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Topics for a Compare & Contrast Essay on Education

by Michael Stratford, studioD

The controversy over the best way to educate children has never been more intense; from the advent of No Child Left Behind to its subsequent adjunct, the Common Core, our national education remains an intensely debated topic. A compare and contrast essay on education is an excellent format for comparing theories, philosophies and issues in children's education.

College-Based Topics

A good research topic for educational essays is comparing and contrasting different colleges in terms of viability, cost and effectiveness. Writers might consider the value of a degree from a community college, for instance. Another recent concept for research is the controversial idea that examines how some students attend higher learning institutions that do little or nothing to advance their careers. A related topic is the need for careful planning due to high college tuition prices, which would compare and contrast tuition prices and payment plans.

Public Vs. Private

A fruitful topic would be education in public versus private schools, which would examine the voucher system and its advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost, the comparisons of classroom sizes and teacher-to-student ratios, as well as comparisons of standardized test scores, public and private. Other topics include charter schools versus public schools, the requirements for professional teachers in private schools, and the curriculum of public versus specialized -- such as religious -- schools. These essays can examine whether or not there is validity in the argument against public schooling.

Policies and Their Effects

Local school policies are generating great controversy; for instance, zero tolerance for weaponry has created difficult situations for students. A good essay topic would be to compare school policies historically -- both those before events that necessitated policy changes and those after -- and extrapolate a "result vs. intent" comparison: Are the changes resulting in better school safety? Similarly, writers can compare and contrast school policies that have banned sodas and so-called "junk food" from campuses: Have these policies resulted, over time, in better student health?

AP or No AP?

The philosophy of advanced placement and the classes it generates is causing some controversy as well: Students misplaced in these classes or placed before they are ready may actually be at a disadvantage. A comparison and contrast essay about the validity of AP placements and advantages and disadvantages to students in these classes would be a valid and timely topic in discussing this educational philosophy.

About the Author

Michael Stratford is a National Board-certified and Single Subject Credentialed teacher with a Master of Science in educational rehabilitation (University of Montana, 1995). He has taught English at the 6-12 level for more than 20 years. He has written extensively in literary criticism, student writing syllabi and numerous classroom educational paradigms.

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