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Cheers - AE

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Only monopolised education could come up with this.

From The Tele:
Top schools risk being branded inadequate by Government inspectors for failing to promote race relations, gender equality and human rights, it has been disclosed.
They could be plunged into "special measures" by Ofsted under new rules that place equality on a par with exam results and child safety for the first time.
In official guidance, inspectors are told to be aware of “gender imbalances” in upper-ability sets and ensure after-school sport is not dominated by pupils belonging to one ethnic group.
How the hell do you attack something that's so detached from reality? Where the fuck do you even start? It'd be like saying that driving test examiners will give as much weight to a learner's knowledge of alternative forms of transport and their relative environmental impact as their ability to control a car safely and maintain awareness of what's going on around them.* 'Political correctness gone mad' is an overused expression so I'll settle for simply saying that the idea is fucking stupid, benefits nobody and is only possible at all because the government have a virtual monopoly. Can you imagine what would happen if education was completely subject to market conditions? Let's imagine a third of schools decided to do this - good or bad news for the other two thirds? Let's go further and imagine that 90% decided to go mad. The sane 10% would become massively oversubscribed very quickly and most would end up having to leave the kids to be taught by ideologies rather than educators, so not good news for anyone but the PC nutjobs. But there'd probably be a scale of stupid, a gradient along which you'd find schools are buying into the new policy to greater and lesser extents. If, as I suspect, the money goes towards the end where daft policies are practised least the effect would be similar - the most mad would lose out to the least mad, the worst would lose out to the best. In the current government monopoly there is nothing to stop the next decree being that school age boys, all 5ish million of them, will henceforth wear pink in order to get them in touch with their feminine sides at an early age. It'd be deranged and as popular as, well, Gordon Brown going back to Sellyoaks and doing a stand up routine. But aside from voting against the idiots that do it, which might be out of the question for anything up to five years (possibly more in certain circumstances) there's fuck all anyone can do about it because the state has the control that comes with a monopoly on supplying education. That's got to end.

Now I know people like to talk about externalities and that education benefits even those without kids, and I'd be prepared to buy into that if there wasn't so much evidence that standards have taken a dive - sorry kids, but when I see sample GCSE papers online and find them a breeze without the two years of study and revision I had to put in to pass O levels twenty years ago I think there probably is a problem. So let's say then that I'd concede that state funding of education can be, though not necessarily is, worthwhile. Why does it need to be the monopoly supplier as well? Why does it need to supply the service at all? Ultimately I'd like to see the state give up education and handing it back to parents, but as a stepping stone to that I can't help thinking that a voucher system has to be the way to go. In the British education system parental choice is often Hobson's choice except that even those who take the 'none' option are being made to pay as if they'd accepted the metaphorical horse nearest the door.* Those of us without kids will still continue paying for those who have, which isn't ideal by a long way, but with schools competing for the money at least we could reasonably expect an ROI slightly more exciting than hordes of semi-literate, semi-numerate, non-thinkers who were all in suitably diverse classes.

It'll be interesting to see if Camernong, assuming he wins the election, has either the inclination or the balls to tackle this. Personally I think he's bought into the NuLab belief that spending more = it's better, and he's won't be all that keen to take on the teaching unions and the DFCS. The thing is, you see, the customer is king - always. But in state education the customer is neither the children being taught*, nor their parents, nor the taxpayers who have to stump up for the whole thing. The customer is OFSTED and the DFCS, and ultimately the government. Cameron is probably free market enough to understand this, but if (oh please) Broon and Co get sent packing in a few months, and if (well, any port in a storm) Cameron and Co become the government, they will then become the customer, won't they? They'll be awfully tempted to hang on. Result: expect the details to change and maybe an end to some of the extreme PC ideology, but the underlying system will remain the same.

It's a relief not to have kids, really.

UPDATE: The Ambush Predator's been at this one too. Having lost the will to live, or at least carry on reading, I blogged a bit and then fucked off out for a takeaway and put the finishing touches on over my chips. JuliaM apparently read through to the end and...
Could the Tories win some kudos here by utterly monstering these plans and vowing to remove them as soon as they take power? Let's see:
Nick Gibb, the shadow schools minister, said: “The primary focus of schools should be to provide a good education for their pupils.
Good start! So, you plan to scrap these guideli...
“We all want discrimination and inequality to be tackled wherever they exist, but the Government has given too much of the responsibility for tackling social problems to schools alone...”
No /facepalm for me. Just a weary sign of depressed resignation since it looks like my earlier guess was good.

* They're also being pressured and accused of being potential monsters, but that's another issue entirely.
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