Saturday, March 03, 2007

Ironic Ducks


I`ve been having one of those conversations that you might call wide ranging. I was tossed out on the street, by Mrs. N ,with Elliot ,to go and spend time with his cousins ,and my brother.

Pedro my younger sib has had a slightly odd career. He worked for Paribas Frere (The Merchant Bank) or bonk Paribas as I called it …don`t ask. Tiring of that life ,he qualified as a teacher . He and his partner sell their skills at a very good comprehensive in Highbury . Pedro is head of economics and Shazzer teaches Art . They have two very young boys , a lovely house , a flat they let in a good catchments area ,and a place in France . This is all financed by Pedros astute early buy-to-let ,and Shazzer’s parents.

With what Pedro calls a secure, ‘part time‘, job ,and no financial worries , life is pretty good for them ,as mon frere happily acknowledges. Any way, we hadn’t seen each other for a while ,and ,as ever ,we railed about the injustice of the world as we both see it.

Brighton:

The first thing that cropped up was the experiment in lottery systems for schools . I was in favour . I agree with George Orwell who called Public schools festering breeding grounds of snobbery and the state system has become as bad . By such means as, Buying flats and letting them out in the right area, ,the better off ,cheat the system ,and get their children into what were often ex Grammar schools . Emily Thornberry is typical cheap lying hag, of this variety , and so , of course, is Ruth Kelly .

One of things I like about the idea , is that the hypocritical lying socialists will be forced to put up or shut up. At the moment these MP`s ,including Tony Blair ,ship their children into good catchments area schools ,if by some astonishing feat they have not managed to make their wealth tell another way. They would then have to do the full ‘Dianne Abbot ’, and go private, whilst publicly spitting on the educational system they recommend for their constituents.
Pedro replied, “ Fuck that! ,after we scrimped to get ourselves a flat in the catchments area, they change the rules .”
I mentioned that actually this was financed by ‘your bird’s dad’ ,and so the conversation went amiably on……

My overarching point is this . There is no justice in the Conservative low tax argument, if the majority are not given a chance to join the competition ,win or lose,. We have to have early state intrusion to level the playing field. After that you should be free to fail . I see it as akin to Monopoly legislation and not Social engineering . It is liberating social movement that happens naturally .
We should indeed have strict lotteries on academic lines ,within wide catchments and ,above all, we cannot justify Private schools . At the very least it is an insult , that the already privileged ,should buy further advantages for their children ,and it is called a charity.

With fair access to education ,a less class ridden society would be less full of envy and the need to shore up infantilised basket cases, would diminish. It is an essential corollary to Conservatism that opportunity exists ,otherwise all we are doing is defending class injustice.

So I applaud this move in Brighton . I know the Libertarians want to be free to take everyone else’s Liberty ,but I have always thought that doctrinaire Libertarianism was bollocks ,and stems from an overly literal and legalistic view of Society . Liberty is something we make from rules , the natural state is the enslavement of the majority ,as it was in all Classical cultures. They have it back to front.

KEY WORKERS- The hysterical abuse of the Key worker grants that teachers are merrily engaged in continues to delight and amuse . They say that they should be given say £50,000 of tax payers money so they can have a slightly larger place close to where they work. The taxes that pay for this are, for the most part , extracted from people living on tight budgets ,worse off then the beneficiaries, or commuting ,the very thing they say they cannot be expected to do.

Mon Frere says this is a case of Policy lag . There was a shortage of teachers years ago but this was solved by the training grant. There are now ample teachers and he agrees that to take the food away from tables so teachers can have pleasant morning stroll is farcical . It is one of the ways the Public Sector has earned the loathing of the suffering Private wealth producing class. Incidentally there were never shortages of teachers in most subjects but the NUT will not have differential deals . As for the Police ,the queues to join are endless and they have to be given a house ? Madness

THE TRUTH
The government is buying up trenches of Property with other peoples money. This means that this those who not “Key ( = Public sector ),are paying taxes to take the property they market, further out of their reach because it increases prices.
God, that’s what we needed wasn’t it a load of State money into the Housing Market . I could scream!. It’s a sort of super stealth tax on aspiration and it is destroying the ability to move from the Working Class to the middleclass. This , of course , suit’s the damned State nicely. The biggest single contributor to Social mobility ion the 20th Century was Property Ownership . No wonder they want to make it as hard as possible…., and don’t get me started on Stamp Duty !

Benefits and education
. I would to see benefits higher ,but for a short fixed duration. This is not unlike my view of early state input on education. With full employment only avoided by prissiness about jobs ,it is bizarre that scrounging should become an ‘life choice’ . Do the middle-class Socilaists know what happens ? Many young women acquire children, to get a flat , move out of that flat, to live with their boyfriend ,and sub-let informally ,for an income . This practice is wide spread ,and typical of the endemic soviet style petty corruption that inevitably follows moral breakdown ,and state micro management . You can almost smell the cheap cleaning fluid as you enter parts of Islington , it is like going to the old Eastern Block.
We have our Sure Start State crèche , how long before we get the State dungarees and vouchers for cabbage broth !The sort of pupils that come from this environment make the whole education debate fraught . The aspirationals are desperate to avoid them, and this is really what the demos in Brighton are about . I would not have started from here as one so often says .I can see that there will be a lot of resentment and for this reason I would like to see the process move forward ,with rigorous benefits and housing reform


Freakonomics

So we wandered along the leafy garden path of educational opportunity and class and mentioned the hit book Freakonomics. In it ,there are lots interesting correlations ,and Pedro mentioned some of them.

A telling tit bit was that, if you have moved into at better area, it is not a good correlator with the educational success for your child . If you have just moved up you are likely to have the attitudes of your previous status . If you have books in the house it is a good correlation but if you read to your children it is not . This is because reading to your children is a working class activity the middle classes tend to make sure they can read and let them get on with it. It may , of course befit the individual child. This is all fun and I must read the book

. I said I expect that people with plaster Ducks up on the wall are less likely to have successful children , but , turning round ,noticed that my host actually had a set of Plaster Ducks flying Heavenward across the Living-room wall.

‘Goodness there not much chance for yours is there’ I said .
‘Ah but those are Ironic Ducks !’
I know what he means. Is it just me ?


