A public brouhaha is under way in New Zealand over the merits and demerits of charter schools. A list of horrible things that charter schools will allegedly do is being trumpeted by the teacher unions. They are absolutely certain that charter schools would be evil and wicked and do immeasurable harm.
A similar propaganda campaign is being waged in Britain--except there charter schools have been in operation for some time. As a result the rhetoric has ratcheted up a few degrees. Brendan O'Neill, writing in The Telegraph looks at some of the latest allegations. Apparently free (that is, charter) schools are going to spread fascism. If charter schools go ahead we predict that it is only a matter of time before we see similar allegations surfacing in New Zealand.
What's really driving the Left's loathing of free schools
Brendan O'Neill is the editor of spiked, an independent online phenomenon dedicated to raising the horizons of humanity by waging a culture war of words against misanthropy, priggishness, prejudice, luddism, illiberalism and irrationalism in all their ancient and modern forms.
In his bid to win the hotly contested prize for the most hilariously fallacious argument against free schools, Patrick Roach of the teaching union NASUWT has claimed that they will spread fascism. Apparently, because these schools are not under the direct control of the state, all sorts of vile ideologies could take hold in them, warping the minds and frying the values of future generations.
In a speech at a Unite Against Fascism fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference last week, Roach said that deregulated schools could become incubators of fascistic thinking and behaviour, since schools that aren’t absolutely beholden to the state will no longer be obliged to “engage young people in learning and education around citizenship and values in terms of multiculturalism”. In short, if we take the state out of the picture, and let teachers and parents do their own thing, we’ll end up with schools staffed by Blackshirts and attended by horrible little Hitlers.
Roach’s bunkum doesn’t only expose the increasing desperation of teaching trade unions as they scrabble about for scare stories to try to turn the public off free schools. It also reveals a lot about the modern Left’s unthinking devotion to the state, and its corresponding distrust of anything that exists outside of the state.
What Roach is effectively saying is that if the all-knowing, all-caring, super-multicultural state isn’t on hand to tell children to be racially respectful, then those children will drift towards hateful thinking. He seems so enamoured of the state that he cannot conceive of the possibility that non-state actors – whether it’s parents, neighbours, teachers not tied to state-style diktats – just might be able to inculcate children with some pretty decent moral values. In the modern Left’s worldview, if the state isn’t permanently on standby with its ready-made list of values, bucketloads of welfare cash, parenting advice and whatnot, then ordinary people will starve, go mad, turn racist and end up as fodder for fascism.
This is fast becoming the key argument against free schools – the idea that deregulation in the education system will inevitably lead to the corruption of the next generation. So we’ve also been told horror stories about some free schools selling “junk foods” that are banned in state-maintained schools. Alarmingly, some schools have been found selling chocolate and Red Bull!
St Jamie Oliver, defeater of the Turkey Twizzler, says “children’s health will suffer [if] the standards that apply to maintained schools have been relaxed for academies and free schools”. There have also been scare stories about creationists setting up free schools and potentially unleashing in Britain the kind of “Christian fundamentalist” thinking that is more widespread in the US. To this litany of terrible things that will happen if the state isn’t invited to control every single aspect of children’s learning, we can now add the claim that free schools will foster fascistic hysteria.
In summary, then, if free schools become widespread, we can expect to see more fat, chocolate-smeared creationists and fascists spreading to all and sundry their school-learnt nonsense about the beginnings of the world or the inferiority of ethnic minorities.
This nightmare vision of the prejudiced lumps that will be churned out by free schools reveals far more about the prejudices of the Left than it does about the real world inhabited by parents, teachers and kids. It is a testament to the modern Left’s fear of the blob of unpredictable folk . . . that it believes people will become sick in both body and mind if they aren’t constantly cared for by the state and inculcated with its values.
Make no mistake – their disdain for free schools is driven by their panic over what will become of the little people if the authorities aren’t on hand to control them.