Children are born innocent of prejudice and of the thoughts that affect much of society in a negative way. Their ideals form over the years based upon those of their parents and of other adults around them. Schools are one of the most informative places for children, not only academically, but also in learning the social skills required for them to interact harmoniously with other people in adulthood. School gives children the information and the experience of interacting with other people required for them to challenge the view of their parents and ultimately adopt one that they are comfortable with themselves.
So what happens when parents have a major influence on which type of school a child enrols at? It is a sad fact of life that many adults have grown up with and not been able to or willing to challenge prejudices. These statements, whether they are grounded in race, class or abilities become impregnated in the thought processes of their children. Only when these children are at school and are given alternative points of view and experiences external to those from the family setting, do they have the information to challenge what they have learned from their parents about the people that they live with.
In a culturally diverse area, in a normal school setting, where parents do not have the ultimate choice as to where their child attends the classroom reflects the cultural diversity of the region. The percentage populations of each ethnic minority are reflected in the percentages of each race in the classroom. Children are taught in, play in, and learn in a culturally diverse environment, they learn about each other, and they learn that many of the prejudices of their parents are ill founded and they are able to make friends and enjoy the company of a wide range of different people.
If parents had the ultimate choice as to which school their children attend, then the prejudices of the society as far as race are concerned would soon become apparent in the populations of the classrooms. Parents who did not want their children to be in the presence of children of a different race would send their children to schools with a lower population of that race.
As a demonstration a hypothetical area with a high level of racial tension between three groups of people, eastern Europeans, Asians, and white English and three local primary schools it can be imagined that quite quickly it could become a problem within the school populations as well. If parents do not have the ultimate say in which school their child attends, the populations of the school would reflect the populations of that school’s catchment area. However, if the parents could decide which school they were sending their child to, groups of parents from the same ethnic backgrounds would probably send their children to the same schools.
Those schools would develop an increased population of one ethnic background, and parents of different ethnicity would be reluctant to send their children to that school and so choose another one. School would no longer be a forum for the children to express their interests in people from different backgrounds, they would lose their experiences of this, and there would be little basis for the children to develop and investigate ideals different from their prejudiced parents.