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GUEST POST: Rob Waller on Osborne’s cunning plan

August 12th, 2009 Posted in Uncategorized by

skoolThis may surprise you, but I think Conservative George may actually be bright enough to have a rather cunning plan. And I believe his cunning plan is to weaken the left’s strangle hold of the education system.

It should be obvious why he would want to do this. The state education system is notoriously left wing, a bed rock of Labour support and has massive influence over the development of the next generation of voters.

In his speech to Demos George said…

Sweden introduced its supply side education reforms in the early nineties in the aftermath of a banking crisis and the wake of a recession.

They not only drove up standards, the reforms also ensured that resources were used more efficiently.

New providers used the same amount of per pupil funding available to existing state schools and found innovative ways of making it go far further.

They negotiated contracts on premises, IT and textbooks which reduced costs, liberating more money to spend on teaching and learning.

The competitive pressures introduced by new education providers forced existing bureaucracies to look at their own cost base and that drove further reform – and savings.

Education reform is not an optional extra we’ll pay for at some unspecified date in the future.

Now George couches these reforms in the language of standards. However the real reason for them should be obvious. If you bring in other providers you give parents choice. And this inherently weakens the state education system’s control over society as it no longer has a near monopoly. Which will weaken Labour’s control of society as the left will no longer control education.

However given the fact that George is a ‘Cameroon we’re not libertarian’ Conservative these reforms will probably be a corporatist fudge. But that is not to say we should not be making similar changes. In fact I believe we should go a lot further and for the same reasons. I believe it is essential if we want to develop a liberal and free society that we completely destroy the state education system. Because to have a liberal society you need a diverse and questioning population. And to develop this you need a diverse and varied education system that promotes choice.

So what do we need to do? Well first off make education non-compulsory. Now, this may seem fairly radical, but there are a number of reasons why we should do this. First there is a moral/ethical issue. Which is that people should want to be educated, they should not be forced. Second, it makes it far easier for parents to home school or opt-out of a bad school, they need not give any justification. Third, as education is no longer compulsory schools will no longer have any compulsion to educate meaning it is far easier to get rid of unruly kids. And finally, traditional education doesn’t suit everyone. So these people should be free to pursue other life options.

In addition to this the National Curriculum should be scrapped — let the parents and teachers decide what to teach. All national exams should be scrapped — schools, universities and businesses can work out how best to asses kids. And any state funding should be directed at the individual — not the system.

I imagine a lot of people will be horrified by some of these ideas, they will throw their hands in the air and proclaim “What about the terrorists, and religious nuts and the paedophiles?” I say to those people — these problems already exist, they pose very little risk and more state control won’t solve them.

However, only more choice in the education system can drive up standards. And as I assume George has worked out if we diversify the education system we will severely damage one of the left-wing strongholds in Britain. Which so long as it’s not replaced with corporatist fudge is a good thing that will help us build a freer and more liberal society.

Rob Waller sits on the NCC of the Libertarian Party and regularly posts for the LPUK South East Blog.

3 Responses to “GUEST POST: Rob Waller on Osborne’s cunning plan”

  1. Julian Harris Says:

    “first off make education non-compulsory … people should want to be educated, they should not be forced.”

    Naturally I’m not instinctively opposed to removing coercion, but the obvious problem here is that younger children would not be making this choice, but rather their parents would be making it for them. Having said that, I believe the vast majority of people would try to act in their children’s best interests–too often these debates draw on false images of masses of ill-educated plebs just waiting to ruin their kids lives if given half a chance by the state–which is clearly absurd. Generally the poor (in LDCs, for example) are extremely keen to educate their children, hence the development of private “slum schools” which produce remarkable results.

    Yet it’s arguable that the power relationship between parent and child can, sometimes, be as exploitative as the power relationship between state and individual–and therefore a minimum standard (eg. all children given the opportunity to become literate) may be a happy compromise.

  2. RobW Says:

    Julian you of course raise a very important point.

    My view is you have to make a decision either you have the concept of a child or you don’t.

    If you don’t the young person is responsible for their own life and choices. Which means the parents of said person have no responsibilty towards it. Also logically there would no reason not to extend the franchise to everyone — of any age.

    While if you do have the child concept the child may not have freedom like an adult but the parent does have a responsibilty towards the child.

    And while I accept and have knowledge of destructive parent, child relationships I generally believe that the parent, child relationship is a natural and pragmatic one.

  3. Alasdair Says:

    how is this different from the education system of the 18th century and what leads you to believe it would produce better results?