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Is it morally acceptable to send your child to a private school? watch

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    Apologies if this question has been done before, I suspect however that most such threads regard the educational system as a whole.

    Here is an initial argument in opposition of the question:

    We presumably agree with the notion of equal opportunities for everyone. In particular, we expect children to be given equal opportunities regardless of their financial background since as children they can not influence this via merit / effort.

    Now schooling is a very important factor for university and job opportunities. Further, education can be thought of as an positional good in that how 'useful' it is depends on how much you have relative to others. As a result, since private schooling (on average) provides better schooling in exchange for money, we can think of private schools as converting money into greater opportunities. Now since opportunities are limited, then accounting for the positional nature of education means that by sending your child to a private school you are actively harming someone else's child. Essentially the argument is that this is not fair to those children whose parents could not afford to send their child to a private school and that you are unfairly advantaged.

    Since the action you are committing is unfairly causing harm to others, it is morally unacceptable to send your child to a private school.

    So how would you respond to such an argument, and what do you guys think?
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    Its a choice, you can't stop people from doing that.
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    (Original post by Blackstarr)
    Its a choice, you can't stop people from doing that.
    Just because something is legal does not make it morally acceptable. Nor does it stop us from making moral judgements upon those who do it.
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    I would have really preferred going to a private school and I think it is completely fine
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    Is it morally acceptable to send your child to a free school?
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    (Original post by BankOfPigs)
    We presumably agree with the notion of equal opportunities for everyone. In particular, we expect children to be given equal opportunities regardless of their financial background since as children they can not influence this via merit / effort.
    I don't believe in equal opportunities for everyone. I believe that opportunities should be given to whomever is likely to make the best use of them. The amount of effort involved in getting to a point where you're likely to make the best use of those opportunities is irrelevant.

    For example, if I'm hiring for a job, I'm going to take the whomever I think is going to do the job the best. The main priority is to make sure the job gets done as well as possible, rather than to reward effort.

    Now since opportunities are limited, then accounting for the positional nature of education means that by sending your child to a private school you are actively harming someone else's child.
    Our economy is fundamentally based on competition. And that is the whole point of competition: doing what you can so that you can get the rewards instead of someone else.
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    Is it morally acceptable to allow others to define your own moral code?
    Nobodies opinion is ultimately worth anything on that matter.
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    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    I don't believe in equal opportunities for everyone. I believe that opportunities should be given to whomever is likely to make the best use of them. The amount of effort involved in getting to a point where you're likely to make the best use of those opportunities is irrelevant.

    For example, if I'm hiring for a job, I'm going to take the whomever I think is going to do the job the best. The main priority is to make sure the job gets done as well as possible, rather than to reward effort.



    Our economy is fundamentally based on competition. And that is the whole point of competition: doing what you can so that you can get the rewards instead of someone else.
    The example of a job is a dis-analogy. At the stage where you are applying for jobs, you are already a product of your merit / effort, and thus it makes sense to discriminate based on who you think is the 'best' for the job.

    When discussing children we assume that we do not have enough information to truly assess their merit / effort and as a result do not have the same justification to not distribute equally in terms of opportunities.

    When I use 'effort', I mean this with respect to the notion that effort helps improves one's ability to do something, as opposed to selecting someone simply because they worked hard.

    We both agree that the economy is based upon competition, but there is certainly a limit morally speaking with regards to what actions you might commit to give you an advantage. Surely you agree for example that murdering a competitor is morally wrong. It can be argued that if we agree with this principle of equal opportunities for children then sending your child to a private school is going beyond the realm of acceptable actions.
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    Yeah it's fine. I don't see anything wrong with it
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    (Original post by BankOfPigs)
    The example of a job is a dis-analogy. At the stage where you are applying for jobs, you are already a product of your merit / effort, and thus it makes sense to discriminate based on who you think is the 'best' for the job.

    When discussing children we assume that we do not have enough information to truly assess their merit / effort and as a result do not have the same justification to not distribute equally in terms of opportunities.

