Conflict in Education - Equality or Competition Essay

In there contribution to the academic Journal, the American Educator (Winter 2010-2011), William Schmidt, Leland Conga, and Curtis McKnight shed light on their explanation of how to acquire equality of educational opportunity. The authors ask readers to consider the affects of equal content coverage In the classroom, and how enabling this, would create equal opportunities for individual students, “no matter the equality in other resources provided” (p. 3). In addition, one must consider factors that “are beyond the control tot individual students” such as “socioeconomic actors, housing patterns, community structures, (and) parental decisions” (p. 13). I am particularly fond of their definition of equality of educational opportunity because it is straightforward, in providing a viable solution (providing equal content coverage) tot historic quandary (providing equal opportunity).

Amidst a vast array of deeply vetted sociological of education research we have covered in class, such as James Colleen’s thorough analysis in “Equality of Educational Opportunity,” Schmidt, Conga, and McKnight are distinct in their basic, yet very insightful research in simply sousing on “what mathematics topics are taught” and how this Influences student opportunity (p, 13), While I am in agreement with the authors’ explanation, I contemplate how emphasis on equal content coverage may underplay other very Influential external factors In student opportunity.

Additionally, I assess how the definition may affect the pattern of future studies in the field of sociology of education, specifically regarding the shift to or from individual emphasis (Schneider 2003). To account for fluidly, I critique this definition In sections to highlight, ampere, and/or contrast to the course readings reviewed thus far, I intend to specifically focus on the Implications this definition may create for our current educational system It the concept of equal content coverage were Implemented In a federal report.

Though I appreciate this definition In Its simplicity, must also consider that it may be too simple, in that it minimizes the importance tot other influential doctors in student opportunity. Schmidt, Conga, and McKnight note that equal coverage of content will create equal opportunity, “no matter the equality In other resources provided” (p. 13). This statement uprooted some of my previously held assumptions, that much of student opportunity is dependent upon one’s socioeconomic background and individual effort.

This segment of the deflation allowed me to consider and concentrate on the significant role of available opportunity to students. On a very basic level, if equal opportunity in content coverage is not afforded to all students, how can one demand equal aptitude In content? Schmidt, Conga, and McKnight unnerve the power dynamic from the sum of various factors influencing opportunity, to focusing on one factor having supreme ability in creating equal opportunity. Ender a mandate within the Call Rights Act of 1364, a survey was carried out to evaluate levels of educational opportunities, which provided several explanations of types of inequalities present in schools (Coleman 1968). He explains: … Controlling all Docudrama Territories AT ten CNN learn, results Tort Negroes Ana whites would be equal, and thus by this definition equality of opportunity would exist. But because such minimal schooling would have minimal effect, those children from educationally strong families would enjoy educational opportunity far passing that of others.

Coleman confirms the impact of how creating an equal playing field for students supports the production of equal opportunity; however, Coleman also shifts our attention to how insignificant factors related to school (I. E. Curriculum, facilities, teacher quality) are in producing equality. Therefore, this portion of the definition relegates previous sociological research that has focused on various cumulative factors being the cause of opportunity differences among students.

Schmidt, Conga, and McKnight uphold equal coverage of content, and in turn, downplay the importance of other resources, which unfolds some implausibility of heir definition. It does not consider the amount of power to which other factors may hold concerning student opportunity and learning. Nevertheless, I do find some solace in their definition; in addition to my socioeconomic and family background, perhaps it may have been the opportunities presented in my own school that impacted my opportunity to learn (Schmidt, Conga, and McKnight, 13).

Charles Bedside’s (1999) historical account of the sociology of education field describes significant shifts that have occurred within the field. According to Biddable, sociologists have taken the individualist turn in research, becoming more concerned with individual states of mind, individual states of being, individual state of patterns of behaviors,” and conducted such studies via mass distribution of surveys (Biddable, 85). On the whole, he explains that sociology of education research become less inclined to study the structure of social organizations.

As seen in the study administered in the American Educator, Schmidt, Conga, and McKnight also perform their research by surveying over a thousand students and teachers to reveal what mathematic topics were being taught (p. 13). Although their study indicate traits that could be associated with the individualistic turn, as seen in their evaluation of the student at the individual level with the primary concern of equalizing opportunity for the individual student, they also reveal research pertaining to the structure of a social organization by means of their concern for equal opportunity.

Their research exposes inequality in curriculum coverage to be the culprit of inequality of opportunity. Barbara Schneider (2003) explains, “Scholarly work that emanates from a theory of social Justice is different in form and content, from studies that identify barriers to social mobility for all citizens” (p. 11). In association to the Schneider text, equality of educational opportunity is clearly a social Justice issue.

Moreover, the aim of the definition provided by Schmidt, Conga and McKnight, is that they are concerned with the collective change of a social structure, which is an opposite perspective to that of the individualistic turn (Schneider, 211). Accordingly, we are exposed to two significant components that make it difficult to categorize their study: individual opportunity afforded to the individual student, and a curriculum afforded to a social organization (in this case, the school).

Though the research is conducted by studying individual opportunity, the goal is geared toward collective change. In analyzing the definition of equality of opportunity as presented by Schmidt, Conga, and McKnight, I also grappled with what this would mean if their definition were put into practice by way AT a Ethereal report Harshly, to require equal content coverage Tort all cocoons would compel in-depth analysis of what curriculum should be covered, while also determining at what age and/or grade level such academic content should be mastered.

