Praesidium

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

School Trip Lottery

Lotteries are often used to distribute goods (e.g. scarce resources such as transplant organs) and bads (e.g. military conscription). Of course, this isn't particularly surprising since any lottery distributing a good can be re-described as one distributing the bad of not getting that good, and vice versa.

Recently in the news was this case of five primary school children who were excluded from an over-subscribed school trip to Disneyland. The headline highlights that names were drawn from a hat to decide who WOULDN'T go, but names could just as easily have been drawn to decide who would go - it would simply have taken much longer and not obviously been at all preferable.

The bullet point below ("School says drawing names was fair way to deal with over-subscription") also seems to implicate that a lottery was not fair - since it does not state this as fact but only as something the school says (though no better alternative is suggested).

To be clear, we have to separate two distinct issues here. The first is whether it's necessary to exclude five children from the trip at all. One might argue that the school could somehow have avoided this situation arising. However, if we take as given that there are 54 people wanting to go and only 49 places, so that the only question is how to allocate the good of places fairly, then a lottery seems pretty clearly fair.

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1 Comments:

At 1:43 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree, the lottery system may work for a trip in isolation, but what then happens as throughout a pupil's school life, they are penalised over and over again by 'chance' or 'fate'? My child, aged 14 years, has repeatedly missed out on residential trips through 'lottery' politics. Why can't schools give a 1st priority option to those who were not successful with trip place allocations on subsequent trips? Such a straightforward, democratic and fair approach could only benefit all. My first response to my daughter, at her first disappointment was, 'see it as part of the learning curve, chin up'. Now, after yet another rejection and slowly seeing her self esteem hit rock bottom, my own response is unprintable!
My child is not a chocolate egg or tub of talc who's fate is to be decided by raffle...

 

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