Those intent on raising the compulsory school age to 18 use, as one of their arguments, the nonsensical idea that "compulsory schooling lowers the likelihood of committing crime or going to prison". This argument is not new - in fact, it has been used to support the very establishment of state controlled mass compulsory schooling.
Many voices have argued the contrary; here's just a few:
"For all the propaganda about the inexhaustible benefits of an ever expanding educational estate, it is at times nearer the truth to identify education as linked to insurrection and disorder. In Britain, for example, the huge expansion in secondary education has gone hand in hand with an equally significant increase in juvenile crime. At best the former did not prevent the latter. In my view, on the contrary, it fuelled it."
[D.O'Keeffe Compulsory Education: An Oxymoron of Modernity]
[State] schools... do not tend to reduce crime. There is even tentative evidence of reverse causality: juvenile crime actually increases with an increase in size of the [state] school sector. [Edwin G. West, 1980]
"It is strange that as education spreads and poverty decreases, juvenile crime should steadily rise." [The Times Educational Supplement, 1963]
"There is a growing body of opinion which believes that our educational system must bear its share of responsibility for many of the problems of behavior, which show themselves in juvenile delinquency and vandalism." [W.Singer, Ulster Teachers' Union President, 1965, seen here]
If we go back to the origins of compulsory education, we might get a better idea of other possible reasons - other than crime reduction - for its establishment.
Adam Smith was an influential figure who held that "the State had every right, not only to take over education as a state function but also to make it compulsory." In his book Wealth of Nations (1776), he argued that it "was a matter of state interest that "the inferior ranks of the people" be instructed to make them socially useful and to render them "less apt to be misled into any wanton or unnecessary opposition to measures of government."
David Botsford explains it flat out: "The purpose of compulsory state schooling was and is to shape the individual’s attitudes, perceptions, conditioned reflexes and entire psychology in such a way as to make him or her a useful tool of the political authorities, a tool whom those authorities can manipulate and control by means of propaganda in adult life."
This is his ending paragraph: "George Orwell’s classic story Animal Farm, in which the pigs gradually, by a series of almost imperceptible steps, established a tyranny on the farm while claiming that they were acting for the benefit of the animals there, could have been written as a history of the British educational system over the past 160 years. Truly the price of liberty is eternal vigilance."
Before I finish, I just want to go back to Adam Smith, who also said:
"No discipline is ever requisite to force attendance upon lectures which are really worth the attending, as is well known wherever any such lectures are given."
Our 'democratic' politicians, who want to force people old enough to leave home, get a full time job, pay taxes, raise children and join the army into an extra two-year sentence of enforced schooling, must be very aware that whatever 'education' they're planning to offer isn't worth the attending - hence the need to introduce an enforcement system with the power to penalise and criminalise innocent young people and their parents.
Raising expectations makes it clear that parents will be expected to "encourage and facilitate their child’s participation, and if there is evidence that a parent of a young person is helping them to break to law it should be possible to hold them accountable as well."
What's the message here? That parents, despite their children being old enough to leave home, get a full time job, pay taxes, raise children and join the army, are responsible for their children's decisions? That young citizens don't belong to themselves but to the state? That, should they decide to pursue their education otherwise, their parents should become agents of the state?
This is not about learning, it is about control. This is not about the needs of our children but the desires of the few. This is not about social justice but about maintaining and increasing corporate power. This is not about social justice; it's about further eroding our children's freedoms and opportunities.
It's about using 'educational qualifications' as tools for discrimination. It's about narrowing the meaning and purpose of education, reducing it to an offensive, demeaning, abusive, coercive system whose function is not to create healthy and happy individuals but obedient little cogs in a rotten, unsustainable machine.
Not only it redefines education to something that happens only in prescribed settings but also redefines the purpose of our children's existence - no options but to become a rat; or a criminal, if you dare have other plans...
I wonder how they're planning to 'encourage' children with diffabilities... Let's not even mention young entrepreneurs, the future Richard Bransons...
Related link: What Effect Does School Attendance Have on the Crime Rate?