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“Prisoner number 232469, stop crying”

Although I may not live to see it, I am nonetheless very confident that the day will come when the idea of compelling children to attend schools will be regarded with the same contempt and revulsion that is now directed at the idea of slavery.

That day is hastening:

A school in Swansea is considering tagging its pupils because of a shortage of assistants who can supervise lunch breaks.

The idea is for children at Lonlas Primary to wear the tags all day, with a buzzer sounding if they leave.

I welcome this development and I sincerely hope it spreads because it will make it impossible to deny that state schools are anything other than day-prisons.

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85 comments to “Prisoner number 232469, stop crying”

  • Don’t let em’ know about the numbnut American parents who are chipping their children.

  • GCooper

    David Carr writes:

    “Although I may not live to see it, I am nonetheless very confident that the day will come when the idea of compelling children to attend schools will be regarded with the same contempt and revulsion that is now directed at the idea of slavery.”

    I’ve been saying for years that the thing I find most terrifying about the idea of reincarnation is the prospect of having to live again as a child.

    And the older I get, the more those people who say they loved their schooldays, seem the ones I’d most like to have boiled in oil.

  • Della

    It seems to be something of a trend:

    URL:http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/techinnovations/2003-01-08-CENSORED1-CENSORED2_CENSORED3.htm
    To get this URL to work replace the word CENSORED1 with retina, replace the word CENSORED2 with school, replace the word CENSORED3 with a lowercase x (Samizdata censorship)

    Retinal-scans to remove social stigma from English school

    LONDON (AP) — A new high school said Wednesday its students will be charged for their lunches with a retina scanning device to prevent poor children who eat for free from being ridiculed in the cafeteria.

    http://www.sptimes.com/2004/02/28/Tampabay/Have_your_thumb_ready.shtml

    Pinellas schools ponder a $2-million system that would require students to use their thumbprint to get on the bus

    […]

    “This is probably a really good idea, but in my mind it was just this terrible feeling, like they’re watching my kids wherever they go,” said Nancy McKibben, mother of three teenagers at Palm Harbor University High School and president of the school’s PTSA.

    N.J. Schools Testing Eye Recognition

    …it was somewhat of a surprise when the Plumsted district’s three schools became the test site for a cutting-edge eye recognition security system designed to keep out strangers.

    “We’re an appealing test site because we are a small community where everybody knows everybody,” said Michael Dean, the schools’ technology coordinator. “We’re taking a rural town and asking, `What is John Q. Public’s perception of this technology? What is people’s comfort level – is this easy to use?'”…

    Plumsted was among some 400 school districts that applied for a grant from the Justice Department for the iris recognition technology. The federal agency is building a database on school security and is using Plumsted as its first data collection…

    Doubleplusungood

  • veryretired

    We have created, with all the best parental intentions in the world, a totally artificial environment for our children which suspends them in a responsibility-deprivation chamber for almost two decades. The result, as each generation is further and further enmeshed and removed from the realities of life, is a group of eternal children who are completely disconnected from everyone and everything around them.

    Enforced education in a monopoly system of one-size fits all has the same end result as growing Bonsai trees.

    Just as the court system exists to reward judges with power and lawyers with money, the school system exists to provide politicians with huge amounts of disposable money, social engineers with living labs, and educational professionals with places to practice their craft.

    If you notice, the former has very little to do with justice, and the latter very little to do with education.

    As with all things, there will be a bill to pay for this “progressive” nonsense, just as all the other collectivist experiments we have dabbled with over the last century and more have eventually presented their invoices, emblazoned in red ink, marked past due.

    Sometimes the red wasn’t just ink.

  • Student: Where am I?
    Voice: In the School
    Student: What do you want?
    Voice: Information
    Student: Whose side are you on?
    Voice: That would be telling… We want Information
    Student: You won’t get it
    Voice: By hook or by crook… We will
    Student: Who are you?
    Voice: The new Number Two
    Student: Who is Number One?
    Voice: You are Number Six
    Student: I am not a number… I’m a free student!
    Voice: Muwahahahaha!

  • Edward Teague

    Ivan Ilych “Deschooling Society”

    Universal education through schooling is not feasible. It would be no more feasible if it were attempted by means of alternative institutions built on the style of present schools. Neither new attitudes of teachers toward their pupils nor the proliferation of educational hardware or software (in classroom or bedroom), nor finally the attempt to expand the pedagogue’s responsibility until it engulfs his pupils’ lifetimes will deliver universal education.

    Written in 1968

  • From Della’s first link, it appears that someone at Associated Press was taught geography at a British state school, and thus thinks that Sunderland is in western England, despite evidence to the contrary.

  • tom_hedley2002@yahoo.co.uk

    No wonder home schooling is taking off.

  • Julian Taylor

    No wonder public schools in the UK now have colossal waiting lists – maybe people have now started to realise that an education for their children, without the Phoney interference factor, is probably the greatest gift they can give to them.

    Oh, and Category D “open” prisons don’t need to tag their inmates – they just draw a line across the entrance to the jail and tell the prisoners, “cross that line and you are breaking the rules.

  • Edward Teague

    LIFE WITH BIG BROTHER
    Germany continues targeting homeschoolers
    Group of Baptist families face possible loss of children to state
    21/1/2005By Ron Strom © 2005 WorldNetDaily.com

    German Christians who choose to homeschool their children are coming under continued enforcement action by the government, with one group of families fearful they may lose custody of their kids.

    According to Richard Guenther, an American expatriate who lives in Germany, several families in the town of Paderborn currently “are being heavily persecuted for their faith.”

    Guenther says if the parents’ attempt to negotiate with government officials fails, the parents could have their children removed from their homes. Thirteen children are threatened with such action.

    Seven homeschooling fathers from the Twelve Tribes Community in Klosterzimmern spent several days in jail last fall for refusing to pay fines that were imposed on them for failing to send their children to government schools.

  • Jacob

    Sorry, it’s again a case of knee jerk, exagerated reaction of all the honorable denizens of this site.

    First I join in and declare, for the record, my deep hatred for the compulsory Government education system. No dispute over this.

    But… new technology enables us, maybe, to do better and with less effort some chores – like watching over the safety of children in school. Those gadgets should be experimented with and used when useful. To scream murder every time something new appears is ludicrous. New technology is available and should be used.

    I wouldn’t mind my children wearing a tag in school; hell, I myself am wearing one at work ! (I don’t feel like a slave… well, maybe a little. But it has more to do with the wages than the tag).

    If only they taught some decent mathematics we could forgive the tags !