Anyway it’s a lovely sunny day and I `m of to get my motorbike fixed. My copy of ‘Margaret Thatcher the Westminster Years ,’ has just arrived and I have a title for my blog .

UPDATE
THANKS- Thankyou to those who have contributed. Whilst I have defended my points as well as I can I think some good counter arguments have been made , especially that we are not in a perfect starting place and its hopeless to wish we were . Naturally I will not be owning up to what exactly but some of the ’issues’ raised are actually quite convincing. It is possible that I may at some future time have to admit that I may in some sense not have been entirely , in the fullest meaning of the word and all things considered ….right.

..and that’s as far as I `m going .

Cough cough , as Hitch would say.

And thanks to Marjorie for defending Key Worker grants. Brave woman !

56 comments:

Croydonian said...

I explained the concept of ironic ducks to the long suffering Ma & Pa C many years ago.

You are unbelievably wrong on private education by the way, but I suspect that this is best dealt with face to face. Says he as a humble grammar school boy.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Great title and a great post, newmania. That was some conversation you had! I think you are right about private education: we need a level playing field to start with, as you say, and then people must understand that their kids are "free to fail" because equality of opportunity can never mean that you can provise everyone with equal ability, sadly. I hate those ministerial hypocrites, too. You always cheer me up, btw.

Newmania said...

two views so far one right Welshcakes and one wrong Croydonian

electro-kevin said...

I'd like to see more effort given to a better rounded educational system, one which delivers useful skills to the economy and preserves the right to academic opportunity for none but the most talented.

Those who missed out on academia because of lack of privilege could be given the opportunity to try again in adulthood under their own steam (OU); after all, life expectancy is much longer now so there's plenty of time to put things right.

The fact that we are even talking about rationed quality schooling - especially in view of the clamour for it - shows by how much the state system fails to define itself by what people actually want. You could even quantify this failure by simply counting the numbers of children declined places, multiply by a factor of say 1000 for a measure of heartache, misery and disappointment. Worth changing I would think.

Paradoxically, where are the benefits that we were meant to reap from the former grammar schools ? When was their wholesale abolition ? The '70s if I recall (do correct me).

So the graduates of the grammar school systems are still with us and very much in charge now (excepting those lost in 'brain drains'). My what a good job they've done of things !

It appears to me that - for all it's merits - the grammar schools projected some right social meddlers into the middle to upper ranks. Then they pulled up the educational ladder behind them.

Very good writing again Newnania, and you cheer me up as well !

nick drew said...

A big topic, Mr M, and I am here to line up with C.

Simply stated: the private educational experiences I have seen with my own eyes - my own ('scholarship boy', my parents couldn't have afforded it) and those of my children, were truly excellent. Seek to emulate this excellence in the state sector by all means, and I would strongly support determined efforts to do so*, because I agree with your enthusiasm for creating opportunity: but we must retain the freedom to maintain the ethos and the standards they set. Don't seek to eliminate them**.
----------
* this is not the same as blindly pouring more money into the existing state system

**you couldn't anyway, the schools would move to Ireland

james higham said...

How do you mean 'doctrinaire Libertarianism'?

Ellee said...

I love the title too, Welshcakes is a teacher and knows her stuff - so top of the class to you. Isn't it nice to know that you are cheering Welshcakes up in Sicily, and have just made an entry on James' post this evening written in the Russian Fed - you see, your fame is rapidly spreading, 18 Doughty Street will be begging for your presence.

http://nourishingobscurity.blogspot.
com/2007/03/blogfocus-saturday-mainly-britsphere.html

I do love that quote which James has mentioned, Newmania firing on all cylinders.

David Allen said...

I agree that the Brighton lottery approach is the best way to ensure a level playing field in access to state education. It is un reasonable that the state funds an education system with everyone's money that only delivers a decent education for those materially priveleged enough to live in the best part of town _ or in the scarce bits of 'social' housing that are fortunate to come within that particular catchment area. This is distorting the housing market and delivering a double bonus to those who receive it: children who already come from more comfortable homes, with better educated parents, more useful social networks, end up getting a far better education than their less priveleged peers _ AND get to inherit the inflated property values that their parents only derived from being in the catchment area of a good state school. Oh! And a bunch of smug middle-class lefties get to boast that their kid goes to the local comp (cue polishing of socialist halo) and carry on voting for the incompetent Labour councils that deliver a shit education for working class kids the other side of town. This is glaringly clear here in Haringey, where the only decent school is in an area called Fortis Green where family homes cost £750k to £1.5 mil. Meanwhile, their lefty parents moan about 'Iraq' and 'global warming' whilst having ignored the destruction over the last 40 years of every decent school in Tottenham in the east of the borough. Screw them! I can't wait to see their property prices fall (see Simon Heffer's article in today's D.Tel) and them faced with the choice of going private or giving a damn for a change about all the other schools in the borough _ 50% of parents locally send their 2-ary school age kids out of borough because they don't trust the local provision. But the answer is NOT to ban private schools. That is totally illiberal and an abuse of state power. But, when it comes to STATE provision, the state has an obligation to see that it provides fair and equal access for all.

Newmania said...

Wow great contributions . Unfortunately i have used my allocation of computer time according to "the Constitution and have aonly three more minutes so I will comment at length tommorow

That david Allen talks a lot of sense I `m thinking . I, by the way ,was also a scholarship boy at a Direct Grant school.

David Allen said...

Excuse my 2nd comment on this post, N _ but this is such a wide-ranging article from you that, once again, I have lots to say.
Key Worker Housing (and grants for this): As you rightly point out, this distorts the housing market, drives up prices further for those of us in the wealth-generating sectors of the economy (the goose that lays all those Golden Eggs that Gordon scoffs). It is also a blunt instrument which generally fails to make much of an impact on the problem: which is that junior doctors, nurses, teachers, policeman, often find it very hard to live within a reasonable distance of their workplace. This is a particular problem for those who have to work shifts (i.e. the doctors, nurses and policeman) and its absence is one of the main reasons that many teachers are unprepared to do after-school activities _ they would still have to face a massive commute home afterwards. There is a much easier solution to the problem, once we recognise that huge amounts of the so-called 'social housing' in our most economically-productive areas is inhabited by economically inactive people. How about a new law that says every time a council/ housing association flat becomes available, it must first be offered to any key worker at a school/ hospital etc within a half-mile or mile radius. (The precise distance can be adjusted by area). I would be happy to offer 'hard-to-let properties free of charge to young policeman, in fact. This would have so many advantages: it would remove the negatives of the current scheme, it would gradually turn many estates from welfare deserts of the unemployed or unemployable into mixed communities, where children have the positive role models of seeing neighbours going out to work and doing something useful. It would also be a much more rational use of our existing housing stock.

