I know it is AWFUL of me to mention it, but would it have anything to do with the "dumbing down" of British university courses in recent years? Could universities have become a new, easier version of the old "finishing schools"?
The increasing dominance of young women at university was revealed yesterday in a report examining social class differences in higher education. Teenage girls of all social classes entered university in much greater numbers than boys, with the rate of increase greatest among those from the poorest backgrounds. They were only 6 per cent more likely than young men to go to university in 1994 but the advantage tripled to 18 per cent by 2000, research by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) showed. Once drop-out rates at university were taken into account, women were 27 per cent more likely than men to get a degree.
The growing inequality of the sexes was most stark in the poorest areas, where working-class girls were 29 per cent more likely than boys to enter university. The findings emerged from a study by Hefce that showed that Tony Blair has failed to narrow the class divide at university. Youngsters from the wealthiest 20 per cent of homes were six times more likely to go to university than those from the poorest 20 per cent. The gap between the classes remained “deep and persistent” despite major expansion of higher education and government demands for universities to accept a broader range of candidates. Working-class boys, in particular, formed an increasingly isolated rump with little prospect of a degree. “If you want to go to university, choose your mother carefully,” Sir Howard Newby, the chief executive of Hefce, said. “This report highlights just how entrenched the divisions are between advantaged and disadvantaged areas.”.....
Children in low-participation areas typically lived in rented council homes with parents on benefits or in poorly paid manual jobs, who did not have a car and were unlikely to have taken a foreign holiday. The nearest secondary school had only a small proportion of pupils passing five good GCSES. Those from the highest- participation areas were “frequently near schools, often fee-paying, where very nearly all the pupils gain these grades”. They lived in large detached and semi-detached homes in affluent areas, with parents who had professional careers and had usually been to university themselves
WHAT GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS CANNOT TEACH
This was written a long time ago by an opponent of government schooling but is still pretty right
Now, what are the things that government schools dare not teach?
They dare not teach the spirit of the Constitution as set forth in the first official document of the United States, the Declaration of Independence. They dare not teach it because it says that all men, not just the majority, are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A man isn't free to pursue happiness when the majority in any school district, state or nation can coerce him to pay for a school that he believes violates the principles upon which this government was formed. The school teachers dare not emphasize this part of the Declaration of Independence. They dare not explain the true meaning of this statement. If they were successful in explaining and teaching the true meaning of these ideologies, there would be no gun-run schools.
Again, they dare not teach that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed. They have to completely repudiate the ideas of the American way of life. They have to teach the old-world philosophy of the divine right of governments, only now they call it the divine right of the majority rather than the divine right of kings.
They dare not teach in government schools the meaning of liberty. It is doubtful whether any teacher in gun-run schools dares define the kind of liberty the Founding Fathers mutually pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to support. If the government schools successfully taught the meaning of the liberty our Founding Fathers had in mind, there would be no government schools that starve the intellects of our children.
The government schools dare not teach the meaning of the Golden Rule. If they were successful in getting their pupils to understand that they should not force other people to pay for something they did not want, then they could see that it was a violation of the Golden Rule to force others to pay for their schooling.
They, of course, dare not teach their pupils to believe that if it is wicked and a violation of the Golden Rule for one man to do a thing, it is still wicked and a violation of the Golden Rule if 49 per cent or 99 per cent of the people do the same thing. They, thus, dare not teach the youth that the ideal government, the only kind of government that can be of value to mankind, is one that is limited to the use of defensive force and never has a right, under any circumstances, to initiate force.
They dare not teach the First Commandment: "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me" because they are bowing down and worshipping the will of the majority rather than the eternal laws of God that no man made and no man can unmake.
They dare not teach "Thou shalt not covet," because they are violating the Coveting Commandment.
They believe they do not need to teach well enough that people will voluntarily pay their salaries. They get their pay by violence rather than by rendering service well enough so that those who pay them believe they are benefited by their employment.
They dare not teach discipline and self-reliance because they are not disciplining themselves enough to render such service that they can be paid voluntarily. The teachers take the shortcut and use a police club to get their money. That certainly is not discipline, nor is it self-reliance.
They dare not teach thrift and the harm that comes from getting into debt. They dare not do this because the government burdens every child and every person in the United States with a monstrous debt.
They dare not teach respect for individual initiative because government schools are based on lack of respect for other people's initiative. They are based on the theory that "We've got the power and the individual is helpless and we're going to make him pay for anything our agents think is education."
They dare not teach humility and meekness because the means used by government schools are the exact opposite of humility and meekness. Are believers in tax-run schools so sure they are right that they are willing to initiate force to make people support their ideas of education? They see themselves as so exalted that they have lost all humility and meekness. And remember, "He who exalts himself shall become abased."
They dare not teach children to reason. They have to teach them not to recognize a contradiction or a dilemma. If the pupils were taught to reason, they would recognize the tyranny that is bound to follow making people pay for things and ideas they abhor.
They dare not teach the harm that follows socialism, communism, collectivism and fascism for to do so would let pupils realize that aggressive force is part of socialism, communism, collectivism and fascism.
They dare not teach that what man wants must be obtained on a voluntary basis. They dare not teach this because they get what they want on an involuntary basis.
They dare not teach the difference between socialism and private ownership of property. They dare not explain that under socialism the only way a man can benefit is by injuring another, as in the case in compelling people to pay for schools they think will destroy the country.
They dare not explain that in free enterprise, including free enterprise in education, the gain of one is the gain of all.
Tax-run schools dare not teach love and charity because they are using aggressive force. They seem to think that aggressive force is better than persuasion by love and charity.
They cannot teach patience because they are so impatient about getting what they seem to believe is an education that they dare not wait to persuade those who should employ them to pay their salaries.
They cannot teach peace and goodwill because they are an example of the opposite of peace and goodwill. They are an example of initiating force, of threatening to get from others by aggressive force what they think they should get.
They cannot teach that the government is a servant of individuals because they believe it should be supported by giving it a monopoly to use aggressive force to make people pay. They can only teach that it is a master of the individual.
They cannot teach justice because their method of supporting the schools is based on injustice - arbitrary, initiated force.
They cannot teach that each man is responsible for his own life because they deny that by using force to take part of man's energy against his will, and man cannot be responsible for his life unless he has the right to choose.
There is nothing more important for parents than their duty to see that their children are treated fairly and have an opportunity to learn from schools that can teach these great moral principles and axioms. It is not the money we're wasting in our tax-run schools that is so important, but it is that our children are not being taught the moral laws that tax-less schools can teach.
It is because children can be taught what is right in tax-less schools and they cannot be so taught in tax-run schools that I am obliged to do what little I can to get parents to see that they are not doing their duty to their children by sending them to tax-run schools.
What we need above everything else is more people devoting more time to seeing that the youth of the land are instilled with belief in the great moral laws, the Golden Rule, and the Declaration of Independence. Government schools cannot teach successfully the will to learn. The best way to teach anything is by example. But the superintendent and managers of the schools themselves are not enough interested in the will to learn to be willing to answer questions as they would before a court to determine whether what they are doing is in harmony with what they profess to believe. If there is anything a man of integrity should want to learn, it is whether what he is doing is in harmony and consistent with what he says.
For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.
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