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Is education a right or a privilege ?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/9/2014 Category: Education
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,769 times Debate No: 43669
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (8)
Votes (1)




This is my first debate. I'm not really sure I know what I am doing. But here it goes.
For some time I have been wondering about this.
I believe that since any government on this earth spends money on education, if it's really worth it and about the implications of it.
In a school you have teachers and administrative staff to pay, plus the maintenance.
Considering that school drop-out is on the rise and it is an unsure investment for the distant future (whether or not any on those students will become productive members of society ) I think that the government should consider education a privilege.
Thus expulsion and a return of all monetary investments made out for a problem-student are in order from the students family.
Money does not grow on trees, and any investment should be treated as a future business asset. Example: I invest 100.000 $ in a student from the first grade to the end of high school. Just before he graduates he drops out. He will not get a well paid job, won't pay a great amount of taxes. What did I spent my 100.000$ on ?
Should I not ask for it back to re-invest it in other serious students ?
I think that private schools are the future, they have better funding, a greater respect for students and higher academic results. Should not the government learn from private schools ?
How about the government funding private schools for their contribution to society ?
I want to hear your opinions.


For the purposes of this debate, unless my opponent clarifies, I will assume that he allows children the right to kindergarten and basic schooling, and that his restrictions on free education take place from a high school age (in the UK, this is from around 11 to 16 years of age at a minimum, with many staying on until they are 17 or 18).

My main argument for this round will focus on the rights that would be denied, if we were to deny education to all children.

Firstly, we all have the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief [1]. A child who receives no high school education cannot be expected to think freely when they are exposed only to the opinions of their parents. They cannot develop their own morals and conscience independently of their family. It is unlikely that they will learn about other religions and beliefs. In other words, a child whose parents are strict fundamentalist Christians who believe in creation theory, and deem it acceptable to verbally abuse Muslims and homosexuals, is likely to grow up with the same values as their parents. It is possible that, had they been exposed to a quality education and socialised with their peers, they may have developed completely different values.

We have the right to equality between men and woman, and to equal partnership in the family and society [1]. This is less likely to happen if children have no access to education. There is a wider range of skilled and unskilled manual labour jobs that are more acceptable for women than for men. Discrimination aside, an uneducated woman is probably less likely to get a job on a building site than an uneducated man. I believe that without free education, we would see a wider section of society where the woman"s role is purely that of a housewife, because there will be no options available to her. Denial of free education also limits sexual education and could lead to an increase in unwanted pregnancies.

We have the right to work and receive wages that contribute to an adequate standard of living. As it stands in the US 90% of high school dropouts are on welfare [2]. There is a close relationship with illiteracy and crime, with over 60% of America"s inmates unable to read above a 4th grade level [3].

Low literacy directly costs the healthcare industry over $70 million annually [3]. Illiterate adults earn up to 42% less than literate adults " so an increase in illiteracy means an increase in low paid jobs with low amounts of taxes [4]. Illiteracy currently costs the US over $300 billion every year.

Whether private schools are truly better than public schools is a whole other debate, with a wide variation within private schools, just as with public schools. I don"t understand your point about governments funding private schools. Private schools raise their own funds. They do not need government money, that"s the point. Who would benefit from this new contribution from the government?

In closing, by withdrawing free education on the basis that some children do not benefit fully from it, my opponent would deny a meaningful future to generations of children, increase crime rates, increase the number of families on welfare and increase health costs.




Debate Round No. 1


The questions I have posted previously have still remained unanswered. I'm interested from a financial point of view, regarding the efficiency of school financing by any government. The mentioned 100.000$ is money that comes from taxes. How efficient is a government in spending this tax money ? I fail to see how a national wide private schools only system would lead to wages discrimination. It is a free labour market. Any business owner can hire & fire anyone. further more I also fail to see how a home-given education regarding religion is a bad thing. If parents decide to educate their children in one faith or another that is their decision. Public schooling is not meant to give kids a "menu of religions" so that they could have a wider rage to pick from.
I said that if a high school drop out occurs the government should ask for it's money back. If I pay my accountant to do a certain task and he/she fails to do it I have the right to ask for my money back.
It's like a government places a bet over the future of a student regarding whether or not he/she will graduate and become a productive member of society. Betting on public money is a great fault in my opinion. Any public investment should be viewed as strictly that ! An investment. You invest something to get something. Governments invest in education to get well-trained productive work force. If the government does not get what was expected, I believe a refund is in order.
How many dropout's can any government afford to have ?
Assuming one student costs 100.000$, and say you have 1000 dropout's... 100.000.000 $ wasted money that will never be given back.
Regarding the governmental funding of private schools I meant that the government should subsidise students that achieve high performances.
What I'm trying to say is that in my opinion governments should only encourage academic elites and strive to educate any and all students to reach elite levels. Those that can not handle the academic pressure and expectations should not benefit from government money. (sounds unfair I know)
Since private schools have a higher academic level of achievements among their students that's why I believe that they should also get government funding.


