Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The corruption of state of education

In the whole debate about education - private versus state; grammar school versus city academy; comprehensive versus selection – very little notice is ever taken by politicians of the root causes of the manifest decline in standards, other than to deny that those standards have in any way declined.

But Civitas has identified a highly concerning trend over the past decade, and that is the ‘hi-jacking’ of traditional academic subject to promote ‘fashionable causes such as gender awareness, the environment and anti-racism’. Instead of imparting knowledge or inspiring children to want to learn, teachers in the state sector are now shackled and bound to realise the Government's social goals, and to mould a cohesive society according to the fore-ordained blueprint.

In English Literature, the report shows how issues of race and gender have become pre-eminent in the study of 20th-century poetry: ‘A British pupil can go through the school system and get the top marks in English and English Literature without knowing that Spenser, Milton or Pope ever existed, but having studied Carol Ann Duffy twice, both at GCSE and A-level. With all due respect to Carol Ann Duffy, she is on the syllabus, not because she is a greater poet than Milton, but because she is more "relevant", dealing as she does with very contemporary issues such as disaffected learners.'

In Science, the distinct disciplines of chemistry, physics and biology have been fused into 'scientific literacy', which is more subject to the trivia of the media than with the bedrock of the scientific method: ‘Students are asked to discuss issues such as global warming and GM crops, based on media coverage, and to consider whether or not scientists can be trusted’.

In History, there is no sense of narrative or chronology, but analysis through the lens of politically-correct perspectives: ‘Children jump around in time between, for example, Vikings and Victorians, Ancient Greeks and Tudors… There is no longer any requirement at all to teach about any specific personality from the past. Nor is there any requirement to teach about any specific event - other than within a world history context for one unit.' One survey is noted in which it was found that half of young people ‘did not know that the Battle of Britain took place in World War II, and thought that either Gandalf, Horatio Hornblower or Christopher Columbus led the battle against the Spanish Armada’. Such ignorance is storing up consequences for the future. Civitas states: ‘To know the history of one's country is a birthright. It tells us who we are and how we got here. It tells how our shared values came into being. A people that does not know its history is a people suffering from memory loss, amnesia - a damaging illness.'

Perhaps the most significant corrosion of the educational imperative may be seen in the hi-jacking of Geography by the advocates of ‘global citizenship’, with ‘environmentalism’ as its core faith: ‘Global citizenship education is tied to specific non-academic values that tend towards the replacement of knowledge with morality as the central focus of the curriculum. Thus global problems are not presented as issues to be interrogated for truth, knowledge and meaning, with a view to students developing ideas about the potential courses of social and political action. Instead, the solution is to be found in the personal realm and is presented as a given: that people need to adhere to a new global values system that encourages them to consume less, have fewer children, take public transport rather than drive their cars, be less money-grabbing, support charities, and so forth. Such an approach is no substitute for educating pupils to interpret the world for themselves.'

Increasingly, independent schools are refusing to submit to this inadequate curriculum, and are opting for courses and examinations independent of government manipulation. Thus the O-level, the IGCSE, and the International Baccalaureate are increasing in popularity. While some state schools are also opting for these qualifications, the significant disincentive is the realisation that government does not fund them, and schools are left to cope with the financial consequences. Such academically-rigorous qualifications are therefore simply out of reach for many state schools.

Issues of pedagogy, upon which civilisations has been constructed for millennia, have been subordinated to social engineering and political expediency. The moulding of the ‘responsible citizen’ has supplanted what Mill called the ‘higher’ pleasures – intellectual and aesthetic enjoyments. The school curriculum has been unacceptably dumbed down, with some subjects (like philosophy and ancient history) being publicly decried by ministers of the Crown, while endless lessons are devoted to obesity, sex education, black history, gay history, and ‘fairness’.

The Civitas solution is simple: to depoliticise education – ‘politicians need to be discouraged from regarding the curriculum as their platform for making statements'.

Cranmer says amen to that, but why stop with education?

44 Comments:

Anonymous Miss Jelly Bean said...

"Carol Ann Duffy, she is on the syllabus, not because she is a greater poet than Milton"

I agree. did her for GCSEs. very boring. I like Milton's 'paradise lost'. didn't read it all, but I had to know about him cus he inspired Byron's poetry (I'm studying Byron's poetry for A-levels). OMG! I have an exam on that next Monday! Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!!

12 June 2007 at 09:49  
Anonymous Voyager said...

"He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future."

