Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Empty Excuses

Thinking about Labour MP Ruth Kelly and her dyslexic child attending a private school, I'm struck by the emptiness of her arguement.

Ruth Kelly's defence is that the needs of her child are most important in this decision (doesn't every parent care?), and that the school authorities recommended the move (...and so what if they didn't?). I don't think she needs to defend the choice at all, only abandon her hypocritical Labour government job.

Dyslexia is somewhat on a high right now. As Ellee rightly pointed out, there are some notable dyslexic achievers - Branson, Churchill, Einstein. But over the last few generations, I expect there have been many more who did not find such success. Countless intelligent and talented (or not especially intelligent, but precious none the less) children have suffered misery at schools that could neither help nor understand.

I went to school with one young rebel who was a complete horror to our teachers. Today, I expect he would have Attention Deficit Disorder, or some such labelled condition - perhaps even dyslexia.

Either we happen to live in the time that all learning-imparing afflictions have finally been categorised and understood (which would be an extraordinary coincidence) or there are some more thick kids out there who will one day look back on a cruel system that failed, but never diagnosed them.

My point is twofold. First, without the contemporary status of dyslexia, Ruth Kelly may never have found the support of the local school educators to remove her child from the state school. Does she still believe that parents should be able to choose the best school for their child even if there is no Latin word for whatever is holding the child back?

Second, each child is an individual and some may have no diagnosable condition, yet would greatly improve their results from a private school. They may have the same measure of increase toward fulfilling their unique potential that a dyslexic child by gains with expert attention. Does not every parent have the right to pursue the best for his or her child?

Labour's hate campaign against private and church school education is deeply hypocritical. The moment the presure is on, their leaders run to the private sector.

And for what it's worth, the church was educating children long before the governments gave it any thought.


john said...

In the US as I suspect elsewhere I it is decided by voters how much money is allocated to any problem and that includes learning disabilities.

To me it isn't as much an issue of Kelly sending her dyslexic child to private school as it is of whether she has been advocating better identification and interventions for LD students in public schools. If she has, then she is doing her best and what more can anyone ask for.

In the end, all government spending is a matter of priorities. People who advocate anything to be done by the government that uses resources have to sell the idea to the public.

Education in general seems to do well in getting money because the return is apparent to the majority. So what need to be shown is that the incremental increase in funding for LD children also benefits everyone.

I suggest the argument that the prisons are filled with LD people who were not helped V's the likelihood of productive taxpayers who were helped with their LD problems might keep some emotions out of the picture and highlight the financial benefit of increased funding.

Peter said...

We had a US citizen transfer to Australia for work for a couple of years. He was appalled by inconsistencies between schools and how public schools in middle to lower class areas deliberately targeted kids for trades while private schools in upper class areas focused on preparing kids for university.

To sight a few examples, high schools in some areas have gardening classes where students are encouraged to learn about landscaping. There's a brick laying class. If these classes are legitimate, why aren't they being offered in private schools to the children of doctors and lawyers? Surely they have kids that aspire to drive trucks (another class offered at certain public schools).

Education should be about identifying and enhancing students potential regardless of their background. Learning Disorders are, a lot of the time, symptomatic of deeper issues and can mask real potential (ie Einstein)

Nevertheless, education starts and ends in the home. In building the aspirations of teenagers and showing them the value of working to achieve a goal.

CityUnslicker said...

I liked this piece. What a terrible set of 'principles' the left lives by.

Ellee said...

Thanks for the link, I hope this issue will make the Govt sit up and think about how it should tackle the problem and provide the resources needed.

I met a woman today whose 19 yr old son has severe learning difficulties and goes to a special school close to his home. Next year he has to leave and there is nowhere in our county which has the facilities he needs so he has to move to a town 2 hours drive away. What happens to our adults with learning difficulties?

Colin Campbell said...

It is the hypocrisy of cabinet ministers making private decisions or advocating alternative policies to selected audiences, completely at odds with the policies that they are advocating in government that make my skin crawl.