By discussing the costs of removing free education I thought I had answered my opponent"s question about his $100,000, but apparently not, so I will now try to answer in more depth.


A lack of education leads to a lack of employment. This cannot be disputed. Yes, it is a free labor market. Yes, employers are free to hire and fire at will. But if there is a lack of an educated workforce out there, whom exactly are they supposed to hire [1]? How many of my opponents" privately schooled academic elites are going to pay for tuition to work in low-income jobs in construction or the public service industry? Unemployment among young workers (16 to 34 years of age) cost the taxpayer $25 billion every year [2]. Bear in mind this is with a free education system, where 87% of adults are high school graduates [3]. On an individual level, that cost equates to $9875, per year. Sending this individual to university would cost $8,093 per year [4]. Over the course of his lifetime, an individual finishing high school pays an average of $50,000 in taxes. This figure increases to over $200,000 with a Bachelor"s degree [5]. Of course, this can only happen if the individual has a basic high school education.

Unemployment is directly correlated with drug and alcohol abuse, with young, uneducated people failing to find work, resulting in a depressed state whereby the individual gives up hope of bettering their lives, and turns to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism. This in turn increases societal problems, creating regions where unemployment is rife, and rates of alcoholism, drug abuse and crime are high. Those who are unemployed have higher rates of accidents, suicide, and cardiovascular disease, with an increase in mortality rates even when correcting for alcohol consumption, poverty, and obesity [6].

People with less education are more likely to be incarcerated, with the associated costs to the taxpayer. The annual cost of keeping over 2 million people in prison in the US is around $55 billion [7]. In over a dozen states in 2009, more money was spent on prison systems than education [7]. It is suggested that a 1% increase in graduation rates can save the taxpayer up to $1.4 billion [8]. It is reasonable to infer that a drop in graduation rates (or lack of education attendance) would lead to significantly higher costs to the taxpayer. A one-year increase in years of schooling was found to: "reduce murder and assault by almost 30%, motor vehicle theft by 20%, arson by 13%, and burglary and larceny by about 6%." [8].

So in answer to your first question, the loss of your taxes when an individual drops out of school is unfortunate, and non-returnable. The loss of your taxes due to withholding education, however, is immeasurable and economically devastating.

Secondly, my opponent asked how efficient the government is at spending taxpayer"s money. The statistics show that it"s not. Despite high spending rates on public education. In a report by the OECD in which they compared education levels with 37 member countries, they found that in 21 OECD countries the average age for beginning early childhood education was 3 years old, while in America it is 4 years, ranking only 28th in the percentage of 4 year olds in early education [9]. The US spends much more than the average on primary and lower secondary education, and spends more on higher education than any other country but Korea [9]. The graduation rates for young people from secondary education are only 77% - 22nd out of the 27 countries examined in this study [9]. American students came in 21st for science, 17th for reading, and 26th for math, out of a total of 34 countries, while ranking 5th in spending per student. So where do your taxes go and what do they achieve? To that I have no factual answer, but clearly the American education system as it stands is simply not good enough.

In some cases the schools themselves simply fail to meet standards. Poor teachers, a lack of motivation for teachers, lack of educational materials, and a lack of belief that teaching is worthwhile is always going to be a factor in high school drop outs [10].

The real failure in US, however, seems to be the strong correlation between socio-economic factors and education. There is a large gap in academic achievement between children of affluent families and low-income families [10]. Educational outcomes differ in deprived areas. Family background and socioeconomic status explains more than half of the variation in educational achievement between schools [10]. Some schools cope well with large numbers of students from poor backgrounds and have high graduation rates, enabling those students to go on to earn a reasonable living wage and break the cycle of social deprivation. Most schools don"t. School funding traditionally comes from local property taxes " so this will obviously lead to large disparity between schools depending on the socio-economic status of the area. [11]

With regards to private schools vs. public schools, studies have shown that when family background was taken into account, students from both types of school performed similarly on academic achievement tests. Neither student was more likely to attend college, engage in more "civic activities", or have higher job satisfaction [12].

My opponent stated that "If parents decide to educate their children in one faith or another that is their decision". I do not disagree with this. When sending children to public school a large part of the parent"s decision is finding a school that suits meets their religious requirements. The part that I have a problem with is that a lack of formal education denies the child the ability to think critically and form independent thought. On religion, politics, history, science, and many other issues that are important to society, every individual should be capable of forming a well-reasoned opinion " not just echoing that of his parents.

My opponent also disagrees with using public spending for anything other than a sound investment.

"Governments invest in education to get well-trained productive work force. If the government does not get what was expected, I believe a refund is in order."

I have shown that by refusing education, as well as losing the taxes that could have been gained from these students, public spending on welfare, prison systems, healthcare, social and economic problems will increase.
It is clear to me that America"s failing education system is a result of socio-economic deprivation, and that only by treating this more effectively can we expect to see and improvement in academic achievement.












