Education is an important factor in the development of a society. Evidently, the benefits of education go beyond the obvious advantage of improving life chances. Education empowers people not only with the skills, knowledge, and means of succeeding in life but also with the hope of a better productive life. Education is thus an important tool in the realization of a prosperous and developing community. It many societies, education serve as a panacea to solving rampant problems like hunger, overpopulation, preventable diseases, and abusive marriages. Yet in many parts of the world, educational access is still limited to small section of the society. While the developed world has made progress in terms of gender equality in education, many developing nations are still plagued by disparity of education between girls and boys.
"Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of the conditions of men the balance-wheel of the social machinery." Horace Mann. The view that was espoused in education until the late 1880s was one, which majorly saw the development and success for the majority of the people. According to Parkinson (1995), Benjamin Franklin compiled the first most famous success manuals in 1757. His key guiding principles continued to guide educational experience for the next hundreds of years. His key success principles included moral virtue, industry, thrift, and perseverance. The function of school according to the article was t provide a common education for all of the children.
Equality in education became more realistic to the less fortunate in the society, especially the handicaps, when Kenneth Clark, in 1960s criticized the schools for being “an instrument for social and economic class distinction in American society”. Perkinson (1995). This condition became curable in 1970s when compulsory education that provided special supplementary aid, counsel, instruction, and attention to the culturally deprived was harnessed. This became the only avenue for the less fortunate students to use the schools to make up for their “wants deprived”. The education for all handicaps law brought to light the prior students’ inequalities, equalizing all students’ provisions up to this day.
Education requires unity of purpose. Often, education students do require an ordinate amount of time by teachers and subordinate staff in order to meet their needs. However, often we forget that other non-identified students require more time to meet their needs. In this case, where other students require special attention to meet their needs, appropriate education plan might be set to meet these students’ needs. While this effort is considered, it should not be left to the expense of the parents to seek a working program for their students who may not fit into the special program for the students who require lots of attention. As the special education, students’ needs are considered individually, the regular education students’ needs are considered largely as group.
Now in time there is a long enough history of education to ask whether this grand experiment has been successful. Has education been the great equalizer in helping children become participants within our democratic society? Has special education allowed students to have equal opportunity to educational resources? Perhaps through an inclusive model of education some of the resources allocated for special education have been utilized in a regular education environment where more students would potentially benefit. (Soltis 1998)
After all, a grand-analysis completed Soltis (1998) indicate that students with high incidence disabilities want the same books, activities, grading criteria, homework, and grouping practices as their classmates. Their peers without disabilities desire the same. Both students with and without capabilities value teachers slowing down instructions when needed, explaining concepts and assignments clearly and teaching materials as well as learning strategies of the same material in a different way to ensure equal benefits to every member of the class. Therefore, there exists the need for equal education in the mainstream. All students have to benefit from all aspects of education initially considered “special” and mainly for a section of students.
However, equal education demands have been hit by several setbacks. Placement of students in their set groups according to the demands of their special needs for the general education resulted into a strenuous system, where groups were forced to expand according to group needs and sizes thus improper age and need balance arose in an attempt to balance status quo and individual needs. It also resulted into larger and unmanageable sizes of classes in different groups. The system has also been struggling to find the graduates to offer classes under various special categories thus making it difficult to meet every students needs (Kenneth, Haller & Jonas 1988).
The struggle between serving the needs of the individuals versus the societal collective needs has been a great pain to education. There has been a thin boundary between the society and individuals needs, thus the course of education and the criteria in which education can be best fulfilling to the individuals remains a gamble. However, there exist important payoffs for one or both sides when conflicts persist. There are advantages associated with widening the criteria as well as disadvantages. These issues when not well addressed always are attributed to system failure.
One of the ways of mitigating inequality in education is by ensuring racial preference in colleges. Through this, racial and other minority discrimination in education will be minimized gradually. Students need not to be gauged and admitted based on only one function of their education system. With an affirmative action as a tool, somewhat better racial mix achievements will be realized ensuring equality in the system.
As poverty remains mayhem to most low-income communities, education will still not be fully realized in such societies. A study has revealed that poor kids start kindergarten behind middle-class kids and further behind every summer away from school while their counterpart groups learn at the same rate in school. Often, the schools have bore the blames for this. More support services to pre-school, kindergarten, as well as increasing more school days and years to give poor kids, a chance to catch up should be considered. (Vaughn 1999) This formula works best for every school but first, the exists a need to help the poor students.
Given the social dynamics and the role of education in our societies, we need to advocate for equal, fair, and just education for all. Given the rationale that those in need of education are situated differently in addition to having different abilities and demands, each student should be treated differently with valuable dignity. It should be at the mantle of every responsible citizen to ensure the realization of equality in education.
Perkinson, H. J. (1995) The imperfect Panacea, American Faith in Education. McGraw Hill
Klingner, Janette K. & Vaughn, Sharon (1999). Students perception in conclusion classrooms: implications for students with Learning Disabilities. Exceptional Children. 63, 23.
Strike, Kenneth A., Haller, Emil J., and Soltis, Jonas F. (1988) The Ethics of School Administration. Teachers College Press.
Feinberg, W., Soltis, J. F. (1998) School and Society. Teachers College Press.