    When I use 'effort', I mean this with respect to the notion that effort helps improves one's ability to do something, as opposed to selecting someone simply because they worked hard.
    But one's own effort is not the only thing that improves one's ability to do something. Having supportive parents who are able to provide a good learning environment etc. can also improve the likelihood that you'll make the best use of an opportunity. Having natural, innate talent also does the same.

    My point is, what matters is who is likely to make the best use of the opportunity. There are many ways in which a person might become this way, but it doesn't really matter how. It's more important to ensure that the opportunity is made full use of, than to merely reward effort (even "effort" in the sense that you are referring to).

    We both agree that the economy is based upon competition, but there is certainly a limit morally speaking with regards to what actions you might commit to give you an advantage. Surely you agree for example that murdering a competitor is morally wrong. It can be argued that if we agree with this principle of equal opportunities for children then sending your child to a private school is going beyond the realm of acceptable actions.
    I don't think sending your child to a private school directly sabotages anyone else though, like murdering a competitor would. If I give an analogy of a race: it's fine to do what you can to make yourself run faster, but not acceptable to try and make anybody else run slower.
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    So what if it isn't? What can be done about it? Lol.
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    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    But one's own effort is not the only thing that improves one's ability to do something. Having supportive parents who are able to provide a good learning environment etc. can also improve the likelihood that you'll make the best use of an opportunity. Having natural, innate talent also does the same.

    My point is, what matters is who is likely to make the best use of the opportunity. There are many ways in which a person might become this way, but it doesn't really matter how. It's more important to ensure that the opportunity is made full use of, than to merely reward effort (even "effort" in the sense that you are referring to).



    I don't think sending your child to a private school directly sabotages anyone else though, like murdering a competitor would. If I give an analogy of a race: it's fine to do what you can to make yourself run faster, but not acceptable to try and make anybody else run slower.
    I suspect we differ in this respect then. It is my personal view that to children we should as much as possible grant them equal opportunities, perhaps to make up for the fact that parents differ in support. It is unfair to for a given child to suffer simply because of (for example) their socio economic status, especially at a younger age.

    I understand the analogy of a race, except one could argue that there is still an issue. The main problem is that in education and opportunities we want to enforce some system of meritocracy such that the best opportunities go to the most able. If some people are able to speed ahead by simply paying their way, this defeats the purpose of a fair race. Sure you aren't directly making someone else 'slower', but by engaging in the practice you are still unfairly hurting them.

    Note that I wouldn't see an issue at all if education was not positional. It doesn't matter if someone else is doing better as long as it does not unjustly hurt someone else, which I believe it does.

    One way to think about it is imagine there are 100 oxbridge places, and 1000 students applying for them so all other things being equal everyone has a 1/10 chance of getting in. However if you go to a private school and convert money into opportunities you might say increase your odds up to a third. And since there are a limited number of places from the beggining, this decreases the chance of everyone else to say 7-8%, i.e. actively harming them. And this is by engaging in an activity that only the rich can afford (i.e. there is nothing 'skillful' about it).

    To others commenting making relatively small and generally unhelpful comments:

    Discussions about morality can be instrumental to changes in the law. Even if they are not, they can greatly influence our own decision making process. And even if neither of these values hold, there is the general intellectual benefit of engaging in debate.
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    Private school kids don't use tax payers money, so that's one benefit I guess.
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    (Original post by BankOfPigs)
    I suspect we differ in this respect then. It is my personal view that to children we should as much as possible grant them equal opportunities, perhaps to make up for the fact that parents differ in support. It is unfair to for a given child to suffer simply because of (for example) their socio economic status, especially at a younger age.
    Yes, I suppose this is where we differ. I agree it is unfair for a child, or for anyone to suffer as a result of factors beyond their control (e.g. the circumstances of their birth) - however in my opinion, fairness in that respect ought not to be our main priority. It's in the public interest for everyone to educate their children as highly as they possibly can, because that's how we'll get the most productive workforce by the end of it.


    For example, suppose you, as a member of the public, are going to see a doctor to get surgery done.