  • Andy Mo

    I agree with many of you that the current school system needs to be revolutionised. I feel there is something lacking in schools curricula that do not provide their students with the skills for work and life.

    BUT.

    How do we ensure that Parents do provide some semblance of education for their children.

    Is it acceptable to allow parents to let their children live in an information free environment. Possibly kept locked up in a darkened room most of the day.

    What of parents that prime their children to be Christian or Islamic terrorists, fill their heads with godly visions of righteousness? Ready them for the day they can become a suicide bomber?

    The trouble is, is that children are not able players in the market place – how do we ensure they are protected.

    (P.S. a drawback to homeschooling is the fact the child does not interact with his peers, shool may be a hellhole but it sure can prepare you for the cheating/ bullying/ dishonesty you may face further in life :))

  • Ah, but there is a Sunderland in western England though Weasal Bearder:
    The other one(Link)

  • Johnathan

    Jacob, that’s the spirit! No wussy fretting about liberty. Let’s crack on and put chip implants in the kiddies!

    Sigh.

    One of the things I notice about this and other countries is how sheep-like so many seemingly intelligent people are. It is not the desire of governments to oppress and control that saddens me so much as the collective shrug of the shoulders by the general public.

  • Ken

    Yes, there’s a problem that for some children, school is little more than just a day-care centre. But really, state schooling as a day prison? You people really do frighten me at times. What a ridiculous comment to make.

  • Without universal education, or at least an attempt at it, how do you stop the free market degenerating into a means for the educated to exploit the uneducated, not just in consumption but also in the sale of labour?

    In order to describe the free market as a good we must imagine the participants are acting on a knowledgable, rational basis.

  • mike

    “How do we ensure that Parents do provide some semblance of education for their children?

    Andy Mo: ‘we’ don’t. (IMO however, the State should have some capacity to protect children from abuse like being locked in a dark room or worse.)

    As for parents priming their children to become Islamic terrorists – I suspect it is the exceptionally rare parents who have this kind of direct power over what their children will believe.

    The socialisation gained from school can be gained by homeschooled children in other ways – societies, sports, scouts etc. Anyway, the idea that such socialisation is beneficial is not necessarily true. Kids have to put up with so much crap at state schools and while they may have to put up with all kinds of other crap in the real world, this doesn’t mean they will be adequately prepared for it.

  • Johnathan

    Ken, bear in mind that up to about 150 years ago, compulsory education was an unknown aspect of British life but, as E.G. West and others have pointed out, rates of literacy were relatively high even among the poor. The idea that one should be forced, upon pain of fines or worse, to attend school, really is a relatively recent phenomenon in the West. Another thing for which we have to thank the Prussians for.

    I personally think that the current school age should be lowered, but the whole issue of the mess of State schooling is too long for a comment here.

  • mike

    Andrew Bartlett: no – we do not need to assume the participants in a free-market are acting on a knowledgable, rational basis in order to describe it as a good. In fact, you’re not even making sense. A market in which everyone was acting on a knowledgable, rational basis would not (could not, I might add) be in any sense a ‘free’ market, since its’ continuation would by definition require some authority to oversee that everyone continues to act rationally, stamping out all wantonly irrational acts. Freedom is not the same as rationality.

  • Jacob

    “It is not the desire of governments to oppress and control that saddens me so much as the collective shrug of the shoulders by the general public.”

    It is not the desire of governments to oppress and control that saddens me so much as the inability of some otherwise sensible people to distinguish between what is real oppresion (like the curricula taught a schools) and some external gadgets that are totally marginal, and irrelevant to the general oppresive trend.

    The government oppresion in school consists in forcing children to learn not what they or their perents wish, but what Government decrees, school chioce being denied.
    Tags or no tags is a totally irrelevant point !

    If you continue crying wolf everytime you see an ant, people will stop taking you seriously.

  • Mark, yes there is, but the Sunderland to which the report refers is in Tyne and Wear. The name of the school – ‘The Venerable Bede School’ – is the giveaway, assuming that you are familiar with a) The Venerable Bede, and b) Tyne and Wear, or can use Google.

  • Hey, tagging worlks for livestock, why shouldn’t it work for children?

  • mike

    Weasel Bearder: are you sure that isn’t Bede College you’re talking about – on Durham Rd?

  • I was in two-minds about chipping my dog, I could never chip a child. That is just…evil.

    I wish the boffins would spend more time on making me a replacement eye and less time trying to turn children into trackable robots.

  • That’s okay Mike, I was just checking whether you imagined the free market as being a source of progress and public good, or whether you saw it simply as the unshacling of the powerful in order to allow more efficient exploitation. I’ve got my answer.

    I understand your absolutist conception of freedom in a purely negative sense. But surely you can see how, if large portions of the population remain uneducated, they can will be unable to make rational decisions in the market, and as such will be prey to those who had the good fortune to have either wealthy or educated parents. And when this happens, the public good produced by the market as actors work in their rational self-interest, which is the standard line of defence for the market, will not be produced.

  • Euan Gray

    The idea that one should be forced, upon pain of fines or worse, to attend school, really is a relatively recent phenomenon in the West

    And as was pointed out in an earlier thread, doesn’t actually exist in Britain.

    Under the Education Acts, no-one is compelled to attend school.

    EG

  • Bolie Williams IV

    As a parent, I would be willing to allow my children more freedom if I knew where they were at all times. For example, when my children get a little older, I’ll give them cell phones. If they will agree to answer the phone promptly, I won’t insist on knowing where they are at all times.

    As far as school goes, what would be the alternative to mandatory education for children? I’m personally in favor of choice between public, private, and home school, but I’m not sure that allowing parents total freedom to educate their children or not.

    Oh, and maybe it’s different in the US, but even in Texas, where public schools in general aren’t all that good, there is education happening. My wife teachers 1st grade and sees first hand that kids to learn useful skills and how to think. Schools do vary in quality, but the public school system here, at least, has not degenerated into a brainwashing exercise.

    Bolie IV

  • Bolie Williams IV

    Apparently, my own education was deficient…

    “…but I’m not sure that allowing parents total freedom to educate their children or not is a good idea.”

    “My wife teaches 1st grade and sees first hand that kids do learn useful skills…”

    Bolie IV

  • There is of course a distinction to be made between education, which is compulsory, and schooling which is not.

    As Johnathan points out above, EG West showed that literacy levels were higher in England prior to the advent of compulsory schooling. John Taylor Gatto has made similar points about the US. So Andrew Bartlett’s fears about the uneducated being exploited seem baseless. People will get an education for their children because it is in their interests to do so.

