|Government and Failure||Education for What?|
by Christopher Chantrill
October 02, 2004 at 8:00 pm
BACK IN THE nineteenth century, before the educated elite had taken an interest in education, ordinary people paid to send their children to school. In England they paid 3d or 6d per week (i.e. about 25 cents in nineteenth century US dollars) at the most basic schools. The result was that by 1870 when the state decided to take over child education to fill in the gaps the literacy rate in England was about 90 percent. Now, of course, things are much better, for only about 30 percent of the graduates of Englands bog standard comprehensive schools remain functionally illiterate, according to social commentator Theodore Dalrymple.
In England, as in the United States, some souls have dared to wonder whether a one-size-fits-all government monopoly is the best way to educate children. They wonder whether a million parents making individual decisions about the education of their children might outperform thousands of education bureaucrats and experts making those decisions for them.
The folks at Civitas, a British think tank devoted to the study of civil society, decided to do something about it. They decided to demonstrate that they could run a private school for working people that delivered a basic education for about $5,000 per year, significantly less than the cost of a full-service private school.
On September 13, 2004, the first New Model Schoolexcellent and affordable private schoolsopened in a sports center in Queens Park in Northwest London. It is starting with one teacher and one aide, and is accepting 4-5 year olds in its reception year. The schools will use the direct instruction method that has achieved significant success in the United States (click here for more info). Parents at the New Model School are expected to volunteer and to foster attitudes of respect and courtesy in their children. The cost is 900 UK pounds per term.
The New Model School is opening in Queens Park in response to interest expressed by local parents. It is intended, of course, as a template, a model that can be applied by interested parents anywhere in Britain. The New Model School concept is ready to be expanded into a chain of local schools, starting like the Queens Park unit in a sports or church facility and only moving to permanent buildings after demonstrating viability.
This modest educational startup has attracted some notice. The World Socialist complained that by opening the Queens Park school in a racially mixed area Civitas was playing on middle-class fears of the racial mix in local schools. But it took heart that most people view organisations such as Civitas with extreme suspicion. Fortunately only 10 children had enrolled with a week to go before school opened. Of course the real problem was that, by grossly underfunding its schools the British government had created a climate in which right-wing think tanks could thrive and pursue their reactionary agenda.
The Guardian reported on the school opening, and
quoted former immigration minister Barbara Roche, who had received a
fundraising letter from Civitas that alarmed her. She wondered if schools were now going to be established
that will attack our multiracial, multicultural society.
Only Sarah Harris at The Daily Mail managed to report the opening without ideological bias, discussing New Model Schools fees in as the educational equivalent of budget airlines and hotels, a low-cost alternative to elite schools like Eton, Harrow, and Winchester that charge 20,000 pounds per year, and the mid-range chain of schools being developed by Global Education Management Systems (Gems) that aims to deliver an education at 10,000 pounds per year.
Its a novel concept for the modern parentpaying for your childs education. In the old days, of course, parents made harrowing sacrifices to get their children a basic grounding in literacy and numeracy. James Mill, father of John Stuart Mill, observed in the early nineteenth century that parents subsisted on potatoes so they could scrape up the cash to pay their childrens school fees. And Jacob Riis at the end of the nineteenth century noted that in New York the only reason that immigrant parents did not send their children to school was when they needed the childs wages to eat.
Yet in our modern era governments assume that parents have to be enticed with free schools and flogged with compulsory education laws to deliver their children up to the advantage of education.
Still, the lefties are right to rail against the New Model School startup. Children that learn to love books and develop an attitude of respect and courtesy arent going to turn into the kind of people that the left knows and loves: helpless victims or transgressive activists. Instead they might turn into law-abiding purposeful adults, capable of self-government, the Anglospheres gift to the world.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America