The education revolution

“You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way! And that’s how you get Capone.” In the 1987 movie ‘The Untouchables’, that was the advice Jim Malone (Sean Connery) gave to Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner). In this presentation, delivered at the IEA’s THINK conference on 11 July, Toby Young talks about his experience in setting up one of the first Free Schools in Britain. He argues that for educational reformers, the metaphorical ‘Chicago way’ is also the way to deal with ‘the blob’, i.e. the coalition of an educational establishment eager to defend its monopoly, and a reactionary hard left ideologically opposed to the very idea that parents should have any say over their children’s education. These people, Toby argues, cannot be reasoned with. Freedom of choice in education has to be wrestled from their hands. But it is well worth it: Despite all the obstacles and all the hostility to them, Free Schools are already delivering, against the odds.