Why is it only the right that gets angry about how state schools fail the poor?

(280 Posts)
longfingernails Sun 23-Jun-13 19:08:09

A truly fantastic article.

blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2013/06/christine-blower-the-nut-and-the-bigotry-of-low-expectation/

My favourite snippet:
This is what separates British left and right now. The left, in their post-Blair phase, is no longer very worked up about the poor doing badly at school. (?It may matter or it may not,? Blower said about poor children not going to top universities). The standard left response is to talk philosophically about inequality in society, as if this has the slightest bearing on whether the concept of a sink school ought to be tolerated in this day and age.

By contrast, the right are hopping mad about educational inequality. When the subject is raised in front of Michael Gove, it?s like flicking a switch. He blows his top. When I last interviewed him and raised the subject about whether it poor kids should be expected to do as well as rich, he replied in a crescendo of anger.

Arisbottle Mon 24-Jun-13 00:03:47

I agree Claig, I was considered thick for much of my time at school because my family were notorious, my parents barely literate and usually pissed. Luckily my potential was spotted and I managed to escape.

Startail Mon 24-Jun-13 00:30:39

Yes, if you go back to before the wars I think intelligence was more evenly spread through the classes, but gradually working class educational opportunities improved.

I have relatives from relatively humble backgrounds who got trade guild scholarships to Cambridge, a grandfather who got a technical education in the RAF and went from working class to MC collage lecturer, his sons both went on to grammar school (one is a history lecturer at a an RG uni).

Grammar schools allowed may be two or three generations of DCs into university that might not have got their otherwise.

Then Universities started letting in large numbers of women.

No longer did you marry the handsome dim lad next door, you married the geek from the other end of Britain.

Ie. a lot of bright people became MC and they were and are determined their DC will be too.

Crumbledwalnuts Mon 24-Jun-13 01:26:36

I would swim through a sewer to have my children in a free school far from the clutches of lunatic unions and the idiocy of the national curriculum.

Yes, me too Moondog, very good phrasing.

moondog Mon 24-Jun-13 16:39:55

'The point being, moondog, that rather than helping the poor, free schools appear to be selecting against them in some way as they are ending up with fewer of them than they should have by rights.'

Eh? So there are over 20% of kids in that school who qualify for free meals but according to you, they have all been cherry picked to ensure the proletariat remain oppressed.

I thought I was a conspiracy theorist but next to you, am a mere amateur.
Hilarious logic.

MiniTheMinx Mon 24-Jun-13 23:10:22

Interesting historical summary of social mobility Startail only thing I would add is that over that same period of time there was less wealth inequality, not because of education but because of progressive taxation, creation of welfare/social programmes, state spending and investment and a larger percentage of profit/value going to workers.

I agree that Labour has given up on the working class. Labour appeals to a guardian reading MC, who are not left but liberal. These doctors, teachers, social workers and community -add role of choice- workers actually benefit from having a working class. Their trade relies on an expanding welfare state, widening inequality and rising poverty.

I don't believe though that Gove et al are serious about changing the one institution that upholds class privilege like nothing else. Gove's constant assault upon teachers and state education has nothing what so ever to do with raising standards. STATE education is not about educating, more about containment, training and socialisation. Always has been an instrument of state violence upon the creative capacities of working class people, simply a moulding of replacement labour power. This is why Gove is obsessed with a knowledge based education over encouraging natural inquiry and critical thinking.

WafflyVersatile Mon 24-Jun-13 23:13:17

The right don't give a shiny shite about the poor. Don't kid yourselves.

Ehhn Mon 24-Jun-13 23:24:38

I know that these threads tend to turn into "ime" but... In my experience... My mum was born into grinding, shitty poverty (going hungry, one set of clothes, couldn't go to school when her knickers were being washed... The kind of poverty we don't really get any more even in the most deprived areas) at the end of the war. She contracted TB and was saved by the very young NHS. She then got into grammar school and it opened her up to a world which she eventually entered on her own terms as a business woman. She had me in 1986 as a single mother. No grammar schools where I live and the one traditionally good state school started a slide downwards from the 1980s. So private school for me and then to an RG university.
How 40 years of mismanagement by left and right have ruined the post-war ideals of hard work, free health care and a solid education to lift people out of poverty. (My aunt, 15 years younger than my mum, was brought up in 1970s on full blown welfare and no g school. She lives on benefits and 2 of her 4 kids have been in prison.)

moondog Mon 24-Jun-13 23:25:22

Your second paragraph is true mini although it is not a working class this particular cadre feed off, rather a. Underclass. Your final paragraph is however paranoid guff.

