In "Formation of new governing technologies and productions of new norms: the danger of preschool voucher discourses," I-Fang Lee explores the advantages and disadvantages of emerging forms of governance.
Lee's observations are supplemented by the illustration of the utilization of preschool vouchers in Taiwan and Hong-Kong, which highlights the unfavorable implications of recent governing technologies. The central claim made is that even though preschool vouchers are intended to promote freedom of choice and equality, they instead establish a novel mechanism for governing individuals in accordance with governmental regulations. The writer depicts how preschool vouchers in Taiwan and Hong-Kong enable parents to influence the development of their offspring from an early age by granting them the ability to elect their educational pathway. Vouchers grant parents access to a wider selection of educational institutions for their c...
hildren, with tuition assistance being the form of vouchers in Hong Kong.
While the expansion of school options may seem to give parents more choice and promote equality, the author highlights that educational policies ultimately serve as a form of government control. Despite the positive language used to promote choice and equality, the government defines what is considered normal by imposing policies that dictate how children should be educated. Therefore, while individuals may have the appearance of choosing their own path, they are ultimately following a government-produced path. Martin Friedman's concept of educational vouchers is cited as an example of a policy intended to bring positive change.
It is intriguing that Friedman's idea was utilized as proof considering it was originated in 1955, whereas the voucher system was introduced in Taiwan in 1994 and Hong Kong in 2006. The governmental structure and circumstances
have altered significantly from the time when vouchers were first implemented. Although Friedman's notion emphasizes the benefits of vouchers, the inconsistency in time undermines its persuasiveness. Although the government might have implemented educational vouchers in the manner quoted by Friedman in the 1950s, it is improbable that they would utilize them similarly during the 1990s.
Lee's main argument about how educational reforms are a tool for exercising control over individuals is supported by interesting sources. The use of the terms 'bio-politics' and 'technologies of the self' in the argument is based on information from 1978. While there is supporting material from current literature produced in the 21st century, the main opposition to educational reforms is derived from Foucault's work from 1978. However, for a more convincing argument against educational reforms, the source information should ideally be based on a study conducted when the voucher system was already in place. If such a study existed from another part of the world during the 1970s, it would be relevant. However, the voucher systems used as examples to illustrate Lee's point were only introduced more than 20 years later. Although it is explicitly stated that educational reform could be seen as a form of government control, the argument could benefit from more recent sources and studies to be more persuasive.
Although the author did not explicitly state why it is negative, the argument against vouchers seems to rely on outdated theories and lacks concrete evidence of the negative impact on families. To strengthen this argument, direct evidence from a family or organization that supports the author's point of view would be beneficial. Since the negative views are based on personal
opinions from theorists, it is uncertain whether families who use vouchers feel their freedom and equality are being restricted.
A strong argument to support Lee’s opinion would be clarifying the distribution process of vouchers. Questions that could be answered include: Are vouchers only given based on financial need? How many vouchers are available annually? Which schools accept vouchers and how many preschoolers utilize them? If limitations exist in terms of voucher recipients and available spots for “voucher” students, it would strengthen Lee’s argument. On the other hand, if any family can receive vouchers and enroll their children in any school, it would detract from Lee’s argument and support the idea of freedom of choice. Overall, preschool educational vouchers possess superficial benefits.
Providing parents with the ability to select a pre-school of their choice for their children is advantageous compared to having only one option. However, the decision of pre-school attended may impact the child’s future school location. In such cases, offering educational vouchers for freedom in selecting a child’s pathway, starting from pre-school level, could prove beneficial. Nevertheless, if later educational options are limited, the influence of these vouchers could be insignificant.
For those unfamiliar with the educational systems in Taiwan and Hong-Kong, a brief overview would be helpful in understanding Lee's argument regarding educational reform. However, presenting both sides of the argument may hinder the persuasiveness of Lee's point. It is possible that readers would be more inclined to agree with Lee based on the article and their own general knowledge. The technical language and style of writing suggest that the intended audience already has some knowledge on the subject, although it is debatable how knowledgeable they
may be. Therefore, it can be assumed that the audience already has their own opinions on educational reform and government, and may not need both views explained. Despite this, Lee's argument remains interesting.
Although I am hesitant to accept its validity, I find Lee's argument regarding the government's use of educational reform as a controlling mechanism unconvincing due to insufficient supporting evidence. However, if there were more information concerning the voucher system and education in Taiwan and Hong-Kong, Lee's argument could gain greater strength. Currently, I remain uncertain about my stance on the matter.
Despite the interesting argument presented by Lee in their article "Formations of New Technologies and Productions of New Norms: the dangers of preschool voucher discourse," I would still hold a positive view of the voucher system. Although the article presents Lee's perspective well, it does not effectively persuade readers to agree with their viewpoint.
Bibliography: Lee, I-Fang. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 9 (1) 80-82, 2008.
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