Freedom and Equality

Freedom and Equality

A Chapter by Debbie Barry

An essay about the importance of freedom and equality for all students. Written for EDU 108: Introduction to Policy & Education.


Freedom and Equality

November 28, 2009


The values for freedom and for equality are important factors in education policy, and are both 'fundamental principle[s] of democracy" (Fowler, 2009, 110). 

Freedom in education includes "the constitutional right to speak out, to form organizations, and to assemble peacefully ... [and advocates] the adoption of school choice policies, arguing that such policies are an inherent aspect of parents' freedom to raise their children and also of freedom of religion" (Viteritti, 1999, cited in Fowler, 2009. 110).  Equality in education "provid[es] every child with access to a public elementary school ... [and] secondary education ... [and] policies were adopted to improve the access of minority children, girls, and the handicapped to various portions of the school system" (Fowler, 2009, 112).

As in every aspect of life, educational freedoms are limited by the need for educational equality.  Educational freedom ensures teachers' and students' Constitutional freedoms of speech, press, association, and assembly, while educational equality assures that those freedoms do not interfere with the rights of marginalized groups such as racial minorities, girls and women, low-income and working-class families, people with disabilities, English as a Second Language (ESL) students and teachers, and members of religious minority groups.

Freedom of thought provides "access to knowledge, encouragement of open debate, and presentation of a range of ideas" (Fowler, 2009, 111, Fig. 5.3) to students and faculty, and equality in education provides "equality of opportunity ... [and] economic equality ... [to] racial minorities ... girls and women ... people ... with disabilities ... people whose native language is not English ... [and] members of religious minority groups" (Fowler, 2009, 113, Fig. 5.4).  If a value for freedom is balanced with a value for equality, then education can serve students, parents, and teachers and help them all reach their greatest potential.  If a value for freedom is significantly greater than a value for equality, then students, parents, and teachers have the freedom  to achieve greatly, but those who are disadvantaged have no protections to ensure that they reach their full potential.  If a value for equality is significantly greater than a value for freedom, then each student, parent, and teacher is given the same opportunity to achieve, but their intrinsic human rights and Constitutional rights are not protected and one person's rights may be violated so that another person may reach his or her potential.



Fowler, F.C. (2009). Policy Studies for Educational Leaders: An Introduction (3rd ed). Boston:    Allyn & Bacon.

© 2017 Debbie Barry

Author's Note

Debbie Barry
Initial reactions and constructive criticism welcome.

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Added on November 10, 2017
Last Updated on November 10, 2017
Tags: essay, education, freedom, equality

A Journey through My College Papers


Debbie Barry
Debbie Barry

Clarkston, MI

I live with my husband in southeastern Michigan with our two cats, Mister and Goblin. We enjoy exploring history through French and Indian War re-enactment and through medieval re-enactment in the So.. more..