Faith schools

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 24 2009 17:22
Faith schools

split from the EDL thread....

BigLittleJ wrote:
*)If you're Muslim, you can't have your own school any more.

That sounds... extremely racist.

to be honest i think faith schools should be vigorously opposed (not just muslim ones obviously), as they're part of the state communalist politics of fostering cross-class ethnic/religious 'communities.' that and religion is a crock of medieval superstitious bullshit which adults are free to believe if they want but shouldn't be forced on children with the backing of the state.

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 24 2009 17:22

What a surprise, Joe K sides with the EDL... wink

But in all seriousness, while I think we opposition to faith schools makes sense, I can't help feeling that campaigning against the mechanisms of communalism in the hope that this will return us to a secular, liberal capitalism where the working class will be more homogeneous and less divided, misses the point. If working class people are to overcome the communalist 'divide and conquer' strategy, it will be by forging solidarity across and despite of communalist dividing-lines, not by campaigning for those divisions to be removed from above so that we have space to organise. That falls under the heading of arguing "how capital should be managed to accommodate the struggles". Sound familiar? smile

~J.

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 24 2009 17:29

Wha... wha... what is this sorcery?!?!

My post was... there and now...

knightrose
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Nov 24 2009 17:37

Faith schools are racist or sectarian. They encourage separation and division. The faith secondary schools where I live are mostly white (3 out of 4) and are filled by kids whose parents go to church to make sure they don't have to meet kids from other cultures and ethnic groups.

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 24 2009 17:39

I don't think anyone on this site seriously advocates supporting faith schools, my point was just that 'vigorously opposing' faith schools as a strategy of the British ruling classes ... is just that, opposing a particular strategy of the ruling classes rather than the existence of same.

~J.

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 24 2009 17:40
BigLittleJ wrote:
But in all seriousness, while I think we opposition to faith schools makes sense, I can't help feeling that campaigning against the mechanisms of communalism in the hope that this will return us to a secular, liberal capitalism where the working class will be more homogeneous and less divided, misses the point. If working class people are to overcome the communalist 'divide and conquer' strategy, it will be by forging solidarity across and despite of communalist dividing-lines, not by campaigning for those divisions to be removed from above so that we have space to organise.

opposing state policy ≠ 'campaigning for divisions to be removed from above'

BigLittleJ wrote:
That falls under the heading of arguing "how capital should be managed to accommodate the struggles". Sound familiar?

it's not though. opposing privatisation (or nationalisation) in a given circumstance isn't the same as supporting nationalisation (or the market). negatives aren't the same as positives. opposing concrete attacks on the class doesn't mean you think the status quo is a good thing - it's possible to oppose the marketisation of the NHS without having any truck with nationalised healthcare, if your perspective is one of defending both the workers in the industry and the social wage. similarly with faith schools, they're a concrete attempt to ingrain cross-class communalist identities from a young age and should be opposed. i mean if we were talking about 'race schools' presumably we'd oppose them, whilst recognising an absence of formal segregation is far from sufficient to end racism.

BigLittleJ wrote:
What a surprise, Joe K sides with the EDL... ;)

but in all seriousness, the left's inability to address issues of religion and migration with anything other than uncritical leftism (SWP, UAF etc) or awkward silence (anarchists et al) is partly to blame for the political space in which the far right operate by spinning their scapegoat myths.

this shit should be tackled head on, e.g. the 'problems' associated with migrants are not migrants' fault, they stem from state resource allocation and bosses' desire to undercut wages. the answer to that is to aid migrant workers' efforts to get organised and improve their conditions (like the LAWA in London), making it impossible to pit migrants against local workers, not to paper over the issue (in a meeting in Brighton some SWP argued the words 'foreign', 'Italian' and 'Portugese' are "racist", and no mention of that dynamic in the Lindsey strikes should be made, as if ignoring the issue makes it go away).

likewise faith schools are a crock of shit. if we don't make the necessary criticisms of them then the EDL et al will be the only ones doing so, and of course putting forward a truncated critique that only addresses islamic schools, with all the implicit racism this entails.

Boris Badenov
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Nov 24 2009 17:50

Not only are faith schools racist and sectarian, but they're not actually schools, because last time I checked a school was a place where you learned something about how the world works. I know someone who works in a faith-based grade school, and she basically has to expurgate the schoolbooks (in her case, biology ones) of any scientific information that contradicts religious dogma. In addition, religion classes (based on inculcating dogma not on studying the anthropology of religion) are compulsory even in normal secular schools over here (I'm not sure if that's the case in Britain, probably not I guess).
Of course singling out Muslim schools as the only faith schools in the country, like the EDL is doing, is stupid and bound to be seen as racist.

knightrose
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Nov 24 2009 18:03

I've not got a huge problem with kids learning about how religions operate in school. I've even taught RS from time to time.