    Situation A: You have a choice between two equal doctors who are both "quite" well educated.

    Situation B: You have a choice between one "quite" well educated doctor, and one extremely well educated doctor whose parents paid for him to get much higher quality training.

    Obviously situation B has a higher chance of your operation being successful, because you ultimately have access to a better doctor. So in this case, inequality for the sake of an overall improvement in quality is in the public interest.

    I understand the analogy of a race, except one could argue that there is still an issue. The main problem is that in education and opportunities we want to enforce some system of meritocracy such that the best opportunities go to the most able. If some people are able to speed ahead by simply paying their way, this defeats the purpose of a fair race. Sure you aren't directly making someone else 'slower', but by engaging in the practice you are still unfairly hurting them.

    Note that I wouldn't see an issue at all if education was not positional. It doesn't matter if someone else is doing better as long as it does not unjustly hurt someone else, which I believe it does.

    One way to think about it is imagine there are 100 oxbridge places, and 1000 students applying for them so all other things being equal everyone has a 1/10 chance of getting in. However if you go to a private school and convert money into opportunities you might say increase your odds up to a third. And since there are a limited number of places from the beggining, this decreases the chance of everyone else to say 7-8%, i.e. actively harming them.
    You say that we want to enforce a meritocracy such that the best opportunities go to the most able. However, by going to a private school, you are not simply "paying for more opportunities" (despite not being the most able). What you are doing is paying to make your child more able, and thus more deserving of those opportunities, since they are more likely to make good use of them.

    I would consider "paying for more opportunities" to be something like bribing an Oxbridge admissions tutor so that he gives your child an offer at the expense of a more able child. Certainly I would consider that immoral, because the most able child isn't getting the place. But paying to make your child more able via a good education system is perfectly fair.

    To go back to the race analogy: Having your parents pay the organisers of the race to give you a 50m head start, so that you win the race despite not being the fastest competitor, is immoral/cheating. However, having your parents pay for a good coach, good training facilities etc. to make you run faster and therefore more likely to win is fine, because at the end of the day the fastest person still wins.
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    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    Yes, I suppose this is where we differ. I agree it is unfair for a child, or for anyone to suffer as a result of factors beyond their control (e.g. the circumstances of their birth) - however in my opinion, fairness in that respect ought not to be our main priority. It's in the public interest for everyone to educate their children as highly as they possibly can, because that's how we'll get the most productive workforce by the end of it.



    You say that we want to enforce a meritocracy such that the best opportunities go to the most able. However, by going to a private school, you are not simply "paying for more opportunities" (despite not being the most able). What you are doing is paying to make your child more able, and thus more deserving of those opportunities, since they are more likely to make good use of them.

    I would consider "paying for more opportunities" to be something like bribing an Oxbridge admissions tutor so that he gives your child an offer at the expense of a more able child. Certainly I would consider that immoral, because the most able child isn't getting the place. But paying to make your child more able via a good education system is perfectly fair.

    To go back to the race analogy: Having your parents pay the organisers of the race to give you a 50m head start, so that you win the race despite not being the fastest competitor, is immoral/cheating. However, having your parents pay for a good coach, good training facilities etc. to make you run faster and therefore more likely to win is fine, because at the end of the day the fastest person still wins.
    So there are two concerns here. The first is what is practically optimal and the second is what is moral. I'm not necessarily arguing about the former, but I do accept that this is very influencial in terms of policy and 'efficiency'.

    With respect to oxbridge analogy, I would make the comparison more with specific oxbridge style interview practice. Essentially the private school student would in terms of merit be no better, but would just be more informed on how to game the system, something which unfairly harms the other student who can not afford this.

    The reason our race analogy is different is because we expected from the beggining an 'even race' (equal opportunities) where variance would only occur due to someone's own merit and effort. Having some external coach / training facilties still gives you an arguably unfair advantage.

