these goods into everyday life, the
efficacy of these social programs contributes to the satisfaction of the
community thereby raising or lowering the value of the local public school as
a community resource. (Neal & Watling Neal, 2012) The inherent problem
with consumer driven education is that overtime it moves away from
providing services within the community to better stimulate the learning
process and can become an expectation to receive services apart from
student achievement. Larabee states (2011) that instead of praising the

benefits received from a commonwealth public school, a services focused


system would shift the focus to a more privatized culture. The expectations
of individuals in this form become the driving force for school influence and
are not helpful when considering the fundamental service of student
achievement in schools.
Serving the individual benefits of education has been a part of the
vigorous revitalization of privatizing schools using public funds. As important
as social services are to the debate of improving schools, interests to
privatize services or an entire school through the charter process point out
that equal access to school resources does not produce the same result in
testing and achievement. The expectation of higher quality in public
education through privatization, achieving higher test scores while lowering
costs, are insufficient and shortsighted. (Nelson et al., 2010) Any results of

significantly higher scores have been shown to be the result of reporting


strategies rather than actual data comparable to that of public schools.
It is reasonable and correct for our communities to place value and
offer opinions on the quality of public education available for their children.
It is also understandable for the services made available through the school
to be scrutinized for their effectiveness and availability to every student,
perhaps even extended to their family, in order to improve the learning
process and contribute to higher student achievement. However, the
provision of services to the exclusion of student achievement, as well as the
pursuit of individual or specialized programming, is a mistreatment of the
intentions of providing a public education using public funding. As the need

for services and technological advancement changes, so must the core


learning elements of our schools; so must the methodology of testing and
accountability of reporting. Society places a great deal of trust and hope in a
public school when it entrusts the lives of children for future success and
public opinion and expectation are an important part of developing and
improving the future of education.

References
Labaree, D. F. (2011). Consuming the public school. Educational Theory,
61(4), 381-394. doi:10.1111/j.1741-5446.2011.00410.x
Neal, Z. P., & Watling Neal, J. (2012). The public school as a public good:
Direct and indirect pathways to community satisfaction. Journal of Urban
Affairs, 34(5), 469-486. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9906.2011.00595.x
Nelson, J. L., Palonsky, S. B., & McCarthy, M. R. (2010). Critical issues in
education: Dialogues and dialectics (7th ed. ed.) McGraw Hill Higher
Education.