06 February 2014

There’s no such thing as a free lunch box

Teachers and social workers should tell people that they are bad parents and to stop failing their children, the head of Ofsted has warned.

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw told MPs that, as a former head teacher, he ‘saw the result of children being brought up badly by their parents’ and would routinely tell parents when they were failing. He also said communities should play more of a role in supporting problem families, referring to the ‘old phrase “a child is brought up by the village”...’

‘These families need to know that they can’t go on treating their children like this, they can’t go on behaving in this manner and they’ve got to hit the targets that are being set by social workers,’ he said. (Daily Mail, 23 January 2014)
Socialism is not compatible with freedom. He who pays the piper calls the tune, even if he is paying with public money (no, taxpayers’ money). If you accept something that is supposed to be a benefit from the state, it will not come without strings attached, and there is no limit to the areas of your life that may come under state control.

The following is a description of an invasion of liberty. Such invasion is still regarded as sufficiently extreme to be described as ‘a step too far’ or ‘unnecessarily officious’.
A six-year-old boy who went to school with a bag of Mini Cheddars in his packed lunch has been suspended for four days after teachers said it contravened its healthy eating policy. Riley Pearson, from Colnbrook, near Slough, was excluded from Colnbrook C of E Primary School after teachers discovered the snack and called in his parents.

After a meeting with headmaster Jeremy Meek, they were sent a letter telling them Riley would be excluded from Wednesday until Monday because he had been ‘continuously breaking school rules’ ... (Daily Mail, 31 January 2014)
There is no reason why a given pupil should benefit from the imposition of current dietary ideals. Even if the resulting distortion of diet, compared to what would be privately chosen, has some kind of physical benefit on average for pupils attending state schools, it may well have a negative net effect in any individual case.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
There is no reason why state education should necessarily benefit any particular pupil, even if benefits the average (which may be doubted). Again, a policy of enforcing attendance should be regarded as unacceptable. Parents may have valid reasons for wishing to exclude their offspring from such institutions, or to minimise the amount of time they spend there. John Stuart Mill’s father, for example, kept him away from school, in order to avoid ‘the contagion of vulgar modes of thought and feeling’. (*)

Riley Pearson has now been expelled, and his younger brother has been banned from Colnbrook pre-school. (Daily Mail, 5 February 2014)

* The Autobiography of John Stuart Mill, 1873, p.35.