We are first introduced to such challenges when analyzing the ramification of curriculum during the Common School Era. David Labret (1997) notes that during the Common School Movement students had “universal curriculum and a shared experience” which was central to the efforts of creating a politically minded citizen (p. 18). Like the definition presented by Schmidt, Conga, and McKnight, the common school advocated for “universal curriculum,” in which every student would be exposed to the same content, and would therefore advance equality of opportunity for students.

However, curriculum requirements would eventually be altered to cater to the demands of a production-driven economy, and he once “universal curriculum” would undergo major transformation (Labret, 21). This would ultimately lead to the highly stratified education system we have in place today. Consequently, the notion of equal coverage of content seems all too familiar, and warrants questioning on its lasting effectiveness on student opportunity. Secondly, if recognized as a federal report, the concept of equality in content coverage would undoubtedly be pressured to produce positive results.

The results should indicate the authors’ claim to be true – that equal opportunity for students can be attained by means of equal coverage of content. In light of the 1983 federal report titled A Nation at Risk by then Secretary of Education, Terrible Bell, we can see the significant power that a federal report can possess. A Nation At Risk prompted the United States to assess its educational status and rank in comparison to other nations. Moreover, the report caused attention to shift away from issues of equality (as occurred during the Civil Rights Movement) and toward the importance of student excellence (Walters, 660).

One can argue that this report had a major part in the passing of the No Child Left Behind (UNCLE) Act because it responded to the report’s raring. Authorized by the George W. Bush Administration, UNCLE not only required higher educational standards, but also demands positive results that indicate an increase in student performance. The shift from equality to excellence in educational reform enabled the federal government to act by setting higher standards for students and educators.

In witnessing the amount of influence a federal report can have, one should consider the amount of influence the report by Schmidt, Conga, and McKnight could have, if it were federally recognized. On a very basic level, the report alls for curriculum coverage to be equalized, but how would the concept of equal opportunity for all students be accounted for and measured? Under the mandate of UNCLE, standardized testing is used as a method to assess student performance and achievement, which has received mixed responses among educators, students, and parents alike.

It seems fair to suppose that equality of opportunity would also be assessed via testing, or at the very least, through surveys. In any case, student opportunity would need to be measured to confirm the validity of the argument presented in the American Educator. Like the reaction to UNCLE, response to the theory of equal curriculum being the solution to obtaining equal opportunity could be mixed. However, in a society driven by competition that advocates for stratified social institutions, one could argue that the audience may be more prone to non- acceptance.

I en concept AT equality conflicts Witt ten prevailing competitive nature found within several social organizations, including the school. Labret (1997) provides three concepts that explain how the framework for the educational system has evolved: 1) democratic equality, 2) social efficiency, and 3) social mobility (p. 9). Correspondingly, the purpose of school is to 1) prepare students to benefit society, 2) prepare students to be productive workers in the service of the economy, and 3) prepare individuals for competition in the service of individual opportunity (Labret, 20, 22, 26).

Social efficiency and social mobility advance stratification by demanding a strong economy and a strong individual, respectively (Labret, 37). On the other hand, democratic equality is functional through equal access and equal treatment geared toward the betterment of a society, rather than the individual. Based on this information, Schmidt, Conga, and McKnight definition on equality of educational opportunity closely relate to the framework of democratic equality, in that both concepts support equal opportunity for all students.

The authors state, “Ultimately, learning specific content is the goal,” (p. 13), indicating that the school should be an institution focused on teaching; students are to learn for the sake of obtaining knowledge. Although one would like to believe that learning is the ultimate goal of a student, the need for individuals to “get ahead” (Labret, 1) leads me to believe otherwise. Thomas Green (1980) confirms, “What parents want is not that their children have equal opportunity, but that they get the best possible. And that will always mean opportunities ‘better than some others get” (Green, 25).

With rivalry present among parents, students are not only exposed to competitive demeanor, but they also acquire the same taste for it. Competition by means of social mobility is reinforced from generation to generation, and shows little sign of diminishing (Labret, 13). According to the definition provided by Schmidt, Conga, and McKnight, creating equality in opportunity could be remedied by offering equal coverage in intent. Although I appreciate the simplicity of their definition, as a result of relying solely on equal coverage on content, other factors that have an influenced on student opportunity are downplayed.

This strikes me as surprising, and leads me to grapple with the definition in a more complex manner. Let us consider the expectations of the federal government and the nation’s citizens (specifically parents and students), and how all parties would respond if the definition had been implemented in a federal report. Like the federal reports reviewed in class, the research done by Schmidt, Conga, and McKnight would be greatly analyzed, critiqued, and more importantly pressed for positive results by all parties.

Specifically, I ponder if the United States, considering the country historical reliance on competition, is indeed ready for equal opportunity in the field of education. What I also find fascinating about Schmidt, Conga, and McKnight definition of equality of opportunity, is that it already opens the door to critique. According to the authors’ claim, when equal content coverage is provided, equal opportunity is a guarantee. When making such a old and confident claim, researchers should consider the response of their audience.

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