Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Grammar school opponents are 'in denial about the social mobility benefits they brought', says leading private head

People who dismiss grammar schools outright are guilty of the ‘British embarrassment with intellect’, a leading private school headmaster has said.

Andrew Halls, headteacher of King’s College School in Wimbledon, said the problem with grammar schools had been that there were too few so they became ‘the only schools people wanted to go to’.

He said the shortage of grammars had left pupils with the choice of secondary moderns, which were seen ‘as bear pits’ – ‘not always fairly’ – and technical schools, which were ‘as rare as hens teeth’.

Mr Halls said he would support the creation of new grammars as long as the point of entry was ‘well managed’ and at least as much investment was put into their alternatives.

He told MailOnline: ‘Those who dismiss grammars outright are in denial about the social mobility benefits they brought.

‘Survey after survey shows that from the 1980s, when the last grammar school cohorts dropped out of the system, England echoed to the sound of ladders being pulled up.

‘So many comprehensive schools at the time were not fit for purpose that working class families had no way to help their children out of poverty.'

Mr Halls said the closure of grammar schools had left England as one of the only developed countries where the older generation is more literate and numerate than their grandchildren.

He added: ‘This is why in 21st-century England you are more unlikely than at any point in the last fifty years to rise above the social background you were born into.’

Theresa May recently announced a plan to overturn the ban on selective schools and allow existing grammars to expand and new ones to open with quotas for poorer pupils.

Mr Halls, who attended Shenley Court School, a Birmingham comprehensive, said it was wrong to assume that bright children would succeed regardless of what school they attended.

He added: ‘There is an English embarrassment with intellect and the assumption that being bright is a lucky attribute and that you will land on your feet wherever you go. ‘In reality, being bright can be crucifying if no one thinks as you do.’

King’s College School, which charges nearly £20,000 per year, was named The Sunday Times independent school of the year in 2014.

Mr Halls stressed the need for better-funded technical colleges where less academic children could learn a trade.

And he called for a modern generation of grammar schools with more flexibility around the year of entry than had existed previously. ‘We need a 21st-century version of grammar schools with more flexibility around years of entry, perhaps Year 9 in addition to Year 7.

‘And you could not possibly reintroduce them without investing even more in technical colleges.

‘An acceptance of the value of an academic education is a great step forward, but only if we also cure the British disease of disdain for a vocational education.’


How This Progressive Educator Laid the Groundwork for Big Government

How did America’s political and economic system change from limited government and capitalism early in our history, to the unlimited government and welfare statism of today?

From about 1880 to the end of World War I, America went through a period of radical change. New political and economic principles were introduced by a group of academics, activists, and politicians known as progressives.

Progressives proposed replacing the system of limited government, natural rights, and capitalism bequeathed to us by the Founders, with an unlimited government that closely regulates the economy and redistributes income.

As I explain in my recent Makers of American Political Thought essay, “Richard T. Ely: Progressive Educator, Political Economist, and Social Gospel Advocate,” no progressive reformer worked harder to bring about this radical change than the political economist and social gospel advocate Richard T. Ely.

Progressive Educator

Born in Fredonia, New York, in 1854, Ely graduated from Columbia College and then received his Ph.D. in political economy in Germany in 1879. His German professors taught him that natural rights are a myth, that capitalism needs to be curtailed, and that the government should redistribute income to assist in the positive development of each individual.

Ely returned to America and taught these ideas to a generation of progressive reformers, first at Johns Hopkins University and then at the University of Wisconsin. Ely was a very influential professor, and among his more important students was Woodrow Wilson. He also informally taught Theodore Roosevelt.

Political Economist

Ely attempted to convince Americans that capitalism was unjust. In his view, wealthy businessmen imposed hard terms on exploited workers, who were then forced to accept low wages and bad working conditions if they were to avoid starvation. Ely wanted government intervention in the economy to protect workers from alleged capitalist injustices.