Frankfurt School

http://www.ukapologetics.net/frankfurt.html

http://www.ualberta.ca/~cjscopy/articles/mclaughlin.html

12 June 2007 at 11:36  
Blogger Newmania said...

"When an opponent declares,
'I will not come over to your side.'
I calmly say, 'Your child belongs to us already…
What are you? You will pass on.
Your descendants, however,
now stand in the new camp.
In a short time they will know nothing
else but this new community.'"
~ Adolf Hitler


Not exactly fresh I know . I was just reading a book called the end of the age of Reason examining the roots and effects of the dominant politically correct culture. It began , in German Marxist circles and transported itself to America as the Nazi`s advanced where it is still far stronger in academia than it is here. The ideas were taken up by the counter culture of the 1960s with the laudable aim of helping victimised groups , at this point though most of the good things it sought to achieve have been banked and it is an almost entirely harmful way of thinking. It has some religious elements about it , primitive ones albeit in that an accusation of say Racism is treated almost like a witch doctors curse closing mouths and people from society.
The primary methodology is to identify an Group ( not an individual ) as the primary unit . Hence in Literature Wordsworth will be sacrificed for some ephemeral “ Caribbean “ Poetry . The other claim is that the world of the West has been subject to a ubiquitous brain washing intended to exclude these “Groups “. Anything that has been taught before, for example the comprehensible English Canon , is necessarily suspect . the entirely obvious superiority of ambition and achievement in , for example , Donne , Keates , and so on is overcome by replacing thought and analysis by emotion and “Relating to “. There us a large dose of cod Freudianism involved and author biography is usually preferred to Literary Criticism, for obvious reasons . For the Poltically correct if the past is a lie then we must start with year zero , a most unfortunate attitude to academic study

So where your Grace says morality is the new central focus I would not entirely agree . Morality has , in a sense always informed curriculums based on the rationalist presumption that truth would produce morality (Thomas Jefferson There is not a truth existing which I fear... or would wish unknown to the whole world. ) and the romantic belief that truth and beauty are co extensive. Morality is still there but its basis in truth has been replaced by a basis in abhorrence to truth and a belief in emotion and post Marxist “Victim Group” .

Never mind your Grace if no one knows what the battle of Marathon is you will be able to amuse yourself by referring to it as the battle of Snicker . It could be called “Snickering “,as a hobby


PS Never been quite convinced by Milton myself.

12 June 2007 at 13:10  
Anonymous Voyager said...

http://www.bigbrother.net/~mugwump/Lasch/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Culture_of_Narcissism

12 June 2007 at 13:21  
Blogger Newmania said...

Voyager - YOur link on the Frankfurt school very much accords with what I was saying about German Marxists and the counter culture ,. I am therefore going to assume I am in your good books and bask in the presumed approbation while it lasts.

(Catching up with a previous thread , I did not say I was an atheist , Bob did.)

12 June 2007 at 13:56  
Anonymous Voyager said...

YOur link on the Frankfurt school very much accords with what I was saying about German Marxists

Read Herbert Marcuse "One Dimensional Man" and see how banal and simplistic it is and wonder what sort of people could swallow his claptrap

12 June 2007 at 15:07  
Anonymous oiznop said...

"Physics GCSE papers are full of questions that are vague, stupid, insultingly easy, political, and non-scientific."

So says secondary school physics teacher Wellington Grey in an open letter to the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the AQA exam board.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/06/12/science_education_stuffed/

12 June 2007 at 17:13  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

Voyager - Will you not say anything today? Are we only to be blessed by your suggested websites? Perhaps I can enrage you and everyone else on here enough to inspire your pen, or keyboard, as the case may be.

Your Grace, much of what you say is correct of course. I am, as you know, a teacher in the state system and have worked in 5 different state schools.

However, I have never seen lessons in gender awareness, the environment, or anti-racism. Neither have I ever seen lessons on obesity, or gay history. There is one lesson a week which children are required to have called PSHCE - Personal, Social, Health, Citizenship Education - which can, and has been used to teach sex education, and topics like fairness.

These lessons are there to help make our youngsters into decent human beings. Only one lesson a week is dedicated to this and if they worked, this would not be cause for complaint. The only problem is that these lessons seem to have little or no impact on our children whatsoever.

Your accusations on subject areas are relatively accurate, though there is little black history taught in schools and the little that is taught is simply part of British history with a little American history thrown in to give a bit of a world view.k

You should be shouting about subjects like Physical Education, Technology, Drama, ICT (computing), and Media Studies, which state schools are forced to present as options at GCSE and which have huge take-up, over French, History, Geography etc. Why the huge take-up? Because they are 'easier'.

The undeniable fact is that exams have been dumbed down. There isn't a teacher in the country who doesn't know that. And true, the content has changed somewhat. But one musn't assume that the content of the IGCSE is so different. It varies from subject to subject.

What is consistent in every subject is that the IGCSE paper is simply HARDER. The questions are of a higher standard. And because private and grammar schools are able to teach to these standards and have large numbers of children who can reach such standards, they choose this exam. GCSEs quite frankly are about the same standard as the Common Entrance Exam which one must past to get into some private schools. So if at entry (age 13), children have already met the GCSE standards, clearly these schools need to work towards something else.

And another thing - It isn't love of the PC world (not the computer shop!) that has transformed education. Every political party wants to say that they have raised standards but they know they cannot do so given the state of our youth today. Their only option is to change the exams. This is what they have done.

12 June 2007 at 18:43  
Anonymous Voyager said...

I am afraid Willetts and Cameron have persuaded me that unless you can afford fee-paying schools you should not have children; and that State Schools are for experiments not education.

There is not a politician alive who does not wish to instill uniformity and homogeneity into State Schools and to let some pet theory loose.

The 1944 Act required LEAs to provide state-funded education for pupils, up to the age of 15, that incorporated, to quote, "instruction and training as may be desirable in view of their different ages, abilities and aptitudes".

