Friday, 18 April 2008

The state knows better than you do

The state knows better than you do. It knows better than all of you do. It knows better about everything than all of you do. Such as how best to raise your own children, for example.

You may remember a post a month-and-a-bit ago about the unrelenting persecution by the Orwellianly-named "Department for Children, Schools and Families" against Tyndale Academy, a tiny (8 children) private tuition group in East London (see here).

There was a news story on the BBC today, here, in which the Schools Minister, Jim Knight, tells some outrageous porkies - as the documents obtained by Tyndale Academy under the Freedom of Information Act show. Those documents show that the Department deliberately ran two expensive consultations with the sole aim of bringing this tiny private tuition group under its direct control. Jim Knight, though, has the gall to tell the BBC "It is ridiculous to claim that we have singled out Tyndale Academy. We do not make legislation on the basis of one school."

Certainly at least one of us is ridiculous, but my money's on Mr. Knight. Tyndale gives tuition to children whose parents have decided that they don't like what's on offer in the state system. They've decided that they'd like them to receive a handful of hours of tuition from Ferris Lindsay's group. Big government, though, thinks that there should be no education at all, anywhere in the UK, that falls outside of its regulations that govern state and/or private schools. Even home tuition groups must give the state-approved education. Mr. Knight says, "This is about making sure that parents can be sure their children are getting a safe and secure education wherever they go." What Mr. Knight carelessly omitted to add was, "Where the definition of 'safe and secure' extends into the tiniest and most surprising details, and the know-it-all gurus of my department are the final arbiters of all of them." He continues, "It is common sense that schools where children receive the majority of their education, unsupervised by parents, should meet minimum standards and be properly registered and inspected", as if Mr. Lindsay's group were like a zoo where the children run amok whilst their parents haven't got the foggiest what's going on. This statement is like a catalogue of logical fallacies and critical omissions:
  • "Common sense"... to "we know best" statists like Mr. Knight

  • "Schools" - except that, according to the law, a private tuition group such as Mr. Lindsay's which operates for only a few hours a week, is not a school. That's the whole point of the legislation Mr. Knight's bringing in. Hence his words here are assuming the whole thing he wants to establish at the outset.

  • "Unsupervised by parents", except that Mr. Lindsay is in fact a parent of his own children, who attend the group.

  • "Unsupervised by parents", as if the parents who want Mr. Lindsay to teach their children didn't bother to check out what kind of standard of education he gave before they decided to send them to him instead of the local state school.

  • "Should meet minimum standards", except that Mr. Knight forgot to mention that Mr. Lindsay's tuition group, having submitted to outside inspections that there he had no legal need to allow, has been consistently described as providing excellent education.

  • "Should meet minimum standards", as if all the state schools under Mr. Knight's control were providing such great education that he should now start considering enlarging his territory a bit because there was nothing needing doing! Say what, let's have a contest. Let's take the average standard of attainment of the pupils in Mr. Knight's territory, and compare them to his choice of those in Mr. Lindsay's school, or those educated in private tuition groups in general. Whoever meets the highest standard gets to take over the other's territory. I don't think that contest would go well for Mr. Knight.

  • "Properly registered and inspected", i.e. by me! The only authority competent to inspect if children are getting a good education is, after all, the state. Their own parents can't possibly be expected to do a good job of it. Even if they're parents who are so concerned about a good education that they left the state system.
Mr. Knight is a classic secularist. He has unlimited confidence in his own competence, knows what's best for everyone, and is by force of law going to make sure that you agree with him.

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