MiniTheMinx Mon 24-Jun-13 23:31:41

debunk it then Moondog

Minifingers Mon 24-Jun-13 23:39:01

There are a fair number of completely illiterate people in their 50's and 60's as anyone will tell you who has taught basic literacy classes will tell you. It's rare now for children to leave school being unable to read and write.

When children were expected to learn information by rote it was possible to have large classes. Easier too when the poor knew their place and the children of the working classes could be beaten into silence and compliance at school.

It's not state schools which are failing children - even in the worst state schools there will be children from poor families who achieve highly. But if these children come from poor families they will overwhelmingly be from poor immigrant families who come from cultures which hugely value education and instil this belief on their kids.

My dad was born into a big working class family and bought up on a housing estate in Dagenham. He didn't get on in life because he had brilliant schooling but because his father was a rabid socialist who encouraged debate, got his sons to attend evening lectures at the local working men's college, and because my dad was a reader.

It's working class culture which has 'dumbed down', not schooling. And the belief that a few hours a day of schooling can make up for children having absolutely no intellectual stimulation or opportunity for creativity in their lives outside of the classroom is false.

beatback Mon 24-Jun-13 23:44:50

Minitheminx. You are obviously of the belief that both right and left use education as a device to keep working class people in their places ,and therefore keep a large number of people who are totally reliant on social services. These people are clients of the state, and will in all probably be for life so are keeping the guardian reading educated in careers. EHHN. After the 2nd world war many families were rehoused in prefab buildings ,but many of these families had desire and determination to improve their surrondings, and in time achieved great things. The thing is i dont think people on the estates today have the same desire or determination to improve their own circumstances.

TabithaStephens Tue 25-Jun-13 00:42:00

State schooling in this country is an absolute mess. It is no surprise whatsoever that anyone with the means to do so is sending their kids to independent schools. The national curiculum needs to be abolished and the teachers unions broken. Teachers that are not up to scratch need to be sacked and prevented from teaching in the future. Throwing money at teachers and building shiny new buildings is not the answer. Labour made a complete mess of things, the jury is still out on Gove but I believe his heart is in the right place.

WafflyVersatile Tue 25-Jun-13 01:15:19

Teachers and teacher's unions know a lot more and care a lot more about education than Gove does. The man knows nothing about education. He's only interested in privatising education to further enrich his mates same as all his Tory mates in charge just now.

Crumbledwalnuts Tue 25-Jun-13 06:04:51

"Teachers and teacher's unions know a lot more and care a lot more about education than Gove does."

This gave me a giggle. Union leaders are afraid of Gove because they know this isn't true. They are all huffy and puffy like Mr Toad. I think moondog is super on this thread.

noblegiraffe Tue 25-Jun-13 07:36:49

Moondog, the suggestion on this thread was that free schools were to give the poor the chance of a great education.

In which case you'd expect to see them encouraging poor students through their doors, rather than whatever it is they are actually doing that seems to be favouring the nom-FSM kids in their area.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 08:52:24

Of course Noble!
The only real way to help the proleteriat into free schools is to set up government funded inititatives to enable this.
I foresee street theatre, drop in sessions, leaflet drops and specially trained facilitators to drive to their abodes in the morning and escort them there in an environmentally friendly walking us formation.

In this way we might then achieve our goal of ensuring free schools are only frequented by semi feral urban youths.

Thank you for your flash of insight.

noblegiraffe Tue 25-Jun-13 09:13:23

Having a fair representation of them in free schools would be rather a start, if free schools are supposed to be the solution to the state school underachievement problem.

MiniTheMinx Tue 25-Jun-13 14:08:23

And Moondog that is probably not too far from the truth!

Just because social institutions are being privatised, don't think for one minute that these "free market" entities can survive without state intervention and huge levels of state investment. It isn't the people who benefit from state spending in the free market model but the profit driven free market racqueteers. Something like 47% of GDP in the UK is still generated through government spending, even under neo-liberalism. The difference is that before 1980 when governments spent money it had several positive effects, benefiting the working classes/MCs, increased GDP, increased tax revenue and brought down government debt. Not so now. Thatcher and the Conservatives of today crow about cutting welfare, cutting spending, government intervention in the market and having a "small" government. This isn't possible because government spending rises due to several inherent contradictions within capitalism itself.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 16:48:29

Mini, not being a journalist on a women's magazine, I do not 'debunk myths' any more than I pamper my pooches. Where did you learn to write like that? grin
I laud your cynicism but I cannot agree that education (whether private or public) is as sinister as you think it is. I don't think there is anything wrong with 'training' and 'socialisation' however. How else are we meant to share the planet. Even evil capitalist pigs eventually work out that if workers are to be productive they need a basic modicum of shelter, nutrition and literacy and numeracy skills.