But despite the great influence of this critique of capitalism, Ely’s description of working-class suffering seriously misstated the condition of the American worker. In fact, ordinary workers in his day enjoyed prosperity and opportunities unheard of in prior eras.

Social Gospel Advocate

Besides being an important and influential political economist, Ely was also one of the most important social gospel figures of the 19th century. The social gospel was a Protestant reform movement that understood the primary task of a Christian to be the redemption of the earth rather than, as traditionally understood, the redemption of one’s own soul.

Ely wanted the earth to be redeemed by means of social and economic improvements aimed at solving a broad range of human problems in areas such as education, housing, poverty, and employment. Ely believed that social science could provide us with the tools to analyze and solve any number of human problems and thereby perform our full Christian duty to others.

Ely combined his two great passions into what he saw as a seamless whole. Social gospel teachings would provide the moral direction and impetus for human progress, while the science of political economy would provide the means by which social gospel goals were to be achieved.

Despite the high hopes he placed in social science, Ely had chosen a tool of very limited utility, one incapable of solving the problems he placed before it. Moreover, his understanding of Christianity was out of step with the traditional Christian view that counseled moderated expectations of life on earth. Ely asked too much of this world and too much of science.

His Legacy

Ely lived long enough to witness the Great Depression, and he was offended by the economic incompetence and demagoguery of so much of the New Deal. But fairness requires that he share in the blame for New Deal missteps.

By arguing against natural rights and limited government, Ely thought that he was preparing the country for rule by enlightened, scientific-minded managers. In fact, he helped to break down important restraints that kept people from reaching for the property of others. The result was demagogues promising to redistribute property.

Ely’s legacy is seen today in our weakened attachment to limited government, private property, and capitalism, and our too-willing acceptance of government intervention, welfare statism, and social science. We are very much still living in the world that Ely helped to shape.


Danish school starts separating students by ethnicity: As migrant pupil numbers reach 80% teachers act to make sure ethnic Danes aren't outnumbered in classes

A Danish school has come under fire for separating students into different classes by ethnicity in a bid to prevent ethnic Danes being outnumbered.

The Langkaer upper secondary school outside the city of Aarhus said its first-year students had been divided into seven different classes, out of which three classes had a 50 percent limit on the number of ethnic minority students.

The remaining four classes consisted only of students from an immigrant background.

The school had seen the number of students who are migrants or the children of migrants rise from 25 per cent in 2007 to 80 per cent of this year's first-year students.

The school's headmaster, Yago Bundgaard, denied allegations that the practice amounted to discrimination and said that the aim was to encourage integration by preventing a dwindling number of ethnic Danes from leaving the school.

'For real integration to take place in a class there has to be sufficient numbers from both groups for it to happen,' he told public broadcaster DR.

Describing it as 'the least bad solution', Bundgaard said that the ethnic minority students had been picked based on whether they had 'a Danish-sounding name', but admitted that it was a 'fluid' distinction.

Turkish-born commentator and former lawmaker Ozlem Cekic said she would report the school to Denmark's Board of Equal Treatment.

'When a headmaster isolates the brown children from the white in an upper secondary school, he is part of sending a signal that the whites must be protected from the brown,' she wrote on Facebook.

Human rights lawyer Nanna Krusaa also told broadcaster TV 2 that 'placing students solely based on race or ethnicity is in my clear view illegal'.

Danish Education Minister Ellen Trane Norby said that she had requested a report from the school to ensure that the law was being upheld, but that she was also looking at introducing legislation to make upper secondary schools in Denmark more ethnically mixed.

'The fundamental problem is that we in Denmark have... schools with a too high ratio of students with a different ethnic background than Danish,' she wrote on Facebook.

'Sorting students by ethnicity, nationality, and religions violates Danish law and the international conventions which Denmark has signed,' said Jette Møller, the president of the nongovernmental organization SOS Against Racism, according to the Washington Post.


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