My good friend Tim F has already FJM'ed this particular... piece, so it falls to me to play Logical Fallacies: The Game, now with Added Right-Wing Insanity! I will refer you to his post in order to find out how Barbara Kay is wrong about the issue of this school-for-poor-children that may be built in this area; I shall simply illustrate how she is fallacious. Logic does not guarantee that you will end up with a solid conclusion, of course, it merely guarantees that if your premises are correct, your conclusion will be also. However, if you abandon logic, then you will only be correct by coincidence, even if your premises are true.
Don’t we already have a whole bunch of examples of such public schools in underprivileged areas?... Aren’t these exactly the places where parents are fighting like mad to get a voucher for a charter school so their kids don’t have to stay there?Factual error! Ontario does not have any kind of school voucher system.
But there is nothing immutable in the essential composition of children from low-income homes, nor is the absence of a parent’s higher education qualifiable as an influence on the child’s life. My grandparents came to this country from a poor village in Poland. They lived in poverty here, but raised nine children, one of whom went to university on a scholarship. The others couldn’t afford to go. My father was the youngest of those nine children. He had to drop out of high school to help his father sell junk in a horse-drawn cart, just like in the movie, Lies My Father Told Me. My mother finished high school, but had to earn her own living, so she became a secretary.
Misleading vividness! A dramatic example is offered as proof that the overwhelming majority of statistical evidence is false. The experiences of one person, no matter how dramatic, have no statistical bearing on the outcomes for an entire population.
Biased sample! Your single sample which contradicts the generally accepted sociological position has been cherry-picked to support your position. I could cherry-pick a great white shark and tell everyone how I have found that the average fish weighs two tons and is a killing machine with gills, therefore, fishing is an incredibly dangerous sport and should be banned.
It’s about the culture, not the income.
False dilemma! It could be about both. It could also be about neither. It is not necessarily an either/or case, but making it out to be one will subtly discourage your audience from contemplating any third cause.
I once read a peer-reviewed study of what immigrant groups succeed educationally. I don’t need to tell you who they are.
Appeal to authority! The authority of this source has not been established since it was not cited, so we cannot know if it is a genuine authority or not. Using a literal definition of "peer-reviewed," Wikipedia is peer-reviewed, since the peers of the authors can review it. Wikipedia is not considered a reliable source, even by its creator.
The study noted the curious and very specific statistical probability that whether a Korean child is put in a lousy public school or a good public school or a private school, whether he or she is with other Korean children or all alone, that child is highly likely to go on to higher education and succeed in life.
Post hoc ergo propter hoc! Just because being Korean is associated with higher education and success does not mean that being Korean is the cause of higher education and success. One could make exactly the same error with the statement that being able to speak Korean is correlated with education and success (which must be as true as Kay's statement), therefore, the secret to academic success is learning Korean. This argument has exactly the same validity as Kay's.
Only social theorists living in ivory towers
Ad hominem! Only the Childlike Empress lives in an ivory tower. An accusation of arrogance or elitism does not mean the purported arrogant elitist is wrong.
and labouring under the Marxist delusion
Appeal to ridicule! Labelling Marxism, or an aspect thereof, a "delusion" does not make it delusional.
What low-income children need most in their lives is ambition, inspiration and encouragement.
Appeal to emotion! We like words like "ambition," "inspiration" and "encouragement." They make us feel good. This good feeling is then leveraged into support for a position that has not been demonstrated or proven in any way. For example, I might say, "If we are dedicated, loyal and honourable, we can all fly to the Moon!" We all like dedication, loyalty and honour. It's a rousing appeal. It will never help us fly to the Moon.
This scheme is more than stupid.
Appeal to ridicule! If it is more than stupid, it does not need to be said. You can merely demonstrate it through your arguments, and your audience will know that it is more than stupid. Putting the "stupid" label on it encourages your audience to think that way about it, without actually proving it.
It wasn’t the state’s public schools that made successful Canadians who started out in poverty: It was self-respect, civic pride and a profound sense of responsibility toward their children.
Inductive argument! If poor people had these attributes, and then succeeded from an impoverished start, it does not follow that these attributes caused that success. I submit to you that no amount of self-respect, civic pride and profound sense of responsibility toward children will help Somali or Congolese children grow up to be wealthy, successful and educated in Somalia or the DRC. Therefore, it is obvious that more than these attributes is required.
I know a young woman who teaches school in a low-income area of Ontario – no point in being more specific than that – and she told me about the difficulties of dealing with low ambitions and low discipline.... She said none of the parents of her kids ever show up for them [parent-teacher interviews]. There’s your problem.
Appeal to authority! Just because this young woman is a teacher in a low-income area does not mean she is infallible on the subject of the causes of low academic performance in poor children. A person with a broken leg is not an expert in orthopedics.
And that will do. Hopefully I have shown how flawed the logic in this opinion piece is, and thus, how very questionable her conclusions are.