Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The School Choice Debate Across the Pond

The British have some different ideas about how to do some things in education, that's for sure. Yahoo News UK and Ireland is reporting on some controversy that has erupted about how to fund some schools not under state control. The article notes:
The Conservatives' plans to allow parents and teachers to set up schools have been denounced as "barking mad" by a teachers' leader. Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), raised concerns that children could be taught more about subjects like creationism than literacy and numeracy if the plans go ahead.
Steve Hackett called the British public school system "Darktown" because of what he thought was its demoralizing, dehumanizing atmosphere

What typically happens over here is that schools that want to teach creationism (like Paideia Academy) are private in nature and do not get any state funds. To use state funds for such a school would violate the establishment clause. It appears that no such clause exists in the british system. The counter position is this:
"The Conservatives will create a new generation of independent, free, and non-selective schools. This will give all parents, not just the rich, what they want - smaller schools with smaller classes, good behaviour, great teachers and restored confidence in the curriculum."
Education is not neutral. One of the reasons those of us that have our kids in private school have gone that route is because of the increasing liberal, morally relativistic bent that is in the public schools. On the whole, I think that private schools more than give the public schools a run for their money, creationism aside. Many of these parents feel that they are up against the wall with regard to their kids' education. While I cannot condone the teaching of creationism, I can understand how they would want a school that taught traditional values and curricula.

It is unfortunate, however, that along with this movement to try to educate children more in keeping with traditonal values, certain subjects suffer greatly. This might not be the case if the radical creationist movement did not have such a stranglehold on the evangelical church.

Now playing: Michael W. Smith - Rocketown
via FoxyTunes


  1. To use state funds for such a school would violate the establishment clause. It appears that no such clause exists in the british system.

    That's an understatement. England is an officially Christian nation. In the early nineties I visited a British public school that my cousin was enrolled in. They had a school assembly where there was religious instruction, and they even had the kids singing Christian songs.

  2. I bet it wouldn't be the same today. There was a considerable backlash against that recently and now many of my friends who live over there say the Christian public influence is waning.

    Still, the fact that they have this kind of debate indicates a very different understanding of the rôle of the church in society as a whole.