Debate Round No. 2


the_saint1989 forfeited this round.


As my opponent has declined to take part in this round, I await his rebuttal in round four.
Debate Round No. 3


the_saint1989 forfeited this round.


Spinelli forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


the_saint1989 forfeited this round.


I will not present a formal closing case as my opponent has abandoned the debate. I hope readers will vote for me, as I took the time and effort to make my case and answer each of my opponents initial points, and I would rather my time had not been completely wasted!

Thank you to anyone who reads and votes.
Debate Round No. 5
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by Romanii 2 years ago
They won't... they simply won't go to school because going to a charter school isn't mandatory.
Posted by Spinelli 2 years ago
@Man0euvre, no need to apologise! The comments work more like a forum, rather than replying to just one individual.

You are perfectly welcome to share your thoughts on the subject, I was simply giving you my opinion on your proposal. As I have now stated in the debate, I believe the problems with the education sector today stem from socio-economic issues, and that if these were addressed there would be no reason for the public education system to fail - and no need for more extreme scenarios!
Posted by man0euvre 2 years ago
@Spinelli, I first have to apologize. I am new to the site and although I intended my comment to be aimed primarily at the_saint's opening declaration, it appears my comment was deposited in this general comment box. So, that said, please consider my comments mainly with regard to the_saint's initial position regarding dropping the problem children from the schools. As for my proposal, it was intended to be an extreme alternative to what I perceived was also an extreme course, posited by the_saint. And because there were no parameters set forth regarding sociopolitical makeup, I went as outlandish as I could. It's not my ideal system, but I think even despite the inefficiencies you noted, it could succeed in the right climate. It would produce a vastly different system than we have presently, and you're right the moral questions haven't yet been answered.

And yes, I have seen Gattaca.
Posted by Spinelli 2 years ago
Man0euvre, if i'm totally honest I find your suggestion pretty scary. Early childhood screening? I fail to see how this could show what an individual will be good at in the future, before they've even been exposed to different disciplines. No test is going to prove that this 4 year old should be a chemist, and that 4 year old should drive buses. Even if you base this on making a very vague distinction between apparently 'bright' children, and children with lower basic skills, this does not take into account the child's background up until this point. Many children from poor social backgrounds lacking in stimulus will make a bad first impression, but this does not necessarily predict intelligence.

There's also the moral argument - at what age would you send these children away to communes and how would living in segregated environments affect their integration into society?

I do see another solution, a fairly simple one really, but i'll save it for the debate, as there are still 5 rounds to go!

On a side note, have you ever seen the movie Gattica?
Posted by man0euvre 2 years ago
It's an interesting proposition, but there are a lot of definitions that need to be made, parameters to be set before you can arrive at an answer this kind of broadly reaching social question. For example, what kind of economic system is this debate intended to address? Capitalism? If so, do you recognize that baseline education correlates significantly with worker production? If you simply "cut out" baseline education for all your problem students, and leave them to... what? roam the streets? You're going to see a drop in production, coupled with a rise in crime rates and degeneracy, which will cost more to control. You're shooting yourself in the foot in that scenario. If you're instead lodging this in a Communist country, the workers need far less education because the state will place them in basic jobs, and select from the workers the naturally bright or gifted for additional schooling as they go along. That's an answer right there. But you can't begin to answer this question without first determining your social parameters.

Also, as ZenoCitium said, government funded private schools are then... government schools. Once they become tied to a bureaucracy, they, too, will decline in quality. That plan is horrible. Absolutely.

An alternative hybrid system could potentially work. I am thinking early childhood screening and placement. Traditional education for promising candidates. Send other candidates to live in communes, where they will learn agriculture, or specialized trade, or simply live off the land. Anyone who displays promise secondarily could have the option of entering school spontaneously. How to best reintegrate these commune people is a question to answer- how to balance the classes. It would be a monument to social and cultural engineering if everyone in such a system could be helped to understand and appreciate one another for the roles they must perform, toward a common goal. Fanciful but doable.
Posted by ZenoCitium 2 years ago
I'm not sure what a government funded education is exactly. Do you mean public education? Most of the cost of public education is paid for by property taxes. Also, you can't have a government funded private school.

pri"vate school
noun: private school; plural noun: private schools
1. a school supported by a private organization or private individuals rather than by the government.
2. Brit. a school supported wholly by the payment of fees.

@Romanii: Why do you think that the kids in your school will try harder if they went to a Charter school?
Posted by Romanii 2 years ago
Honestly, seeing some of the kids in my school, I feel like a government-funded education goes to waste on them... they don't even try to do well...
Posted by Romanii 2 years ago
Charter schools are the future
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Jay-D 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Con loses conduct due to forfeiture and sources because he didn't provide any. Pro wins points for arguments. 6-0 for Pro.