    The more interesting point for me is when the state has a right to step in to interfere in the education given to a child by their parents. When they teach them terrorism and hate? Creationism? Or if they teach girls that they are second class citizens?

    None of these are easy questions for those of a libertarian persuasion. I prefer to err on the side on keeping the state out of it.

  • Johnathan

    Jacob, tags are for livestock and convicted criminals on parole. If you want to wear one, that’s your privilege. If I ever have children, I trust I would have a bit more respect for them as individuals than treating them like one of the cattle my dad used to keep on our farm.

    Symbolism matters, particularly with impressionable young minds. If we want to create a freerer society, it does rather impede progress if we countenance stuff like this.

  • “People will get an education for their children because it is in their interests to do so.”

    The very people likely to miss out on an education are those who come from homebackgrounds where there is little in the way of an educational culture, and as such are the people that will need it most.

    “EG West showed that literacy levels were higher in England prior to the advent of compulsory schooling.”

    Could you provide me with a link (or full reference) for this research please?

  • Ken

    “Without universal education, or at least an attempt at it, how do you stop the free market degenerating into a means for the educated to exploit the uneducated, not just in consumption but also in the sale of labour?”

    Well, if you’re assuming that being exploited is a bad thing, the uneducated will be motivated to prevent or put a stop to it by… getting educated.

    Not only that, but if the whole reason for the public schools’ existence is to rescue those kids whose parents don’t give a damn about their education, and public schools are in general powerless to educate their children without the active cooperation of their parents… then there’s really no reason left to have public schools, is there?

  • Ken

    Johnathan, the reason that education became compulsory in this country was because people began to realise that the absence of a national system meant that class divisions continued to be reinforced and poverty was growing.

    Now, I personally think the education system in this country is a disgrace (read some of my blog for more specific criticisms) – in particular the “one size fits all” system that we like to think is a good idea. I probably agree with you about lowering the school leaving age too – past the age of 14, forcing people to stay in school doesn’t seem that profitable (although maybe they could be asked to go to maths and English classes.)

    However, just because I have major problems with the nature of the state system doesn’t mean that I think we should do away with it altogether.

  • “…the inability of some otherwise sensible people to distinguish between what is real oppresion (like the curricula taught a schools) and some external gadgets that are totally marginal, and irrelevant to the general oppresive trend.”

    State owned and operated cameras in public places, the State tagging and tracking our children, the State requiring retinal scans to buy lunches, the State keeping fingerprints on file even for non-criminals, are all marginal and irrelevant to the general oppressive trend ONLY if the Nazis tattooing numbers on the forearms of Jews was marginal and irrelevant to the general oppressive trend.

    Frankly, I’m tired of the implication that if one resists modern forms of tracking and tagging, then one is a technophobe. If we were all technophobes, we wouldn’t be on the Internet. We can distinguish between harmless bits. Certain types of technology gives the government too much slack and too much power. People who fail to see it now will regret it later.

  • mike: a Google search shows it to be the Venerable Bede C of E (Aided) school in Ryhope Street.

  • mike

    What Bishop Hill said.

    Andrew Bartlett:

    The free market has no purpose as such, whether to produce ‘public goods’ or anything else, though such things may be a happy (or unhappy) consequence.

    Rationality is not guaranteed by education, nor is a lack of rationality entailed by the lack of education. I’ll do you the compliment of not bothering with examples.

    Compulsory state schooling is neither the only nor the best way of acquiring education (see ‘The Intellectual Life Of The British Working Classes’ by Jonathan Rose for a good documentary of the autodidact)

  • toolkien

    ***But… new technology enables us, maybe, to do better and with less effort some chores – like watching over the safety of children in school. Those gadgets should be experimented with and used when useful. To scream murder every time something new appears is ludicrous. New technology is available and should be used.***

    Two connected thoughts; technology itself may not be the problem, but the hands in which it is placed, and, we need to be careful of the dynamic of technological advance spurred by Statism, i.e. the type and manner of technological gain.

    **************************************

    Maybe there should be a delineation between types of learning upon which a compromise is struck. Personally the State should be out of ALL forms of conditioning, especially when it is by force. But in the spirit of compromise, allow for the State to efficiently train children in the basic three R’s (reading, writing, and arithmetic) but when the subject matters become advanced, and philosophy enters the picture, then the State steps back. The fact that the State endeavors to control children for rather long periods of time, and the period of juvenility has been stretched beyond natural boundaries, shows that there is much more of indoctrination than education within the curriculum.

    The fellow who presumes to advance the cause of the Statist indoctrination lest the children become car bombers apparently misses the point. Sure there is a danger, but there is a greater danger when the State IS the indoctrinator.

    Most people adopt an a priori view of education, as if only the State can deliver it. Education is merely a refined form of conditioning. Living life conditions people. People will learn skills, and conformities, and intercourses, etc etc merely by existing. The notion then is that specific modes of thinking need to sown among people, to tighten the distribution curve over all. And the apparently logical entity to do that is the State. But the assumption is that the State is disinterested, when it most certainly is not. It is biased and agendized. So the result is to create a system of indoctrination, over a couple of decades, to the liking of the State.

    And now that the State has chewed through a large amount of capital and pissed it away they apparently don’t have the money to even look after the kiddies, so they are left to themselves with tags to buzz if the little chicks flee the roost. Perhaps the bigger scandal is why the funds are short. Likely another bait and switch with funds in which more and more is absorbed by the apparatus leaving little for the actual reason for existing.

  • Verity

    My god, G Cooper! Snap! That is precisely what I find terrifying about reincarnation, too! I had a happy childhood, but the thought of reliving it, under different circumstances, all over again is terribly unsettling. The helplessness of being a child, the vulnerability …

    It’s all the more frightening, given that I have a sneaking suspicion that reincarnation actually happens.

  • Johnathan

    Andrew Bartlett, I meant “high prior to the advent,” rather than “higher”. Sorry for confusion.

    Read this on E.G. West:

    http://www.iea.org.uk/record.jsp?type=publication&ID=223(Link)

    E.G. West’s book almost completely demolishes the idea that British education for the poor was non-existent prior to Big Govt.

    You can also read James Bartholomew’s “The Welfare State We’re In”, which also details how civilisation managed to endure before compulsion and tagging.

    Ken, the idea that state, or rather compulsory, education is a necessary corrective to inequalities does appear to be rather undermined by practical experience. At most, if there is a need for public support for schools, I would prefer vouchers, which empower parents to choose and hence use competition to ramp up standards.

  • anonymous coward

    In short order the little charges will wrap their tags in the foil wrapping of the sandwiches they brought to school with them, and pass silently through the barriers.

