Arnold Kling  

Britain's Bureaucratic State

Have Sexual Harassment Policie... Planning vs. Experimentation...

Theodore Dalrymple writes

Schools may no longer exclude disruptive children—that would be the very opposite of social inclusion—so a handful of such children may render quite pointless hundreds or even thousands of hours of schooling for scores or even hundreds of their peers...The most intelligent children in the class fidget with boredom while the teacher persistently struggles to instill understanding in the minds of the least intelligent children of what the intelligent pupils long ago grasped. The intelligent are not taught what they could learn, while the unintelligent are taught what they cannot learn...

Britain now has more educational bureaucrats than teachers, as well as more health-service administrators than hospital beds.

...It reconciles the irreconcilable by not including the extravagantly generous pension obligations of the public service in its debt calculations—pension obligations that, properly accounted for, now amount to nearly 56 percent of GDP.

Thanks to reader Bruce Charlton for the pointer.

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COMMENTS (4 to date)
Jim writes:

"Schools may no longer exclude disruptive children"

Simply not true.

"Britain now has more educational bureaucrats than teachers"

Sure, if you count school matrons, nurses, lab assistants and IT technicians as 'bureaucrats'.

"more health-service administrators than hospital beds"

Again, 'administrators' here likely includes hospital porters, cleaners and other essential staff who would be surprised to be described as pen-pushers. And anyway, isn't measuring success by the number of hospital beds rather a Soviet way of looking at things?

Or am I just being old-fashioned for caring if something is actually true or not?

Bruce G Charlton writes:

I think two out of three of Dalrymple's assertions are truer than Jim's denial of them.

It is so slow, energy-consuming and expensive to exclude (ie. expel) disruptive children from UK state schools that it is only attempted in desperate situations. This also applies to sacking incompetent or absent teachers.

And I believe there would be considerably more bureacrats than teachers if you counted actual *classroom teachers* (in full time equivalents) against non-teaching teachers plus administrators and managers and the rest.

In fact, I have somewhere seen figures that suggest there are at least as many man-hours of non-teaching teachers (advisors, administrators, seconded teachers, teacher-teachers, careers advisors, psychotherapist types etc.) as man-hours of classroom teachers - without even adding-in the managers.

wrt. Administrators and beds - I would give this point to Jim, since it seems an irrelevant compariosn.

But Dalrymple's overal argument about the massive size, ineffectiveness, inefficiency and un-reformability of the UK public sector is 100 percent true.

And he doesn't even mention that the health service funding has doubled and the education funding increased by fifty percent (in real terms, as a proportion of GDP) in the past decade. Scary.

Dain writes:

I don't know about the UK, but I can confirm that in US schools the disruptive kids are a constant drag on and nusaince to the kids trying to learn something, smart or not. I was one of them.

Mensarefugee writes:

Re: Jim the Socialist

I dont know about the UK but the US case is instructive.

"Britain now has more educational bureaucrats than teachers"
Re: Your socialist garbage, circa 1960, the ratio of non-teaching staff to teachers in the educational sector was 1:1.

By 1990 when Thomas Sowell wrote "Inside American Education" it was 3:1.

Did schools develop a need for legions of nurses because too many children died of Physical Education Class scraps and bruises in the '60s?

"Schools may no longer exclude disruptive children"

I cannot comment directly on the children, but in a related sphere, disruptive teachers cannot be sacked, courtesy of your love of socialism, they simply tend to be transferred to another school district [once again read the Sowell book (if you arent above reading anyway)].

With such a blatant level of politicization instead of common sense - I have no doubt it applies to disruptive students as well.

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