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Public education is a good that has helped millions and millions of Americans become...

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sj83 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted April 22, 2013 at 4:14 PM via web

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Public education is a good that has helped millions and millions of Americans become successful, productive members of society. Would the average person be able to go to school if the government did not provide for this good? Would only the very rich be well educated and successful?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 22, 2013 at 4:27 PM (Answer #1)

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Unless there were schools that were run for less than what they cost, or unless schools could be made to run for much less than they do now, it is likely that it would be hard for non-wealthy people to get a really good education.

In the past, there were organizations, notably the Catholic Church, that could run high-quality schools for relatively low amounts of money.  However, this is much less common today with the decline in the membership and wealth of that church.  There are many Christian private schools, but without priests and nuns to work for low pay, it is very hard for them to have low tuition fees.

The average amount of money spent on educating a student in American public schools is quite high relative to what most families can pay.  The US Department of Education’s statistics show that about $10,700 is spent on each student in the US each year.  If families had to pay that much money to educate each of their children, there are surely many of them who would be unable to do so.

It is possible that other factors would make it possible for less wealthy families to get good education.  If there were no public schools, taxes would surely be lower and families would have more money available to pay for schooling.  It is possible that private foundations and charities would help to pay the costs of education.

However, overall, it seems likely that high-quality education would be available to many fewer people if there were no free public schools.

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