But I can easily see myself actively campaigning against faith schools. Non-faith ones are bad enough ...

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 24 2009 18:07
JK wrote:
opposing state policy ≠ 'campaigning for divisions to be removed from above'

Fair enough, but surely it's still just self-managed leftism.

JK wrote:
it's not though. opposing privatisation (or nationalisation) in a given circumstance isn't the same as supporting nationalisation (or the market). negatives aren't the same as positives. opposing concrete attacks on the class doesn't mean you think the status quo is a good thing - it's possible to oppose the marketisation of the NHS without having any truck with nationalised healthcare,

That would suggest a practice which is purely reactive to the ruling class' though. That's perfectly sensible in the current climate in this country, but it's obviously limited in the long run. Do you think that it's unproblematic to base our practice 'how capital should not be managed'?

JK wrote:
the left's inability to address issues of religion and migration with anything other than uncritical leftism (SWP, UAF etc) or awkward silence (anarchists et al) is partly to blame for the political space in which the far right operate by spinning their scapegoat myths.

this shit should be tackled head on

While I agree, beating communitarianism is only going to be possible if we are able to unite workers across 'communities', and at that point there's no point in arguing for state-imposed divisions to be removed, because they've been effectively removed already. While communitarianism is a policy that defines the battleground in the UK, I don't see it as something to directly oppose, since when we're in a position to oppose it it's effectively been beaten.

What needs to be argued to the working class at large, is that the fragmentation of society can only be overcome by the strength of solidarity between workers. If this is lacking, then faith schools or not, we're fucked; and if we can achieve that much, faith schools become an irrelevance.

I haven't thought this through at any length, so I could be wrong. It just seems clear to me that the only real solution to communitarianism (that will benefit us) is a strong, militant working class.

~J.

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 24 2009 18:20
Jack wrote:
they still have to follow the national curriculum

is this changing with Academies though, i've heard different things, like the private investor gets a say in the curriculum...

Jack wrote:
Altho to be honest where we are at now, this whole thing does feel a bit abstract for me

true, but i don't know what our EWN comrades make of them. i mean we're tiny and ineffective, so pretty much everything we think is 'abstract' as we have little practice (yet... mwahahaha).

knightrose wrote:
But I can easily see myself actively campaigning against faith schools. Non-faith ones are bad enough ...

to raise the issue from the other thread, there's two levels on which they can be opposed. the first sees them as sectarianising education and opposes them on a class basis (something i'd expect anarcho-syndicalists to do), the second calls bullshit on religion full stop (something anarchists would probably do, hopefully in addition to the first).

BigLittleJ wrote:
self-managed leftism.

i don't know what this means. non-hierarchical trots?

BigLittleJ wrote:
That would suggest a practice which is purely reactive to the ruling class' though. That's perfectly sensible in the current climate in this country, but it's obviously limited in the long run. Do you think that it's unproblematic to base our practice 'how capital should not be managed'?

who said anything about basing our practice on being purely reactive always and everywhere? as you say the current climate largely limits us to such stuff, although i think there are ways for even small groups to take the initiative on a small scale. doesn't mean we ever stop opposing attacks on us though, although i'd far rather be in a position to make attack the best form of defence, of course.

BigLittleJ wrote:
While I agree, beating communitarianism is only going to be possible if we are able to unite workers across 'communities', and at that point there's no point in arguing for state-imposed divisions to be removed, because they've been effectively removed already. While communitarianism is a policy that defines the battleground in the UK, I don't see it as something to directly oppose, since when we're in a position to oppose it it's effectively been beaten.

i think this gets it arse-about-tit. if there was a plan to introduce racial segregation, i would hope you wouldn't argue 'oh it's just a symptom of our weakness, let's build solidarity and make it irrelevant' when it's a concrete obstacle to such solidarity. yes, racism (or communalism) won't be beaten by resisting this or that state policy, but that doesn't mean we should just shrug in the face of attacks. i know what you're saying, but even verbal opposition means it isn't just the EDL et al making the criticisms. silence/apathy just cedes the political space to the far right imho.

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 24 2009 18:49
JK wrote:
BigLittleJ wrote:
self-managed leftism.

i don't know what this means. non-hierarchical trots?