The first step was to provide sufficient schools. The act did not define the types of secondary school to be provided; but firm guidance by the Ministry of Education stipulated a tripartite system of grammar, technical and secondary modern schools. However, in practice the system that developed was largely bipartite, since few technical schools were established.........


The grammar school curriculum was examination led whereas it was free and unfettered in primary and secondary modern schools.

The 1944 act gave local education authorities the duty to contribute towards the spiritual, moral, mental and physical development of the community. So significant was this provision considered, that it was strengthened in subsequent legislation and defined as spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, or SMSC in shorthand. Providing for pupils' SMSC development is an important and, in my view, essential contemporary purpose of education.

I am, to an extent, speculating here, but I suspect that in 1944 "morality" was synonymous with behaving well, 'mental' development with the learning of facts and stats and 'physical' development with exercise and drills. Of course, times change. Take physical development, for instance. Drills have given way to dance, gymnastics, outdoor and adventurous activities and the study of health and fitness. At the same time modern living has seen the ascendancy of fast-food, computer games and television, resulting in many young people living far less physically active and healthy lifestyles. So, progress on the one hand is counterbalanced, or worse, cancelled out, by the low levels of fitness and high levels of obesity among the young.

In Butler's time, spiritual development was probably considered to be synonymous with the daily act of Christian worship, and this remained largely unquestioned for years. But, with the broadening of Britain's religious and cultural identity, spirituality has come into its own as encapsulating those very qualities that make us human.

As an expression of spirituality, collective worship is much more contestable now than it was in Britain in the 1940s. At that time, Butler was unequivocal that the statutory requirement for collective worship, first introduced by his 1944 Act, would be widely welcomed. But it is a plain fact that the act of collective worship is not altogether unproblematic in our schools today.

I struggle, as do my inspectors and most secondary schools, with the requirement that every school day shall include an act of collective worship on the part of all pupils. At present more than three-quarters of schools fail to meet this requirement.

we cannot ignore the fact that 76% of our secondary schools are breaking the law. I do not think they do so lightly, so we should ask what is motivating them to behave in this way. I believe that by retaining the act of collective worship, but making it less frequent, we would immediately and significantly reduce the current levels of non-compliance. In the process, I also believe that we would encourage all of those who participate to do so in a more meaningful way. So, perhaps consideration should now be given to making the requirement for collective worship weekly, or even monthly, rather than daily.

Secondly, the 10-year-old Circular on Religious Education and Collective Worship may be seen to confuse rather than help the issue, in that it stresses the need for worship to be appropriate for all pupils and explains that not all acts of worship must be "broadly Christian". But, it states that all worship should be concerned with reverence for the veneration of a divine being or power and that "broadly Christian" should contain some elements that accord a special status to Jesus Christ.


Speech to commemorate the 6oth anniversary of the 1944 Education Act, given by the chief inspector of schools, David Bell
Wednesday April 21, 2004


The simple fact is we cannot agree on what constitutes education, knowledge, or results within State education. It should therefore be made completely voluntarist so parents choose the education they feel most appropriate for their child and curriculum.

There is no basis for State Schools to attempt to impose alien values on children simple because they are incarcerated in a local institution. it would be forbidden to impose the same ideological blinkers on those held in H M Prisons.

I really see no alternative to the voucher system and eradication of the National Education Service which was created in place of local schools and local options....

12 June 2007 at 19:51  
Blogger Darkersideofbridgetjones said...

All I can say is that I am more like a lion tamer than a teacher of the dramatic arts. It's totally frustrating and depressing.

12 June 2007 at 20:44  
Blogger A S Grey said...

As a student of the International Baccalaureate (IB) , I agree with Cranmer's blog and the several quotes posted.

Having superficially learnt my information for GCSE subjects, the IB was a breath of fresh air. I feel challenged, and for once in my life am able to think while I am studying.

However, your Grace, were you at all suggesting that critical thinking is not an integral part of study? I feel it is crucial to becoming a better learner. If you disagree, I should enjoy discussing this idea greatly! :)

12 June 2007 at 21:11  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

as grey - His Grace did not really mention thinking skills - he spoke more of content. I take it you are now doing the IB instead of A levels? It is silly to compare it with GCSEs. There is a massive jump in expectations from GCSE to A levels. While the IB is clearly the more academic route over A levels, they both require critical thinking.

And Voyager, you have gone from saying little, to saying much! But I fear, I still have little understanding of what you are saying. Do you mean to suggest that if state schools had acts of worship, state school education would improve?

Do not give up hope. It is our business to make the politicians do what is right for our children. And we must believe we can make a difference.

12 June 2007 at 21:25  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Do you mean to suggest that if state schools had acts of worship, state school education would improve?

The quotations were from the Labour Party Placeman as Chief of Ofsted (now inside DfE as Permanent Secretary I think) and of course he was replaced by Tony McNulty's wife (He a Minister at the Home Office she former Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council)

If there cannot be collective worship then there must be Faith Schools, and most are today private and fee-paying.

