Hmm that's an interesting one alright and there is no definite yes or no answer here. There's too much in there all at once.
1) Probably all to do with the fact we Brits are totally crazy!
2) On the one hand, I think the most obvious point here is that that sort of trip does seem a colossal waste of taxpayers money. Certainly most school trips I went on were ones where you paid for yourself and the government funded the staffing. Just to pretty much pay for the whole trip seems bizarre when the money could have been spent a lot more effectively elsewhere. (Although I dont agree that a video of Amsterdam would have been a suitable alternative)
3) I can also see that people could get angry at the idea that this trip is something that has been - however indirectly - facilitated by the goverment and that raises issues over the UK being a 'nanny state'.
4) I think it is also pretty understandable why on the face of it, people would be worried about sending young children on a sex and drugs holiday. That being said, when you read the whole article that's actually not the case. And that comment about going to see Anne Frank's house - how stupid is that - if anything can be done in the classroom reading her diary could!
5) And finally, let's face it - when you send a group of school children anywhere that isnt school during term time, the last thing on their minds is going to be education!
On the other hand:
6) Children are never forced to go on these trips - parents always have to give their permission - and, if you read the article, it sounds as if some sort of community committee dreamed up the whole plan anyway. If this is the case then local communities and parents have as much (if not more) responsibility here than the government does.
7) If you read the logic behind the trip it does make a kind of sense. It's heavily supervised by appropriate adults and in a very high adult-child ratio, meaning it's unlikely little Billy is going to get a whiff of the green stuff and a hows-your-father from a leather-clad dwarf in some alley. It's also pointing out that it's an attempt to raise awareness of why drug abuse and teenage pregnancy is lower in Amsterdam (which says rather a lot). Now i'm a little pessimistic on this front (taking 20 kids to Amsterdam is not going to change a whole lot), but i can understand the somewhat idealist thinking behind the trip.
8) Also, as a Brit, I think a major problem in our society is how we are very reserved in exposing/dealing with/talking about issues like sex and drugs. I dont see that by hiding children away from the realities of life that we will actually be helping them. It does seem to be a case of 'i was repressed so i'm going to repress my kids too'. But even if I dont agree with it, I acknowledge the complexities of personal life style choices, cultural awareness and parental influence.
9) I think the final issue this raises for me is that this is yet another culturally intolerant piece of journalism from one of the more jingoistic newspapers in the UK. The Daily Mail, Sun, New Of The World (haha oh the irony of that name) and the Star are trashy tabloids that feed on exagerrated stories like this that can intensify cultural misunderstanding and intolerance. Not only does the title of that article completely distort what the story was about and force someone to begin reading it in a biased fashion - but it also contributes to the whole stupid eurobashing culture the British Tabloids seem to indulge in. I understand entirely about freedom of the press but with articles like this it does make one wonder why someone would go out and spend thirty pence on it. (If it's still 30 pence, I last bought that pile of junk in the early 90's)
So yeah, quite a lot of issues there. I'm going to go back and number them now so the debate can begin!!!