Sunday, May 27, 2007

'Tory bid to select pupils by race' - another too clever by half idea from 'Two Brains'?

Some schools would be able to select pupils by race in order to improve community relations under plans being considered by the Conservative Party.

So reports the BBC. I was on outrage alert when I read the headline. I am still am a bit...the details are sketchy. However, if, as David Willetts says, the intention is "use racial selection to unite communities divided by race or religion" then the idea seems worth a hearing, particularly given these details:

Mr Willetts said his party had drawn up its proposals because there were parts of England where towns were "divided by race and religion into two very distinct groups".

"In those communities which are deeply divided we could use the creation of new academies to improve links between the communities by setting the aim of recruiting students from both those communities," he said.

Although the Conservatives did not want to "bus children around", the party did see the "potential for a positive role in tackling the growing ethnic segregation in our schools", he added.

Given that explanation, it seems an idea worth listening to. However, at first glance early on a Sunday morning, I wonder if you can achieve what he is proposing without "bussing" children around, unless there is a fair amount of bussing around already going on. That is, in cases where schools are largely taking children from their immediate catchment area, then if that is producing a predominant "racial mix", one would have thought the only way of causing a broader "racial mix" at the school is to bus children in. If however, you have, say, two schools in a large town and children (parents) have chosen to go to certain schools, causing a predominant racial mix in one or both of the schools, then surely you would have to "force" some children to go to a school they don't want to go to "correct" the "racial mix".

The Tory idea seems too clever by half, which is par for the course for David Willets. It sounds like social experimentation and "nanny" interference.

At the end of the day, (I think I'll have to ration myself to one "end of the day" per week from now on), there are many, many, many - thousands - of schools in this country with just one "race" overwhelmingly represented ie what is called "White causcasian"(a phrase I don't like). We never seem to worry about "racial dominance" in those cases do we? So why should we worry about "racial dominance" in the case of other "races"?

It is completely absurd, as I am realising more and more as I write this, and I can only think that David Cameron is trying to move on from the Grammargate debacle by creating something crazy for people to argue about so they forget Grammargate (...or should it be Grammarsgate?).

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