If there cannot be a proper curriculum there must be schools with highly structured curriculum

There must be choice but the State System is monolithic and removes choice - it is a sausage factory churning out inedible sausages with lots of gristle.....only now it is costing £77 billion to produce mediocre product

12 June 2007 at 21:52  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr A S Grey,

His Grace has absolutely no idea whence you gleaned the idea that he even intimated that critical thinking was not intrinsic to study. It is manifestly a vital skill. You would do well to read accurately, or to heed the manifestly superior interpretive skills of Ms Snuffleupagus. Has not the Bac taught you these skills?

And Ms Snuffleupagus,

His Grace is most admiring of your profession, and profoundly impressed by your tenacity. Teaching those who wish to learn is one thing; trying to teach those who do not give a damn is quite another. Your sense of vocation is both admirable and moving. He shall be praying for you.

12 June 2007 at 22:00  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

Voyager - Again, I am still not clear. So you believe that acts of worship make schools better. I think. Why?

And what do you mean by a highly structured curriculum instead of a proper curriculum?

And what do you mean by 'there must be choice'. What choices? I would argue that it is precisely because we give people so much 'choice' that we have the disastrous state system that we have.

12 June 2007 at 22:07  
Anonymous Voyager said...

And what do you mean by a highly structured curriculum instead of a proper curriculum?


If there cannot be a proper curriculum there must be schools with highly structured curriculum

Two different statements...the second one is mine. I do not comprehend the first.

If State Education cannot provide content and structured learning those who choose to have a highly structured curriculum with traditional subjects and content should have alternate schools

12 June 2007 at 22:17  
Anonymous billy said...

"To know the history of one's country is a birthright. It tells us who we are and how we got here. It tells how our shared values came into being. A people that does not know its history is a people suffering from memory loss, amnesia - a damaging illness.' "

Many of those that I teach today are not of our country, but count their first allegiance to the countries of their parents or grandparents origin.
They are 'British' but not English, Welsh, Scot or Irish and their care nothing for our history.

12 June 2007 at 22:20  
Anonymous billy said...

Please substitute they for their - it has been a long and tiring day.

12 June 2007 at 22:21  
Anonymous Voyager said...

What choices? I would argue that it is precisely because we give people so much 'choice' that we have the disastrous state system that we have.

I would like to introduce the Forced Curve into State Education - the Gaussian Distribution - the bottom 10% in every subject to fail automatically and those who fail in more than 3 subjects to be ejected from the school.

I think the 1970s GCE Papers should be used and marked to establish a benchmark

But since State Education becomes inevitably State Indoctrination I think the whole system should be dismantled and vouchers be available equal to the £5000 cost for each pupil in secondary school.

Ever since the Government took control of schools centrally it has been a catalogue of disasters and the system is beyond redemption. Ten years of Blair throwing hundreds of billions into schools has simply brought yet more disaster.

IT is time for the Government to get out of education

12 June 2007 at 22:25  
Anonymous Observer said...

Many of those that I teach today are not of our country, but count their first allegiance to the countries of their parents or grandparents origin.

There is no reason for the native population to accommodate their indifference. They are not to dictate what is learned nor what is taught - they are outsiders by choice.

12 June 2007 at 22:29  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

Your Grace - How kind that you should pray for me. I teach a variety of children...some who want to learn, some who are unsure, some who do not give a damn. And many move between all 3 stages several times over.

Teaching a child who wants to learn is satisfying. But to take a child who does not give a damn and to turn him around so that he can have the freedom of mind to enjoy learning is something truly extraordinary. So pray for them Your Grace, not for me. I am already saved. They, however, are far from it.

Voyager - True, they are different statements. I was being lazy. So you mean in essence that the state should provide, say, grammar schools?

When you say 'those who choose', do you mean the children or the parents? And should we not be concentrating our efforts in getting the state to provide content and structured learning for our youth?

I mean yes, send your children to private schools. I would be the first to suggest it. But also demand more from the government - for ALL the children. Do not just demand grammar schools because you imagine that your own children will go to one. Demand that the government should stop thinking about votes and think about the people!

12 June 2007 at 22:39  
Anonymous VOyager said...

No. The State should provide nothing.

The State is busy impoing a catastrophe on schools for coming decades with Academies. These are PFI Schools and they want to spend £45 billion over 15 years building new schools.

These schools will be privately-owned but the headteacher will depend upon government funds to pay the rent and will have to cut salaries to meet the rental payments.

So we will have State Comprehensives called Academies paying PFI rentals to banks and developers for 30 years without any option. It is unlikely schools will improve.

Far better to get the State out of education and have private provision of teaching rather than buildings. Let everyone pay a means-tested fee to attend school.

