Bad Idea for Dealing with the Behaviour Crisis #5: End Parental ChoiceApril 27, 2007
The leftwing option for dealing with the collapse of the secondary school system is to ensure that parents of well behaved children can’t all send their children to the same school. Instead there must be “good social mix”. The plan is that if enough middle class pupils are forced into sink schools then standards will rise. Some will even suggest closing private schools in order to bring this about.
Of course this is one of those fantasies that flies in the face of human nature. While having a challenging intake will make a school more challenging, intake is never the whole story. Middle class students forced into a school with an ethos of non-achievement and loutish behaviour will not change that ethos. They will either become withdrawn and quiet, scared of their new peer group, or they will go native and behave as badly as any other kids. In my experience it can take as little as a term at a poor school for a student who arrives wanting to learn to adopt the attitudes of the majority. The lowest common denominator will always prevail in schools because the attitudes of the worst behaved kids are enforced with intimidation, social pressures and the every present threat of violence.
Also it is incredibly difficult to stop parents trying to get their children into the decent schools. End private education and the wealthy will educate their children overseas. Use catchment areas as the admissions criteria and middle class parents will buy new homes to get into the catchment areas. Force schools to take a mix of abilities and we will soon see students encouraged by their parents to underperform in tests.
Simply put, forcing middle class kids into bad schools would take considerably more effort than it would to deal with the schools directly, and would have little effect on the school.