As anyone who reads a newspaper knows, a debate about the merits of privately educating ones children caresses the delicate sensitivities of demographic groups beloved of advertisers, namely the wealthy, nearly wealthy and potentially wealthy. So, as night follows day, newspaper editors love to commission articles about the ethics of sending tykes to one of Britain’s private schools.
As a result, whether it be unequal levels of Olympic success, the handwringing of liberal journalists, or the hypocrisy of socialist ideologues, there is always room for one more article in the broadsheet press about whether it can ever be justified to send ones sprog to St Jemima’s because of their very special needs and brilliant talents that might otherwise be neglected. This is one class where overcrowding is never a problem.
Sadly, I am excluded from this happy commissioning ground on a mere technicality. I have no children, and absent the result of some hitherto neglected liaison, do not intend to collect any in the near future.
However, my absence from this vital national debate is foolishness. Worse, it is a business opportunity missed. Worst of all, it is a commissioning fee foregone.
Instead, let us take a rational look at the whole question. If the parental justification for pouring incremental investment into a particular child’s education is the value said offspring will create with these extra resources, then it is clear that parents are the worst sort of investors imaginable. They are over-attached to the success of a single project, do not spread risk or balance their portfolio wisely, and are exposed to unexpected events that lead to the need for soft loans and future bailouts.
What’s more, while parents make terrible investment decisions about the value of their children, it is nothing more than an outrage that I, able to view children with unbridled market based objectivity, am refused the opportunity to invest in future success, simply due to a personal disinclination to procreate. What’s more, people like me, by virtue of not having had to spend our entire last decades income in the Early Learning centre and Mothercare, represent a vast untapped pool of educational funding for the precocious and ambitious child about town.
The solution is obvious. If you wish to assess your children as a future commodity worthy of investment, the very least you can do is put their educational funding on the open market.
This will prevent parents taking an overly emotional view of their child’s net present value, and provide a degree of objective reality to the educational worth of individual offspring. My proposal is simple. The funding of private education should be legal and without social disgrace. All that should be forbidden is the restrictive practise by which relatives fund a particular child’s education. Instead, all children whose parents wish them to be privately educated should be subject to an initial public offering among the populace.
In other words, don’t educate your children privately. Let me do it instead. Let’s be clear though. This will be a strictly business transaction. I will not be brought off by payment in scrawled cards, or awkward visits. If your child is so special, I want proof of their achievements, or I will have to sell up. Of course, as well as having no children, I also have no money, so I will not be able to take a controlling interest in your child’s education. Instead, I will band together with fellow investors, and base my investment decisions on clear, performance based criteria.
Picture the heartwarming scene. Young William is thirteen, and has returned from St Plonker’s with an average report card. Instead of a mere parental telling off, which is met by indifference and manipulation by this most arrogant of young executives, he instead faces outraged shareholders, demanding to know where this investment is headed, and threatening to shortsell the entire business. The secondary market is collapsing, and nationalisation is threatened. Worse, shareholders are threatening to write to the Head demanding William be stripped of his captaincy of the 2nd XI. Surely this sort of “boom, bust and disgrace” scenario is a vital training ground for our youth and will prepare them for the harsh reality of the marketplace.
Of course, that a functioning market exists provides no guarantee that any particular child will find investors. Personally, I rather long for the day when the unwhelped are besieged by the prospectuses of eager parents, each stressing the unique attributes of little Joseph and Araminta. I picture myself as a stern, upright Warren Buffett style investor. “Sorry” I shall say, “but I think the value lies in underutilised resources. This Kensington stock is historically overvalued and has underperformed for decades”. “Look” I might add, yielding a little “the market might stretch to a Day school, but you’ve another think coming if you’re trying to sell on Boarding fees. Haven’t you heard there’s a recession on?”.
Yet I lie. In truth, I would do no such thing. I would summon those floating their children to a meeting. I would run through my investment opportunities, evaluating each in turn in rigorous terms. Then, after a dramatic pause, I would announce my intention to invest in a Yacht. I believe in Social mobility you see, and I’m afraid that means I wish to go upwards, and your kids must plummet.
You see, I have little or no interest in the education of your children. So please, stop writing articles about the little brats.
Want me to pay extra for the education of your children because they have such great potential? Fine, but I only invest in the broadest classes of common stock. Huge untapped potential, you see.