The current system cannot continue - it is essentially bankrupt in every sense

12 June 2007 at 23:12  
Blogger Newmania said...

Voyager given the state is not going to get out of education and that we would be unique in the developed world in imagining such a thing conceivable can I suggest what seem to me to be more realistic alternatives.
Firstly the reintroduction of Grammars is a non starter entailing as it would the reintroduction of Secondary Moderns. The support for it that there is , does not come from the working classes but form the lower middle classes who believe they will be able to get their children in and thereby , have the population pay for a Public school education from which they are for the most part excluded.
Nonetheless as is famously recorded the class structure of this country is growing more not less stratified and the suggestion that this is due to the inherent foolishness of , say , Welsh children as opposed to those from Surrey need not detain us long. The operation of the Comprehensive system with the mature housing market is such that the better school, usually the ex Grammar attracts the keener parent to its catchments area and those with resources are able to use them more effectively than they were under an academically selected system. Now we have selection by wealth the most harmful and unfair system of all.
I know many teachers and I know they are often lazy, and unaccountable. In fact the worse they are the more likely they are to be promoted. There is no way to sort the many bad eggs from the basket and this is one of the ‘real’ problems It should not be forgotten that any determined attempt to improve our disastrous dispensation will involve taking on the NUT in some way or other, also diminishing the power of the teaching colleges which are m, in this bloated predator free environment free to spout annual nonsense some of which we see the results of today. Only 30% of schools are operating setting despite the obvious advantage it bestows and this is due to the ideological hatred of the teaching profession for what they consider “Elitism”. But, elite teachers and pupils is one of the things t we need .Not the only thing of course.
I do not believe that resources are the problem they have disappeared into teacher’s salaries when they are for the most part paid vastly above a market rate (unlike the tax payer). I need hardly say that it is by private sector standards “Leisure rich “beyond belief, .Convenient for having children limitlessly secure and, of course, well pensioned, at the poor tax payer’s expense. This is because of national and group pay bargaining and the inability of New Labour to do other than reward Public sector Unions. Good teachers must be rewarded and poor ones sacked. Scarce teachers (maths, Science) must be attracted. Business studies can be filled ten times over. For the purposes of this discussion the satisficing culture is the main problem though but it pertains to the introduction of accountability.

These are the problems in short as I see them

1 Vastly differing intakes whereby is impossible to judge success or failure expect at the extreme edges
2 Selection by wealth causing ghetto schools ( social and racial ) that are all but pre prisons in the inner City Comps where the majority live
3 The siphoning off into the private sector of the “Cultural Capital, of the country. It has doubled in size over the last ten years
4 Degraded Exams
5Indiscipline
6 Lack of choice and competition to the state sector other than for the rich and privileged
7 Poor teaching practice and poor teachers

My suggestion is as follows

1 The introduction of the lottery intake system over wide catchments areas giving an even start and a transparent way to judge failure. This would also re engage the lower middleclass and aspirational people in City schools which are currently a no go area (and god don’t I know it )
2 Transparent and reliable exams
3 The introduction of a voucher system which I anticipate working on the fringes as it has elsewhere but having a great effect on the main state sector
4 Removing charitable status from public schools . They are not charities and exists to monopolise opportunity for already privileged children
(In this environment it will be possible to decrease the power of the NUT as the performance of ts members will not be easily excusable and the natural competition between schools will reinforce good practice , like setting .)
5 Empowering teachers to act freely on discipline which currently is appallingly difficult and allowing exceptional teachers to progress and earn by their performance .

I do of course realise this is all very easily said but the Lottery is being considered by the Labour Party and vouchers are under consideration by the Conservative Party. There is a lot to be said for both ideas .


Under my benevolent dictatorship you can also expect everyday to be the first day of Spring !!

My personal strategy is to move out of London and having succeded in selling my house today I would like to thank the many people that have made this unavoidable for those of us who cannot afford Private education for our children.

Good job

12 June 2007 at 23:32  
Anonymous Voyager said...

have the population pay for a Public school education

The middle class pay most of the taxes - noone earning below £27.000 makes a net contribution to The Exchequer.

The State will always debase education as it debases everything it touches. It is the reification of mediocrity and relies upon playing off different groups one against another. It functions by taking hostage one group to draw support from another.

What is happening in Gaza is pure politics, two rival factions fighting over the spoils of EU money to fund their machine politics and armed wings.

In mature democracies they do not use guns, but seek to take hostages from those supported by the other faction, to change their futures and punish their pasts. It is the nature of the modern politician.

The nineteenth century had a political class steeped in Ancient History and Latin and Greek who saw in England a successor to Rome and Greece as Imperial Powers and thus saw education in that light.

We now have semi-educated politicians who see education as the factories to turn out New Socialist Man imbued with the doctrines of the age to meet the expectations of the ruling party.

The School is simply the instrument by which the ruling party shapes its selection of future voters, sufficiently ignorant not to scrutinise, but sensitised to the slogan and the poster. In Mao's China peasants were tauht vocabulary to link them directly with messages of the Communist Party.

The State directs the learning of the masses to its own political ends which is why the output is so alien to those with practical requirements

13 June 2007 at 06:34  
Blogger Newmania said...

I`d be intersted to know how you think people earning /£27,000 and less do not make a contribution. My little chum in the office pays tax directly and indirectly (in what is a regggressive regime now) and gets , in his words" Bugger all" for it ?
I cannot wait to ntekll him of his good fortune

13 June 2007 at 07:01  
Anonymous Voyager said...

They are not my figures Newmania simply some quoted in respect of net additions to The Exchequer. You do not believe them, and since they are government figures you may be right.

As for bugger all - that is the value on free education, free healthcare,etc........in Germany the Gesetzliche Krankenkasse would cost him around £250/month and his employer the same and his wife a similar amount with her employer....

