February 06, 2008
In 1965, then British Education Secretary Anthony Crosland said, "If it's the last thing I do, I'm going to destroy every f***ing grammar school in England." He didn't, but his heirs are still trying. English grammar schools are selective state-run schools; students must pass an exam to attend them. But Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labor government thinks they smack of elitism, and that they unfairly discriminate against low-income and minority children. A new government-backed report, therefore, recommends that grammar schools do away with entrance exams and enroll pupils through a lottery system. Piffle. The U.K.'s 164 grammar schools offer talented students, regardless of their backgrounds, challenging classes. Similar schools exist in the U.S. Virginia's Thomas Jefferson High School, for example, requires an entrance examination, and it was recently ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the best high school in the country. Paying customers can access such avenues toward academic excellence, so why shouldn't less affluent families have the same privilege? Ruining selective schools is one British fad of which, like the Spice Girls, America should steer clear.
"Scrap grammar schools, says report," by Andrew Porter, Daily Telegraph, February 4, 2008
"Head teacher hits out at plan to scrap grammar school system," by Cathy Neligan, Halifax Evening Courier, February 5, 2008