Croydonian said...

OK, I'm taking the bait.

If you succeed in banning private education, does that include nurseries, paid for music lessons, stagte school etc etc? The somewhat flippant to one side, it strikes me as a deeply unconservative (large and small c) act to tell people that they cannot do something with their money because of what an economist might call neighbourhood effects?

Following the same argument, bye bye private health care, and further down the road any form of restaurant, product or whatever that some but not all can afford, all in the name of deadly procrustean social engineering masquerading as 'social justice', for which read envy.

David Allen, comp kid said...

re. C's post at 8.05pm: haven't I always said, N, that Croydonian is our 'keeper of the flame'! Please don't let your frustration at the outcomes of the left/ Labour's disastrous mismanagement of our economic, education and housing policies push you into adopting even more illiberal positions than they do. Lecture over ;-0

Newmania said...

“ which delivers useful skills to the economy and preserves the right to academic opportunity for none but the most talented.”

Kevin it seems to me that the sort of skills that may be useful in the economy are changing quickly. I wish I had been taught to type and I also wish I had been given a better lead in to life skills like personal finance and careers. I think you are right that “Training “ is badly served in our educational system and this reflects a lack of reselct for “Skills” in the country. I would not , on thither hand like to see a systen where assumptions art hat are basically classist are used to justify posh kids doing “media “ and poor kids doing “car Maintenance”. So you may be talking about aproblem the educational system cannot solve. In general education as a pancea has been hugely overestimated

“Those who missed out on academia because of lack of privilege could be given the opportunity to try again in adulthood under their own steam”

Now that is an excellent point in theory but as , by that tikme you are locked into the Mortgage treamill it is not an option. Like so much else it is the price of proerty that sets the pattern for early specialisation which , I agree is damaging and soul destroyng

So the graduates of the grammar school systems are still with us and very much in charge now (excepting those lost in 'brain drains'). My what a good job they've done of things !

Some yes like Heath but the Grammar school boys were children of their time .I read Keith Joseph saying that he had being the Conservative Party twenty years before he became an Conservative. I think Grammar scholars saw themselves as part of an effort to get greater equality

It appears to me that - for all it's merits - the grammar schools projected some right social meddlers into the middle to upper ranks. Then they pulled up the educational ladder behind them.

Yes I agree with that really although I have never seen it that way. I think its hard to recapture the extent to which academia was dominated by socialism and it still is . A tough nut to crack I would not blame Grammar schools per se for this but , in any case I would not want their return. I would prefer to see proper streaming within schools .

Newmania said...

How do you mean 'doctrinaire Libertarianism'?

JAMES- like your piece on Ellees Blog today
I mean the sort of Libertarian that thinks that “individual freedom” can be maximised by allowing “individual freedom”. It cannot the state must be there to protect the weak from the strong but not by making them weaker ie through hand outs but but making them stronger through opportunity and the need to be self reliant. Libertarianism when it tends to anarchy is something I deplore. Whenever possible I would prefer the controls to be cultural or sub state but rules and control there must be unless we are to have the strong predating unchecked and Liberty only for a few.
The first use of the state for this was called the “Kings Peace”. It was what orvented the nearest standing army from simply taking anything you have made. Without this protection and developments of it there is no freedom. It is , overall a far more subtle balance than the simple wish to be untrammelled by laws and / or duties

Newmania said...

Nick , the schools might move to Ireland and people might emigrate but in fact that is hard to do and these people would be isolated from societal connections that they seek

Without that access ,the point of them would cease to be self evident to buyers and with the imoorved state system it would be amarginal effect , like Piracy.

You can never eliminate it but there would be a stigma and little to gain.

On improving schools there are lots of things I would like to see done most of which involve taking on the NUT. Politically this would be possible if everyone was paying for an education received by all.

Now it is not and I see no sign even of an attempt.

The experience of the failed Comprehensive system has taught us that this is a brutal game and if we want a fair system it cannot be left to the individulas choice.
Its like leaving the speed you drive your car up to the individual. We would all like it for ourlselves but few would like it for evryone because the total effect would be catastrphic . I `m thinking of games theory and the first cheat here.

This paradox is often used in reverse by Coucils seeking to make it appear that they have Consulted.
They consult only the gainers to obtain the result they want

BTW

Newmania said...

But the answer is NOT to ban private schools. That is totally illiberal and an abuse of state power. But, when it comes to STATE provision, the state has an obligation to see that it provides fair and equal access for all.


Well David , I love everything you say up to this point but the problem is that if you deny people ways of cheating the state system then they will be obilged to opt out if they are allowed to . This will detroy the steat system and thenn you are back where you started .

I do take your point on Illiberality though and I am concerned about it .
Does Simon Heffer agree with me then...I haven`t seen it. Oh goody

Newmania said...

David there is a simpler solution . If the jobs are unattractive then they can leave them . If they must be paid more to attract decent candidates then they will have to paid more.

There is no problem whatsoever attracting policemen who do not want to live on their beat or teachers. There is fabulous superabundance of Doctors as we know ,desperate for jobs. I do not see why the public sector should be paid more than they are worth and they are currently paid far more than they are worth. This is dues to the growing power of the Unions operating exclusively , now , in the Public sector . Look at the Pension scandal for example it is absolutely disgraceful that the sate underwrites OPublic sector pensions with private sector money taken from people who will not get a pension and will, work far later. Industrial power is the only reason for this . More properly we should cal it political power because it is not economic and it is not supported in the country
Doctors could be paid a lot less and there would still be plenty .is this how you run a Grocers ..(oops)

Your massive commute is rubbish . there is very cheap housing indeed within five miles of any City location. You could commute from that nasty Haringey into verdant Islington easily , for example, so I think you are rehearsing special pleadings along the traditional Heathite lines there.
Your suggestion is suffused with socialism and accepts the status quo far more than I would. The way to get rid of the estates is to sell them off and stop paying benefits at the same level.
It was working in Islington and now we are going backwards thanks to Ken the arse Livingstone.
In all there are things I agree with and things I don’t. You call the private sector "Golden Eggs" the city maybe but most of it is just work. That is what a Socialist thinks it is . Magic money

Newmania said...

