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: Joan Rivers spits on education but recommends child labour
Previous entry: Teacher as hero
Sunday March 09 2008

Incoming, from Alex Singleton:

I wrote this on private schools and have received 47 comments so far which is vastly more than normal. This much be a touchy subject. Thought, given your edublogging hat, this would be of interest to you.

That’s 47 comments on something posted today.

First paragraph of Alex’s piece:

Finding the cash each term to pay for school fees is a struggle for many parents. They struggle because they have been failed by school lotteries, catchment areas and the lack of good state school places. These parents are paying twice, once for the state system that is failing them, and again in private school fees. Now the Charity Commission wants them to pay a third time.

A third time, that is to say, in the sense that private schools must offer bursaries to the poor, to prove that they are charities, or else lose their charitable status.

In Brian World, taxation is low to zero, so the question of which institutions are or are not exempt from tax is not a big deal.

But my more serious, life-as-it-is-now comment is that everyone in this argument seems either aggressively to proclaim or tacitly to accept that private education is only about rich kids.  That is not my experience.  Next Tuesday evening I will be teaching children of people of very limited means, in a non-state enterprise.  Okay, it’s not a very big enterprise, but I suspect that there is lots of this kind of thing going on under the radar.

There is such a pent-up demand for such services that as soon as you demonstrate that you are reasonably good at supplying it - which is not at all easy, by the way, or else many more people would be doing it and demand for it would not be so pent-up - it sells itself by word-of-mouth.  Therefore no publicity is required.  Therefore the media never get bombarded with propaganda about it.  Instead, media coverage of education is full of the huffings and puffings of politicians, promising the earth at other people’s expense, and then the soft-goal media coverage that consists of pointing out that the politicians have failed to deliver, which you can rely on rival politicians to supply you with, provided you also print their huffings and puffings to the effect that they will do better.

Meanwhile, I get the impression that media coverage is rather feared by little operations like the one I contribute to, because of its tendency to stir up political rows and generally rock the boat, it being such a small boat.  If the atmosphere of such potential rows is anything like that emanating from the comments on Alex Singleton’s posting, that would definitely be something worth avoiding.

On the other hand, I woudn’t say no to 47 comments on anything here, however mutually insulting.  (Well, actually I would say no to comments that were too insulting.  Come to think of it.  Nothing like pondering problems you don’t have, eh?)