If Boys Can’t Go To School, Let School Go To Boys

Edgardo Zablotsky

Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Chicago. Rector of the University of CEMA. Member of the National Academy of Education. Academic Counselor for Libertad y Progreso.

INFOBAE – Days ago, the leader of SUTEBA, Roberto Baradel, expressed in a radio interview that “until the coronavirus vaccine is found, face-to-face classes will be a complication” and added that “presence implies a mobilization of very large of boys and large to the schools and that would be contradictory with the measures that are being taken”.

Baradel also pointed out that “the province’s school infrastructure is not in conditions and that an eventual return should consider a series of issues and almost all of Argentina is not in a condition for the new protocols.

The photo is clear, the return to school, at least in the province of Buenos Aires, seems far away. What will become of the boys? It’s scary… The kids who are not educated today will be the unemployed tomorrow, it is essential that society be aware of this.

How to face a tragedy whose magnitude is lost in the daily account of new infections and deaths from the coronavirus?

On July 24, Neal McCluskey, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, published an interesting note that applies perfectly to our reality. The article focuses its interest on the so-called educational pods, which are small groups of children who receive instruction in a home, with a teacher paid by the parents, who want a face-to-face education for their children with a minimized risk against to the coronavirus. This, on the other hand, allows parents to resume their work activities, with the peace of mind that a qualified adult ensures the safety of their children.

It is clear that a solution of these characteristics would widen the educational gap between those who can afford it and those families who are not in a position to do so, as a note in the Washington Post of July 17 points out, the title of which speaks for itself: “To parents who can afford it, a solution for the fall: bring the teachers to the children”. The Post has published other notes on the subject, which reflects its relevance, highlighting the fact that educational capsules will deepen inequality.

However, this is not necessarily true, as Neal McCluskey argues well in his note, if the State fulfills its role of ensuring the education of all citizens, providing parents of families that need it with the necessary financing so that they too they can choose this educational alternative, if they wish.

Let’s see the facts. As McCluskey notes: “As unfortunate as something that exacerbates inequality may be, it is simply unrealistic to think that parents with means will refrain from doing what they believe is best for their children. In fact, this is biologically ingrained in the way we are”, and adds: “Our inclination should not be to embarrass the wealthier families, perhaps in the hope that they will feel enough social pressure not to follow through with their plans. Instead, we should empower the poorest families to seek the best for their children. They, too, are biologically motivated to care for their children, and if educational funding were given to them rather than directly to state schools, they could pay to create their own educational capsules”,

By way of illustration, McCluskey points out that in the US, on average, about $13,000 is spent annually for each student in the public school system. If a group of parents of, say 10 children, were to receive that funding and pool it in a fund, they could pay a teacher up to $130,000 a year, which is more than double the base salary of teachers in public schools.

By the way, a Newsweek article from July 31, entitled “What does the rise of pandemic educational capsules mean for the future of education?” fully matches this position. The article mentions: “Education savings accounts, which have already been in operation successfully in five states prior to the pandemic, can provide all families with the funds necessary to switch to a learning capsule model, if that is the case. it is the best option for them during this difficult time”.

Let’s go back to our reality. Ensuring fairness is a principle that should not be forgotten. Therefore, in the face of the educational tragedy that we are experiencing, we must not restrict possibilities to those families who can access them and we must provide the rest of the families with access to similar opportunities, allowing them to control the financing that is supposed to be used to educate to his children.

Pandemic educational capsules are a reality in other latitudes, it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel.