Ironic Statement of the Week

At a recent meeting at my college–a private, religiously-affiliated, school–one of my colleagues criticized a local philanthropist (who has given generously to my college) for their support of a private, church-run K-12 school in my town, complaining that the school has drained “thousands” (an overstatement, but hundreds certainly) of students from the public education system.

And what have we done differently?

About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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6 Responses to Ironic Statement of the Week

  1. Scott Hanley says:

    Employed him/her?

  2. Matty says:

    I’m not exactly sold on the following but a case could be made that the earlier stages of education need more state oversight to ensure the basics are taught. Higher education by contrast is an optional extra where there is less public interest in holding everyone to the same standard. Put another way allowing a private school to not cover arithmetic has different consequences to allowing a private university to not cover political science.

    Set against this, with the exception of creationism in biology I’m not aware of a lot of evidence that private or religious schools do fail their students in this way so arguing against them may be a solution looking for a problem.

  3. Lance says:

    Apparently private K-12 is abhorrent but private post secondary education is just fine.

  4. Matty says:

    To expand on my previous statement, what you call K-12 is fundamentally different to higher education.

    K-12 is intended to make sure all children in a community learn what the community thinks they need to know to function in society. As such it is understandable for people who are not directly involved to take an interest, no one wants adults who cannot manage their own lives.

    Post secondary education and training is designed to turn people into specialists, whether in an academic field or career. Nothing that is taught comes in the category of things everyone needs to know and so there is no interest in making sure that a particular standard is reached.

    I am not saying this means the first has to be the concern of the state but I think the differences are enough that someone could take the position that K-12 merits government control in a way that college doesn’t without being a hypocrite.

    I can think of a few arguments against this view.

    Despite claims what is taught in schools is largely not essential, plenty of people could go their whole lives without knowing history or foreign languages and while a subset would undoubtedly benefit once you move away from ‘things everyone needs to know’ the argument for public interest diminishes.

    There are some higher level courses where the public do have an interest in the standard of what is taught, medicine being an obvious example so specialisation is not enough to make a course solely a matter between student and teacher.

  5. Matty says:

    OT but I found this on a friends facebook page and couldn’t resist sharing.

  6. James Hanley says:


    Most private K-12 schools in the U.S. do their best to follow state standards–it makes it a lot easier on their students who transfer back into public schools and who go on to college. Only the most religiously fundamentalist ones have any real problems with state standards (beyond the problems that we all have with them, which is that they’re written by morons).

    In fact private schools traditionally–on average–do better than public schools. Critics note–and they’re certainly at least partly right–that this is because private schools can pick and choose, and can refuse really low-achieving students and expel troublemakers. But the results still demonstrate that in general they’re not failing to educate them up to the community’s standards.

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