  • mike

    Jonathan: I don’t even think equality or rather reducing inequalities has any moral importance at all. But it is important that people have chances to get out of poverty and to this end state-funded schools (attendance optional) might be one of many different ways for people to find their way out of poverty.

  • Edward Teague

    WHY THIS SYNTHESISED CONCERN ABOUT TREATING CHILDREN LIKE FARMYARD ANIMALS, TO BE TAGGED.

    Legalisation of abortion taught woment that children are a disease which can be cured by a visit to the doctor.

    From acceptance that we can murder the child before birth, leads ineluctably to the concept that we can treat it as an object subsequent to birth.

    The upbringing, nurturing of children and their education was abandoned by the rich and the landed over 150 years ago – increasing prosperity has allowed the practice to become more widespread – the fastest growing sector of “education” is private supply of nursery (from 6 weeks) and pre-school care.

    Even in the entrance to the “Palace of Children’s Culture” in Pyongyang is the incised inscription of the Great Leader, “The Children are our Future”.

    A culture that abandons it’s children’s growth and education to this sort of haphazard and second hand fashion deserves everything it gets.

    By all means, herd the schoolchildren like sheep – and that is what you will get.

  • Andrew

    The reference for EG West is “Education and the State” http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0865971358/qid=1106323870/sr=1-3/ref=sr_1_9_3/026-8424129-9246861

    It’s subtitled “A Study in Political Economy”. It’s not nearly as dry as this makes it sound!

    Its also worth looking at the website of the EG West centre of Newcastle University http://www.ncl.ac.uk/egwest/

  • Jacob

    Johnathan:
    “Jacob, tags are for livestock and convicted criminals on parole.”

    That’s sentimental, nonese hyperbole.

    Tags are ubiquitous in many companies and organizations where they need to control (legitimately)who enters and leaves their premises.

    They are not proposing tags for children in school to coerce them into sinister deeds. It is a means for enhancing the children’s security by ringing an alarm when they leave the ground unauthorized. The rules against leaving the grounds are sensible rules, already in place.

    The seeking of symbolism in tags, when no such content is present, shows a knee-jerk reaction and not a reasoned response.
    I’m not saying tags are necessarily a good idea; probably they are useless. But decrying them by comparing them to animal branding is ridiculous.

  • toolkien

    ***Jonathan: I don’t even think equality or rather reducing inequalities has any moral importance at all. But it is important that people have chances to get out of poverty and to this end state-funded schools (attendance optional) might be one of many different ways for people to find their way out of poverty.***

    State mandated schooling has existed for 150 years. Has poverty ended?

    Regardless, I find the two sentences contradictory. Maybe it lies in the usage of ‘state-funded’. The State funds nothing, those who have their property taken do. To logically state that one person must give to another to elevate them from an poverty (semantically used to connote an inferior position) must infuse the concept with inequality. If they weren’t of different ‘quality’, you wouldn’t be inspired to rectify it through force.

  • Edward Teague

    Jacob

    “But decrying them by comparing them to animal branding is ridiculous.” (I will overlook commencing a sentence with a conjunction as an indication of how rigorous your education in grammar was)

    The suggestion that the handling of children as if they were farmyard animals is deleterious to their development is not a knee kerk reaction. It is not sentimental nonsense. It is not hyerbole.

    The education of children is increasingyl mechanistic, and structured on a factory system, with constant and endless assessment to provide a spurious objectivity to the progress of their capacity to absorb information.

    Data collection, selection, analysis, synthesis and careful grammatical expression has been sidelined in an unceasing whirl of targets, set, amended, re-calibrated to provide a background of ceaseless action without any improvement – and in many areas a reduction in the quality of the education provided.

    It is against this quasi – statistical and meaningless nonsense that the slide into dealing with children as herds and their objectification as “units of production” occurs.

    It is a slippery slope which the US with their obsession with SATS demonstrates the result, in decling quality of schools and the need for them to increasingly in hi-tech areas rely on importing talent e.g Indian and Russian software engineers in CA.

    Tagging children is merely another straw in the wind.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    I’d rather think that a well-organised school system is better than either a completely non-coercive system or a poorly run one(obviously!).

    Problem is, what do you do to get that well-run system? Competition is one thing that’s always good. Rank the schools, and make the system transparent as possible. Stream the students, make sure they’re learning at a pace suitable for their abilities(oh, how this offends the egalitarians with their one-size system!). Hell, rank the teachers as well, to keep them on their toes, and deny the lousiest teachers their bonuses.

    Oh wait, that’s the educational system I’m working for. Owwwiiiieeeee…

    The biggest advantage of schools over home education, as far as I can see so far, is the social interaction and the additional learning that takes place via interaction amongst the students themselves(social scaffolding, Vygotsky stuff). The school environment should provide a wider ‘database’ than can be provided by a parent or home tutor alone, which in turns drives better learning.

    Private schools are good. In fact, they’re part of the competition, to push the public schools, especially when rankings are also considered. However, public schools still exist to ‘force’ otherwise unwilling students and parents into the educational system. Ignorant fools don’t for a good democracy make. At least teach them maths.

  • Johnathan

    Edward, you beat me to it. Excellent, well made points.

    Jacob, I have an ID pass at my job. Unlike a schoolkid, I choose to be at this job. I can leave. The kid cannot. A rather fundamental difference. I have nothing against IDs and badges so long as they are voluntarily accepted and the bearer is in a position to leave. What counts is whether the wearer has a choice in the matter. There is no parallel with children forced to attend school.

    Like Edward, and to repeat, symbolism matters. Issues like this also explain why the fight to inject choice into schooling, cut the compulsory age, and encourage home schooling, are key issues for liberty and in fostering a more freedom-based culture.

  • mike

    toolkien: I did not mean ending all poverty everywhere, and I know perfectly well that tax is coercive. Your word-play aside, my point was to show my preference for evaluating welfare in absolute rather than comparative terms.

  • That’s a revolting notion if ever I saw one. What are kids now, common criminals? Puppies? There’s no justification for giving children microchips. They’re human beings, not computers. Bloody lunatics.

  • Wobbly Guy

    The advantages you list for schooling over home education seem a bit limited to me, although I recognise that they are valid points. There must be better arguments for schooling than this.

    When looking at these kinds of issues, you quickly get onto the question “What are we trying to acheive by educating our children”. Schooling is largely about training children to absorb information and to regurgitate it under exam conditions. As a side benefit they also get exposed to a complete mixture of other kids from all different backgrounds. This will be a mixed blessing.