But you make the fallacy of looking at one individual, his opinion, and contrasting it with an aggregate......on the other hand I should think someone on £100.000 is paying at least £34.000 in income tax alone which employs at least two public sector employees directly

13 June 2007 at 07:38  
Anonymous Voyager said...

in what is a regggressive regime now

Has been so since the 1980s when the Conservatives shifted taxation from corporations to individuals.....the trend has been to offload business taxes onto personal incomes.

Go look at the revenue take - Income Tax c. 130 billion....Corporation Tax c. 30 billion. Average tax charge at Shell 29%

13 June 2007 at 07:50  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Bristol


You might find it interesting how English taxpayers are subsidising other EU nationals to obtain a free education in English......and perfectly within EU rules.....clearly fee-paying may well be the logical outcome of such EU-wide catchment areas

13 June 2007 at 08:59  
Blogger Newmania said...

I just wonder how somebody who to all outward appearances hands over say £6500 of his £27000( appx.) can be said to be making no net contribution. As indirect tax is about the same an income tax ./ NI proportionately more I daresay than a higher earner ? I wondered if you were talking about credits ? I think you are saying that the services provided by the state could be divided by the number of people that use them allotted a monetary value and by this equation low earners are subsidised by high earners . Well naturally that is the case but low earners are more likely to feel it is the other way round . I take a middling view of the extent to which salary reflects “Contribution” , it mostly reflects the exploitation of privileged access to opportunity and while that stay s the case the moral rationale for low tax small state government is weak. This , as we have been repeatedly told , is a situation getting worse with social mobility actually declining since 1958.
Having said that its certainly a view I have not come across and I think and ,I will have great fun with it today .

13 June 2007 at 09:40  
Blogger Newmania said...

Visit Hatfield Girl Wonder Blogger

Incidentally Voyager if you happen to look in , you might enjoy HG .

13 June 2007 at 09:49  
Anonymous Voyager said...

is a situation getting worse with social mobility actually declining since 1958.

So what - that is to be expected and is actually what people - especially politicians - want.

The biggest boost to social mobility was two world wars. The social structures were disturbed and the Cold War gave rationale to high public spending and lots of jobs for the expanding middle class in healthcare, administration, and wider access to professions.

It was not until 1975 that Accountancy and Law required an all-graduate entry which is a clear sign that expansion needed to be choked off to preserve financial status.

The social mobility came with the Robbins Report expanding universities in the 1960s, lots of new jobs in universities, lots of marginal students - take Clare Short for an instance - who did not fit previous characteristics of university intake.

It was pretty obvious that once cheap enery inputs into the economy ended in 1973 that stratification would be evident as growth was restricted to isolated sectors.

The current policy of focusing on Finance as the mainstay of the economy brings large rewards to London but few to Huddersfield - it permits a salariat class to work in Finance or Law in Leeds but commute from Knaresborough or Harrogate along new motorway links.

It makes the urban centre the marketplace for the commuting classes and the ghetto for the labouring classes.

I do not see why it is so obscure to people that the world 1945-73 was an aberration. The world we have today is its natural state and recognisable as such through much of history and the reason why Germany, Poland, Britain were lands of net emigration

13 June 2007 at 10:20  
Blogger Newmania said...

is a situation getting worse with social mobility actually declining since 1958.
So what - that is to be expected and is actually what people - especially politicians - want.


NO it is not Voyager , you are opining for effect here and while suspect there is something to this counter intuitive notion , in that mobility is stressful and denies “Closure “. The demand is not for less opportunity overall though. Naturally

The biggest boost to social mobility was two world wars.

Well you say that but the Labour movement was gaining strength prior to the first World war , universal suffrage and I have heard a good revisionist critiques of the theory that the Great war was the modern world born in conflict . The dreamy long Edwardian afternoon myth was the main complaint the suggestion being that the capitalist explosion was well underway and was delayed by the conflict. Sounds plausible I think , there was certainly an egalitarian atmosphere after the second world war but so there was before it .


It was not until 1975 that Accountancy and Law required an all-graduate entry which is a clear sign that expansion needed to be choked off to preserve financial status.

Yes but at about that time the graduate applications would have the been the social equivalent of A levels a few years earlier . Now they are the equivalent of O levels in my parent’s time at school. Professions did not suddenly try to eliminate competition, they always do .

The social mobility came with the Robbins …

Educational attainment is not the measure and it is quite possible to have it and no money as in Russia , Poland and Ireland at times . Some of this supposed stratification is an illusion in that the class not moving are the bottom 25% . In part this is harder because the top 50% have acquired more , only the very bottom sliver are losing in absolute terms and movement between has , further to go . I suspect the housing and benefits policies and the housing market are the chief culprits myself and the end of low skill employment ladders brought about by comparative advantage operating between us and low wage economies

rewards to London but few to Huddersfield

I don`t know about Huddersfield but the net income after housing is very much lower in London than many other parts of the country. Financial Services are not given breaks and pay the same taxes as other companies. Corporate tax is at a level where both Party’s are concerned that mobile companies will soon be tempted to relocate. People ion Financial Services are often required to relocate, risk redundancy at all times and live in a highly competitive and always changing world



o not see why it is so obscure to people that the world 1945-73 was an aberration. The world we have today is its natural state

