Monday, January 04, 2010

A call to ban private schools

A friend forwarded this article to me. It was published in the Online Times out of the United Kingdom in the School Gate section.

Why private schools should be banned

"....I believe that educationalists and egalitarians should fight for an end to private schools and the extension of an Eton standard of education for every child. Why? Because the current system institutionalises and makes acceptable educational inequality."

The article has a lot of liberal gobbly-gook that is not very logical, but there are many comments on the article which are pretty good.

I'm against inequality in educational opportunity.

But this is because I want to level up the worst schools, not level down the best. It is unfair that some people have a rubbish education, but it wouldn't be made any more tolerable by making even more people have a rubbish education, which is presumably the point of abolishing the private schools.

From the article and the comments, I was struck by the difference between British Society and the American "Land of Opportunity." We have so many people who achieve rags-to-riches success, that not attending an ivy-league school like Eton (or Harvard) is not seen as a career stopper here.

As a side note, I did a little research on the homeschool laws in the United Kingdom. This from HSLDA:

Compulsory Attendance Ages: 5-16

Legal Status: Homeschooling is legal in England and Wales under the 1944 Education Act, which was consolidated in 1996. Section 7, Education Act 1996 states, "…[E]fficient full-time education, suitable to his age, ability and aptitude and to any special education needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise." Under the "or otherwise" phrase in the law, families can legally homeschool.

There are no requirements to inform the authorities when one is home educating, unless the student was previously enrolled in the government school system. At that time, the parent must let the school official know they are withdrawing their student to home educate him. No other requirements for home education exist.

Number of Homeschoolers: Between 20,000 and 100,000 children.

The Online Times article claims that 7% of children in the UK are educated in private schools. I wasn't successful in finding a percentage rate for homeschoolers, but I found many articles detailing the increase in home education.

I was surprised that home education was not mentioned in either the article or the comments section. Many comments gave me the sense that parents felt trapped in the public school system. It was kind of strange how the parents seemed to believed that a private school was the only option to a good education, as if the content being taught at private schools was top secret information. I found myself muttering at the computer screen, "Well, then pull them out and teach them at home." With the internet, that wealth of knowledge is available with a click of a button.

I have to admit my view of the educational system in the United Kingdom was tainted by watching the World's Strictest Parents. Listening to those teens talk was down right painful.

Technorati tags: children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education


Jean said...

Well I certainly agree that the UK needs to concentrate on giving everyone a better education, rather than tearing down what good points there are. Most of the educational news from the UK these days is pretty depressing, it seems. And that includes the news for our English home educating colleagues, who are under attack from policy-makers wishing to place home education under some extremely strict regulation.

I find all this very discouraging.

Janine Cate said...


Thanks for the link.


Anonymous said...

I have yet to figure out why there is so much emphasis on 'egalitarian' education. Education isn't an endeavor that works in a cookie-cutter fashion. We all aren't entitled to it... it is something we have to work toward. I'd love to see articles in a mainstream outlet encouraging young people to take responsibility for their education. I think I would fall over with joy if that message was as publicized as that of the 'right to an egalitarian education.' Thanks for the post...

me said...

Professormom, your comment made me smile. When I was attending university we had a discussion about education in one of my classes. One of my classmates stated that we in Canada had the right to an education. I stated "No, we have the right to WORK towards our education. If you are not willing to work towards it, why should it be handed to you?" Needless to say, that opened up a whole new can of worms...

Henry Cate said...

To Me, Paul Zoch makes a similar point in
Doomed to Fail: The Built-In Defects of American Education. He says that as long as we keep holding teachers responsible for the students to learn, we are doomed to fail. The students need to at least also be held somewhat accountable.