    But don’t we want to train children to have analytical minds, to question what they are told, to stand up for what they believe is right? There isn’t a school in the world that can deliver this sort of education, for purely practical reasons. No teacher is going to want a class in which they are told by one or more of their charges that they are wrong.

    I’m currently pondering options for the education of my four year old and I can see pros and cons with both schooling and home education. I think the ideal for me would be a mixture of the two systems. Get your socialisation and some specialist teaching at school. Get your mind trained at home.

  • Shirley Knott

    I find it interesting that no one has yet brought up the revisionist notion that the purpose of mandatory schooling was not education but control of labor.
    By keeping kids in school until age 18 (or whatever, it varies by country), you have removed potential competition for jobs.
    And wrapping it in the pretense of education and the alleged benefits thereof makes the labor control not only palatable, but all but immune from objection.
    The historical record is quite clear — state education leads to massive declines in knowlege and skill.

    regards,
    Shirley Knott

  • Edward Teague

    Shirley

    Here in Lancashire employers got the best of all worlds with “half timers” who spent from the age of 12 half a day at school and half a day in’t mill – unpaid.

    I think it was very common well into the early ’30’s. There are certainly many old timers about today who “larnt by standin’ alongside Nelly”.

    Whilst their reading, writing and arithmetic may have been suspect they soon learnt, in the roar of the mill, to sight read and work hard.

    The “Heritage” industry today sells a very sanitised and politically correct view of the honest toilers, disregarding the poverty and it’s attendant diseases of mule skinners cancer, rickets, many forms of chest disease due to the humidity and dust in the mill and the endless winter smogs. There were of course eye complaints from concentraing on much fine and detailed work in spining – not to mention industrial accidents.

    It was during his time in Manchester that Engels so closely observed the work of the underclasses and their use as working capital.

  • toolkien

    ***Your word-play aside, my point was to show my preference for evaluating welfare in absolute rather than comparative terms. ***

    I believe you’re the one with wordplay when you contradict yourself within two sentences and then continue to assert that there is consistency instead.

    When you find the man who can determine welfare in absolute terms, let me know because I want to meet him. I daresay you’ve concisely proffered the collectivist mantra. “Think of whole, not the constituent parts”.

    But maybe you are right, and with a little Statism, everyone can be average or above.

  • Jacob

    Johnathan,
    “I have an ID pass at my job. Unlike a schoolkid, I choose to be at this job. I can leave. The kid cannot.”

    Wrong. The child, being minor of age and untrained, must comply with parental guidance. If the parent has sent the kid to school, the kid cannot leave on his own, for , among other reasons, security. I, as a parent, would not want my small child to be able to leave school at wish, and disappear. I would demand that the school staff keep him on the grounds, and if he wishes to leave – they must notify me and hold him until I come and take charge. A small child is not a free agent.

    “The education of children is increasingyl mechanistic, and structured on a factory system…”
    That may be so. That may be a valid criticism of the school system. What has that got to do with tags ?

    By the way, in hospitals they tag newborn babies by attaching an id band to their feet, so they don’t get mixed up. Is that another case of sinister and vicious branding, like cattle ?

  • The Wobbly Guy

    To Bishop Hill: You might be surprised. In my teacher training course, we’re already correcting the ones who’re supposed to be teaching us how to teach. And then they tell us that if they can accept our input, we can bloody well accept that from our future students. Heh.

    With what little experience I had so far, often the most interesting and fun discussions are when somebody disagrees, and everybody gets to hash it out. It happens nowadays with so-called student centered activities. Over at Harry Hutton’s blog, his concern seems to be that they’re taking it too far!

    The advantages of schooling over home education is exactly that little(or much). In fact, Vygotsky’s social learning theories seem specially geared towards affirming the advantages of learning in schools over home schooling.

    Still, one of my biggest concerns is that all that organization in schools and such would build a dependence in the child that carries over to adulthood. Perhaps that is why so many adults nowadays cannot live without the state commanding almost every area of their lives.

  • toolkien

    ***Wrong. The child, being minor of age and untrained, must comply with parental guidance. If the parent has sent the kid to school, the kid cannot leave on his own, for , among other reasons, security. I, as a parent, would not want my small child to be able to leave school at wish, and disappear.***

    Perhaps you can write a letter to the Milwaukee School District here in the US. They do nothing to prevent children leaving the premises. The only action they take, when the flight becomes too common, is notify the authorities and the parents are arrested. The parents are forced to turn their children over to the State, the State fails to direct them or contain them, and then the parents are arrested. It’s a pretty nice system.

  • Nick Timms

    If you truly believe that each individual is responsible for their own life and should have the freedom to make choices about their own life then compulsory education is an insult to every parent.

    I have children for whom I voluntarily accept responsibility. My choice. Governments and legislation cannot make me feel more or less responsible for my childrens welfare. I chose my own obligations. It is impossible to legislate duty. Duty is something that the individual chooses for him or herself.

    It is my opinion that the more the busy-bodies legislate what one should do, the less people are able to make responsible decisions for themselves.

    Give people back the right to decide for themselves. With a few exceptions most people will make a much better job of it then any government ever could and we will have rich and diverse culture of individuals. Just what Britain has always been good at. Get rid of government and bring back the individual. Who wants to be an ant?

  • Edward Teague

    Jacob

    “By the way, in hospitals they tag newborn babies by attaching an id band to their feet, so they don’t get mixed up. Is that another case of sinister and vicious branding, like cattle ?”

    If you saw many newborn babies you would see that identification is a problem, hence the need to identify, hence the tag – which can now of course be an RFD tag – which also provides protection from theft. Sound rational reason.

    The use of tags to control turns the child into the same equivalent as a pallet, container, skip, barrel, drum, box in an industrial environment. So rapidly that control becomes remote from the child as does the controller / educator.

    That is what objectification means – the result of diminished personal contact and care. It leads to impoverishment of the child’s learning environment and can, and often does lead to anti- socila traits and lack of self worth.

  • Harvey

    Okay: while the idea of RF tagging children at first seems very unpleasant, bringing up visions of an Orwellian doctrine, we do have to consider the environment.

    Firstly: Parents are the legal custodians of their children and are responsible for their safety. The law permits them to pass that responsibility (loco parentis) to another individual or organisation (school) who consents and is deemed capable to take such responsibility. Once that responsibility is passed the ‘recipient’ of the child then must excercise the same care and attention that would be expected of the parent. If the parent also gives the child to a school with the expectation (indeed the demand) that they will receive a certain number of hours of education and be maintained in a safe environment for the duration, then that is a very serious responsibility. Furthermore, when a great many people have children simply because that is what is expected of them and that society looks upon not having children as abnormal (well, it does in the lower-middle classes, i.e. the sort of people that send their children to state schools) then a lot of these children won’t be reprimanded by their parents if they run out of school and truant, but if they run out of school and get run over by a bus then the parents will immediately sue because that’s the sort of people they are – it’s not that they don’t love their children, it’s that they don’t see the true value of schooling. Faced with an inability to discipline the children because the parents won’t act on the information provided, they are faced with only one option: don’t get sued. Thus you get gates, guards and tags.

