Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

There's a thing out there called the Yass Prize and Jeff Yass has written a paean in Forbes, reprinted here (so we avoid the paywall) by the Center for Education Reform, touting the benefits of 'education freedom', the idea that education funding follows the student rather than being assigned to learning institutions. In practice, the idea is "to allow public funds to be used to help low-income families enroll in private schools." This article is an example of the sort of deceptive marketing we see supporting private education providers, just as the Yass Prize is intended to promote a specific agenda. I am in favour of choice and freedom in education, but the problem with this approach, to my mind, is clear: for private providers, success is defined by revenue, which invariably leads to misleading advertising, lower quality services, less qualified staff, questionable content and sometimes outright fraud. Overall, the public ends up paying a lot more for lower quality results. And privatization is not the only option; choice can be provided in a public system, as Edmonton's school board so clearly demonstrates. With online support and services, public education providers can offer free and accessible learning resources to support all needs at a fraction of the cost commercial providers would charge, while ensuring quality standards and the public interest are served. Related: As science denial grows, science museums fight back by teaching scientific literacy.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

Copyright 2023
Last Updated: Nov 28, 2023 12:23 p.m.

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