On your last point david I have always had somewhat unsual you might say statist views of education.It is not a business and without intervention there there is no moral case for a low tax small state system elsewhere.

Conservatism cannot be , for me , protecting the rich. You might be interested to know this thing from Freakonomics.Actually the school you end up in is a poor indicator of your attainment.The school your parents "tried" to get you into is a very good one.

Mmmmmm.

Ed Clarke said...

The state system worked perfectly well with private schools in existence, until selection by ability was abolished in state schools.

There might have been things wrong with the grammar/secondary modern model but it worked a hell of a lot better than the sink comp model. Not even the 70s loonies tried to ban private schools.

If we can start to get standards up in the worst schools then many people at the margins will stop considering private schools and the "pushy" parents will move back into the state system to drive standards up further.

The solution to problems caused by socialist policies is rarely more left-wing than the policies which caused them.

Totally agree with you about key-worker housing.

Newmania said...

Right then just Croydonian to see off

.If you succeed in banning private education, does that include nurseries, paid for music lessons, stage school etc etc? The somewhat flippant to one side, it strikes me as a deeply unconservative (large and small c) act to tell people that they cannot do something with their money because of what an economist might call neighbourhood effects?

Much as I would greatly like to ban stage schools and their vile hellish progeny . I would be happy for their to a be a few centres of excellence in certain disciplines. This would not be the covert selection currently being proposed. Ask any teacher how they would use any selection whatsoever and they will tell you. To keep the poor kids out. Teachers care about their careers and they will not administer a system as it is intended.
Private Nursery schools are currently more expensive than Eton and of no use to anyone ,while state assisted Nurseries are almost impossible to get. I take the view that wholesale liberalisation and deregulation of the market is the answer here and I would be happy for this to apply until secondary school . It is at this point that the great sorting is done. I see it all the time little Harry sits with Kyle at Nursery , they play and they are friends. They will never met again after eleven . This is the problem.

‘Following the same argument, bye bye private health care, and further down the road any form of restaurant, product or whatever that some but not all can afford, all in the name of deadly procrustean social engineering masquerading as 'social justice', for which read envy‘.


All Social justice can be read as envy . Are you suggesting that people should not feel envious when they are required to pay for system that dumps them and favours only the wealthy. You further development does not follow. It is part of my overall belief that freedom is not obtained by ‘freedom’ . That will only give you the enslavement of the many by the few . Like Monopolies in the market. I am happy , as I assume are you that all sorts of anti social things should not be acquired simply because they can be afforded. Why should the wealthy not equip themselves with private armies by your argument. Education gives the powerful a means to monopolise access to careers and money. Once that is not the case then you precisely have moral argument for the freedom to buy private health care. I approve of Private health care incidentally and have come to the view that the NHS should be genuinely privatised in part. It would be a two tier service but both would be better than we have now. BUT to justify this you cannot cut most of the population off from the chance to succeed .It is not “social engineering , it is allowing a Social market to operate and not be subverted by those with power within it. Like any market.

For example why should someone get any unemployment at all. The market will combine with his hunger to make him accept any job, slowly the system will correct itself. Yes but to slowly for the starving man . This is politically unacceptable and economically inefficient . So we intervene and allow him time to find work. This I approve of , I do not approve of unemployment as a life choice which it is now. I like early “discrete” state intervention in order that the system is not massively inefficient but not ongoing teats to remove incentive and self reliance. That is the way I see education at secondary level. It is an assistance to the market and would produce a far better work force that we badly need .

Remember C we also cannot afford to dump so much of the population. Our private schools are marvellous but otherwise and overall we are falling further and further behind . It is also a matter of making the economy competitive .

So I`m sorry but your sa red cow is going to have to be melted down for Gold …..

THE GOLD STANDARD OF EDUCATION FOR ALL

Newmania said...

he state system worked perfectly well with private schools in existence, until selection by ability was abolished in state schools.

.. I agree it was better then what we have now which is selection by wealth which s why I am in favour of selection by academic lottery. If I had a choice between what we have now and Grammars I would take the old system back. I think we can do better than that



If we can start to get standards up in the worst schools

It is by no means the only factor but with the intake many Comps have this is a dream.

The solution to problems caused by socialist policies is rarely more left-wing than the policies which caused them.

This is not left wing , neither is it High Tory. It I a modern conservative solution and it is the basis for the small state and the small safety net benefits concept

Cheers , nice to see you popping in

Croydonian said...

N - What you have not done is to explain why private education is an evil in itself, as opposed to producing results that you do not like. Go on, I dare you, I double dare you.

Roll on a voucher scheme by the way.

Ms Smack said...

I recently moved my daughter from a public school to a private school here in Adelaide. The change within a month was incredible. They are so much better organised, personalised, friendly and more. No doubt there will be downsides, but I feel the good will outweigh the bad. The costs are a bit, but still, what price do you pay for your greatest investment?

I'm prepared to go without to provide a better education for her.

Great post, mate.

electro-kevin said...

Why do I have to enter my kids into a lottery ? I despair at times.

Newmania said...

kev it isn`t a lottery a lottery is what it is now .
This is a "Lottery"
Its different...init

Newmania said...

C Allow me to pulp your fiction. Murder would not be an evil except for the teeny problem of the resulting death which I do not like.

Private education:Education gives the powerful a means to monopolise access to careers and money. Once that is not the case then you precisely have moral argument for the freedom to buy private health

As I said . It operates in a way akin to a social cartel. It isn`t evil it is just socially damaging in that it prevents social mobility and without that you cannot justify meritocratic rewards.

Evil is a personal quality and irrelevant here.

Is it evil to set uneconomic prices to drive smaller shops out of business ? No, but we may conclude that the excessive market power of say , a supermarket should be curbed for the sake of us all , long term competitveness and choice.
In all such descisions there is a Liberty factor, but in this case the freedom consideration is , in my view, weak, the social need is great and most especially as it produces a huge net gain in Liberty.

The Freedom concern growns weaker with the power of the restraianed body and the net harm to all.

