Segregation is integration, slavery is freedom

Terry Sanderson notes that the sums don’t add up.

The enquiry set up by Communities minister Ruth Kelly aimed at finding ways to challenge “barriers to integration and cohesion” has published an interim report, that can only be described as contradictory and counterproductive. The Commission on Integration and Cohesion’s report suggests that “faith schools” play no part in segregation while at the same time admitting that school is probably the best way to break down barriers between communities.

Well see that’s because…’faith schools’ are of course obviously a good and cuddly thing (if they weren’t they wouldn’t have the word ‘faith’ in their name) so they can’t play any part in segregation because that would be a bad uncuddly thing, and at the same time of course obviously school is the best way to break down barriers between communities because all of that is good and cuddly too so it’s good and cuddly to say so. ‘Faith’ schools don’t segregate, schools break down barriers between ‘communities,’ ‘communities’ are harmonious and unified and the source of identity and self-esteem and warmth and strong teeth, all ‘communities’ love each other because they are all so well-equipped with harmony and unity and identity and warmth so there are no problems so they have no reason not to all love each other so everything is good and cohesive. Just keep saying the words ‘faith’ and ‘community’ over and over and over and over and everything will be fine. Really. Promise. That will fix everything.

Some people have told us that they see faith schools as a significant barrier to integration and cohesion. Others, especially from faith communities have said faith schools are vital to helping their young people develop as strong and confident British citizens.

Really?! People from ‘faith communities’ tell you ‘faith schools’ are a good thing – you don’t say! So you listen intently and, being madly in love with ‘faith’ yourselves (apparently), you believe them and ignore the people who tell you the other thing. You also ignore quite a lot of recent history. [whispers] Northern Ireland comes to mind…

It is clear that the authors of this report are listening only to those they want to hear. They say that the “faith communities” have told them that faith schools are a good idea. Of course they have. “Faith schools” are the last hope of survival for “faith communities”. This enquiry will achieve nothing – indeed, will make things worse if it is to continue to be conducted in this blinkered way. If it uncovers evidence and then dismisses it because it doesn’t fit in with the government’s policy of promoting faith schools, then it is downright dangerous.

Ah yes the old ‘ignoring evidence because it doesn’t fit with what you want to do’ trick. I think this is where we came in.

A recent report from Professor Irene Bruegel of the South Bank University was emphatic that the government’s idea of “twinning” faith schools achieved precisely the opposite of what was intended. It simply increases the sense of “us” and “them” that “faith schools” engender. Sending children on occasional visits to other schools simply increased tension and suspicion between them. Crucially, Professor Bruegel’s research showed that children from different ethnic groups and religions must mix on a daily basis in primary schools in order for ethnically diverse friendships to flourish into adult life, and indeed for the parents of school children to become better integrated. This is what the cohesion report should have recommended. Sadly, it has been hijacked by religious protagonists both inside and outside government who are more interested in fostering faith than in solving the very real problems that religiously – and increasingly, ethnically – segregated schools will create.

Well, congratulations; you’re well on the way to balkanization by education. Fasten your seat belts.

8 Responses to “Segregation is integration, slavery is freedom”