Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Newtons Law returns: Cambridge pushes back on "social justice"

It is nice to see Alison Richard of Cambridge University speaking out against pressure from Government to pander to its obsession with the bankrupt ideology of "social justice".

Social Justice is an odious term. It is built upon the concept of "social rights" upon which I would not need to improve upon the words of J.S. Mill:
So monstrous a principle is far more dangerous than any single interference with liberty; there is no violation of liberty which it would not justify.

Says it all really. "Social Justice" barges in and demands a University steer away from pure academic excellence to pander to a quota system. 

Underneath the call for "social justice" is the desire to paper over the cracks of the failing State education sector - a "system" is too good a word, I sometimes feel. By forcing Cambridge and other red-brick Universities to increase the number of State-educated undergrads not on merit but on political dogma, on a quota system, will enable the self-deceivers to lie to the general public, to convince them that their dysfunctional social experiment is working when it clearly is not.

The way to have more social mobility is to remove barriers, not to insert barriers directly or indirectly on those who are achieving. The reason why state-educated kids are failing to get to the best Universities is not because they are being prevented or pushed out per se, not because the intake is not capable, it is because of the very nature of the organisations, the curricula, the mindset of educationalists who influence the teachers prevents kids from attaining their full potential. Yes, parents can have an influence, but the Educational system should fix its own problems FIRST before stomping over to blame parents. The best way to increase state-funded pupils is for the State to realise that private schools do well because the school has far less outside control compared to a state school. It knows it only gets paid per pupil and that they are beset by competition on all sides in terms of reputation, quality of output, environment, exam board/mechanism, discipline and facilities. 

The best way to make State funded schools improve is to subject them to similar drivers. A voucher system along the lines of the LPUK would do it, but NOT the way the Conservatives propose. 

Alas, the Tories just cannot get the idea of State meddling out of their minds. I cannot understand why they wish to be in control of when, where and how new schools are formed. Who has been whispering in their ear? If the Tories think they will yield the full advantages, or ANY advantages of a voucher scheme they are very much mistaken in my view. It will allow some to take State funding and top up, yes, but it will do little to introduce a widespread and imminent threat of competition across the entire country. The Tory proposas will inject demand and State funding into the existing private sector but not properly enable on-the-ground nationwide competition. It suggests authorities compete for selection to be ear-marked as an area requiring new schools. Oh, so therefore centralising the writ, to make the centre the arbiter. Nice. It will result in authorities spending time, money and mental bandwidth (sorry) jostling for attention, lobbying in other words. It makes authorities beholden to the centre and, as such, must behave as the centre dictates. I also think the Tory plans will enable more control over the private sector so sooner or later, when it has grown used to the State voucher funded intake, the coup de grĂ¢ce of getting schools to yield charity status and kow-tow to further State control will occur, for who pays the piper...It will be a shocking betrayal by the Tories - they probably will not do it themselves, but if, after few terms, common sense does not prevail and a Libertarian Party is voted in, New Labour, or whatever pestilential detritus that remains of the opposition, will replace them and do the deed, probably in the first session.

Under the Libertarian Party proposals, EVERY school will know that at any time a new school can be formed in their catchment to take their good teachers and their meal tickets, er, I mean kids. Parents will be able to form new schools. Teachers collectives, likewise. Good Heads frustrated by the constant bureaucracy and massive drain on fiscal flows of the LEA will either move to withdraw from their clutches or set out to form a new school or take over another failing establishment and do it there. Countless children will benefit. As for those kids who have parents who do not care, well, teachers and Heads can always move in on those schools and rescue the children. The local communities and educators therein will know better on balance than any LEA, Government Minister, Union Leader or academic. The Libertarian Party will be the only one that will enable teachers to teach, heads to run schools and for parents to have a reasonable chance to send their kids to a school where they will not have their spirits crushed and their souls dragged down to the lowest common denominator.

I want to see the Libertarian Party decide that the key metrics for any school receiving voucher funding be a steady improvement in pupil attainment in reading, writing and mathematics. For everything else I am sure the nexus of decisions made by parents, teachers and Heads will be best overall. Anything else and you get sucked into the world of State control over young minds. It is the least-bad option, not perfect, just the least bad. It means children will be given the basic tools without the CONTENT being open to meddling by the State.

So, in conclusion, a big thumbs up to Alison Richard. She is striking at the root.


Kit said...

A better alternative to vouchers is tax credits. Better because it removes the possibility of government interference in childs education.

The is well worth reading from the Mackinac Center

Sir Henry Morgan said...

"Who has been whispering in their ear?"

Common Purpose.