Decision making, even for the noblest of causes, cannot escape its ties with money. Whether it’s obvious or not, whether it’s addressed now or later, money talks. Money is power, and power means getting to decide how your money works for you.
In the realm of Education, the money that is invested year after year directly influences the development of a generation. But who decides where the money goes? Centralization of an education system is often sought for economic reasons, especially for reaching greater equity of educational opportunity. However, that does not mean that centralization solves the issue of equity, nor does it create the ideal educational system.
What Are The Economic Effects of Centralizing Education?
Creates a push for private education.
Oftentimes the purpose of centralizing is to aim for more equal opportunities for education and equitable distribution of resources. However, the outcome does not always support the initial goal. The consequence of more equitable distribution in education is dissatisfaction for those who could already afford a higher quality education. Families with higher incomes may find that a more equitable education system does not meet their expectations. This sentiment leads to a search for private education options, ones that are of course less equitable, and designed to meet the needs of higher socio-economic classes.
Although it may seem that the government has done its part in providing greater access to education, the economic gap still persists. Private institutions will also be vying for funding and their claim will be quality.
Students from private systems and public systems exist in the same context. This means that students attending public schools, especially those who cannot afford anything else, will continue to be faced with a gap in educational opportunities. Same issue, different perpetrator.
Forces Competition For Funding
Essentially, centralizing education is about shifting activities to include fewer entities involved. An Education System has many levels, and requires great collaboration between the levels so that they can work together effectively. The decisions regarding funding may belong to a single ministry, committee or state, but it is an entity that is outside of the learning process. Schools are where the learning process happens, while teachers and students are directly involved. When schools can’t decide how much money they receive, the budget they are given is prioritized over school and student needs. Everyone must make do. What about before the budget gets decided, can schools or districts influence the decision making? In some cases, state or federal governments may have select criteria that dictates where funding goes. These criteria can include enrollment, staff employment, location, socio-economic makeup, academic achievement, national/international student achievement, and more.
In order to gain the funding that is needed to support student success, ironically, educators have to focus less on their pupil’s growth, and more on the criteria that decide the budget. For some schools, it’s about keeping the doors open year after year. Not every district or institution will have the luxury of time and money in order to go above and beyond for their students. Whatever the outcome of the budget, everyone will be affected, students, parents, teachers, staff, and the ones making the decisions in the first place.
The truth is, Education does not exist in a bubble. Our education system is entangled in all of our other systems. The benefits and consequences of a centralized education system create a new set of issues, especially in terms of economic management.
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