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Education Group Final

Education Group Final

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Published by BallStateEnglish335

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Published by: BallStateEnglish335 on May 03, 2011
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05/03/2011

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Rhiannon RacySarah Luttenbacher Brian Wysock Chase Skiles
The Public Discourse of Education:Issues debated to death at the expense of learning
Public discourse takes place in a multitude of social spheres through a variety of mediums. It has the power to inform, persuade, or dissuade audiences about an abundance of issues and shapes what we as a society believe, and can illuminate, cloud, or even construct truthabout a variety of issues. Public discourse about education illustrates that many current issuessuch as standardized testing, curriculum values and the incorporation of technology in theeducational system largely revolve around education¶s relationship with money. Thisrelationship can be viewed as detrimental because a large portion of the discourse is focused onmoney and its influence on the system that larger social issues such as addressing economicdisparity get pushed aside or simply ignored.One of the most highly debated issues in education is money. Where it is being spent,what it is being spent on, and where said money is coming from. Much of the public discourseabout education revolves around money. One way that public dollars are spent are on vouchersfor students to attend private schools. The issue that people discuss when it comes to the issue of vouchers is that according to the NCSPE (National Center for the Study of the Privatization inEducation), vouchers are funded through public taxpayer money and give parents a chance tosend their children to private sometimes even religious institutions, and as such decisions are private it causes concern because of the issue of public money being spend on private issuessometimes even interfering with the issue of separation of church and state. Voucher programsattempt to turn education into business by creating a competitive market where schools must
 
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compete for student enrollment (Vouchers). This discussion about vouchers focuses on bothsides of the issue, from the perspective of supporters and of opponents which both have pertinent points; however, the most crucial issue with vouchers is that they are comprised of publicmoney, which is used for private use.The discourse surrounding the vouchers and the privatization of education is based on the belief that those parents who want their children to go to a high performing school will sendthem there, as opposed to those parents who are forced to send their children to under- performing schools, as if any parent would
want 
their child to attend such a school. The voucher seeks to eliminate such disparities by providing an opportunity for students of lower incomefamilies to attend private schools that supposedly have better resources, teachers, and graduationrates. However, according to Cecilia Elena Rouse from Princeton University and NBER and LisaBarrow of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in a publication for the NCSPE entitled
School Vouchers and Student Achievement: Recent Evidence, Remaining Questions
, ³the best researchto date finds relatively small achievement gains for students offered education vouchers, most of which are not statistically different from zero´ (Rouse). These findings seem to bring to lightthat the issues behind poor schools are not necessarily the schools themselves, the students, or the money they have to work with, but greater social issues especially economic disparity thatinfluences students¶ learning and achievement in the current educational system.Another conversation about money usage in public education is one about charter schools. Charter schools use a mix of public funding and private donations but also are notsubjected to some of the same rules as typical public schools. Such schools provide an alternativeto traditional public schools and are not allowed to charge tuition. According to an article in the New York Times, by national correspondent Stephanie Strom, ³because public money is used,
 
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most states grant charters to run such schools only to nonprofit groups with the expectation thatthey will exercise the same independent oversight that public school boards do Some are runlocally. Some bring in nonprofit management chains. And a number use commercialmanagement companies´ (Strom). The discourse revolving around charter schools is concernedmainly with the last management strategy. Many people are concerned that charter schools arerun more as a business than as an actual school. Imagine is the name of one such commercialcharter management company. Strom argues that, ³regulators in some states have found thatImagine has elbowed the charter holders out of virtually all school decision making ² hiring andfiring principals and staff members, controlling and profiting from school real estate, andretaining fees under contracts that often guarantee Imagine¶s management in perpetuity´ (Strom).This is a valid concern in the discourse about money in education, because it could lead tocorporate or private control of public dollars that are spent on education creating an educationsystem full of educators with private agendas instead of the agenda of educating students. Not tosay that there are not currently educators in the system with private agendas, but the number andseriousness of the problem could grow if corporate companies were used to manage charter schools.Again, the discourse surrounding charter schools is similar to that which surrounds theissue of vouchers. In an interview with Diane Ravtich on the March 3rd 2011 episode of DailyShow, Jon Stewart claims, ³It seems that charter schools aren¶t necessarily the problem. None of it deals with the larger issue which is the environment around the school´ (Diane). Again, itseems that discourse about charter schools is just another attempt to find a solution to solveissues in education that are actually caused by social situations and not the actual educationalsystem.

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