'STATE education is not about educating, more about containment, training and socialisation. Always has been an instrument of state violence upon the creative capacities of working class people, simply a moulding of replacement labour power.'

'This is why Gove is obsessed with a knowledge based education over encouraging natural inquiry and critical thinking.'

What intrigues me is the assumption that knowledge is a bad thing. Good God, what sort of lunatic actively discourages acquisition of knowledge? Bizarrely, it seems to be the lefties, those who once fought for the emancipation of the proletariat. When did it all go wrong? You can't think critically without knowledge.
You remind me of myself, years ago, strutting off the university to study Philosophy. I rather naively assumed it would be a chance to talk about me, me, me. I remember my lecturers telling me no one really cared what I thought., but that I was there to learn what other people thought.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 16:53:03

'Having a fair representation of them in free schools would be rather a start, if free schools are supposed to be the solution to the state school underachievement problem.'

So Noble what in your eyes is a 'fair representation?
30% 40%
25%
When are you happy?
Are those that choose to attend these schools to be punished for the fact that others don't attend?
I think back to various state funded trendy arts initiatives I have been involved in for young parents from deprived backgrounds. Most didn't attend, even when offered cut-price sessions, or with the offers of free lifts from right on public sector workers.
The middles classes couldn't get in fast enough. I remember a visit once from a well known politician at one of my Sure Start sessions, and the approving nods that I, a public sector drone, got for my work. Little did he know that my 'clients' included a vet, a physio, a social worker and a good few teachers.

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 17:01:43

'Something like 47% of GDP in the UK is still generated through government spending, even under neo-liberalism. The difference is that before 1980 when governments spent money it had several positive effects, benefiting the working classes/MCs, increased GDP, increased tax revenue and brought down government debt.'

I'd like a reference to your source there Mini.

I'm also not sure what your argument is. I have no truck with people profiting handsomely as and when they deliver the goods and what goods are of more asset to our country that literate, numerate socialised young people.
The public sector mandarins are the most dangerous of all as they disguise themselves under a cloak of respectability. Look at the fiasco with the Care Quality Commission. Have you read about the size of those salaries and pensions and the brazen arrogance and lack of accountability of these servants of the state?
The disgusting decadence of people like Polly Toynbee's husband wining and dining his cronies?

The utter lack of accountability of the public sector? Tootle over to the Special Needs section and read the nightmarish accounts of parents trying to secure a basic education for their children in the face of Kafkaesque lies, bullying and cover ups.

I sat last night and watched my child complete the most pathetic piece of homework I have ever seen in my life (and believe me, I have seen some dross). It was for music and comprised a worksheet (the worksheet, beloved of the state school) and a fill in the blanks section. 'Today I'

The target phrases were in a 'wordbank' (another appalling artefact) this all the cvhild had to do was pick one and copy it in.

Critical thinking?
My arse.

noblegiraffe Tue 25-Jun-13 17:46:50

A fair representation would be the proportion of poor kids in the area they are supposed to serve, not fewer poor kids than the other schools in the area.

Minifingers Tue 25-Jun-13 17:50:01

Moondog - whose fault is it if the most disadvantaged people in the UK refuse to take up offers of antenatal education, support from Sure Start centres, fail to take advantage of libraries or free learning resources on the Internet? These things are there for everyone, and those of us who live in areas of high immigration see that many new immigrants who come to the UK to live in poverty stricken boroughs take every opportunity to advance their children's learning. What is stopping working class English people from doing the same?

My children's state school is in a poor part of London but many of the children achieve very highly. Those who don't are usually poorly supported at home.

Minifingers Tue 25-Jun-13 17:54:21

Moondog - it's heartening to see someone calling for massive increases in taxation to fund a reduction in class sizes to those found in private schools, and hugely increased help for children with special needs. I assume that this is what you support?

moondog Tue 25-Jun-13 17:55:16

You assume wrong.

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