Wednesday, 13 July 2016

An Ideology of Envy

A Cancerous Carbuncle on the Soul

John Minto is a Scrooge-like character who has spoken out forever against any education which is not state controlled, state funded, and state prescribed.  We remember attending a public meeting on charter schools, when they were first being considered in New Zealand, which Minto also attended, He was adamant that charter schools were bad.

It's not that Minto had the view that charter schools could do no good.  Rather, any pedagogical achievement they may make could and would be achieved by regular state schools, provided the government showered more money upon them.  Thus, if public schools were properly financed, charter schools would be superfluous.  There very existence and success would "prove" that the regular state system was underfunded.

Thus, envy runs in Minto's heart like the river Styx.
 Now, of course, Minto's arguments are self-defeating when charter schools are more objectively considered.  Charter schools in New Zealand are fully state funded.  So, by rights, he should be jumping up and down with joy over the introduction of charter schools--and all the more with the positive results many of the schools have begun to deliver.

Maybe he has changed his mind, and now sees charter schools as a significant reform.  But one thing he is dead against is private schools.  These putrescences are odious  because they are accessible only to the (allegedly) rich and privileged.  Because they have money, which state schools do not have, they are able to do things educationally which state schools cannot do, but  which they could do if they had more tax payers money.
The wealthy send their kids to elite private schools to provide a socially-cleansed environment for their children’s education. They want their children to escape the social and educational consequences of the economic policies their parents support.  That’s why cabinet ministers send their children to private schools. They don’t want their kids’ education to be affected by the children of parents who’ve been driven into poverty in their hundreds of thousands as National facilitates the rich creaming it at the expense of the rest of us.

As things stand these subsidies are used by elite private schools simply to enhance their exclusivity. They keep their class sizes much smaller than public schools and maintain lavish facilities for the children of the wealthy – all with public funding.  We should fund private schools ONLY when they enrol students on the same basis as public schools and abandon their fees.  Until then the $41.5 million in public subsidies and $4.5 million in government scholarships should be withdrawn. [The Daily Blog]
Since charter schools pass the Minto Bright Line test for full throated public funding, one presumes that John has now changed his view and supports charter schools in a big way.  Maybe he has left the dark side.

But his malice towards private schools remains and is clearly motivated by green, moulding envy.  The kids of rich parents are getting something others cannot have, allegedly.

If Minto were offered a choice as follows, there is little doubt how he would vote.  If, on the one hand, one option were to have no private schools whatsoever, but a universal system of state-run schools, yet no child being taught how to read or write in those schools, or, on the the other hand,  universal state-run schools, with just one private school which did teach their pupils how to read and write effectively, we are sure that Minto would condemn the private school's existence.  It's all about resenting the advantages that some have, and insisting upon an enforced egalitarian equality.  Better to have all failing, rather than one succeeding.  Better for all to drown than have one survive.

His egalitarianism has also led him to reject the voucher system, where parents (all parents) are given the right, responsibility and funds (a state voucher) to choose the school their child will attend.  That would mean a wide range of schools would be on offer: some succeeding and some failing.  Such diversity would be offensive to John.  Better to have all the little boxes the same, even if it means they all fail.

The point is this: there is no other area of human endeavour which has flourished under a regime of  state enforced egalitarianism.  Egalitarian education is the last remnant of an ignorant past.  Its advocates and defenders attempt to mount an argument that education is "special", needing its own distinct considerations and administration.  What has failed in every other field of human endeavour, will not be true for education and schooling, we are told.  Education is different.  It has its own special rules; its own distinct, unique realities.

John Minto and his colleagues have fooled themselves into a state of wilful ignorance.  Envy has darkened their souls.

No comments: