Exciting news for British schoolchildren. Early leavers ‘will not be jailed’ (PA). Except of course they will be under control orders, in effect; incarcerated and enslaved part-time. “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance,” ran the old slogan. This policy is pretty clear evidence that what’s offerred to many in the state school system is not education. If you have to force people to take something, then it is not plausiible that it is of use to them. There is no problem selling education and training to those who want it. Even very poor parents in London often find money for extra lessons or private day-schooling on top of the taxes they pay to imprison other people’s children. The prison function of the system reduces its value to others.
Put aside for the moment whether it should be paid for from taxes or not. How much more cost-effective would state education be if it were voluntary, and the classes were full of eager participants and even the grumpiest teenagers present were those whose parents or peers had persuaded them it was worthwhile? How much better would the curriculum be if it had to attract an audience by being interesting or useful, rather than prescribed by bureaucrats? How much better would teachers feel about their work if it didn’t include the roles of commissar, bureaucrat and gaoler?
Teenagers who refuse to stay in education until they are 18 will not face jail, Schools Secretary Ed Balls insisted ahead of new legislation to raise the leaving age.
The reform – hailed as one of the biggest in education for half a century – will be included in the first Queen’s Speech of Gordon Brown’s premiership on Tuesday.
Mr Balls said the legislation, which will raise the age to 17 by 2013 and 18 by 2015, will be backed by a “robust regime” of support and sanctions including spot fines and court action.
Since if you are at school you are barred from employment without the permission of the authorities, I imagine they will pay the fines with the proceeds of robbery and prostitution. Well done, Balls!