30 2 mins 10 yrs

Making life “more fair” is the perennial quest of the Left. Of course that is simply a euphemism for their endless and counter productive social engineering. They want to ensure not just equality of opportunity but also equality of outcome – a result all sane people know to be impossible.

Leading universities should reduce entry grades for state school pupils to create “a fair race” for degree places, Nick Clegg will say today.

Huh? So, State school pupils are so stupid they can’t quite get the requisite grades? Really? It gets worse…much worse.

“In his most strident remarks on college access to date, he will tell universities to recruit students “on the basis of an ability to excel, not purely on previous attainment”. Ministers will aim to ensure that children born into working-class homes can find better jobs than their fathers held, amid evidence that “a large number of professions remain dominated by a small section of society”. Mr Clegg will announce that the Coalition’s social policies will be rated against 17 new indicators, ranging from babies’ birth weight to adults’ job opportunities.”

Babies birth weights.  A metric of Government performance.

This is utter lunacy, folks. It shows just how detached from reality the Lib-Dems are yet how  determined they are to further  lower academic standards in pursuit of their foaming at the mouth utopianism. It can’t end well, it virtually ensures that social mobility will drop – and yet this is part of what the Coalition stands for. That’s why I would like to see it fall.

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  1. I had a couple of coloured friends from Barbados, who did well in this country before we started to have all this emphasis on selection by qualities other than ability.
    Both had good jobs, which they worked hard to obtain, and when they retired they went back home because they had got fed up with people implying that they had only got to where they were because of the colour of their skin, which in this case was not so.
    The same will happen if you let lesser qualified people into university. At the first whisper of a graduate’s background, people will start to think “He only got his degree because he was admitted to University because he came from a poor background”, whereas at present people from such backgrounds tend to be admired for having achieved against the odds.

  2. In America they disguised the lowering of standards for minorities in academia and the work place by calling it “affirmative action”.

    A Pig, by any other name, still smells just as bad.

  3. They want to ensure not just equality of opportunity but also equality of outcome

    I can see your argument here in the wider context but private education is vastly different from state education in terms of resources, class sizes etc and asking someone from a state comperhensive school background to compete for the same university place as someone from a privately educated background is not exactly equality of opportunity.

    God knows I have many problems with the Catholic Church but I’ll always be indebted to them for giving me a first-class education.

  4. Paul,

    That is hardly the fault of the university, – it is the result of a failed secondary education system, inasmuch as they have difficulty in teaching to the required level.

    Ever since the instigation of the ‘comprehensive’ system standards have dropped, and I am not too certain that it is just an ‘unintended consequence’.

    Every year standards are lowered, and surely even the thickest of socialists must realise that isn’t a good thing, – even those who consider it a ‘right’ to be given a passing grade.

  5. Seams,

    Quite apart from government ministers often saying so, it is quite obvious from just watching the antics and behaviour of each years batch of ‘students/grads’.

    That they are learning from their similarly deprived predecessors doesn’t help.

  6. So a decline in what you deem acceptable behaviour is a decline in intelligence and educational standards?

  7. Ernest is quite right. In my time we had an educational system which ensured that the brightest got a chance to go to university. Of course they would still be up against a lingering class system that would look down on their humble origins; but the opportunity was there.
    Today this Coalition government is busy proving that it is as wedded to the principles of of “social engineering” as New Labour was.
    Whether you like it or not, the United Kingdom has booked a ticket on a fast boat to Third World-dom, and all because our leaders are terrified to promote talent above origin…
    (skip the ad)

  8. Inequality of outcomes can be an indicator of inequality of opportunity and should be a trigger to investigate. People get this wrong when they presume that it must be.

    Agitated I have to say that I doubt very much if in your day all the brightest did get a real chance to get to university. Very bright kids with neurological conditions (eg dyslexia), masking their intellect, who came from underprivilideged backgrounds had little real chance of getting there.

