07 April 2017

Socialist education

Socialists claim to believe that parents giving their children a better-than-average education is unfair. But do any of them consider that state schools might be a bad solution, damaging lives and (if anything) entrenching existing advantages?

Is it possible there is something flawed in the assumptions that:
(a) the motivation of teachers is not a revelant variable, or
(b) motivation is not affected by whether it is individual parents, or the state, paying the salaries (“he who pays the piper calls the tune”)?
Or is there perhaps a misplaced belief that the collective wants every one of its educational charges to do well, with the same fervour as that of a parent towards their own child, and that this will somehow be transmitted to state school staff?

Judging by the remarks of Labour education spokesperson Angela Rayner, proposing a 20% tax on private school fees (allegedly to finance school meals), none of these thoughts have crossed the minds of any of the key people in her department. But that is hardly surprising, since the same could be said about most of the academics operating in the area of “education” – even if none of their research identifies itself as being socialist in spirit.

The likely result of the proposed policy? A few thousand of the least well-off middle-class parents – already straining under the burden of also having to finance the state system, whether they use it or not – will find it impossible to spare their children from the horrors of that system. Will state education improve as a result of the tax revenue gained? Unlikely, judging by past experience.

A possible interpretation. Socialism does not like people being able to avoid indoctrination by the collective, e.g. by having their children taught things of which the collective does not approve, or by avoiding schools and other collectivised institutions altogether.

However, banning private schools, home education and so on, and simply forcing all children, without exception, to attend the same grim places (for as many years of their lives as possible) might arouse opposition. Instead, the plan may be to strangle the alternatives gradually – by abolishing charitable status, increasing child removal powers, taxing private schools more heavily, etc.