Warum gibt es etwas und nicht nichts? (Why is there something rather than nothing?) - Leibniz

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Education or Indoctrination?

Sackerson directed me to the following article: http://www.overcomingbias.com/2009/12/school-is-propaganda.html

In response, I argue that we have public schools because (based on the data):

a) they are cheaper than private schools;

b) they out-perform private schools, on average;

c) it is better to educate than imprison;

d) education is the only modern means for social mobility.


AntiCitizenOne said...



"These numbers are only slightly better than what one would expect by chance as if the kids had never gone to school and simply guessed at the answers,"

Paddington said...

That is certainly true of many inner-city schools. However, as I said, the average private school underperforms the average public school, when compared district-by-district. It's getting worse, as the private schools, colleges and universities can't afford to flunk anyone.

Benjamin of Wight said...

What is performance?

Exam tables?

Or happiness, sociability, empathy, kindness. - The great unmeasurable.

The best education is home education - (he says starting his 20th year in a state education statistics factory)

Paddington said...

Except that, in the US, home-schooled students also underperform public school students, especially in mathematics and science.

Richard said...

Hmmmm, the only way, it seems to me, to test your claims would be if your "public schools" competed freely in the market place. If they are cheaper and better, then people would presumably rather pay for education from them rather than from private schools or homeschooling.

The social mobility stuff seems a bit harsh, since there is plenty of evidence from the US and the UK that state schools redistribute from the poor to the non-poor: People from wealthier backgrounds will be provided, by the state, with better "public" schools than those from poorer backgrounds.

I'm also pretty sure that independent schools tend to be cheaper than state schools. In the UK the government spends about £9,000 pa per student. There are independent schools in London, though, that charge £6,000 pa year.

Sackerson said...

Richard: State schools average £6,808 according to this calculation from "leadballoon" - and that includes special needs.


Richard said...

The education budget for 2009 is about £80 billion according to this site: http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/uk_education_budget_2009_2.html. There are 7.3 million students in state funded primary, secondary or special schools according to this site: http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000843/SFR08_2009.pdf. That works out, assuming the American meaning of "billion," as £10,950 per pupil. That is quite a bit higher than my previous estimate.

Paddington said...

I apologize. I am basing my data on the US, where the private schools are, in general. more expensive than most public schools, and do underperform.

For myself, I was lucky enough to have gone to a couple of good grammar schools, plus an Army school in Cyprus. In retrospect, I couldn't have had a much better education.

After almost 32 years of teaching, I am convinced that some selection is the way to get excellence. We have far too many students in higher education who are wasting time and money.

Sackerson said...

Richard, the education budget covers more than schools.

Richard said...

That may be so, Sackerson, but I don't see why that is relevant: It means that state provision of schooling costs that much. A private school's fees cover all that its provision to you will cost. And that tends to be lower.

Sackerson said...

Sorry, Richard, I should have been clearer. The education budget includes tertiary ed and other facilities. Per capita, compulsory schooling is in the £6k - £7k range. This doesn't invalidate your arguments, it's just an adjustment to the monetary amounts and is therefore relevant when arguing about value for money.

Richard said...

Sackerson, you are correct, I forgot that the budget includes costs for higher education. Of course, though, the fact that so much spending on education is consumed before it even gets to schools/colleges, by LEAs and other bureacracies (not to mention Quangos) is another good reason why the state should not be involved in providing schooling at all, or, if it is, only in some sort of voucher/cash hand out manner.

Richard said...

Paddington, AJ Coulson, in Market Education: The Unknown History shows that private schools in the USA average at about half the per pupil cost of public schools.