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Petty school bureacrats wield too much power in the UK
November 23, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
This week the Littleton Green Community School in Callers Way, Huntington, South Stafforshire in the United Kingdom has served up a cautionary example of where we do not want to go as a country.
The London Telegraph obtained a letter sent to parents by the school principal, describing a planned field trip to a local university to look at religious artifacts and learn about other religions. She told the parents the kids would not actually be practicing those religions, just learning about them. So far, so good. But then the principal, Lynn Small, showed her true colors. Explaining that it is a legal requirement for all the children to learn about other cultures, she concluded the letter with this paragraph: "Refusal to allow your child to attend this trip will result in a Racial Discrimination note being attached to your child's education record, which will remain on this file throughout their school career ... All absences on this day will be investigated for their credibility and will only be sanctioned with a GP sick note."
I have no idea what it would mean for a child at this particular school to have the "Racial Discrimination note" in his permanent record. Would it hurt his chances of getting into a good university, perhaps? Would social workers be dispatched to his home to see if his parents are teaching him to be prejudiced? Based on what I have read in the London papers, I suspect both are distinct possibilities. Luckily, parents of the children complained and Small had to back down, according to a follow-up article in The Daily Mail.
The field trip itself doesn't sound harmful to me. Well-educated kids ought to learn about other cultures and religions and understand something about the world around them. But parents who object to a trip like this on religious grounds still ought to have the option of teaching their children as they see fit, without being threatened by petty bureaucrats.
Of course, the United States and the United Kingdom are different countries and most parents here would look with horror upon the letter written by the principal in the UK. We value our freedom too highly. But I do think there is a minority of educators in the United States who would like to emulate our British cousins. We should not allow those people free rein over our educational system.
The Telegraph story can be found at blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100247284/refusal-will-result-in-a-racial-discrimination-note-being-attached-to-your-childs-educational-record/ The Daily Mail article can be found at dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2511841/Children-8-racist-miss-Islam-trip-Schools-threatening-letter-parents-met-outrage.html
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