  9. Aileen,
    Good evening, young lady.
    (there really aren’t enough females on this blog)
    I agree with you sort of.
    I would say that in the fifties little was known of neurological conditions.
    I have a vague memory of a child being referred to as “a fairy” because he seemed to be react quite differently to the rest of us.
    A more concrete example. I had eczema up until 16 yers old. I was at a naval boarding school and wanted to join the Royal Navy.
    I was refused entry on the grounds that my skin condition might make life “difficult and unhappy on a warship”.
    I left school a few weeks later and the eczema disappeared. At 17 I had full on asthma which led to my present diagnosis of asthma plus COPD, because they didn’t have the drugs to treat asthma then.
    Sometimes you have to roll with the punches life deals you.
    I left school with no GCEs, but I got them as a mature student at 39 years old.
    So I am now a Bible believing asthmatic, physically strong enough to punch people’s lights out if they irritate me enough, but requiring oxygen if they dance around too much..
    I have given seventeen years of my life in unpaid voluntary work, and sometimes I have to say NO to a request, because my breathing is so fragile a cold or overdose of pollen (especially Rape seed) knocks me out.
    Life ain’t fair Aileen. You just have to make your peace with God, and deal the cards your dealt.

  10. Agitated but we can also try and make sure we get closer to people being given a just deal as opposed to a fair deal re cards.
    I am not talking about people with conditions which would them not well enough to study etc, which is unfair. I am talking about being excluded because they were not “normal” including not being mediocre enough to fit into the education model available. Their exclusion was unjust. They were well enough for university. The education model was not well enough for them 🙁

  11. Yes,
    I agree with you.
    My stepdaughter worked with autistic children using an American pioneeered approach, and the girl she was working with was bridesmaid at her wedding, and is now training as a nurse.
    There are some things we learn about and can change, but for some more fundamental issues like conception, I think there is a serious problem.
    That thing is that whereas there isn’t much you can do about “natural conception”, by interfering in the process, you then take some degree of responsibility for the outcome.
    By which I mean what if the child is less than perfect?
    What if the child has looks that neither of you much like?
    What if the child develops personality traits you don’t much like?
    What if the child clings to ne parent but not the other?

    It then becomes your responsibility, and I think it can cause a lot of unintended unhappiness.

  12. I’m not blaming it on the unis Ernest the point I’m trying to make is when the system is loaded because someone can afford a private education it can’t be called equality of opportunity.

    Aileen makes some excellent points above.

  13. If I want a plumber or a solicitor, I want someone who is good at plumbing or soliciting (if you know what I mean). I’m not interested in their ethnicity or background so long as they are good at the job. I guess lowering of standards for some groups will mean thet we should avoid hiring people from those groups as they may not be the best for the job. Not the result our PC godfathers (and I guess godmothers) are looking for.

  14. “is when the system is loaded because someone can afford a private education it can’t be called equality of opportunity.”

    the reason private education exists is because it’s priority is education.
    Education is not necessarily the priority of government.
    In fact, at the risk of upsetting some, state education is being replaced by state socialisation. Social engineering is now more important that quality education.

  15. Again the point of the argument is being missed. If two people start from the same position and one has a financial advantage over the other can it be called equality of opportunity?

    Social engineering is now more important that quality education.

    That’s an interesting point Agi. Where would faith schools priorities fall, IYO, religious socialisation or quality education?

  16. In 4 or 5 year’s time, you will be reading articles about people from ‘disadvantaged’ backgrounds having a higher drop out rate and lower final grades than others at their universities. This will be put down to discrimination and elitism at the university. Nobody will dare to say that they should never have been on the course in the first place because their grades were not good enough.
    Universities should be elitist, and they should discriminate, that’s what makes a degree mean anything.

  17. Paul,
    what in life is really fair?
    There are examples of low income parents who do everything they can to ensure their children can read and communicate. There are others who are more than happy to stick their kids in front of a tv.
    As long as a society provides the population with the opportunity to improve their educational qualifications, it is up to the individual to take advantage of those opportunities.
    Again, if you believe in the survival/adaptation of the fittest, you will have to accept also that if we all start at the same baseline of educational opportunity, some will do better than others.