That is to long a period to call an aberration and previous period are to difficult to compare with post war Britain. I don`t know for sure ( and I am work so I cannot look ) but I would be very surprised if social mobility in the US during the same period has not moved ahead while we have dropped back. I think you are right that politicians of the left especially like this as it retains a client vote . the Public sector is very rigid of its nature , not being under competition and tending to remain unaltered and hierarchical in ways the private sector has been obliged to abandon. The failure of Comprehensive Education , the creation of dependency cultures , immigration , cultural atomisation , housing policy have all made whatever the position would have been worse. This is self reinforcing as the presence of an underprivileged class justifies policies that will ensure such a class grows. So does the “perception of crime” and ..well much more evil of various sorts

13 June 2007 at 12:26  
Anonymous Voyager said...

but the net income after housing

So by transforming income into capital the capitalists become house-poor

Such is the lot of those acquiring assets whose capital value increases - it is deferred gratification


As for tax breaks for financial services I know you jest.

What purpose do tax deductions for pensions serve other than to subsidise the financial services sector ?

Why do you think Banks run leasing companies ?

Do you really not know what subsidiaries Goldman Sachs operates ? I suggest you go have a look at their offshore leasing operations, or at HSBC's infrastructure investment group

The tax breaks for financial services are so deep and so rich it is amazing you have never noticed them.

Why do you think banks run their own trading operations ?

I can think of no area of commerce in Britain that is as well subsidised as financial services

13 June 2007 at 12:42  
Anonymous Voyager said...

if social mobility in the US during the same period has not moved ahead while we have dropped back

Social mobility in the US stopped decades ago. That too was largely a myth built on GI Benefits Bill, VA Mortgages and multinational corporations like GM and IBM with good pension plans and a cossetted hierarchy.

The nature of competition is that globalisation eradicates those social costs to business which is why 401Ks replaced pension plans and medical insurance is no longer automatic.

The US middle class is sinking under the weight of College loans and outsourced white collar jobs. The Angst in the Us middle class is immense as they slide down an watch the super-rich glide by like a new Gilded Age.

13 June 2007 at 12:45  
Anonymous Alexander Scott said...

Since comment has been made on US social mobility, I thought it might be informative to link to this NYTimes graphic on class and social mobility. In particular, the tab on income mobility shows that 1/2 of the bottom quintile is able to move upwards, and slightly less than half of the second quintile were able to move upwards as well. Almost half of the top 20% in income fell out of that bracket. That looks a lot like social mobility to me.

We don't talk much about class struggles any more. The poor in the US have houses, cars, cell-phones, and fast food. The middle class has enough money to pay for everything but health care. If the rich make millions and I make $60,000 that is still quite enough for our needs.

Tuition costs at public universities are still quite affordable and are superior to private colleges in many ways. Health care costs are ruinous, however, and if you lose your insurance you will lose everything in time. Americans want the best health care that money can buy, but we don't want to pay for it. I don't see how to square that circle.

13 June 2007 at 14:56  
Blogger Newmania said...

but the net income after housing

So by transforming income into capital the capitalists become house-poor Such is the lot of those acquiring assets whose capital value increases - it is deferred gratification
Until we all live in fields it is likely to be indefinitely deferred, and its only the same bricks and mortar


As for tax breaks for financial services I know you jest.

What purpose do tax deductions for pensions serve other than to subsidise the financial services sector?
To encourage saving and to stop the anomalie of being taxed twice

Banks- Really .( Don`t know much about it . I `m not clear excatly what you are refferring to by way oif a tax break . I work in Insurance, we get nothing but being run out of business by the FSA and anti social stealth taxes added on the product. Its highly competitive ,insecure .

Where do I go for the governement grant then ? It would be handy

13 June 2007 at 15:28  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Tuition costs at public universities are still quite affordable and are superior to private colleges in many ways.

Not in the circles that recruit for the top jobs in the USA....Seven Sisters and IVY League wins hands down

13 June 2007 at 20:40  
Anonymous Voyager said...

What purpose do tax deductions for pensions serve other than to subsidise the financial services sector?
To encourage saving and to stop the anomalie of being taxed twice


Not so. There is absolutely no reason for pensions to be deductible against tax, no other form of savings is so privileged as to let you deduct £215.000 pa until you have £1,500,000 in tax-deductible savings and can use that same pension plan to obtain tax relief on buying residential or commercial property


Banks run leasing companies because they use the depreciation and capital cost to shelter profits, they also use bond-washing to reduce taxation.

If the Government refused them group relief they would pay tax by business stream.

Insurance companies too have leasing arms. One of the favourites is container leasing or ship leasing, though truck leasing is quie fun. Why do you think GE Capital bought GPA Leasing ?


"House poor" means no income because it is all tied up in servicing housing debt

13 June 2007 at 20:45  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Americans want the best health care that money can buy, but we don't want to pay for it.

