Compulsion [Effects on Schooling]

Compulsion brings its own problems.  A way of looking at the existing state of affairs is to borrow from a construction by Richard Carlson,  who first used it to describe the differences between business operations and governmental agencies in the levels of control that they have over their clients.  Carlson described the kind of control that an institution possesses over the entry of each client to its organisation;  and of the control that the clients have.  Applied to schools in Australia, the arrangement looks like this:

                                                                        Pupil’s Control Over

                                                                        Admission to School

                                                    YES                 NO



                             Yes     Yrs. 11-12           Yrs. 1-10 

                                       [Non-State]          [Non-State]

         School’s Control Over                                      Pre-School

          Admission of Pupil

                                        Yrs. 11-12        Yrs. 1-10

                             NO      [State]                [State]


It can easily be seen that schools providing schooling for those compelled to attend a State School are in the most vulnerable position.  Located in the bottom right-hand No/No quadrant, they have absolutely no say in the scheme of things.  They must accept and retain any pupil no matter what the circumstances,  cannot set fees,  rely solely on changing government circumstances and ideology,  must teach any ‘prevention syllabus’  [e.g. drug education, road safety]  that prevailing opinion requires,  be subject to all government whims such as testing programs;  all operating under teaching conditions that the other segments would not tolerate.

Questions are often asked, as they need to be,  why a government should have anything to do with the top two quadrants:

  • The top left  [Yes/Yes]  quadrant represents businesses that need little government support.  TAFE and other vocational institutions belong in the domain of business,  while pre-schooling belongs to the domain of child-care. Both sectors would be better-off with such attachments.  Neither needs to be allied closely to compulsory education, despite the fact that each sector deals with the same clients at different stages.
  • Clients in the top right  [Yes/No]  quadrant are obliged to attend a school.  In Australia they can chose the school that they should like to attend.  The school can accept them if it wishes,  insisting on a set of conditions and charges a fee.
  • Clients in the lower left  [No/Yes]  quadrant represent those who wish to complete their schooling at a state school beyond the period of compulsory attendance.  The school must accept all comers and control measures are mandated by state authorities.  With the present rises in approved leaving ages,  this quadrant is moving towards the right.
  • Many argue, as they should,  that the lower quadrants should represent a concerned government’s only focus. Only.
So much for the structures of schools in Australia.