Everyone’s talking about reform. Especially right now. Jim Gomes offers a provocative way to look at the healthcare and education systems in this country in yesterday’s Boston Globe.
Gomes offers the question: What if public education worked like our healthcare system?
Here, he looks at employer-based education:
First, children’s education would depend on where their parents worked. If the employer provided it as part of a benefits package, kids would receive an education. Some employers would offer high-quality educations to their employees’ kids, while others would offer stripped-down schooling that omitted whole subjects or stopped after sixth grade. Students would bring daily co-payments to school with their lunch money.
America would also have a program for poor children whose parents did not have jobs or had jobs without education benefits. However, the quality of education would vary widely depending on how much funding each state provided. One child in seven would have no education plan at all, although they could receive instruction on an emergency basis – for example, just before the SAT exams.
Teachers would be paid by peicework; the budget would determine coverage for particular subjects (not everyone needs reading and writing!)
Our health care center would be based on real estate and our ability to afford a home in a town with decent health centers and hospitals. At some point even the best and brightest doctors wouldn’t be able to pass their periodic recertification and licensing exams (but who cares?!)
We wouldn’t allow these systems to function if they were reversed like this, but looking at them this way allows us to look at flaws in a new way.
Access may be universal with our education system but there still exist grave disparities in content and preparation for higher education and the workforce. Health care is top-notch, but still important issues concerning disparities regarding access, insurance coverage and cost exist.
With systems like this, the most vulnerable are at greatest risk: children.
This is not a world we want to live in, yet we’ve accepted it and despite calls for reform for decades- have we ever really seen any? Will we ever see any?