THe US GOvernment pays a greater proportion of GDP on taxpayer-funded healthcare than does the British Government

13 June 2007 at 20:46  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

'I know many teachers and I know they are often lazy, and unaccountable. In fact the worse they are the more likely they are to be promoted. There is no way to sort the many bad eggs from the basket and this is one of the ‘real’ problems'

Newmania - I agree that often mediocre teachers are promoted, but I'm not sure what you mean by 'the worse they are, the more likely they are to be promoted'. I agree very much with the problem you highlight about the issue of being able to judge the worth of a teacher.

What I object to is your statement about teachers being lazy and unaccountable. No teacher is unaccountable these days. You're just wrong. And how many teachers do you know exactly? Teachers who teach your children? Or friends? The teachers who I consider to be lazy work 40 hour weeks. Teaching is simply exhausting. Have you ever tried it? Have you ever tried it in a comprehensive? How about teaching in the schools which have chased you out of London? You insult my colleagues and you do so from a position of relative ignorance.

Try it out for six months. Then come back and talk to me.

13 June 2007 at 22:04  
Anonymous Observer said...

How about teaching in the schools which have chased you out of London?

London ? You cannot chase Islington Boy out of London...he's keeping viggil for when Tony and Cherie come to visit their old nest

14 June 2007 at 07:24  
Blogger Newmania said...

Try it out for six months. Then come back and talk to me.


Then I would have done a years work. My brother switched from a proper job to teaching about five years ago and has reported that it much as a part time job would be outside. The holidays are endless and the hours short . It is virtually impossible to be fired and the tests in place mean nothing with such divergent problems to face . The ordeal of coping with children is less terrifying to those of us used to coping with angry customers than you might imagine and teachers are noticeable less exhausted than anyone else allowing amole energy for writing books and talking an interest in local politics as well as drinking prodigiously generally ,“ On a school night”. Getting through the inspections is achievable by a trained poodle and the lack of any stick has inevitable consequences. Apart from knowing my sib and his wife, both teachers, very well , I know groups in several local comps . It is source of particular irritation that they are handed out “Key Worker grants as if they were any more key than anyone else “( Key = Public sector or in other words the reverse). These are defrauded and we can add this to gold plated pension paid for by those who will not receive it .
All of this is justified by shortages that are nonexistent in most subjects and in truth because almost all teachers vote for the Labour Party as recipients of the states largesse you would expect.
The tax payer is getting a bloody awful deal and part of the problem is quite clearly the teachers and their culture of entitlement . This must be broken up , . the truth is that any number of systems has worked well in this and other countries ,Without a balanced intake , motivated staff under competition and the consequences for failure nothing will work . the NUT will not cooperate .

Try doing something else , then get back to me .

14 June 2007 at 11:52  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

Newmania - Some of what you say is true, and some of it makes me despair, it is so far from reality. Teaching is a job where depending on one's school, one can 'get away' with doing less than others. The good teachers work hard, the bad ones don't. From your description, it would seem that your brother is a bad teacher. I work a 12 hour day on a good day. The bad ones are 15 hours long. And I'm not counting the work on the weekends. No lunch, no break... In fact, I often wish for a bed at work, so I could just stay there overnight. It would make life so much easier.

Unlike you, I have known hundreds of teachers. Some have been poor. The vast majority however are worked into the ground. I have also known countless late starters who come to teaching from other professions. They come from management consultancy, banking, advertising etc. Every single one of them cannot believe how difficult, exhausting, and time consuming teaching is. A student teacher I had last year who had been a stock broker for 10 years, was in shock. Her husband, who continued to work in the city, complained because he was no longer able to spend quality time with his wife. Noted, your brother is the exception to the rule.

It is true that it is virtually impossible to be fired and this is a problem in the profession. It allows teachers like your brother to make a mockery of our taxation system and my kids suffer the consequences.

Inspections are ludicrous. This is true - but for many more complicated reasons than you suggest. Your irritation with key worker grants seems rather short-sighted to me, but at least it isn't a statement that makes me laugh. However the following statement about non-existent shortages has me on the floor with astonishment. What are you talking about??

But yes, you are right that the NUT will not cooperate. I left them as my union for that reason. They are only interested in protecting bad teachers like your brother. No doubt he champions their continued success.

14 June 2007 at 20:11  
Anonymous angry said...

Newmania this is utter madness. It is 11.02 and I have just finished working. I woke at around 6 o'clock this morning and have worked continuously since. I am not alone here. So do I do a proper job, in your mind, of course not. I am a teacher. In what is most definitely a shortage subject. I sacrifice aspects in my life, I skip the gym because my Year 8's need their books marked each lesson - this should not be the norm, or what is expected. But we have to do this to survive our youth. I teach 28 lessons a week, each usually take at least one hour to plan and then of course we have to deliver. Add on extra curricular activities, revision centre and saturday gifted and talented. Your comments make me so angry.
You should take a career break and take a little holiday - why not teach. Holidays are great, and you will have so much free time. I do quite wonder whether you will cope, I doubt not. But then I do not know you, and really should not presume. Maybe you should follow this same thinking too.
I would like to also add that it is my choice to teach, and I love it. I have a good degree from Cambridge and so, if I decide to go for some work life balance, could take a city job. You are wrong, ignorant, and rude. I tolerate it from children, but adults should know better.

14 June 2007 at 23:13  

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