The clear line you suggest does not exist.Yes I would send Elliot to Eton if i could afford it but I would also drive very very fast. I would be horrified if everyone did.

Newmania said...

to a private school here in Adelaide

Miss Smack there are few downsides and I would do the same thing if I could

electro-kevin said...

Newmania thank you.

I am glad that people seem to be appreciative of you. They are right to be so. I expressed this opinion some while ago regarding your report of a visitation to an international lawyer friend of yours.

I took my boys to a reading group at the local library today.

They had already read every single book on the reading list because me an Mrs P read with them every night.

Are we to be given the 'lottery treatment' ? No doubt Nu Labour will find some way of saying that Sam & Jake are specially privileged. They most certainly are not !

I often want to say 'fuck this country' I really do.

Can we also have properly structured entries to this debate please ? I find the close type really hard to follow.

I'm not stupid nor uneducated - so for the benefit of outsiders and the archives...

Newmania said...

They had already read every single book on the reading list because me an Mrs P read with them every night.
Do you thats brilliant . Reading was my one good suit at early school. It was entirely down to my mothers efforts .

electro-kevin said...

BTW I am the only one - so far - to acknowledge longer life expectancy here. I'm not being a clever dick (I don't get paid for this after all) but what is the point of a degree now ? Anyone ???

Wanna speak to my archaeologist ticket collector 'bout it ?

electro-kevin said...

Your 2.05 N. No it's not 'brilliant' - it's what should be standard. It takes 45 mins graft per evening. I often describe myself (self-deprecatingly) as slothful (which I am) Mrs P is, however, much more motivated. Is it fair that her - and the boy's - efforts are chucked into a hat for a lucky dip ?

electro-kevin said...

Ooops !

Please bear in mind the time and day of my last few submissions. Writing whilst sloshed again.

Now I've got to go training with a hang-over, boy am I gonna pay (mixed martial arts).

I never learn.

CityUnslicker said...

blimey, N. The lenght of your psting deserves some sort of award.

Much of the original post was very good. save the bit on education.

(of course, I am an old harrovian so you will ignore what I say, you martyr social justice you...).

If you remove private education you remove millions (perhaps even billions?) of pounds from investment in education? So what you will achieve is the classic leftie plicy of lowering the standards for all.

You can say 'I wouldn't want to start from here' all you like, but this is the fact of the matter. Rich parents will seek Swiss schools or East Coast schools and the money will flow out to other countries.

Also, as C says, why are you so keen to stop people spending their money how they like? Is a country with some bright and educated people worse than acountry with none?

Finally, as we have all seen, there are 2 systems in this country of schooling. one works and one does not, why do you think the answer is to close the one that works?

You need re-education!

Arthurian Legend said...

Good post N.

The Policy Exchange report "More Good School Places" which I featured here advocated a lottery system in smaller towns to deal with a relatively modest amount of over-subscription to the best state schools.

The report also envisaged the potential for a lottery system to allocate places at some of the top-end state schools for those pupils who would be given extra per-capita funding to try to overcome the negative effects of a hitherto poor state education.

BUT - and this is the important thing which you touched on earlier - the main drive MUST be to remove as many obstacles as possible to new education providers entering the market in the attempt to drive out the shocking poor standards that prevail in too many state schools at present.

Without drastic supply-side reforms, it's all just shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic.

Croydonian said...

Again you are running with the procrustean argument - because so many state schools are poor, delenda est Eton. It is not as though public schoolboys and girls have the entire economy in a headlock, despite what you might think. As Nick said earlier, if your Cambodia Year Zero approach was applied to the public schools, the better ones would move to the Republic of Ireland, and others would give up.

What would then happen is not that Wykehamists, Harrovians and Paulines would be queuing up to get into the Herbert Morrison Academy in Tower Hamlets, but rather they would be educated abroad - in some cases - or more likely there would be a rush of interest in schools in the wealthier areas of the home counties and beyond as people relocated.

Your driving fast parallel is spectacularly infelicitous, unless you are suggesting that 'mania junior is the most likely to be damaged by a form of 'asocial' behaviour, be it going to a school where teachers wear gowns, playing chicken on the M1 or driving too fast. We already have a near match with what happened when the grammar school system was near destroyed by a bunch of Labour public school boys and, to her lasting shame, near completed by Thatcher. Exactly the same points were made about privilege, the selfish boojwahsie etc etc - and the net result? A further levelling down, not a levelling up.

And once you have achieved your Year Zero model and lo and behold some a completely flat educational model stretching from Islington to Inverness has been achieved, some pupils will still fare better than others - perhaps you would need to ban parents from attempting to advance their childrens education by encouraging them to read, or letting them have access to computers. What you are arguing for is equality of outcome, and that will always be antithetical to liberty.

If my marriage had held, would we have moved out of inner London in pursuit of, inter alia, a better education for the rugrats? Damn right we would have. Wanting the best for one's children is the hallmark of a half way decent parent, and that is not restricted to those with double barrelled surnames and weak chins. You might have seen the article in the 'graph yesterday (?) about Anglo-Ghanaians shipping their kids off to be schooled in Accra - it is exactly the same principle at work.

David Allen said...

N, you seem to want to tear everything up and start from a clean slate _ that isn't possible. The job of politicians is surely to identify the steps towards the 'ideal state'? A first step with state education, as you point out, N, is the introduction of streaming _ personally, I would go further and say go for full setting _ in all state schools. You could have mixed-ability tutor groups for all the non-academinc stuff. The best state schools already have this system. Make this mandatory for all 2-ary schools within, say, a 2-year timeframe. This would deliver most of the educational benefits of grammar schools without the huge political problems of the abolition of private schooling and the wholesale reintroduction of grammar schools and without the iniquitous business of writing off half of children at an arbitrary age. It also means that children's abilities do not need to be 'averaged out' across the whole curriculum: you could be in the top set for English/ the arts but in a much lower set for maths, for instance. It also means that, based upon your coursework and exams, you could be moved up or down a set each year to reflect your progress or lack of it. This offers kids all the right kind of incentives to work hard. If this were combined with, say, a lottery for an initial 20% of places at over-subscribed state secondary schools, we'd probably be a long way forward to improving state education overall AND evening out access to the best of state education. The percentage of places allocated by lottery could be adjusted over time to reflect local conditions.

Newmania said...

