23 July 2014

state encroachment: irresistible

● There may have been several factors that went into the decision to relieve Michael Gove of his post as minister for education. But the overall import seems clear. It has been shown, once again, that trying to take on a profession which operates under an ideology that it staunchly believes to be morally correct is a hopeless cause.
In a conflict between (a) politicians claiming to do what voters want and (b) state-employed teachers claiming to do what’s best for society, it will always be the teachers that win.
The only solution is to dismantle state education altogether, but this no major Western politician is brave enough to propose.
Although Mr Gove tried to steer secondary education away from state control by introducing “free schools”, it was too much like tinkering to cause a meaningful reduction in supplier power. More significantly, Mr Gove also presided over an increase in state control over education, with legislation now requiring children to stay on at school beyond the age of 16, and the intrusion of state education into areas (age groups, times of day, subject matter) that had previously been free of it.
Still, I doubt any of his successors will be any less accommodating to the legions of ideologues clamouring for more and more intervention into the education process in order to produce a ‘fair’ outcome.

● Apparently the closed material procedure – the new mechanism for allowing the government to hold trials in secret – has been requested ‘only’ five times in the past year, and granted ‘only’ three of those five times. Allegedly this proves the new power is being used “sparingly”.
But the abuse of a new power ostensibly designed for one purpose, but with potential for others (which potential, it is promised at the time, would never come to fruition, because everyone is so frightfully well-intentioned) doesn’t typically happen in the early stages. The horrors tend to come later, when we have become habituated to the new powers and they no longer seem quite so unreasonable.