    I fully understand where you are coming from with the 'raise up' concept. However education as a 'competition' does have a different notion of fairness due to our social views on education distribution.
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    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    Yes, I suppose this is where we differ. I agree it is unfair for a child, or for anyone to suffer as a result of factors beyond their control (e.g. the circumstances of their birth) - however in my opinion, fairness in that respect ought not to be our main priority. It's in the public interest for everyone to educate their children as highly as they possibly can, because that's how we'll get the most productive workforce by the end of it.



    You say that we want to enforce a meritocracy such that the best opportunities go to the most able. However, by going to a private school, you are not simply "paying for more opportunities" (despite not being the most able). What you are doing is paying to make your child more able, and thus more deserving of those opportunities, since they are more likely to make good use of them.

    I would consider "paying for more opportunities" to be something like bribing an Oxbridge admissions tutor so that he gives your child an offer at the expense of a more able child. Certainly I would consider that immoral, because the most able child isn't getting the place. But paying to make your child more able via a good education system is perfectly fair.

    To go back to the race analogy: Having your parents pay the organisers of the race to give you a 50m head start, so that you win the race despite not being the fastest competitor, is immoral/cheating. However, having your parents pay for a good coach, good training facilities etc. to make you run faster and therefore more likely to win is fine, because at the end of the day the fastest person still wins.
    Generally private schoolers underperform state schoolers with the same grades when they get to uni... which make it look like the private school fees have been used to game the A level system and uni admissions rather than actually increasing academic ability.
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    When you look at it from the perspective of a child: no, its not acceptable, why should one child, due to circumstances they have no control over, be given a potentially huge advantage in life?

    But, when you look at it from the perspective of the parents: yes it is very acceptable, why if I work hard and earn a lot of money, should I not be able to do the best thing possible for my children?

    ---

    Hence, when I was younger I thought It was unfair. I used to work in a shop next to a private school, and see all the kids come in - and I was jealous. Their school was amazing, and the chances they had to try new things and learn were awesome.

    But now as an adult, I work hard - I earn money, hopefully when I have children I will have enough money to send them to the best school possible. To try and deny any parent the ability to do the best they can for their child is not going to work. Its very natural, we care about our own children, far far more then any random other child, and will always do what we can to give our child the best life, even if we know it comes at the expense of other children. Its life, and its very natural - we want the best for our own, and anyone who is not our own? well, we will think about them after.

    Spoiler:
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    I would add, one of the biggest causes of the disparity between state and private schools is how bad some state schools are. My state school was almost as good as the local private schools in core-academics. Sure we did not have stables + other crazy additions, but in core study, my school was almost as good. Many other state schools just fail miserably though, and largely I would put a lot of blame onto the current and previous goverments for their constant meddeling changes in education that have caused constant uncertainty and confusion amoungst teachers and students.

    That coupled with the attitude of parents. Having work in schools in two countries, I will confidently say that some of the attidudes of english parents are terrible. Private schools escape this more by being able to be highly selective over what students they take in.. if they dont like you, your not going.. simple. Motivation for all parents to get in line. But as someone who used to work in a stateschool, parents know their kids are always there no matter what (to an extent) they do, and quite frankly they take the piss. They expect the teachers to do everything, and blame the teachers when their kids are little shits. They take no responsibility for their kids education, and then whine about how posh kids are getting a better education? Well.. do something. There is far to much of a victim complex going on in this country, and quite frankly if you want your kids to get the best education, of course you can throw money at it.. but if you dont have money, throw your time and care at it, and it may even end up better.
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    (Original post by BankOfPigs)
    So there are two concerns here. The first is what is practically optimal and the second is what is moral. I'm not necessarily arguing about the former, but I do accept that this is very influencial in terms of policy and 'efficiency'.

    With respect to oxbridge analogy, I would make the comparison more with specific oxbridge style interview practice. Essentially the private school student would in terms of merit be no better, but would just be more informed on how to game the system, something which unfairly harms the other student who can not afford this.
    If that's the case, I don't think the problem lies with the fact that people attend private school. The problem lies with the fact that Oxbridge interviewers are not doing a good job of assessing who is most likely to make full use of the opportunity of an Oxbridge place.