If you remove private education you remove millions (perhaps even billions?) of pounds from investment in education? So what you will achieve is the classic leftie plicy of lowering the standards for all.

No CU because money is not the problem for schools , believe me I know that the state sector has money coming out of its ears . They literally do not know what to do with it all . They build Labs no-one wants to use , they have trips with nu purpose and so on . Education is simple it needs the right teacher a class that will,lsiten discipline and some books . It is not a business and “Investment” is utterly irrelevant.The value that people pay for at Harrow is social advantage not education , The education could be provided for next to nothing.

You can say 'I wouldn't want to start from here' all you like, but this is the fact of the matter. Rich parents will seek Swiss schools or East Coast schools and the money will flow out to other countries.

A few will , there are already many reasons to emigrate use tax havens and otherwise enjoy the benefits of the UK without contributing to it . I do not support scroungers of this sort their are smugglers and pirates and while we will tolerate a few you cannot base policy on cheats. If they want to go then go !They will be staggered how little they are missed as we all are.

Also, as C says, why are you so keen to stop people spending their money how they like? Is a country with some bright and educated people worse than acountry with none?

I am not CU I wish to have moral case for allowing people to keep vastly more of their money than they do now and I do not belive that attendance of a private school equals “ Bright”

Finally, as we have all seen, there are 2 systems in this country of schooling. one works and one does not, why do you think the answer is to close the one that works?

These things sre not unconnected ,. You are doing one issue ata time in the manner of a Liberal

You need re-education!


All the gulags were over subscribed but I employed a private torturer who visits the home.

Croydonian I will attend to you later…….you may consider yourself to be nervously waiting outside my study….. But I do like your flamboyant language ..I wonder if I can match that…..

David Allen said...

N, at the risk of outstaying my welcome/ 'over-posting', I'd like to clarify my last post: the model for state comprehensive education I referred to in my last post is one which has been proved to work _ it just hasn't been rolled out everywhere because of an anti-deluvian attachment of parts of the teaching profession to mixed ability teaching. I went to a comprehensive which had been a secondary modern, and which had 3 feeder schools: one solidly working class (all council estate), the other lower middle, the other middle middle. It was the best state school by results in the county precisely because it understood 'comprehensive' to mean a socially and academically comprehensive INTAKE _ which still required teaching tailored to the ability of the pupil.

nick drew said...

Mr Mania there is much smoke on the battlefield as you blaze away against all comers (oi'll foight any t'ree of yers). If through all this I have understood you aright, the 'monopoly' analogy is central to your case (I hand it to you, this is a rather good structural argument: one can readily see how it can be played out - & tested - further).

However, you seem to believe that if the 'social cartel' of private education is broken, everything else follows - you dangle the carrot of letting us have low taxes & freedom in every other sphere, so long as we just give you education.

I suggest that private education per se is only one among many ways the 'social cartel' is maintained (to the extent that it is, and to the extent it matters). If the social cartel is truly the target in your sights, you won't be stopping at private education (sound of tumbrills offstage) you'll soon be looking for 'equality of outcome'.

This way Hattersley lies... turn again, Mania!

Newmania said...

David I entirely agree with that remark.
One of the things that the NUT struggles fiercely against is any ways wherby their efforts can be meaningfully judged. With a better balanced intake it would be possible to move towards rewarding merit and punishing failure. Anyhting you try to do will be in the teeth of NUT opposition and thats when you know you are getting something right.

I think

Newmania said...

NICK DREW-I suggest that private education per se is only one among many ways the 'social cartel' is maintained (to the extent that it is, and -the extent it matters). If the social cartel is truly the target in your sights, you won't be stopping at private education (sound of tumbrills offstage) you'll soon be looking for 'equality of outcome'.

This way Hattersley lies... turn again, Mania!

I don`t mean to sound like a know all which I am not. Amazing !You have entirely understood my point of view though which is not against choice it is for choice. I cannot pretend that what you go on to say has no truth in it , it clearly does but we are not looking for perfection and absolutely not “ equality of outcome” I accept the danger. I am thinking in terms many mile away form imagining a predictable outcome . Its more like turning an oil tanker
The context I see this in is one in which class exclusion is actually getting worse every year and class differentiation through the spectrum is also getting wider regarding outcomes . The Polly Toynbee caravan as David Cameron mentioned( and was unfairly criticised for ) is not just about the back on f the bus bandits. It is equally , and more worryingly about barriers between middling ranks that are also becoming uncross able. So we have situation sliding badly towards an unsustainable social dispensation .
You cannot have such large numbers of a society contributing through a ferociously regressive taxation system to a country that dumped them and their interests . There is a point at which we have to have a cohered sense of “we” . Perhaps you would accept that this is a dynamic problem not a state and something has to be done . That is why I am looking with favour on measures that in some ways are against what I would generally believe. Grammar schools would be better than what we have now but I favour streamed , ‘handicapped’ intake system on academic worth. This has many advantages , it takes away the fear of the sink school , it makes attainment measurable. IT would assist in introducing rigour into judging standards and that would make the fabulous wealth thrown at the system do some good I do not expect a classless society but , in my view , we have to address the separation of groups within the country.

I would also like to see a number of other measures that take the sate out of areas in housing , benefits and …well its endless really

Margorie said...

Hello Mr Newmania
I'd like to put my two penneth in re the Key Worker schemes. I'm a key worker, but in health so I can only really commment from that point of view - have no idea how much teachers earn.
People in the NHS generally start off (and often remain)at a relatively low salary. £20-25K, for example, isn't going to get you much of a mortgage; it's just about manageable to buy somewhere in greater London if you are daring/foolish enough to get one for 5 x salary. And even then you'd have to buy in Thamesmead (no thankyou). For lots of people, the Key Worker really is the only chance to get somewhere of your own. I work in central London and 2 close colleagues used the scheme to buy flats in Barking and Watford, so for these people it's got nothing to do with avoiding commuting.
I have looked in to the scheme and thought of using it myself. It isn't (and shouldn't be) a free handout. You are tied in to it (i.e. have to pay the sum back if you decide to change career, have a career break or work in the private sector), and when you eventually do move on, you pay back the full amount plus interest. In my experience, people avoid using it if at all possible. Those who have used it are those with no alternative.
Kind regards
M x

Newmania said...

Croydonian

'Again you are running with the procrustean argument - because so many state schools are poor, delenda est Eton.'

