A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: Madsen Pirie on using bright children to make unbright children brighter
Previous entry: Irina Tyk says blend from left to right
Thursday January 17 2008

Peter Hoskin writes about the educational debate sparked by the Charity Commission, who have urged that private schools should be, as Hoskin puts it in his title, “asked” to do more for the “public benefit”.

Anthony Seldon, headmaster of Wellington and a Tony Blair biographer, has argued that private schools are creating educational apartheid.

My small experience of private education says entirely the opposite.  From where I see things, the private sector is carving huge, if not always reported, chunks out of the educational task that was earlier performed by state schools, state schools many which themselves derived their effectiveness and momentum from the time when all schools were almost entirely private.  Nationalisation can take a long time to work its un-magic, but it gets there, and to fill the ever more numerous gaps left by state education now, the private sector, if by that you mean all the things that free people do with their own money and their own time, is not stuck in a ghetto, but is advancing out of it in all kinds of directions.  Educational apartheid would only happen if all this was now crushed to death.

Take this Butterfly Book that I’ve been banging on about here.  The whole point of this mighty volume is that only a very semi-effective teacher like me, or like millions of parents, can make highly effective use of it.  Parents can buy it, and use it.  (And they are.  And teachers and state schools aren’t.) That’s the private sector in action.

Says Hoskin:

The question of how much is owed – in the name of equality – by private institutions to public bodies is one that cuts across a number of policy areas.  Should private hospitals lend equipment and expertise to NHS centres?  Should private companies be obliged to give jobs to the unemployed?  The boundaries need to be established, and this task should become one of the defining features of the current Parliament.

Boundaries be damned.  This is a fight to the death, not a negotiation.  The enemy says: everything is owed.  I say: nothing is owed.  The task in hand is not to contrive a truce between freedom and all its pleasures and benefits, and tyranny and all its woes and idiocies, but for the former utterly to overwhelm the latter.