Wednesday 4 November 2015

Lessons from America - It's Poverty, stupid

Teachers have been angered and saddened by the announcements by Nicky Morgan yesterday of more testing, more academies, more attacks that put the blame on individual teachers.

Parents too are angry. It's heartening to see the results of a Daily Mirror online poll showing overwhelming opposition to the reintroduction of 'rigorous' formal tests for seven year-olds. It's a policy designed to label teachers and young people alike - and to label many as 'failures'.

But who's really failing here?  I heard Nicky Morgan claiming that she was acting in the interests of those less well-off than her (and the rest of her privately-educated cabinet colleagues). How dare she! This is the same Cabinet that is driving children into poverty, the poverty that we must never forget is the main factor that impacts educational progress.

As this slide from my Socialism 2015 presentation  points out, it's social class that has the main impact on test scores - a class divide that has only got wider in society since this graph was produced. Yet this fact is deliberately overlooked by right-wing educational policymakers across the globe because, as the US teacher quoted above points out, it suits them to blame teachers and their unions, instead of themselves.

That Global Education Reform Movement is being imposed across the US - but it's also being resisted too. I was sent a link to the video below that's definitely worth taking the time to view:

Here's just a few lines from Dr. Williams that also ring true here in the UK:

 "Test scores aren't the answer to solving our problem, dealing with the poverty that impacts our schools is the answer to solving our problem"
 "Over the kids I've helped my kids by just being there - nice if you don't work two jobs, if you don't work the midnight shift"
"Dr King said we made a grievous error - we focussed so squarely on access and opportunity, we missed one enduring truth, what good is it to have a right to go to a restaurant if you can't afford anything on a menu". 

Building the struggles of the 99% to end poverty and social division are the real answer to educational division. Inspiringly, those struggles are building in the States. I also awoke to the news that Seattle's socialist council member Kshama Sawant has been re-elected despite all the big business funding thrown against her over the last few weeks!

Let's keep building the struggle for a better future for the next generation.

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