    While there are many disagreements here with the efficacy of the state school system and whether mandatory state schooling (not required, I note) should be legal or not, no-one disagrees with the central concepts above: a child is the responsibility of a parent or anyone who has been placed (by the parent) in loco parentis.

    Given the above, a school is OBLIGED to take all necessary measures to ensure that its charges are kept safe and participate in the number of hours of schooling that the parent has been led to believe will occur. Anything less means they are being irresponsible.

    Tagging is just a method, nothing more and nothing less. It may create an ‘institutional’ feel but a school after all is an institution, and if it did not maintain an institutional atmosphere no-one would actually concentrate on their work – the same actually applies to offices which get too ‘comfortable/casual.’

    Tagging, to me, simply is an indicator that the school has a problem with staff: it doesn’t have enough staff to watch the children and to make sure they don’t run off or get into trouble. That to me is a much greater problem.

    I would also point out that any decent private school (and yes, I know because I went to one only a few years ago) has guards, just like a prison, but they are a little more sensitive: they tend to be called ‘janitors’ and ‘groundskeepers’ and ‘quadrangle supervisors’ but they’re still there – alongside their other duties of course – to keep the kids safe from each other, keep an eye out for bullies and to keep them IN THE SCHOOL.

  • mike

    What Nick Timms said. However…

    toolkien: I didn’t make any claim as to the determination of welfare in absolute terms, only that such terms make more sense to me than comparative terms of equality and inequality. Assuming the wholesale rejection of the welfare state the issue is uninteresting, but as far as public (i.e. Guardian/BBC) ‘debate’ is concerned, a shift from evaluating the welfare of individuals from the comparative terms of equality-inequality to absolute terms (does person X have sufficent autonomy?) may have a pragmatic value in getting people to think in more libertarian terms.

  • Ken

    The reason I consider that education needs to be provided by the state is that it is essential in addressing inequality. Inequality within adults is not so much of a problem for me. However, that children can be born into poverty and never be given a chance to break the cycle is incredibly worrying. And that is what will happen if the state doesn’t take responsibility for education. It’s what happened at the start of this century.

  • Doug Collins

    Ken wrote:
    “The reason I consider that education needs to be provided by the state is that it is essential in addressing inequality”

    This point would be more compelling if the state did, in fact, provide education. In general, it provides indoctrination into a mode of living suitable to a mass industrial society that is rapidly becoming obsolete, perhaps even antique.

    True education would be the best way to prepare children for a new type of society in which innovation and creative and analytic thinking AND a large knowledge base will be essential. Since we don’t know at this time what skills are going to be valuable over the next few decades, education in a wide variety of different areas for different people is needed.

    The state with its one-size-fits-all assembly line approach is unfit to provide this, even if it could change from its primary mission of indoctrination. (“Getting to school on time, getting along with others, becoming part of the team…. etc etc ad nauseum …..so that one can grow up to be a successful and satisfactory worker”).

    Sure, this is equality, but it is the equality of the antheap. We don’t need it anymore. In fact we will increasingly need individuals who can excell beyond their fellows. Not very equal, I suppose, but I never saw equality as being inherently much of a virtue anyway. If it promotes liberty or material well being, then fine and good. If not, and particularly if it results in a stultifying leveling, then what good is it?

  • Shawn

    Ken:

    “The reason I consider that education needs to be provided by the state is that it is essential in addressing inequality.”

    This assumes, without giving any reasons, that inequality is something that needs to be addressed in the first place. I believe that, in this world, inequality is a reality that cannot be changed, therefore attempts to do so are pointless. Worse, they tend to lead to totalitarian societies, as they require ever more state power and interference to continue trying to eradictae a reality that is inractable.

    You are also assuming that state education is a useful tool in addressing such inequality, but where is your evidence? The number of people on state welfare rolls has been going up not down since the advent of universal state education. And also, given the moral and intellectual deterioration of what constitutes “education” in the state system, with its increasing emphasis on post-modern ideology, it is arguable that state education may well be a hindrance not a help to turning out self-reliant wealth creating individuals.

    I learnt absolutely nothing about wealth creation in state schools. There was no real emphasis on learning about how moaney works, or how to start a business, or even how to cultivate a real work ethic. Everything I needed to learn about wealth and self-reliance I had to teach myself.

    Education is a good thing, but state education is an abomination with no worth to society.

  • cj

    1) Not everyone has the option to homeschool. Full-time working parents, anyone? (I know- choices. That said, if you are two full-time working parents, with mortgage, etc., based on that salary income, and you object to something in your child’s schooling, it may not be an immediate (i.e. few years) option to pull the kid out of school and home teach; that’s my point.)

    2)I’m concerned about the “tagging” for the same reason I’m concerned about the US daycares that provide 24/7 “monitoring” of the kids so that the parents at work can view on their computer what Jr. is doing during the day (I get the benefits). This raises a host of issues, not the least of which is indoctrinating our children that 24/7 surveillance is a GOOD thing.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Shawn: It is possible to address those issues you mentioned in schools. Not easy, but possible.

    I won’t go into details, but the schools here in Singapore are doing some very interesting stuff.

    It’s a matter of the education authorities getting their heads out of their behinds. Even if the emphasis on post-modern theology(not ideology) is detrimental, it doesn’t really invalidate the system per se. What if they are teaching the ‘right things’?

  • Wild Pegasus

    For most of human history, children played together but spent most of their time with their parents or with pretty heavy adult supervision. It was only recently in human history that children were thrown together with only one adult nearby for hours at a time. For most of history, children learned by observing, seeing, and doing. Homeschooling more closely tracks this.

    Schooling factories put most students at the mercy of each other. This leads to numerous problems, considering the intolerable cruelty of many children. The ugly, the dorky, the fat, the skinny, the unathletic, the short, the tall, the dumb, and the smart all tend to be ostracised, and children form vicious pecking orders enforced through mocking and mild violence. If that’s the kind of socialisation you want, leave me out of your society, thanks. (I was fortunate to be well-liked at school, but I saw the emotional damage long-term mockery can cause. Teasing hurts.)

