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Academic Work Sample #2

      This is an essay that Clayton wrote which recieved an A+.  This essay was for a second year English course at Kwantlen University College.  Clayton was able to explain and backup several arguments regarding the importance of education in society.


     The roll of education is widely understood to be essential in our society both for the advancement of our nation, as well as the enhancement of individual life.  The knowledge that can be acquired through a well rounded educational system can provide individuals with the skills required in order to succeed physically, intellectually and emotionally.  The power that amounts from this knowledge provides individuals with the skills they need to work towards their goals; whatever those may be.  As a society, we expect and trust that our educational system is not only functional, but also that it will provide fair and equal learning environments for all students.  However in many incidences this is simply not the case.  The learning environments that exist in our educational system are subject to discrimination and prejudice.  Canada made the decision to provide universal public education to its citizens, in the hope that everyone would be offered an equal opportunity to realize their dreams and to pursue a life full of accomplishments and privilege. However, this plan has failed to supply each child with the same chance to achieve his goal and instead has only fostered segregation, discrimination, and mass inequality. 

     Although it is hard to measure these qualities in any quantitative form, it is important to acknowledge the presence of them in our educational system.  The evidence of unfair learning environments can first be examined at a relatively broad social level.  The British Columbian Ministry of Education is responsible for the allocation of funding to school districts throughout the province.  From here, individual public schools in B.C. are allocated operational funds by their district school board.  In the past, although the overall school district budgets have been publicly approved or reported, it has rarely been the case where boards have publicly revealed the budgets and budget details for individual schools or services (Wilfred 330).  As a result, where and how the funding is spent within a school is generally unknown to the public, even including staff of the particular schools.  If school districts had a fair and balanced methodology behind allocating funding to schools, then there would be no reason to keep this information confidential.  According to Wilfred’s article “Canadian Education: A Sociological Analysis”: “School districts face enormous amounts of pressure when deciding where and how much to allocate to schools; be it from staff members of schools, school board employees, or even sometimes from local municipal officials.

     Pressures such as these cause school boards to segregate school funding in biased ways.  Whereas many children of middle and upper class neighborhoods are given the material and intellectual resources that will allow them to obtain high social status, solid employment, and wealth; many other children are denied this privilege simply because of their economic background and location.  There is of course always going to be varying levels of wealth and status in society, but it seems that the education system magnifies this distinction between rich and poor, through their biased allocation of public school funding.  Therefore, if the Canadian government has promised every individual with an equal opportunity to receive an education, how is it that low-income and citizens are not being offered the same resources as upper class citizens?  School boards simply provide a lack of resources for lower class neighborhoods, which is the foundation of an unfair educational system.  Inefficient and untrained teachers, textbook, lab instrument, general supply shortage, and sometimes, unsuitable building and facility conditions, all are consequences of the fact that there is not enough money being put into such educational institutions.  However, because of both societies discriminatory attitude towards low-income class and personal greed, this inequality often goes overlooked.  As a result, many people are simply ignorant about such inequality within our educational system.

     The German philosopher Karl Marx believed that society is essentially divided into two groups: the bourgeoisie, the people that own means of production and consequently held power and prestige within a society, and the proletariat, the people that comprised the poorer working class and as a result had significantly fewer privileges, and economic freedoms.  Similarly, the residents of an area such as White Rock, a widely recognized upper class suburb, are provided with many resources in their local schools because the community is financially stable, and economically prosperous.  On the other hand, the people of a community such as Whalley, a relatively poorer district within the lower mainland, are often plagued by a vast lack of resources in their public schools.  The contrast between these communities represents the exact model that Marx laid out in his studies of social class and status.  Consequently, students from White Rock are more often then not bombarded with information, intellectual resources, and opportunities throughout their secondary education, which leads to students passing on to top Universities and then to more prestigious high-salary jobs.  In contrast, some students from the Whalley area may also follow this path, but more likely then not the lack of adequate resources will stunt student development, limiting student accessibility of top paying and prestigious jobs.  As Marx rights in his book “German Ideologies”: “…this cycle continues to keep these two classes in constant opposition, and the systemic nature of these problems remains, and will remain, unbroken until a powerful group organizes and starts the procedure of working to overcome these disadvantages…”; only then can the inequity in public education become a viable social problem in the eyes of the powerful and begin to change for the better.  It is simply not fair that some students are given better opportunities to succeed in school, and in life, simply because of their preexisting economic circumstances. 

     Further more, in schools where the populations are financially diverse, the parents of students often expect things at a certain level and not everyone is equipped to foot the bill for that.  In other words, although public education continues to be funded by provincial and federal taxes, there is an ever-growing list of “extras” that school boards do not cover.  This creates problems for many families, as they are forced to find funds to satisfy the economic demands of a particular school; be it for course materials, mandatory agendas, school supplies, or a variety of other items often found in school curriculum.  By doing this, the academic environments in our schools can be biased against students who do not have the funding necessary to pay for these extras.  For example, at Semiahmoo Secondary School to be a member of the wood working program, a student must pay for all wood and materials used throughout the course.  Furthermore, before even registering for the course students are required to pay a $50.00 “tool maintenance” fee, which covers the cost of any broken or damaged equipment throughout the year.  As a result, students who do not have appropriate funding for such a course are simply excluded from all wood working classes within the school.  It is not only woodworking classes that follow this system; home economic classes, automotive, metal work, art, and some technology classes also require students to provide additional funding for their education.  Furthermore, these additional fees are not optional for students; if they do not pay, they cannot take the course.  This is far from the “fair” learning environment that Canadians would hope to see in our public educational system.  Restricting a student’s ability to acquire knowledge − be it in a wood working class, or any other discipline − is simply a crime.  A student’s economical resources should never determine the amount of education that they have access to.  This point can be reiterated by examining the Canadian Charter of Rights which clearly states that “access to certain courses in the curriculum should not be denied to children who are poor (Wilfred 330).  These educational fees are blatantly discriminatory towards students who lack financial resources.  It should also be noted that there is currently a lawsuit in the Canadian Supreme Court that is battling the educational system, stating that educational charges like these are unconstitutional (Wilfred 331).

     As a Canadian citizen and student I feel that our educational system must focus on issues such as these in order to improve the quality of life for students, which will no doubtedly improve the lives of society as a whole.  Canada is a country that prides itself on its high standard of living and its diverse opportunities for all people to succeed.  My education has given me a sense of place, instilled in me much self-confidence and self-worth, and has given me the power to do something good with my life.  It is a shame that such an important institution can so easily be influenced by irresponsible human behavior.  In every social system there are going to be people better off than others, but it is the job of each citizen and each politician to ensure that every single person is at least given the chance by any means possible to succeed.  It is time to bring equality to our schools.  No person deserves anything less.       


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