The Dividing Line, P2

Following on from this post, this post, and this post by Bruce Gerencser, and factoring in a post of Citizen Tom’s I thought I’d continue this little series. Bruce’s post framed the topic of public money around education, which is a good point to follow up.

Some people – usually from the religious right – are not fond of state-funded education systems. They fear what they consider to be the indoctrination of children (ironic, when you consider they have no issue with public money funding private religious schools, which will undoubtedly indoctrinate their pupils). In the case of the US system, I also have to wonder aloud if the religious right would be willing to use taxpayer’s money to fund private Islamic, Jewish and Hindu schools, or would they offer the ‘wrong’ sort of indoctrination into religious thinking?

We are apparently not meant to trust the government to properly direct the syllabus. Who do we then turn to? Do we rely solely upon those who fund schools? There are many competing voices within Christianity alone, each with different takes on topics such as evolution, so what you end up is a mish-mash of different syllabuses, often contradicting one another, leading to all sorts of confusion as and when the students enter the working world (and especially if they wish to enter into the sciences, or into theological fields). For example, there is a very real possibility that some religious schools will reject geological-driven evidence to instead argue for creationism, whilst others might teach Intelligent Design as a science.

Of course, no government is perfect, but nor is private enterprise. Private schools cost a great deal more than public ones. This is not the fault of government, but instead of the profit-focused nature of those who run private schools. There is a very real chance that the syllabus will rotate, depending on who is willing to pay the most money. Along with religious reasons, different private schools may actually offer different lessons, based on who funds them. Once again, a hodgepodge of different schools, with different lesson plans, based on who gives them money, is hardly the basis for a fair or balanced education system, and will inevitably create confusion later on.

What Countries Enjoy Good Education?

It is worth noting that the current US model is, by some metrics, regarded as the best in the world, providing a platform for would-be university students to thrive. The UK system is ranked 2nd, and much like the US system, education up to university age is freely available at point of use for anyone up to the age of 18. The same applies to Canada, ranked 3rd by some metrics. Germany is 4th, education is free at the point of use, and in Germany some universities waive tuition fees.

Of course, other metrics place other countries higher, with the intriguing note that they all have well-developed public education systems. Sweden, Finland and Denmark all rank very highly, and it goes without saying that Japan’s education is well-regarded around the world.

What is the Objection then?

I think the undercurrent of why the religious right tends to object to publicly-funded education is that they cannot exercise control over it. They cannot filter in their religious beliefs into the public sphere (though not for lack of trying). Their consternation is disguised by complaints about ‘socialism’, but the reality is that they want more influence over young minds, and resent that they cannot freely impose it.

Please follow and like us: