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Saturday, November 10, 2007

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Arthur Eckart

Nonetheless, the trend is clear. Perhaps, the opportunity cost of shifting children from free public schools into expensive private schools is too high for most parents in the U.K. I wonder how many of those middle class parents would choose private schools over public schools if they were free? :)

Graeme Pietersz

Given that you are talking about the UK, the use of the term "public schools", not in the British sense of the phrase, confused me for a moment (it means the opposite in Britain to what it does in the US for historical reasons).

Arthur, I think you can guess the answer is virtually everyone. It is one reason why I would favour education vouchers, given that independent schools have always been much better, despite (at least when I was young) not actually costing much more to run.

Arthur Eckart

Graeme, thanks for correcting the differences in phrases. Almost every study shows a school voucher system increases, in many ways, the quantity and quality of education. I suspect, there are some misplaced concerns, e.g. religious and military schools. Also, of course, government beauracracies don't want to give up control.

Z

Quote: "The most innumerate piece of UK journalism I've read for quite some time."

The journalists must have been educated in the free public schools!

Graham Fenner

Having been a private school Head in the UK I am now a resident in France which doesn't really have a private school system as we have in the UK. Why? It's quite simple; they are generally happy with the state system. Private schools as we know them are set up here and fold some time later through lack of suppport. It is true that the French do not have the same historical culture of private education.
Any government which wants to close the private sector just has to improve the state sector by giving the finance and autonomy currently enjoyed by the private sector.

Suvi

Arthur:

"I wonder how many of those middle class parents would choose private schools over public schools if they were free? :)"

The trouble with that is if they were "free" they would have to be tax-funded, and then they wouldn't be private any more!

Arthur Eckart

Graham, if they don't "really have a private school system," what choice do they have? I guess, when they graduate, they can work for the government or collect welfare.

Suvi, in the U.S. when parents take their children out of state (or public) schools and place them in private schools, they forgo the free state school, although, it's paid by property taxes, and pay for the private school with their own money. Property taxes or a combination of state (public) and private money can be used to fund education.

Suvi

I agree Arthur, they can be financed in any number of ways.

But, if they are all paid-for by the govt, then they're all govt schools and not private, or am I seeing this wrong.

"what choice do they have?"

If there's no demand, the question doesn't arise. And the top-performing countries in secondary education rely almost exclusively on comprehensives, so "lack of choice" is no detriment to high attainment, if one gets education right in the first place.

Arthur Eckart

Suvi, private U.S. universities are subsidized by government loans and grants. Yet, they're still private. The welfare state doesn't promote luxury goods, e.g. a private education. So, demand is low. The purpose of a welfare state is to place most people in the "slow lane," to equalize society (given inherent inefficiencies, unnecessary costs, disincentives, etc.). Competition often leads to higher standards or quality.

Arthur Eckart

Also, I may add, the U.S. is a much more dispersed society than Europe. In education, a large proportion of U.S. students score substantially above average, while a large proportion score substantially below average. However, in Europe, the effort to make most students clustered around average lowers the average.

Suvi

Arthur:

"Suvi, private U.S. universities are subsidized by government loans and grants.... Competition often leads to higher standards or quality

I'm unconvinced by the argument for "subsidized competition". It diverts resources from where they are needed, to where they aren't, which is almost certainly one reason that:

"a large proportion score substantially below average"

This shows no respect for efficiency, but much for coddling.

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