Yeah you do, come on. It's not hierarchy that defines leftism, but leftist politics.

JK wrote:
if there was a plan to introduce racial segregation, i would hope you wouldn't argue 'oh it's just a symptom of our weakness, let's build solidarity and make it irrelevant' when it's a concrete obstacle to such solidarity. yes, racism (or communalism) won't be beaten by resisting this or that state policy, but that doesn't mean we should just shrug in the face of attacks.

Well, I suppose I can see the sense in this, yeah. My point was more that real opposition, in the absence of real struggle, is a bit unworkable; and that conversely real struggle would mean there was no need for such opposition. (I mean, how would you struggle against communalism exactly? I suppose local communities could struggle against their subdivision into ethnic 'communities' but what about in areas where this is a fait accompli?) Nonetheless, I do kind of see what you mean.

JK wrote:
even verbal opposition means it isn't just the EDL et al making the criticisms. silence/apathy just cedes the political space to the far right imho.

Definitely agree.

~J.

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Nov 24 2009 18:54

Faith schools can only ever be divisive. As a teacher I've huge concerns over religious and sectarian manipulation of kids and the faith schools programme can only been seen in terms of how insidious it really is. Luckily the kids I teach are a pretty diverse bunch and overwhelmingly open-minded at least on the question of religion.

In terms of making exceptions for Muslim schools, and in relation to Vlad's concerns about biology, a survey 1-2yrs ago of London Muslim and Jewish schools found that almost all were using the scriptural texts in biology lessons, which I personally find pretty distressing.

When faith meets the academies program it's even worse - Oasis Trust, ULT and Emmanuel are an example of the worst of both worlds!
No to faith schools, no to academies wink

gypsy
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Nov 24 2009 19:01

my own experience of catholic schools in the west of scotland is that as many people have said, they segregate communites. All faith schools should be abolished. Its not racist to want to get rid of all of them, unlike the EDL though who seem to only want to get rid of muslim ones.

What about private schools? Where the rich pay fees etc for what is usually a good education albeit an education which lacks working class people and seems to spawn a new generation of elites with their old boy networks. I also dislike private schools immensely.

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Nov 24 2009 19:01

Ah to be careful, these were private religious schools, just checked. So not the New Labour 'faith schools' types.

Saying that, schools that follow the National Curriculum are allowed to use particular materials to support their lessons. They teach the national curriculum, but are free to use whatever materials they deem suitable to do so. Many find a way round this by teaching to the test, but in the case of fundamentalist christians and other literalists, preface it with "learn this because it's on the test, but know it isn't true'.

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Nov 24 2009 19:02
allybaba wrote:
What about private schools? Where the rich pay fees etc for what is usually a good education albeit an education which lacks working class people and seems to spawn a new generation of elites with their old boy networks. I also dislike private schools immensely.

Well yeah, I think most here would share opposition to faith schools, academies and private schools.
And yeah, all schools as they exist under capitalism wink

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Nov 24 2009 19:47
Joseph Kay wrote:
is this changing with Academies though, i've heard different things, like the private investor gets a say in the curriculum...

Last time I checked, sponsors are given the right to appoint the majority of the membership of the governing body, which, together with the principal, runs the school. This gives them effective control of the school.

Teaching also falls outside of the remit of the Local Authority and education legislation since 1944, with sponsors having a major input into the curriculum and “ethos” of the school.

There may have been some changes since though - although the major change recently has been that the financial commitment needed from the sponsor has decreased.

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Nov 24 2009 19:59
BigLittleJ wrote:
JK wrote:
BigLittleJ wrote:
self-managed leftism.

i don't know what this means. non-hierarchical trots?

Yeah you do, come on. It's not hierarchy that defines leftism, but leftist politics

yes i know what leftist politcs are. but i've no idea why opposition to faith schools is either leftist or "self-managed"...

BigLittleJ wrote:
JK wrote:
if there was a plan to introduce racial segregation, i would hope you wouldn't argue 'oh it's just a symptom of our weakness, let's build solidarity and make it irrelevant' when it's a concrete obstacle to such solidarity. yes, racism (or communalism) won't be beaten by resisting this or that state policy, but that doesn't mean we should just shrug in the face of attacks.

Well, I suppose I can see the sense in this, yeah. My point was more that real opposition, in the absence of real struggle, is a bit unworkable; and that conversely real struggle would mean there was no need for such opposition. (I mean, how would you struggle against communalism exactly? I suppose local communities could struggle against their subdivision into ethnic 'communities' but what about in areas where this is a fait accompli?) Nonetheless, I do kind of see what you mean.