    The reason our race analogy is different is because we expected from the beggining an 'even race' (equal opportunities) where variance would only occur due to someone's own merit and effort. Having some external coach / training facilties still gives you an arguably unfair advantage.

    I fully understand where you are coming from with the 'raise up' concept. However education as a 'competition' does have a different notion of fairness due to our social views on education distribution.
    I think that's the point I'm trying to make really, that I have yet to be convinced that someone's own innate talent and effort are the only things that ought to determine the extent to which they're rewarded. Why single out these two factors alone?

    When it comes to a race, we're awarding the gold medal to whoever runs the fastest. It's really of our concern how he became the fastest (unless it was by breaking his competitors' legs first to make them all slower or something). Similarly, I think when awarding people with academic grades, university places etc. which will ultimately translate into job opportunities, we should be awarding them to whomever is capable of doing the best job, regardless of how they became the most capable (again, unless it was by sabotaging other students).

    This is assuming that our moral priority is for that job to be completed to the highest possible level of quality. And I think it becomes most obvious that this is an appropriate priority if you consider such professions as doctors, firefighters, nurses etc. where public lives and welfare are most clearly at stake.
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    (Original post by Joinedup)
    Generally private schoolers underperform state schoolers with the same grades when they get to uni... which make it look like the private school fees have been used to game the A level system and uni admissions rather than actually increasing academic ability.
    I think those statistics are quite often misinterpreted.

    It is true that a certain study has shown that state school alumni are slightly more likely to get a First or an Upper Second than private school alumni with the same grades. However this study doesn't account for the fact that the private school alumni tended to study a different mix of subjects at university compared to the state school alumni.

    Consider for example, a situation in which the private school alumnus goes on to study something like Mathematics and gets a Lower Second, whilst the state school pupil with the same grades goes on to study something like Hospitality and Tourism and gets an Upper Second. An obvious possibility for the reason why the degree class is different is the fact that one is studying a more traditionally "difficult" subject than the other.


    But even if you're right, I would say that the solution is not simply to stop people from going to private schools. Rather it's to improve the A-Level exams and the admissions processes so that they are more accurate indicators of who has the best academic ability. If they're currently rewarding people with lower academically at the expense of people with a higher academic ability, they're obviously not fit for purpose.
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    (Original post by tazarooni89)
    I think those statistics are quite often misinterpreted.

    It is true that a certain study has shown that state school alumni are slightly more likely to get a First or an Upper Second than private school alumni with the same grades. However this study doesn't account for the fact that the private school alumni tended to study a different mix of subjects at university compared to the state school alumni.

    Consider for example, a situation in which the private school alumnus goes on to study something like Mathematics and gets a Lower Second, whilst the state school pupil with the same grades goes on to study something like Hospitality and Tourism and gets an Upper Second. An obvious possibility for the reason why the degree class is different is the fact that one is studying a more traditionally "difficult" subject than the other.
    Afaik it's a result that been found by repeated studies spanning several years... there was another quite recently.
    But even if you're right, I would say that the solution is not simply to stop people from going to private schools. Rather it's to improve the A-Level exams and the admissions processes so that they are more accurate indicators of who has the best academic ability. If they're currently rewarding people with lower academically at the expense of people with a higher academic ability, they're obviously not fit for purpose.
    meh - if you start changing things to make them more difficult to game you'll need to be changing them quite often... and the likelihood is the greater resources of private schools will keep their pupils ahead in the arms race anyway.

    WRT the athletic analogy I'd say clearly we do care about what athletes do to make themselves faster - which is why we have in-training drug tests and it's a major news story when somebody famous fails these.
    I don't think there's really any moral difference between unfairly making yourself faster and unfairly making everyone else slower - just practically it's easier to concentrate on your own advantage in certain circumstances
    Athletics everyone agrees to the same rules, whereas with education it's imo a lot more difficult to work out what it is supposed to be there for and what the 'rules' ought to be.
 
 
 
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