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Book review of “Money and Schools”
The book written by Thompson D.C. & Wood, R.C. titled Money and schools and published by Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education, Inc in 2005 explores the role of education and conveys an idea that a child cannot succeed in life if she/he is denied the opportunity of an education. The following essay summarizes Chapter 1 of the book concentrating on the most important and interesting aspects.
Chapter 1 Schools, Values and Money explores where schools came from and where they are going in the context of public education. “Schools are an integral part of society transmitting culture and wining approval for the success in preparing future generations” (Thompson & Wood, 2005, 4). One learns that in the USA schools became what they are not via evolutionary process of transformation and changes starting from the education in the original colonies (Thompson & Wood, 2005, 6).
The chapter goes on to explain what schools should be doing and what they are capable of doing. One explores how different interest groups, and teacher unions present different opinions on this matter. Historically schools were supposed to deal with “issues relating to morality, democracy, and equality” (Thompson & Wood, 2005, 7) and there is little argument regarding the ‘basis for economic productivity” (Thompson & Wood, 2005, 8) as influenced by school education. While many educators believe that schools can achieve the goals set by different interest groups they also believe that “restoring basic education and traditional values to schools would solve the social ills now afflicting the nation” (Thompson & Wood, 2005, 9). One further goes in examination of how money affects schools and how the increase or decrease of money (financing) impacts education. Surprisingly, while there was generally some correlation between increased financing and better education (determined by production-function), there is no guarantee (as can be seen from Coleman’s report) that by simply increasing financing will improve the school system. Researchers call for new methodologies and new strategies (Thompson & Wood, 2005, 10). The answer to questions about the effect of “money on schools is still incomplete, contradictory, and confusing” (Thompson & Wood, 2005, 13). There is no data to support linear increase in achievement for each additional dollar invested, just like there is no data to support that fewer dollars “would spark a drop in achievement” (Thompson & Wood, 2005, 16). In other words, the “more money is better” argument and “less money might be better, too” argument might both work, as it seems that not the money but the methodology, the novel teaching methods, the motivation, and other intangible factors that affect students’ achievement and success.
Finally, the chapter explores where the schools may be headed in the future given the status quo of things and it gradually prompts the reader to continue reading the book well into Chapter 2 and further exploring the historical trends in education. What this chapter notes is that in order to assure that schools head towards a bright and prosperous future (represented by student achievement) they must do a much better job than at present communicating their needs, forming their budgets, establishing goals and objectives and meeting the changing society’s needs (Thompson & Wood, 2005, 17). If the public education fails to do so, it might lose its popularity to alternative education, just like it might lose support to public education.