Ban private schools? - if private schools have little effect on life chances, why do you keep writing those big cheques?
Here's a point from John (endorsed by potentilla):
"I still haven't seen the evidence that private schooling does prevent those who do not attend it from achieving their best - the over representation of privately schooled individuals in positions of power may well reflect parental values and ethos as much as opportunity - analogously, the largest 'contributor of offspring' to the Armed Forces are parents who themselves served in the Armed Forces; are we to believe that they are given an unfair advantage during recruitment and selection due to the background of their parents? Rather I would suggest the overwhelming reason that many serve is to continue the lifestyle to which they are accustomed, because they have been brought up to value the Armed Forces and they consider it a respectable career option. No doubt the values they have inderited from their parents do make them more It would be good to get some clarification. suitable to the Armed Forces - such social conditioning applies in all walks of life."
I don't deny other factors, such as parental values etc., play a role too in determining our choice of career and opportunities open to us.
However, it is clear, is it not, that the statistics revealing how the mere 7 percent who are privately educated come to dominate the high status professions strongly suggest that private education has a powerful effect when it comes to enhancing the life chances of those lucky few?
It would be good to get some clarification. Are you suggesting, John, that, really, private eduction has little to do with the way privately educated children dominate the top professions? It's mostly explained by other factors, like sons of lawyers wanting to be lawyers, daughters of Oxbridge graduates aspiring to follow their mothers, etc.? That does seem to be your point.
It would be odd if it turned out those of you who are putting such effort, and very considerable quantities of money, into privately educating your children - many of you stress the sacrifices you make to write those big cheques - actually think it has comparatively little effect on their life chances.
The fact that you are putting such a large investment into the private education system indicates to me that deep down you do believe this investment does significantly boosts the life chances of your kids. Otherwise why make it?
And by significantly boosting your own kids' life chances, you do inevitably restrict the life chances of other kids.
John, is your response to this last point in effect: "Ah, but most other kids don't really aspire to be doctors, lawyers, top military leaders, etc, so you see? - we are not preventing them from achieving their best." It does seem to be.
P.S. On a different point: my analogy with private universities is good, I think. I'll respond to your objections shortly.
P.P.S. Incidentally, it's interesting John mentions the armed forces as they are notoriously class ridden - especially the army. 9 out of the top 10 military people went to private schools.