Sunday, May 30, 2010

Should Public Education Be Free?

I have been listening to Chris Anderson's book Free: the Future of a Radical Price. In the book he talks about the perceived value of free. The perception of free is often something without value. Of course this is something we sometimes ignore because of our experience of "free" sites we use on the internet.

I have often thought that more of the public would be interested in public education if they had to go to their local schools to pay their taxes. (In Missouri property tax helps pay for local schools.) This would make the person paying actually see the connection between schools and taxes. Obviously the problem is there are a lot of people that don't pay property taxes directly.

Recently my jr. high team was creating a supplies list for next year's students. I made a comment about the expense of the list, I thought it was pretty low compared to some of the other grades. The other teacher told me that he knew of a school that just collected money from students to buy supplies. Then the teachers use the money to buy supplies for the whole class.

What would happen if we required our parents to give $30 dollars to the school at the beginning of the year for supplies? Would parents value their children's education more if they had to write out a check?


Anonymous said...

I think education should be free to a point. when kids come to school with all the latest electronic gadgets, but can't bring pencil or paper there is something wrong. We provide them with textbooks,workbook, use of computers, their own desk/chair,heat in the winter, air conditioning when it is hot, clean room and underpaid teachers. We should collect lab fees for science, computers, and other classes that require additional material.
I pay real estate taxes and I have no children in the schools.

edublog said...

Underpaid teachers eh? You know, hear in Canada, we can complain as well as the next guy, but I have to admit. We are paid very well. We have a strong teachers federation (union) that in my opinion, is in some regards, too strong.

Should education be free? Impossible. The providers of educational resources are part of a billion dollar industry. In Canada we have Pearson, Nelson, Scholastics .. I would imagine that they are in the U.S. too. In fact, don't they also produce your standardized tests too? Providing education is essential and since the business if guaranteed, and the market is a near monopoly, they charge and we pay.

You know, my school board has a handful of suppliers that I have to buy from, all of whom went to tender, and yet, I can find it all cheaper elsewhere. Odd that I am required to spend more. Until the government steps in... it's far from free.

Alan Stange said...

Public education should be free with no fees. How would you deal with a family that could not come to the school to pay its takes? Send the students home? In all likelihood this would be a genuine economic impediment.

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Alan My school is a very low income school with 90%+ free and reduced lunch. That being said, $30 a year is a very small investment in the education of their child. Besides, it is suppose to make an impact, that is the point.

As far as property taxes go, if the property owners don't pay the government auctions the property off at the doorway of the courthouse.

NZWaikato said...

We have a compulsory donation for students here at our school, that has to pay for fee's for additional subjects (like Woodwork, Metalwork and Cooking) although its not enforceable and therefore most of the families/students opt not to pay it. Its had ramifications as our school has subsequently operated at a loss this year, meaning we're having to possibly cut back on what we can offer for 2011... the donation fee's work out about $100 NZ per year which I think would equate to about $50.

Michael/@teachernz said...

Our primary school students (in NZ) pay about NZ$30 for exercise books, pencils, stationery etc at the beginning of the year. They also pay for school trips, swimming, camp and other out of class learning experiences. On top of all that is a "donation" of about $60 per student, up to a maximum of $120 per family. Free education? Maybe not, but value for money?... definitely.

Jenny's Learning Journey said...

My son goes to an integrated Catholic Secondary School in Auckland New Zealand and we pay just under $600 NZ a term ( 4 terms in a year ). We are quite happy to do so because the school provides good pastoral care and education for the boys who attend it. The fees are used for various activities such as school functions and communal events which otherwise cannot happen. The government simply does not give enough funding for the school.

However, if free education means covering these fees, we would of course welcome it!

sam gates said...

I am a student that went to public and private schools. I definitely believe parents become more involved when they are actually paying for the kids school.

hbhinton said...

I think that schools can never be totally free. I do not think asking $30.00 is a lot for one year. Then the teacher can get the things the class will truly use in the class. There will always be those that will not be able to pay the fees but I think it is a good idea. USA EDM 310 student