Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Faith based schools

Here is the first part of a four part video featuring Richard Dawkins on the matter of Faith Schools in Britain (links to the final three parts can be found at the end of this post). As he states in the video, one third of all schools are now faith based. These schools get ninety percent of their funding from the government so, unlike religious schools in the states, are very much dependent on the state for support. But unlike the other public schools which also get their funding from the state, faith based schools can pick and choose who is allowed to attend. Effectively making them private schools but funded by the government.

To make matters worse, because of the high number of such schools, in some situations the most convenient school for a parent to choose will end up being faith based. If schools were equally placed this would not be an issue, but they are not. There are places where the only schools for miles are faith based. This, as Richard Dawkins points out, creates a form of discrimination against those parents who would prefer their children to go to a secular school.

For those who have no choice or even wish for their children to go to these faith based schools due to supposed high exam scores, many faith based schools have a system of admittance based on the parents. Not how well the student is, that is not what concerns them, what they are interested in is whether the parents are active members of the religion the school is based upon. This sort of religious coercion may even go so far as being based upon the parents contribution to the church, though the evidence for this is currently only second hand and the church denies such allegations.

One of the reasons that so many are turning towards faith based schools is there higher exam scores compared to public schools. So many parents were willing to make the sacrifice so that their children would have the best possible education (though one does question how much is lost due to the indoctrination). However, when an independent group was asked to examine the data to see if faith based schools really were better, what they found was counter to what many parents believe. They found that the only reason these schools have better exam scores is because of the push to get students into them as well as further parental push to maintain those scores. In all actuality, if parents would put the same effort in supporting their children attending public schools, the results would be exactly the same. Well not exactly, the parents wouldn't have to potentially convert or fake a religion and the child wouldn't get indoctrinated by the religious aspect. And as we know, religion is one of the largest stumbling blocks for critical thinking. So parents actually get more out of the public schools then the faith based.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
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