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The Forum > Article Comments > Are standards slipping? > Comments

Are standards slipping? : Comments

By Ross Farrelly, published 20/2/2006

Itís virtually impossible to define an excellent education system and equally hard to agree on what is a dismal education system.

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Yes great the more money your parents make the better ed you get.... Now that is progress.
Posted by Kenny, Monday, 20 February 2006 12:12:45 PM
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Economic Rationalism applied to the education system! Well it's the way Australia is currently heading, and the present government takes every opportunity to denigrate public schools, and scare parents into moving their children to private schools.

If we continue down this path we will end up with a 2 tier system, as Kenny has pointed out, based on parental wealth or lack of.

This will further lead to even greater disparity between the richest and the poorest, greater divisiveness in society, less sense of community, less mixing of people from different suburbs and more of the "mean" society (refer recent poll on Australian attitudes) which we have got in the last 10 years.

As a current consumer of public education (I have a 10 year olds son in a state school) my experience is very positive. Public education is a great contributor to the type of society we have.

The market has failed in many areas e.g. privatised electricity in SA, major company failures and scandals (HIH, One-Tel etc.). It is not a magic solution. Education is too important to leave to market forces.
Posted by AMSADL, Monday, 20 February 2006 12:52:16 PM
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How many students would have dreadful education results before the "market" worked out that a particular school was a dud?
How can new immigrants without friends and long term contacts work out which school has a good reputation without test results?
We need proper testing so that people can make judgements based on hard evidence, and damage caused by failing schools can be minimised.
Waiting ten or twenty years for hundreds of students to fail in their tertiary courses and first jobs so that we can then say "That school was really bad ten years ago." strikes me as a rather silly approach.
If it's all too hard to write modern tests, why don't we just use the perfectly good ones from 20 years ago? That might give us a really good idea of comparative standards.
Posted by Bull, Monday, 20 February 2006 1:05:40 PM
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Ross makes his analysis with such a broad brush that it is impossible to analyse anything at all. Any analysis must happen at the level of the particular. For example, Keven Donnelly has argued that a subjectivism has crept into the science curriculum. This means that students are may be taught that the periodic table of the elements is only one way of describing the relationship between elements. Scientific knowledge does not refer to an actual reality in the world but is conditioned by gender and culture, i.e subjectivism. This must undermine the teaching of science and would definitely indicate a decline in standards.
Posted by Sells, Monday, 20 February 2006 1:09:42 PM
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Perhaps one of the biggest acts of faith I have seen for quite some time; to hard to measure the adequacy of the system so throw it open to the market.

I am a bit surprised at the authors last sentence when he tells us market forces will sort things out as standarads slip, enrolments fall and schools dissapear from the face of the earth.

What happens to those hundreds if not thousands of kids who may be trapped in the system as things sprial down in their particular school?

One assumes Ross considers them to be some sort of collateral damage and victims of the economic circumstances that their paretns find themselves in - But I guess the poor will always be with us eh Ross?

And this solution goes some way in making sure that the the current class of the poor stay right where the not so poor want them. Book learnin' can be a dangerous commodity in the hands of the wrong people.
Posted by sneekeepete, Monday, 20 February 2006 1:58:28 PM
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Another possible way standards could be seen to be slipping is to compare chalk with cheese. For instance those 10 - 15 percent of students who completed grade 12 back in my time [40 years ago] when the other 90 - 85 percent got jobs demanding lower educational and literacy standards, thus matching the education system of the day, with the approx 80 percent who finish grade 12 these days, again matching the current workforce requirments for much fewer semi-literate labourers etc. Of course they don't compare - we DEMAND higher standards these days and we don't always get them, just on the odds.

As for solutions, keeping kids in school longer is not always best for all kids. But just letting the market determine to whom education is available goes against everything we hold dear in this country - a fair go for all.

Let's remember that universally, access to education is the greatest way of helping people get on in life. Whether we are talking gender, race, poverty-stricken countries or regions, number one priority is to improve educational opportunities. Restricting them on the basis of wealth [markets allocate in proportion to market power - wealth - and the devil take the hindmost] will always hurt the less powerfull and help the more powerful.
Posted by Bob James, Monday, 20 February 2006 2:17:53 PM
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