Monday, 1 June 2009

Doubts About The Educational Establishment

I hesitate to hat-tip a site which goes regularly off the deep end, particularly in my first meaningful post. Moonbattery is rather extreme in attacks on the American left and its advocacy of fundamentalist religious doctrine, in fact it is written by someone who is not at all socially libertarian and far from having any self-doubt.

However that brutality can occasionally manifest as a refreshing approach to issues seen as taboo, and sometimes the site comes up with a story that I would not see anywhere else but that is relevant to my libertarian and sceptical philosophy.

One such story is on the subject of education, and pulled from the LA Times. It appears that charter schools in California can be run independently of government control while being funded by the government. The article, in the staunchly Democrat-supporting LA Times, takes the case of a school that refuses to follow the blind, unmtested policies of the educational establishment, left-wing, "inclusive" and multi-cultural. In fact their advert for teaching staff could not be more plain, "We are looking for hard working people who believe in free market capitalism. . . . Multicultural specialists, ultra liberal zealots and college-tainted oppression liberators need not apply".

It is worth reading the whole article, but in summary the school is run on strict and traditional lines with strong discipline, with poor teachers being fired, with no sympathy for laziness, drug taking or the concerns of unions. In other words it is run on the lines that many European Socialists and US Liberals would condemn as being authoritarian.

Of course the school is one of the best in the district, despite having an intake of mostly poor children, many from ethnic backgrounds which tend to do poorly in other state schools. Not only are pupils' achievements vastly higher than they would expect elsewhere but those ethnic variations in achievement disappear when the same is expected of everyone.

So what is my point? Does this not show my proclaimed libertarian politics to be flawed?

I would disagree. School pupils are children. They are not old enough to make all their own decisions. Their freedom will come from the ability to make their own decisions, and that will come from experience and knowledge. As they get older experience and knowledge increase and they can gradually take their birthright of freedom. Refusing to give a child discipline and learning is not liberating, it is a dreadful way of restricting their futures.

Of course the success of the school casts doubt on almost every educational trend of the last 40 years, and suggests that "diversity" and multi-culturalism damages the people it claims to help, in this case those black and hispanic children under performing in normal US state schools. It gives evidence to support the British Conservative Party education policy, and to suggest that Barack Obama is going to do terrible damage with his policies for education in Washington DC.

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