JK wrote:
even verbal opposition means it isn't just the EDL et al making the criticisms. silence/apathy just cedes the political space to the far right imho.

Definitely agree.

~J.

well the latter point explains the former - even verbal opposition serves a purpose, although i'd obviously rather we were in a position to get education workers to refuse to work in faith schools and construction workers to refuse to build them.

martinh
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Nov 24 2009 20:09

While how high a priority it is will vary from place to time, opposing faith schools is something we should be doing. Aside from their divisiveness, there are several other factors:

1. It's a subsidy to the religious group. As a friend of mine put it to me once, "why should I pay for schools my kids can't attend?"
2. They are allowed to discriminate against potential workers on basis of belief or sexual orientation. Where else would that be allowed, particularly in the public sector?
3. They effectively get to teach whatever creationist claptrap they want to (see the Vardy academies for example).

I did wonder when Blair was so keen to bring more in, if the divisiveness issue was one that attracted him? After all, they've always had em in Northern Ireland, and as we know there's no problem there with people from differnt religions not getting on roll eyes

Regards,

Martin

mjw101
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Nov 25 2009 15:45
Quote:
1. It's a subsidy to the religious group. As a friend of mine put it to me once, "why should I pay for schools my kids can't attend?"
2. They are allowed to discriminate against potential workers on basis of belief or sexual orientation. Where else would that be allowed, particularly in the public sector?
3. They effectively get to teach whatever creationist claptrap they want to (see the Vardy academies for example).

I wouldn't view the state promoting and trying to foster faith schools as a good idea, but there's an implication in what you're saying which I think should be opposed. There are serious problems with the idea of faith schools, and it does provide a difficult case for the fight to end workplace discrimination. But if the state has to be involved in taking people's money to provide education for their kids, shouldn't it be responsive to demand? I don't see the point or justification for trying to pressure people (or even use legislation) to prevent people from organizing their lives according to their beliefs or values.

If you disagree with the beliefs and values, you have to find a better way forward than that. Focusing on faith schools as the essential problem and something to campaign against seems to be a really flawed approach.

Religion isn't just going to go away by putting pressure on it. A better approach is to help religious people be aware of the real dynamics which underlie society and make this the real focus for political action. If they want to engage with the world and find themselves able to do so then, if their religion was just feeding an unsatisfied need then perhaps it will whither away. Or perhaps in the new circumstances their religion won't be a problem.

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 25 2009 15:53
JK wrote:
well the latter point explains the former - even verbal opposition serves a purpose, although i'd obviously rather we were in a position to get education workers to refuse to work in faith schools and construction workers to refuse to build them.

I imagine many education workers would refuse to work in a faith school now. But I see what you mean.

mjw101 wrote:
If you disagree with the beliefs and values, you have to find a better way forward than that. Focusing on faith schools as the essential problem and something to campaign against seems to be a really flawed approach.

Except that no one here is arguing that faith schools are 'the essential problem'. We just think they are a problem, because 1) they fill children's heads with nonsense and 2) they help divide the working class into ethnic communities.

~J.

mjw101
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Nov 25 2009 16:24
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Except that no one here is arguing that faith schools are 'the essential problem'.

My badly expressed point was that while faith schools are an instance of, and encouraging of, behaviour/values I think of as counterproductive, you cannot attack the problem at this level. You have to leave people their freedom to organize around their own beliefs and values, at the same time as you engage with them to make your point about the real workings of society and establish common ground and interests.

I wasn't trying to accuse anyone of thinking that faith schools are the main problem in our society.

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 25 2009 16:27
mjw101 wrote:
You have to leave people their freedom to organize around their own beliefs and values,

Surely not, if that freedom involves indoctrinating children with creationist wank and fostering racial divisions in society?

~J.

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 25 2009 16:30
BigLittleJ wrote:
JK wrote:
You have to leave people their freedom to organize around their own beliefs and values,

JK didn't wrote

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 25 2009 16:32

Shit, sorry. :facepalm:

EDIT: I can't edit it now can you? Also, why no facepalm?

~J.

mjw101
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Nov 25 2009 16:42
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Surely not, if that freedom involves indoctrinating children with creationist wank and fostering racial divisions in society?

My position is that teaching creationism is probably a good reason to withdraw state funds, but not to ban the school. Teaching religious or racial hatred is, on the other hand, a good reason to shut down a particular school (probably better to try and reform it first, though).

