Monday, March 24, 2008

Teachers Want to Nationalize Private Schools

(Manchester, England) Imagine for a moment, dear readers, that you are given a proposal to evaluate.

You are confronted with a bushel basket of rotting apples surrounded by a large number of individual, crisp and nutritious apples. Now, the proposal is to place the crisp and nutritious apples into the bushel basket with the stated reason of seeing "some urgent improvements" in the condition of all the apples.

Good idea or not? You make the call.

Okay, now change the apples to public and private schools, respectively, and I contend that the proposal is an example of unfathomably irrational thinking and it comes from, not surprisingly, a teachers union. Using their logic, we could sardine a bunch of healthy folks into a tuberculosis ward and overall health would improve.
The new head of Britain's biggest teaching union has called for the private education system to be nationalised.

Bill Greenshields, incoming president of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said such a move would improve state education and make it fairer.

The NUT, the most left-wing of the teaching unions, has long been hostile to independent education and to Labour’s programme of setting up academies with private-sector sponsors to replace failing schools.

But Greenshields's comments to the union's annual conference in Manchester yesterday went one step further.

"Let's consider our own direction of travel -- from private to public, towards bringing all schools into the state sector," he said. "Then we would soon see some urgent improvements in our state system."
And this guy was chosen as president of the organization! It's hard to picture what the more extreme members of the NUTs have on their minds. By the way, you have to give the group credit for coming up with a most apropos acronym.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your analogy is a good one but like most analogies it suits your argument but doesn't fit the unique facts around English society. We have a system of education that is measured by results on a raw basis. Comparing the performance of the fee-paying schools with that of the state sector is like comparing Chelsea FC to Cheltenham. Cheltenham is a very well managed club but has no money. Chelsea is actually rather unsuccessful given the vast amount of cash that has been injected into it. It is this which frustrates the NUT members. Teachers in England are more measured and observed than ever. I tire of people observing my lessons (yes I am a teacher but not an NUT member) measuring results. comparing and analysing my performance on a daily basis via my schools computer network. I am a bloody good teacher (last observation "outstanding" ,OFSTED "an outstanding classroom practitioner") but hte press would have it that the fee-paying schools' teachers are better than those in the state sctor because they get better results. Most teachers will tell you that in fact clever children are easy to teach. You teach they remember, you move on. Its the less able and the average that are the problem because they require endles repetition, help and support. Combine this with the horrific social background that many of these children come from and you will then have some idea of where the real stars are working. I have seen at least four teachers come to my school to work from the private sector and they have all failed. The NUT's point that you have missed, I guess due to the usual prejudice that teachers suffer, is that until the powers that be have a real investment in our schools (by sending their own children there for a start) there will be no incentive for them to ensure that the state sector can function properly. My God I even see my colleagues move house in order to send their children to the middle-class comprehensive across the town (OFSTED "a very advantaged catchment). Both my children go to my school and because they are bright they will do well. Politicians, particularly from labour talk the talk but then send their children to private schools, remaining grammars or the nice middle-class comp. the leafy part of town then condemn as "failing" schools that are left to teach the rest. They want Chelsea results on Cheltenham money. Its not that you are putting sick people in with healthy ones it is that you are only giving medicine to a few and then wondering why the rest die! Give teachers in the state sector the same powers of exclusion enjoyed by the private sector and make proper provision for those excluded ("inclusion" ... don't get me started!) and the improvements would be dramatic.