Atheist Frontier - Questioning what's Real

Ideas - Free education as a government policy

This is an outline for how governments can preserve or improve their integrity through effectively educating their populace in a fair and encouraging manner that fosters progress.

Public schools and public libraries are two of the most important vehicles that enable people to more easily acquire knowledge.  Governments who consistently encourage and support fair education generally enjoy a more progressive society with citizens who willingly contribute more to their nation.  Ideally, an educational system should have the following characteristics:

  • Education must be a legal requirement for all children to reach a minimum subset of pre-university skills needed to function in society
    • Minimum basic skills include logic, mathematics, arts, science, technology, history, reading, writing, verbal communications (rhetoric), philosophy, and critical thinking
    • The law must not make exceptions that support any form of discrimination (this ensures that people with physical or mental disabilities be included)
    • Educational facilities and public libraries must be legally required to adhere to national safety standards
  • Grades must be based consistently on verifiable competency
    • Higher levels of post-secondary education must be available to those who have obtaind minimum relevant qualifications
    • No alteration of grades using any system (such as the infamous Bell Curve) which undermine the merit-centric ideals of a "level playing field"
    • Double-blind methodology must be used at all levels to grade written tests (so that students can't be identified by examiners who are grading their tests)
  • Students must never be required to pay tuition
    • Primary and secondary level students must never be required to pay for essential school supplies (this includes books and on-site computers)
    • To pay tuition loans, working part-time jobs means that students are not focusing their full potential on learning
    • Entering the work-force with tuition debt is not ideal because it can restrict a person's quality of life and hinder progress
  • No discrimination, including especially race, sex, gender, religious and other affiliations, wealth, nobility, etc.
    • Minimim requirements to attain a grade are not discriminatory because they are based on merit
    • Dress codes that don't recognize religious requirements are not discriminatory when they are practical
    • No favouritism nor other forms of inappropriate influence can be permitted (e.g., major donations from rich relatives)
  • Public libraries must be adequately funded to serve most citizens most of the time
    • Fees must not be charged to enter the library facility or to access its materials
    • Fees to remove materials from the library are acceptable as long as the monies collected are refunded in full when the same materials are returned in acceptable condition by or before the deadline (late fees may be deducted for materials returned after the deadline)
  • Freedom of expression must be unencumbered to foster support for students and teachers to openly question claims, theories, facts, etc.

To ensure an educational system having these characteristics works effectively, government involvement is imperative to making sure that the legal requirements are enforced.  A society wherein all citizens are literate in at least one commonly used language, and otherwise have a basic level of education, is a reasonable goal that every nation can genuinely benefit from.

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