Other than that I don't see what is to be gained by trying to prevent people from trying to raise their kids according to values they sincerely believe in.

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 25 2009 17:27
mjw101 wrote:
My position is that teaching creationism is probably a good reason to withdraw state funds, but not to ban the school.Teaching religious or racial hatred is, on the other hand, a good reason to shut down a particular school (probably better to try and reform it first, though).

I'm not talking about legislation here. I'm talking about working-class organisation; i.e. builders refusing to build faith schools, opposition from working-class propaganda groups, an organised boycott of such schools by teachers, and so on.

mjw101 wrote:
Other than that I don't see what is to be gained by trying to prevent people from trying to raise their kids according to values they sincerely believe in.

Well, what is to be gained is potentially a blow against the policies of communitarianism, and against religious mysticism, no?

~J.

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Nov 25 2009 21:29
BigLittleJ wrote:
mjw101 wrote:
My position is that teaching creationism is probably a good reason to withdraw state funds, but not to ban the school.Teaching religious or racial hatred is, on the other hand, a good reason to shut down a particular school (probably better to try and reform it first, though).

I'm not talking about legislation here. I'm talking about working-class organisation; i.e. builders refusing to build faith schools, opposition from working-class propaganda groups, an organised boycott of such schools by teachers, and so on.

Yeah this seems liek a much more sensible position for a class-struggle anarchist to take.
In the examples of where creationism/ID has been successfully opposed in the States (eg Dover PA, albeit through a legislative intermediary) it was generally because of grassroot campaigns by classroom teachers and parents. In Dover, science teachers boycotted a directive to read an intelligent design statement prior to teacher yr10 biology classes on evolution.

I wouldn't paint this as radical, but classroom teachers simply refusing to teach complete shite did have an effect on what they ended up teaching.

mjw101
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Nov 26 2009 22:22

If teachers are being forced or pressured into teaching against current research, then they should struggle against that and others are totally right to join them, whether or not its a faith school, a state school or a public school. You're right to imply/state that this is more likely in a faith school, but it's not an essential part of what a faith school is. If parents want a school for their kids where their religious values are emphasized as part of their education, and they can organize to make it happen, then I personally want to respect their freedom on that issue, even though I would in principle help teachers struggle not to have their job seriously perverted in the way that you're talking about.

The other issue you mentioned is the dividing of the working class into mutually antagonistic communities. What I've been trying to say, but not as explicitly as I should have, is that I think faith schools can be part of a society in which class consciousness does exist, and in which religion and ethnicity are not taken as the most important indicators of who you are, even though faith schools at the moment are definitely playing a role in how this is not happening. I also think that addressing the problem of mutual antagonism between communities isn't going to pan out very well if the more conscious elements of the working class organize against the less conscious by stopping them from being able to have a choice about their way of life through pressure, boycotts and strikes and so on. I think this would be totally antagonistic to a strategy of education and mutual consciousness-raising, which seems like a much better bet to me than social engineering through a kind of informal prohibition.

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Nov 26 2009 22:35

but the creation of faith schools is the act of social engineering. the place in the UK where faith schools are most established is Northern Ireland - hardly a model for breaking down ethno-religious communalism. the EDL and the BNP are in many respects a reflection of this communalism, representing the (white, christian) 'English community' in the same way so many parasites represent others. i think the state is fully aware what it's doing, this form of 'multiculturalism' (celebrating and enshrining difference etc) has been a part of their toolbox of social control since New Labour first came to power, and arguably before.

mjw101
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Nov 26 2009 22:55

I agree that the state is social engineering using faith schools, and I agree with pretty much everything else you've said. But I think the points I made before still stand, sorry if I'm missing something.

Yorkie Bar
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Nov 27 2009 14:33
mjw101 wrote:
If teachers are being forced or pressured into teaching against current research, then they should struggle against that and others are totally right to join them, whether or not its a faith school, a state school or a public school. You're right to imply/state that this is more likely in a faith school, but it's not an essential part of what a faith school is. If parents want a school for their kids where their religious values are emphasized as part of their education, and they can organize to make it happen, then I personally want to respect their freedom on that issue, even though I would in principle help teachers struggle not to have their job seriously perverted in the way that you're talking about.

I honestly have no truck with "religious values". "Religious values" are nasty, poisonous lies which are implicitly, or explicitly, homophobic, racist, sexist, and reactionary. I don't much care for parents freedom to rear their spawn on such stuff. If parents subject their children to this at home, that's bad enough, but secular schools at least gives kids a chance to be exposed to something else.

~J.