  18. As long as a society provides the population with the opportunity to improve their educational qualifications, it is up to the individual to take advantage of those opportunities

    That’s a fair enough comment Agi but if it is to be accepted then it negates the notion of equality of opportunity.

    Again, if you believe in the survival/adaptation of the fittest, you will have to accept also that if we all start at the same baseline of educational opportunity, some will do better than others

    I absolutely accept that to be fact Agi but the thing is we don’t all start at the same baseline.

    Faith schools should be about quality education in a faith context

    Maybe but that wasn’t the question I asked.

  19. If you lower the barrier of admission for certain applicants but expect them to achieve the same level of achievement to recieve a degree qualification , does this mean that they will require extra tuition and greater attention at University and if so will this not cause friction and unfairness amongst the students there ?

  20. “I absolutely accept that to be fact Agi but the thing is we don’t all start at the same baseline.”
    No we don’t, but I don’t have a problem with that. If you do, how would you rectify the situation without government stepping in and interfering with the quality of education?
    In my view standards have fallen, not risen. State schools are concentrating more on social problems rather than raising educational standards, and if you do that, you start distorting opportunities for excellence.

  21. How would you rectify the situation without government stepping in and interfering with the quality of education?

    Gov setting standards and guidelines is interdering in education? I don’t know the answer Agi my primary reason for commenting on this thread was to nail the myth of equality of opportunity.

    Do you think that faith schools prioritise religious socialisation over quality education?

  22. Paul,

    Surely equality of opportunity has to take into account ability. We just cannot reduce entry standards to the lowest levels, – which is what you are suggesting with your ‘equal opportunity’ quote, – we would be forever tethered to the lowest levels and standards.

    We also have to consider the idea of expectation. Show people a goal which they have little or no hope of achieving is bound to provoke discontent, – and stupid suggestions of reducing entry requirments for ‘special cases’.

    We all have our limits, and the sooner in life that we are aware of them the happier we are, and can lead a life suitable to our abilities. As many of our recent grads have found out – just what is the point of an intellectually founded degree such as something as esoteric as Greek or Roman history, when the one’s living is earned plumbing, or other artisan trade? it might look fine on a CV, but be totally useless in reality.

    All this calling for equality in all things, and especially in something that is so universal as education, is totally delusional, and no more than yet another socialist dream of a faux nirvana.

  23. Surely equality of opportunity has to take into account ability. We just cannot reduce entry standards to the lowest levels, – which is what you are suggesting with your ‘equal opportunity’ quote, – we would be forever tethered to the lowest levels and standards

    That’s not what I’m trying to suggest Ernest, of course equality of opportunity has to take ability into account but if people don’t have the same level playing field at the start then it’s not equality of opportunity.

    I also haven’t called for equality in all things, David was the first to mention EOO in his strapline.

  24. Agi did you flip back to the IVF thread in your 8.01? If not, I’m struggling to match that with equality of opportunity and equality of outcomes.

    I only missed having my life totally ruined by the education system but some lucky breaks.