No the reverse. It is intake not outcome there will always be winners and losers but we would be able to see who they truly were. But as we are using long words beginning with P, I would call it Promethean .The grey mechanistic gods of doctrinal Libertarianism are to be defied in this occasion. It is I confess a heroic leap for something better, I regret deeply how attractive I appear.

'It is not as though public schoolboys and girls have the entire economy in a headlock, despite what you might think. As Nick said earlier, if your Cambodia Year Zero approach was applied to the public schools, the better ones would move to the Republic of Ireland, and others would give up. '

Aha “ All for one and one for one as well” the cry of the “free marketeers “ . Clip clop ,here comes Croydonian ,the Dartagnan of the posse ,with his farm bred shire , and wooden sword……
Public school boys more every year, dominate the media , the law and the political process, more each year. Look at entrance to Oxbridge. This is unacceptable and dangerous . Their relative disinterest in Industry is party traditional and partly because the rewards are less and the connections tell ,less. This is a dynamic and worsening phenomenom , but the “Old School Tie” Wilsonian grievance is not my tune.
The attempt would be to stop the state system being a wealth selection system.If you do, you will obviously , create an increased pressure to seek an advantage with cold hard cash. So the position now is tangential to the discussion
. As to those who wish to enjoy the benefits of this country and actually send their children abroad Yes there would be an element of this but it would be less serious than you suppose . To opt out of the country would end a political career and distance the recipients from the majority. For most this would be a telling problem and if they are offered a good school the choice would be heavily loaded against cheating.

'or more likely there would be a rush of interest in schools in the wealthier areas of the home counties and beyond as people relocated'.

It cannot be perfect and perfection is a foolish objective ,but people live in as nice an area as they can so there is limited scope for further betterment .
The system would have to be monitored like the drafting sccheme for rookies in American Football. Better schools would still emerge and these would be seen to be very good at producing educational results . Real educational failings can then be dealt with , now they cannot be . Remember C there is little evidence to show that the school you attend makes that much difference to your results. It is the school your parents ‘want ‘,you to attend that is the strong correlation .
Equal academic band intake is the option and if it is maintained to as much as possible there will be to little to gain. What you are describing is the crippling problem with the present system.

'Your driving fast parallel is spectacularly infelicitous,'
No dame Felicity is cooing beside with a happy smile and luxuriating in wisps of nicotine . I was demonstrating that what one wants individually can be different than what one would prefer to be the choicesavailable to all t .
Another example then , planning permission to dig up your garden , as allowed by the fiend Prescott will turn suburban areas in to concrete nightmares. The same people who campaign against it will , if they are unsuccessful ,take the money as there is no point in being the only person who doesn’t cash in when the area is destroyed by others who do .
None of these people want the choice to be available. This is one of the many ways in which freedom destroys Liberty


'What you are arguing for is equality of outcome, and that will always be antithetical to liberty.'

No I am not .In sport I want people to win and lose. I do not want drugs cheats to render the entire exercise redundant. I would like to foster open competition between children and schools. Steroid bloated financially enhanced pupils destroy competition. You might as well argue for the freedom to handle the ball in football

'If my marriage had held, would we have moved out of inner London in pursuit of, inter alia, a better education for the rugrats? Damn right we would have. Wanting the best for one's children is the hallmark of a half way decent parent.'

Quite .So you cannot allow the option. See the garden example above. You are assuming that it would not be possible to keep the academic bands broadly similar. I see no reason why not and the input of parents would continue to be of their child’s benefit by involvement in the school and the education of their child .You are assuming that schools would be bad which will clearly end up proving your views correct. Around the carousel I will not go .I also think the main drive is not so much the wish to obtain preference but to avoid the dump of the standard poor Comp.

C Its not as if we can do nothing . Social separation is getting worse. I appreciate there are many other reasons abut this is one . Additionally our educational system is falling behind our competitors which , clearly effects the competitiveness of the country. We cannot go on simply throwing away the majority of the people as a bad ,lot .

Newmania said...

Margorie
Firstly it is a free handout , you do not keep all the equity ,but you use the better house over time . This is what people pay for when they buy a house .It has an easily calculable value which is handed out free. That’s why people take it
There are various schemes but the government participates in the Capital gain. Either all of it or less in which case it is a further bonus for the recipient of the taxpayers largesse
There is exceedingly cheap housing within a stones throw of any London location in areas , admittedly that many would avoid . If over all, the hospitals are unable to attract staff then they will have to be paid more. I see no reason to suppose this is the case and public sector worker are no worse paid ,( In fact they do much better with better job security and pensions) .These people in the private sector are being asked to hand over more of their little to the already featherbedded public sector. In areas of the country NHS jobs are hugely oversubscribed . They should be paid less as would happen in the private sector. The answer if staff cannot be attracted into London is for differentiated pay. The unions will not have this and the rest of us should not be made to suffer for their selfish obduracy . Wages are the cost of Labour , not other peoples money .

These ‘non key ‘people ..the irrelevant people , face ALL the same difficulties in buying a house . The market is moved out of their reach by this measure and they are taxed to provide this obstacle. The housing problem cannot be solved by attacking the tax payer who equally has to cope with it on the basis that a public sector worker uniquely is “entitled” to own property . No-one else is.
Personally the answer may be to move , retrain and so on as I have had to do, and as is the common experience of anyone in the private sector . I cannot tell you how baffled those of us who have to rely on our own efforts are at this hand out.

I make no comment on whether this or that area of the public sector needs to be better rewarded . It cannot be because the people involved would prefer it that way I do know that in many cases , like all hand outs, it is misused and defrauded.

How would you feel about saying to a mother in a supermarket balancing a budget , thanks for the £50,000 of your money , You , I `m afraid are relatively irrelevant?
For all I know Marjorie you are under rewarded and your sector cannot attract enough good staff. If so then either cuts or pay rises might be required. It is really a different subject and I wouldn1t want you to take this as any sort of personally intended answer


I do not blame anyone for taking it though ,

I would .

Newmania said...

David your further remarks on streaming make perfect sense to me. I think alot of people would be staggered to learn that this is not already the case.

I have an insight into the sort of obstinate socilist bolshyness that makes it difficult to do .Once again I have a feeling that those out of touch simply would not belive some of the things you hear

Margorie said...