    It’s true that some children won’t be educated if the state doesn’t force them, but those children are probably pretty rare. Charity free schools are likely to exist again.

    – Josh

  • Garreth

    Teachers in sink schools are also prisoners of the blackboard jungle. They take obscene and sometimes physical abuse from loutish teenagers without being able to have the culprits removed from the schools. It’s awful what’s happening in some places, like the decline and fall of western civilisation. Private Eye carried two pages of comments from teachers badly affected by the system several months ago. The dumbed down society wallows in the mire of ignorance and incivility, aggravated by the anti-intellectualism and emotional cynicism of the all-powerful tabloid press. Garreth, teaching abroad.

  • Ken

    “This point would be more compelling if the state did, in fact, provide education. In general, it provides indoctrination into a mode of living suitable to a mass industrial society that is rapidly becoming obsolete, perhaps even antique.”

    Please don’t think that I agree with much of the state education system! I just believe there should be one…

  • Ken

    “This assumes, without giving any reasons, that inequality is something that needs to be addressed in the first place. I believe that, in this world, inequality is a reality that cannot be changed, therefore attempts to do so are pointless. Worse, they tend to lead to totalitarian societies, as they require ever more state power and interference to continue trying to eradictae a reality that is inractable.”

    OK, just to clarify what I actually think on this matter. What I mean by addressing inequality is that studies have shown that children born into poor families, regardless of their own talents, have a great difficulty in overcoming that burden. What I want to see an education system provide is equality of opportunity. I don’t believe the leftie crap that all students are equally capable of doing the same things if they just got the right education. That’s self-evidently wrong. But, every child should be given the opportunity to do these things. And I haven’t yet seen a non-state model for education that prevents the development of an underclass and people having no opportunity in the future because they don’t have the ability to break the poverty cycle.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Wild Pegasus: The demands of modern society on the handling of social interaction and information/data storage/analysis is far different from the rather sparse data available back in the ‘old days’. All of human knowledge before the 19th century could probably be compressed into a single harddisk. Compare that to now. Big, big difference.

    And if children are sheltered from the kind of interaction you mentioned, how would they handle the adult world when they grow up? Not well, I can imagine. The school, for ill or good, is a microcosm of society.

    It’s also only recently in human history that we’ve such an glut of information. This factor should not be discounted so easily. And there’re indications that some of the knowledge driving modern progress since the industrial revolution is a result of state education policies providing the base of the pyramid for ever accelerating progress at the peak. It may be possible that the same might have occured without public spending, but I keep wondering how true that is.

    It’s not so much the system itself, but what the system is emphasizing. The smart bet would be to stress information sieving, data handling, idea creation, and critical analysis in modern education.

    The old emphasis on following orders and one-size-fits-all was a result of the requirements of the Industrial Age. Sure, we can likely discard it now, but let’s not forget what it has brought us either.

  • Verity

    Ken, there was such a system, called grammar schools, that enabled tens of thousands of bright children to get an education commensurate with their potential. The socialists destroyed it. Too elitist.

  • Ken

    “And if children are sheltered from the kind of interaction you mentioned, how would they handle the adult world when they grow up? Not well, I can imagine. The school, for ill or good, is a microcosm of society.”

    If our society ever gets to the point where the typical school is a reasonable facsimilie, that is the time to look into isolated mountain retreats well-stocked with food and weapons.

    “Johnathan, the reason that education became compulsory in this country was because people began to realise that the absence of a national system meant that class divisions continued to be reinforced and poverty was growing.”

    Poverty was not growing, except temporarily during downturns. Wealth was growing. So was inequality, which led to envy, which lead to people rationalizing the use of intimidation, threats, and violence to steal a cut for themselves and eventually to the outsourcing of such tactics to the state.

    But people were consistently getting wealthier across the board, during the “bad old days” of the 19th century. Those that tell you otherwise are trying to sell you more of the same socialist crap.

  • Eric Sivula

    However, that children can be born into poverty and never be given a chance to break the cycle is incredibly worrying. And that is what will happen if the state doesn’t take responsibility for education. It’s what happened at the start of this century.

    – Ken

    Ken, the entrapment of talented children in the poverty or inequity of their families position is not a 20th or 21st Century problem.

    Indian caste system, Medieval European or Japanese fuedal orders, dhimmi status in a Muslim country – all of these are what you describe, and most were extinct or dying out at the dawn of the 20th Century.

    The numbers of children trapped in poverty because of familial circumstances in industrialized countries is MUCH less than the rate in preindustrial ones. The characteristics of poverty in an industrialized society generally involve a lack of goods in relation to others, whereas poverty in a preindustrial one involves intermittent availiablity of food, shelter or water.

    However, the lessening physical risks of poverty and rates of poverty in industrialized countries comes from increased production – which is to say Capitalism – not the State’s attempts to educate poor children.

    Talented people have risen above their births throughout history – they did so when opportunity to succeed was present, not State mandated education. And industrialized, capitalist societies present more opportunities than preindustrial, non-capitalist ones.

    The State’s actions in mandated education aim to reduce the liberty of all, and have shown limited ability to help talented children escape poverty.

    The situation reminds me of the Penn and Teller’s Bullsh*t episode on Alcoholics Anonymous. AA has a success rate of about 10%, people who stop drinking and don’t seek AA or other assistance also succeed about 10% of the time. So does AA help, or do the people would the people who stopped in AA have stopped on their own?

    Do State mandated school systems help children out of poverty, or do they simply claim those that help THEMSELVES out as proof of its success?

  • veryretired

    Some of the people here have lost their way. Freedom is not desirable merely because it produces this or that benefit. It is a requirement of life on this planet if one is to live as a fully functioning human being.

    Similarily, state action is not good or bad depending on whether or not it has good intentions, or might produce a good we deem desirable.

    You who are here arguing that the state is needed for education must realize that by establishing a huge monopoly system, and declaring that children are, in effect, wards of the state, a large range of other options and possibilities has been foreclosed.

    The objection to state action, except in specifically authorized areas, is that the coercive power of the state invariably runs roughshod over the rights of innumerable people who do not wish to participate, and who would seek an altermative path, IF THEY WERE ALLOWED TO DO SO.

    The state warps everything it touches, like a black hole warps the space-time around it. And, as the black hole absorbs even light, the state absorbs the energy of all those who would have innovated a different path, until only one, usually dead end, road is left.

  • Euan Gray

    You who are here arguing that the state is needed for education must realize that by establishing a huge monopoly system, and declaring that children are, in effect, wards of the state, a large range of other options and possibilities has been foreclosed

    Neither in Britain nor in America is there a state monopoly education system. It is paranoid rubbish to suggest there is.

