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Sarah Shewey

CEO/Founder, Happily


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How can we empower kids to reshape the education system? *A TEDActive Education Project Question*


The TEDActive Education Project will explore how children can make an impact on the education system. We hope to come out of this project with fresh ideas for ways kids can start an education revolution.

At TEDActive2011 in Palm Springs, an amazing group of individuals came together as a group to come up with a simple micro-action solution for empowering kids to be a part of the education reform conversations. After a quick 36 hour period of time, the team made a website that allows students to upload videos of their ideas on education reform.

You can empower a student to share their voice at http://elev8ed.org.

Also, please share your own ideas here, or by starting a new conversation tagged with TEDActiveEDU so we can all follow.


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    Mar 31 2011: The revolution we need is quite simple. Private enterprise providing education. Society must avoid government of doing it. Teachers must see students as clients. Schools should compete providing the best to their students. A voucher system should exist to let poor people to have access to the best schools. Each school should choose the subject.
    • Ben B

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      Mar 31 2011: Your proposition is very interesting, and there are a few pro's this suggestion would provide, but it makes me wonder; how will you make sure everyone's treated equally?
      How will you ensure the main goal is the wellbeing of the children in a governmentfunded FOR-PROFIT organisation? As schools are the cornerstone of democracy, how do you make sure your teachers will be objective? How will you make sure schools don't become a marketingploy to teach them how to prefer a certain company's products? Or specificly train them to become the company's employees?
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        Apr 1 2011: Public schools do not have the monopoly of goodwill. Schools in a competitive environment will try to offer the best to their students. Otherwise parents will avoid the schools, which are not well ranked. Results (grades, sponsorships, good jobs) will show to the market the schools we should choose and those we should avoid. Public control is a delusion anyway when we talk about staterun facilities. It is the paradise for burocrats and demagogues. Today, everybody wants to go to private schools but a few can afford it. Demand for a good education is much bigger than offer in an unbelievable way because people would to avoid public school if they could. However, there is no choice for them. Rich people or gifted talent people have granted access to the best places. Where is the equality here? Poor people or ordinary people go to ordinary public school where competitiveness lacks. There are two problems to be faced: how to privatise and how to manage the voucher system to keep the money safe from the burocrats and usual corruption. PS: Funds do not come from government. It come from every individual who contributes for education. What comes in, must goes out. I do not trust in government but, I can accept them taking care of those funds, instead of taking care of our childrenĀ“s education.
        • Apr 4 2011: Poor students = poor schools. It's not government that is the reason why poor students have less access. Belief that capitalism in control will result in a better product and more satisfaction is one that must (in the current climate) be held without supporting evidence. Again, I come back to the health care industry. But I might as well look at the way in which capitalism undermines communities. It used to be that recession was consistent with a depressed stockmarket, decline in consumer confidence, and a failing job market. Now, we have a thriving stockmarket, a failing job market, failing real estate market and decline in consuumer confidence. All institutions whether profit seeking or public tend toward corruption over time. Communism suffers from lack of initiative, but capitalism suffers from a lack of conscience. Capitalism supports capitalism, not communities, not education, not better products, not health care. It is inherently disinterested in being a driving force for anything but profit. It serves itself even at the expense of the host.
    • Apr 1 2011: The notion that privatizing education will solve education's problems assumes that the problem lies strictly with the school systems, that government run institutions are subject to more corruption than private ones, and that privatization always results in superior products through competition.

      First, the collapsing education infrastructure in poor communities does not mean that public schools are generally failing. Public education thrives in places where poverty is not an issue and privatization has not reduced the number of highly able children in the local school system. Secondly, privatization quietly encourages a system where children from empowered families benefit at the expense of children from disenfranchised families. Vouchers give the empowered family more resources toward a bill it can already pay and give disenfranchised families the imitation of choice through access to resources that are insufficient for real choice.

      Finally, It has not been my experience that privatization has been a universally positive force for improvment in the institutions that it already encompasses. Witness the health insurance industry, for one. Privatization largely benefits the profiteers, leaving the "client" to struggle for access to resources that are designated to profit. While some people enjoy the thought that all things will be possible if only they can be enjoined by profit, the loss of a free, publicly funded education for all only serves those who already have options.
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        Apr 2 2011: There is no free nor publicly funded education. Public education is well paid, costs a lot and is funded by tax payers. Even the poor people is paying through sales taxes or so. Even finding bad schools in the market, competition and free of choice would give us opportunity to elect what should be better to our children.
        • Apr 4 2011: no... it isn't free if you pay taxes. But, you will pay those taxes whether they pay for infrastructure or not. Wait and see. More to the point, however, competition has not improved health care or industry to the extent that you seem to think it has. We don't have a strictly free market. If we did, a public option would be an easy sell. But, insurance companies don't want to compete with a public option choice. It would put a bite on their profits.

          Look at housing or clothing or really any product. After a certain point, it makes much more sense to regiment tastes so that products can be made and sold efficiently. The first iteration of many products on the market today were of a higher quality than the same product after initial consumer investment. The owners seek to make the same device or provide the same service for less money so as to increase their profits. They work with other makers to fix price and product. Eventually, the consumer must buy the product that is offered. Of course, the wealthy consumer will get access to a superior product, but the average consumer will not.

          Similarly, competition in school systems will result in creating products that produce more profit. Parents will think they have choice because they can pick and choose between mediocre options. Wealthy parents will take their vouchers and go off to their elite, selective schools that prepare leaders and culture makers and the middle and working class parents will take test scores... naively equating higher test scores on mediocre tests with a quality education. Too bad for them, eh?
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      Apr 4 2011: Roberto, there are capitalist private and non-secular schools already in existence.

      You see no place for a public secular heterarchical system for learning?

      Perhaps you are a person of privilege and derive pleasure from cataloging the poor and randomly awarding some with vouchers. That should make them feel dignified and why wouldn't they be appreciative of your gesture?

      Can't wait to hear more of your education selection process.
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        Apr 4 2011: The question here is: why do we need government, with all its incompetence, to provide education to our kids? People who pays taxes but has no money to afford private schools does not have choice. Neither to runaway from tax collectors nor to pick the school of their choice. Once government will collect taxes anyway, at least the people could have their right to choose what is better to their children. Everybody should have the right to get the voucher. Also those who currentlto grant y have chosen to afford private school to their children are also funding public school while they are paying for taxes. This is unfair. It is proven that public school cost almost the same as a private school but far less qualification. Several countries and even states in the USA use voucher system to fund and develop their educational programs. With this system, people get the best possible arrangement from capitalism: free of choice to the individuals, no matter their income and standard of living (demand) and competition to offer the best education with lower costs (supply); and from socialism: sharing money collected from individuals by force. Of course, home schooling would be included in this arrangement, where parents who spend time teaching their children would be reimbursed by such vouchers upon their costs. Everyone of us would be able to choose what, now-a-days, is restricted only to privileged people: location, subject, system, secular or non-secular, hebrew, catholic, whatever we can and can afford.

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