Mr Newmania

We will have to agree to disagree on why people use the Key Worker scheme. I spoke about my personal experience, which is that far more people chose not to use it than do, and those that have used it really have no other option.

I find it hard to believe that there is "exceedingly cheap housing" within a stones throw of Bloomsbury - I spent a lot of time looking around before buying a place in SE London (over an hour from work, but I'm not complaining - it's just the way it is).

As for my salary, I get the same basic pay as I would if I worked anywhere, but receive an Inner London allowance. It still isn't enough to allow me to buy somewhere here unassisted, unless I went for a studio flat in a dodgy area; and call me fussy, but being a single female, I want to live somewhere where I feel safe. I was very fortunate to get financial help from my parents and a long deceased grandfather (thanks Walter), but not everyone is so lucky. Yes, I could've moved away from London in order to buy, but I'm in the middle of a part time PhD here, so it wasn't really an option. Besides, I like living here, I love my job (which is in a very specialised unit) and if I weren't doing, it then someone else would have to or the service would be compromised.

I do work in a sector where we really struggle to employ suitable people. We recently had to employ a guy from India because no-one suitable from the UK applied.

Finally, I agree it's not fair that I should be allowed to receive it the Key Worker loan, but not the lady next to me at the checkout. Obviously it's not only Key Workers that struggle to buy their own home. But that really is a whole different issue, and I wish I could say something clever or helpful, but I can't.

Marge x

nick drew said...

"It is possible that I may at some future time have to admit that I may in some sense not have been entirely , in the fullest meaning of the word and all things considered ….right."

Hang on in there, Mr Mania, you were developing a theory (and we enjoy toughing you up). Seriously, your 'monopoly' idea deserves to be run to its conclusion.

I really hate monopolies.

Newmania said...

Margorie when I am trying to get my thoughts together I have tendency to sound like a pompous twit who thinks he knows it all. It isn’t the case I often change my mind and I certainly do not think I know it all . This however is the way it came out when I was answering you further poinst . I do not agree …but I don’t want to fall out or anything



The option, for most, is not to buy. I well remember that option .. Life is very often not as we would wish it .he tax payer is not there to make up the difference IMHO . Also, with the greatest respect ,your problems are problems we all have, or similar. Where is my grant ?
If as you say , you work in a sector where we really struggle to employ suitable people , perhaps the rewards should be improved. In many areas they could easily be hugely reduced with no loss. As tax payers we have the right to get value for money which means paying the least you can for the service. Those are rules we all live by and they are often most uncomfortable. We are all subject to overseas competition for example.
You say fairness is not the issue but it is. So called Key workers are taking an individuals money and making “her” situation worse in the property market by increasing the cost of housing as well. Also it is a hidden pay rise coming out of the public purse so the taxpayer is actually being mislead and defrauded. If a private company behaved like this they would be in court .If some people feel this is an affront , let us say , then we must move politically to amend it and make the case . That’s what is happening.
You are making an argument from hardship and deserving .I wouldn’t argue with you , you sound an admirable person. I can give you plenty of examples where that does not apply . From my point of view it is irrelevant. We do not pay people more because they think they should be or they are nice or even because they deserve to be . We all do ( oh how I wish I could make that case and not be laughed out of the door).

Honestly I’m quite nice to !

It is about supply and demand. In the case of Teachers and policeman for example the jobs were already in great demand and now we throw more of our money at them ?. You say that there is insufficient reward to attract staff well fair enough lets improve the package or not and see if its really true….. As tax payers we also have to decide if we want to pay more or get by with less of a service. It is entirely clear that the vast majority in the wealth creating sector feel we are being ripped off ….and we also have the housing problem to cope with.
To see the governments employees favoured so unnecessarily I can promise you causes resentment as does the suggestion that everyone else is of no consequence. It amounts to a large pay rise in the public sector . I challenge to find anyone not in it , that feels this is warranted.
You seem like a very good sort and its interesting to see that even you have assumptions that you would find were utterly alien to those outside the state’s employ. There is now a gulf between the two sides, and if you consider that the Conservatives are on 40% to new Labs 28% with no Con votes in Scotland or Wales you can see how wide spread the feeling is that the tax payer is being taken for a ride.


I do hope you won’t take offence . I appreciate your views . I don’t blame anyone for taking the money .I do think that overall it is a massive and divisive waste of taxes that has been introduced with a cynical lack of candour .

The government will claim it is doing well for us by sharing in the capital gain . That is the lie , That gain is caused by mortgage payers who each pay a bit more because property is not available to them. It is a further stealth tax on aspiration. In addition to the tax they have paid to pay for other peoples accommodation already.

With pay in the public sector the problem is national Pay agreements and lack of proper accountability. I would be more than happy to see the good rewarded and the bad redundant . I would also be happy to see regional pay deals . The Union is unlike to agree to that and that is the real problem . Only the Public sector have strong unions and IMHO we are now in a place where we need a new Thatcher to break up the cartel.

But that is a different question.

IN MY HUMBLE OPINION




PS there is lots of cheap property near Bloomsbury.It is near some horrible areas

Newmania said...

Nick , what strikes me is the political impossibility of banning Private schools . While its an interesting thought experiment I have come to feel that the sort of things David is saying are more helpful.

The monopoly thing is one of many examples I sometimes throw at Croydonia where rules increase freedom. He is a Libertarian Conservative whereas I am more Conservative Conservative.In fact he is a dangerous anarchist ... behind that urbane and pleasing exterior !!
I believe that without rules and order what you get is slavery of the many not freedom.

Croydonian said...

Can no one else spot a set of ironic ducks?

Newmania said...

Quack quack quack

nick drew said...

boom boom boom

CityUnslicker said...

I would have thought Master Elliot would be all in favour of many ducks in the house; Ironic or not.

Newmania said...

He does indeed love Ducks CU as we discovered on a vist to a City Farm

Margorie said...

Dear Mr Newmania
Thanks for your reply; it's good for me to hear the opinions of an 'outsider' (most of friends are also Key Workers, and I've taken a lot of it on board. I hope you now appreciate that people don't just take the money so that they can enjoy a stroll to work rather than commute (seemed a flippant comment). Anyway, bye for now!
Marge x

Newmania said...

I `m often flippant in fact usually M , nice of you to have alook though

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