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Exciting solutions for schools

Another interesting Hitchens piece on politics in Britain. The letters that follow are fascinating, and offer (though this is not their main point) a variation on the Dutch school choice possibility, which, as I mentioned in a previous post, is really the 19th century British system. Instead of sending a large portion of their incomes to the government in taxes, and helplessly watching their children receive a poor education, parents who cared about education for their children sent it to schools of their choice, including but not limited to grammar schools. Choice was and is key because it makes the schools responsive to parents.

Letters from Guy Reid-Brown and Julian Hedbroke suggest forgetting the eleven-plus and letting the "test" be a student’s willingness to learn. Nice idea. There could be advanced classes for students not only willing but smart, and students who didn’t care could go to schools where they didn't have to care, which is what they do now. However, if there were trade schools they might find they weren’t bored and were interested in learning how to start a business . . . The only thing they would have to learn in every school in the most fascinating way possible is the history of liberty, free markets, just laws, and representative government. (That's our plug.)

These ideas all return an exhilarating freedom to parents and children. They would improve schools by fostering accountability. They would transform the experience of education. Call me naive, but I think they're worth investigating.

Julian Hedbroke, by the way, was a poor boy whose parents saved to send him to school.

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