    State schools exist in both countries, as do charitable, religious and private schools of varying competence. Some state schools are good, most aren’t so good. Some private schools are bad, most are rather better.

    In neither country is it compulsory to send one’s children to school. There is, however, an obligation on the parent to ensure an education is provided – but what this education should consist of is not prescribed, nor are public examinations compulsory. The parent has a choice of sending their child to a state school, or to a private, charitable or religious school, or educating at home.

    What is wrong with this?

    EG

  • Johnathan

    Jacob, I am not going to flog a dead horse on the tagging issue, since of course tags, school uniforms and the rest are symptoms of compulsory education, not the root of the problem. For all that, though, it might serve to imagine how a child feels at having a tag fixed to him/her. It certainly is bound to reinforce in a young person’s mind the idea that school is like a prison. You may scoff – but surely that is what tagging a youngster does. (I am trying to recall what I would have felt like at school in such circumstances).

    JP

  • Euan Gray

    tags, school uniforms and the rest are symptoms of compulsory education

    In most British state schools, uniform is not worn, or consists of whatever the “kids” feel is fashionable enough. In most private schools, which you might suppose are more “voluntary,” wearing of uniform is standard and indeed required. Of course, attendance at neither is compulsory.

    If education is so bad, and uniform such a terrible badge of compulsion, why is it that so many parents make enormous efforts to send their children to regimented private schools, I wonder?

    I think many if not most libertarians are completely back-to-font on the whole education idea, and specifically are utterly wrong (and paranoid) on the compulsion aspect of it.

    EG

  • veryretired

    The fact that you support it, EG, is the clearest sign that is erroneous.

  • Euan Gray

    The fact that you support it, EG, is the clearest sign that is erroneous

    I generally subscribe to the view that once someone starts attacking one personally rather than addressing the points raised, one has essentially prevailed in the argument.

    I’d really like those who complain about compulsory education in state monopoly schools to demonstrate:

    (a) where in US federal or state law it is written that parents are compelled to send their children to a state controlled school, or;

    (b) where in English or Scottish law the same thing is said, or;

    (c) why the existence of private, religious and charitable schools alongside state schools in both the US and the UK is compatible with the notion that the state has a monopoly on the administration of schools, or;

    (d) why the undoubted existence of hundreds of thousands of home-schoolers is compatible with the notion that attendance at any school – whether state, charitable or private – is compulsory.

    Until someone does this, it seems to me obvious that there is no state monopoly of education and that “compulsory attendance at school” is a myth, pure and simple.

    EG

  • speedwell

    The parent has a choice of sending their child to a state school, or to a private, charitable or religious school, or educating at home.

    True, but if the child refuses to participate in private or home school for a period of time, the state doesn’t send the truant officer around to enforce attendance in the private or home school in question.

    That aside, I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned the simple fact that one of the reasons that kids getting tagged seems so attractive to many is because people (whether they realize it or not) are used to seeing kids treated as property. In this case, the child is an asset of the school.

    There’s a very thin line between tagging ordinary kids at school so the authorities can keep track of them in the same way as property, and tagging ordinary adult citizens so the authorities can keep track of them in the same way as property.

  • Euan Gray

    True, but if the child refuses to participate in private or home school for a period of time, the state doesn’t send the truant officer around to enforce attendance in the private or home school in question.

    Ah, so “compulsory state schooling” is only compulsory if one volunteers to send one’s child to a state school? I fail to see the strength of this argument.

    There’s a very thin line between tagging ordinary kids at school […] and tagging ordinary adult citizens

    How thin is the line between concern at overweening state power and wearing a tinfoil-lined homburg to deflect the mind-control rays? Or for that matter block the RFID tag signals.

    EG

  • Shawn

    Euan,

    from my point of view, which is conservative and Christian rather than libertarian (although I support a conservative form of minarchism and free trade), the long term problem with any state involvement in education is the fact that most states in the Western world are controlled by the enemy, that is, liberals, or perhaps more accurately, Gramscian Marxists. The strategy of the liberal regime has been to slowly but surely squeeze out any competition or any alternative power structures to the liberal state, hence its war against church and family. It is therefore just a matter of time before they are powerul enough to take on independent schools and home schoolers. In some countries, such as New Zealand, this has already begun, with threats from the current socialist government to ban any Christian home school course or independent Christian school curriculum which does not toe the liberal line on issues like homosexuality.

    It is for this reason that I support getting the state out of education period. This would include any regulatory function which proscribes what a minimal education means. If we give them the power to regulate this, its only a matter of time before the list of what is “necessary” starts to expand.

    I agree with you that the current situation in the US (I cant speak for Britain) is not as bad as some Libertarians claim. But neither do I trust giving anti-Christian liberals the power to determine what a good or minimal education is.

  • Euan Gray

    It is for this reason that I support getting the state out of education period

    I have some sympathy with this point of view. However, it is unrealistic to expect that all education provision would then be made by charitable and private institutions and it is IMO necessary to accept that some parents (perhaps many) will have neither the time nor the ability to home-school, nor the money to use private schools, nor the opportunity to use charitable schools. If it is accepted that education to some minimum level is more than just a desirable option, then some degree of public subsidy, hence state involvement, becomes inevitable.

    [I strongly disagree with those libertarians who think education is entirely optional. Unfortunately, we live in a complex and highly artificial world & some degree of education is absolutely necessary in order to make one’s way in life. This type of libertarian would condemn many to life in an uneducated and unemployable underclass. We no longer live in the sort of world where education is not strictly necessary.]

    It’s not necessary for states to own and run schools, or to dictate in other than the very broadest terms what the education should be. There are other issues which complicate matters, notably the question of whether it is more effective to leave curriculum entirely to the market or to provide some mandatory guidance to ensure a higher level of technical competence than the market would provide. But in simple terms, we might say that the state should require only that an education by given and that it should provide some form of subsidy to those who cannot home-school or afford private education or secure a place in a charitable school.

    I would suggest the way to do this is to organise some form of voucher scheme where the parent can obtain a certain amount of credit to spend in any school of their choice.

    I think it also needs to be borne in mind that those who home-school or pay for private schools, et least in Britain, tend to take a greater interest in what their child learns. Many (but by no means all) who send their children to state schools simply don’t care, and some don’t even care if their children bother going to school at all. Left entirely to the market, it is unlikely that such parents would provide any education – again, you get back to the underclass thing, which gives rise to other problems which in due course need to be dealt with.

    EG

  • Ken

    I know about grammar schools Verity – I am in favour of bringing them back. There were inequalities in the system but these can be ironed out.