Sunday, December 05, 2004

Parents and teachers

Sometimes it pays to read carefully. A report in Friday's Guardian had the introduction:
Parents claim victory against controversial school scheme that takes money - and influence - from private sector.

Yet early in the article there was a quotation from "Linda Taaffe, the deputy secretary of Waltham Forest NUT, who helped mastermind the campaign," which makes it legitimate to ask whether this campaign was being fought in the interests of parents and children or of teachers. There is a tendency among many Labour and Liberal Democrat activists to assume that whatever is good for teachers - and the teachers' unions in particular - must be good for everyone else involved in education. Unfortunately the world is not such a simple place as that.

The same people often give the impression that they believe secondary education reached its perfect form some time in the 1970s and that any failings today result from the unaccountable wickedness of governments in failing to give enough money to comprehensive schools. The result is that they are endlessly negative. The National Union of Teachers have opposed every proposed education reform - good, bad or lunatic - for 30 years.

The result is that no one takes any notice of the teachers' unions any more, and the many government plans that do need to be opposed go through more easily.

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