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Opting out of their own education system

I enjoyed this posting, at David Thompson’s blog, which includes a bit about a Guardian writer who (the horror!) has an inclination towards sending her daughter to a private school.

And I particularly enjoyed this comment attached to it, from “sackcloth and ashes”:

During the early 1980s, my mother taught at an inner city comprehensive which was going downhill fast, largely due to the efforts of the Inner London Educational Authority and the trots in the NUT.

Staff room discussions were usually dominated by the iniquities of private education, and how socially divisive it was, up to the point she let slip that she sent both her boys (self included) to a fee-paying school.

As a consequence, she often found herself being button-holed in the corridors by the most hard-left revolutionaries amongst her colleagues, all of whom wanted her advice on how to get one’s kids into an independent school, rather than a failing comp like the one they were working in.

In my opinion a pro-state-education lefty who sends his/her kid to a private school, because that’s the best school they can contrive, is doing the right thing. I disagree with them about the goodness of state education, not with them doing their best for their kid. What is really creepy is if you send your kid to a terrible school, which you know is terrible, purely in order to be ideologically consistent. Sending your kid to a good school, even though you officially don’t approve of such behaviour, is a tad hypocritical. Deliberately sending your kid to a terrible school, when you had the choice not to, is downright evil.

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4 comments to Opting out of their own education system

  • Alisa

    …’a bit hypocritical’…? That must be that famous English understatement they talk about:-) BTW, the Obamas have been sending their daughters to private schools, both back in Chicago and now in DC. Good on them, I guess.

  • Rob

    How do teachers manage to educate their children privately? I thought the narrative was about how poor they are.

  • State schools and the NHS present an interesting problem that is rarely properly analysed in public.

    In both cases, there could easily be a split between funding and provision.

    Funding (ie through the welfare state) is a political decision. It is one that should be decided, quite rightly, by the electorate.

    Provision by a state service, or by state-licensed monopoly providers, is an entirely separate matter. In need not be that way. Every school and every hospital could be separately run (as are GP doctors’ surgeries). Then an adequately free market could operate, leading to better service through competition.

    For schools, the voucher system would be an appropriate mechanism; there is also no need to prohibit top-up fees. There does, however, need to be some contractual mechanism to hold contracted prices over the several years of each pupil’s usual period at a single school- to avoid stiffing.

    For the NHS, provision could easily be by voucher against the cost of health insurance – at some specified level of cover for a minimum price. There could even be a requirement that every insurance provider must provide the minimum level of cover for a specified price (which might be the value of the ‘voucher’). Again, top-ups should be supported for more extensive levels of provision, at each purchaser’s choice.

    The enforced combination of funding with provision is actually little but a licence for provision of an indifferent quality of service. This can come through government manipulation, excessive trades union influence and through monopoly corporatism.

    And, of course, moving away from monopoly provision is a complicated and drawn out process, not amenable to the (already slow) dynamic of electoral choice. With only funding under primary government control, it would be much easier for the political will of the people to direct variation of the level of funding from the taxpayers’ wallet.

    Best regards

  • Snorri Godhi

    “Sending your kid to a good school, even though you officially don’t approve of such behaviour, is a tad hypocritical.”

    “A tad” by British standards; it is loathsome hypocrisy by continental standards.

    “Deliberately sending your kid to a terrible school, when you had the choice not to, is downright evil.”

    Speaking for myself now, I’d call it not so much evil as auto-genocidally insane.