The purpose of this blog is to illustrate intended consequences of right-wing policies such as choice. This is the forerunner of the internet confusion symbolised by Trump.
Back in the late 80s I was in a school where the issue of opting-out came up. The teachers were completely against opting-out across all unions, and I became involved because I was the NUT rep.
Sadly schooling has become completely messed up by private-funding but under Thatcher this was Baker’s attempt to privatise schools – Opting Out. It was concerning parental choice. Now parental choice is always a problem in teaching. Throughout my time as a teacher there was a concerted effort in the UK to divide the teachers from the parents. It is my strong belief that the parent-teacher alliance is the only way to successfully educate students. But this alliance is continually undermined through MSM, and when I was last involved with parents in the UK in 2004 there was a high degree of animosity towards teachers from parents. Why? Many teachers are vocational and care about kids, why animosity? Such animosity was fostered by the right wing to attempt to privatise education.
At the time of opting out there was a particular parent who was championing opting out. As far as I know he was only motivated by his own beliefs, but he involved himself significantly in school affairs. He was legitimately not welcomed being seen as interference, a teacher’s job is hard enough without increasing politicising from individual parents. The school was in a Tory area so there was a risk of “opting-out”, it was a mediochre school.
Teachers had very little control in the running of state schools, the school was run by a board of governors. Typically such a board had maybe 20 people included some of the school administration, parents, other people and a couple of teachers.
There was a meeting involving some governors and the teachers about “opting-out”. The headteacher was very weak, was not guided by education, and was politically pulled here and there. The teachers were concerned that right-wing parents would pressurise him unduly so they wanted to make their views properly heard. When it was clear that the head was wavering, as NUT rep I conducted a survey across all unions – all the teachers and ancillary staff – as to whether they wanted to opt out. The survey was almost unanimous, there were maybe one or two objections. The key point to this blogpost is the lack of democracy in right-wing tactics with regards to such a survey.
I was careless during the survey with the bursar. He encouraged me to talk about the survey when I was asking his vote. He did not record but told the meeting that he had felt under pressure from me to vote in favour of not opting-out. This was a manipulation on his part, I am not denying I said some biassed things to him but there was no pressure. As a result the headteacher announced that the survey should be ignored because of this one comment. And even though all the teachers present made their views known, the survey was dismissed. I was careless but these people were manipulating to get their own way – not the way of all the people.
Opting-out went to a vote by parents and fortunately it did not happen. And as I said privatising is happening in different ways.
This situation reflects the right-wing approach (even when I agree with them). They will manipulate to get what they want – as do extreme left-wing groups. But genuine left-wing politics is concerned about working with and representing the interests of the mass movement – in this case all the educators except a weak head and a manipulating bursar (both of whom might have gained financially if there was privatisation). Of course the Baker acts enabled such right-wing manipulation.
The status of the relationship that existed prior to this manipulation was sound. The teacher was the education expert, and the parents knew their children; together they worked for the education of the children. Choice, the word the right uses to appeal to voters, never applies in the running of private schools, you can only choose to change schools.
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