    I now know that I have ADD, dyspraxia and although not full blown Aspergers, I have many of the traits and pretty strongly. At primary school I thought that I was below average a acedemically and intellectually as I never did well in exams ( but not badly enough to raise alarm bells). I did my first IQ test at about 10 and thought that I must have misunderstood most of the questions as I couldn’t beleive that they could be that easy. So I gave different answers. I was really amazed when I discovered that the easy answers were right! When I look back at my childhood in school i often used to feel stupid when people said things that i didn’t understand. To me they seemed obviously wrong but i assumed that i was not bright enough to understand. Like the time I made a comment about supposing someone was younger than his niece. The other kids all said that that was not possible and I just wished that I understood why. From then on, in a class of 40 ( I think). Myself and one if the boys always came top and way ahead of the others in IQ tests. I was still way down the bottom half in any other tests/ exams. No one seemed to ask questions about how this could be? I managed to get into grammer school (because of the IQ element) and then real Maths as opposed to just arithmetic discovered me! 🙂 . I still struggled with handwriting (very slow and untidy) and under performed in exams except for Maths. In my physics practical a level. I nearly had a panic attack as I couldn’t complete the experiments in time. I just managed to get into Queens but then started to struggle with exams as I there was so much to think about and I had difficulty closing my mind down to stick to the questions and my writing was again too slow. This all resulted in massive exam stress. The easiest year of my life was the year of my Maths MSc, where there were no exams and I could just explore. I stumbled over something that lead to me establishing a new thereom. It was just like falling of a log. My computer science MSc was a mixture of dissertation and exam. The former again being easier than the latter. My dissertation was chosen as one of the best to show to the external examiners.
    I went to work still struggling with things that most people take in their stride, taking notes, concentrating in busy offices and basic time management. I have generally found the things that are supposed to be easy difficult and many generally accepted difficult things as second nature. At the same time having ideas and seeing things as obvious to me that others miss- and spotting the logical flaws or risks with things before the resulting problems manifest. People like me find it difficult to be mediocre. At some things we are way above mediocre and at many (supposedly simple things) we could not even aspire to achieve mediocrity – so far does it hover above us out of reach. On average my body temperature is normal but me head is in the furnace and my feet are in the furnace. The standard educational and employment models which are based on what is ‘ normal’ and is part of the cult of mediocrity do not properly accommodate ” extreme machines”. I didn’t get assessed until I was over 40. Before that I thought that I just wasn’t trying hard enough, even though I was on the verge of exhaustion a lot of the time from pushing myself so hard.

    Didn’t start this post intending to give a potted life history but I do plan to write about it properly sometime for DANDA (Developmental Adult NeuroDiversity Association) 🙂

  25. Paul,

    Sure the opportunity is there, and has been for a long time, – but without the ability take advantage of it, what is the point of hankering after, or being promised something beyond one’s mental or physical ability.

    Believe me, there is more than just money involved, and it is far from being the ‘open sesame’ for intellectual success. In whatever endeavour one attempts, it is essential to know your personal limitations, and the sooner the better, it is a step on the road to happiness, and it saves an awful lot of wasted time, chasing the latest fashionable and largely unachievable, goals.

    Of course – and I have to bang my political drum here, – dreams and promises are all that political socialism is about, it is their replacement for ambition, – and as such is a sop to those who cannot face up to being to being the less successful in society, – known colloquially as ‘The Losers’!

  26. Far from lowering standards, why not apply individualised assistance for the more academically able state pupils to enable them to reach the required same standard before applying for a university place.

  27. Hello again Aileen,
    I have just read your 10:17 post. It seems to me that you have shown a great deal of courage and determination in your life. Many people would just not bother, they would give up and turn to the State for support and spend the rest of their life either rotting, festering or brain dead.
    There was a popular saying in America some years ago:

    “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade out of them.”

    I think having had eczema and severe asthma, and coming from a pretty dysfunctional family, in which there was frequent domestic violence, has given me a unique perspective and sense of empathy, just as yours has you.
    You are obviously an intelligent and educated person, and you have shown great determination to realise your potential.

    Medical science is learning new things all the time, and the help afforded you (and me) increases and improves as more is understood about the various conditions.
    So ideally everyone should have opportunity and everyone should have support in order to achieve their potential.
    BUT, the fact is that the vast majority of people are able bodied, their brains function reasonably well, and human infrastructure is by and large designed with them in mind. A civilised society shows care and compassion for its elderly, its infirm and its incapacitated. Is there help available for you? From what you are saying and what you have achieved, I would think the answer is “Yes”.
    You might have had to fight for it, but Hey! welcome to the club!

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