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Sunday, 12 October 2014

"They say 'prosperity'; we say 'slavery'" — paraphrasing Lois Weiner

Preface by Swheatie of the KUWG

The Oct | Nov 2014 issue of Red Pepper magazine has a special feature on 'GERM' (the Global Education Reform Movement') and revealing that it has little really to do with the 'choice' that its advocates claim it promises.

Here is a snippet of the article 'Teacher Training' by Anna Wolmuth based on an interview with teacher and anti-GERM activist Lois Weiner. Surely, what Lois Weiner says regarding classrooms could as easily apply to jobcentres and the establishments to which jobcentres consign benefit claimants deemed unworthy of any 'lifestyle choices' and at taxpayers' expense?

Teacher Training

Anna Wolmuth talsk to US teacher and writer Lois Weinver about what the UK can learn from global education struggles

"If we fail to make the unions what they should be, most students... will be trained for a life of mental labour, poverty, or imprisonment." This is the stark warning given by Lis Weiner in her book The Future of Our Schools. The lifelong teacher union activist, based in New York , believes teachers' unions have the potential to halt the global assault on education but only if they are radically transformed.

The attacks on public education in the US are strikingly similar to those we are experiencing in the UK. Weiner, and others working in the field, see them as part of a global project to recast education as a profitable service sector of the economy. According to Weiner, "Education is a very lucrative sector, one of the last sections that isn't marketised, and they're after that."

The increased marketisation of education is not part of a secret agenda, but is openly discussed in business journals, Wall Street and World Bank and IMF documents. Weiner points to a 2002 World Bank report that identified teachers and teachers' unions as 'the biggest threat to global prosperity'. "When I used to say this people laughed but nobody laughs now because they realise that teachers have been targeted." The thinking is that teachers 'capture' government and use their power to block privatising reforms. An essential pillar of the GERM project is to destroy and weaken teacher trade unions as they are potentially the most powerful resistance."

A different kind of union

Trade unions have clearly not managed to block these reforms, however, and Weiner argues that to do so "we need a different kind of union." The problem with teaching unions in their current form, she suggests, is "not just a matter of cowardly or confused union teachers, which is not to say they don't exist, but it runs deeper than this."....

To continue reading this article, get or order a copy of the Oct | Nov 2014 issue of Red Pepper magazine from your local newsagent or from Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, N1 or from Bookmarks Bookshop, 1 Bloomsbury Street, WC1B 3QE. The price is £3.95.

Meanwhile, Swheatie notes parallels between the situation of teachers and their students, and cites the development of Social Work Action Network as aiming for the field of social work what Lois Weiner advocates in the form of collaborations between teachers' unions "and parents and students in challenging neoliberal policies."

Note also that one of the major players in the GERM project is publishing company Pearson, that owns the Financial Times. What does that say about the need for transparency among the corporate world?

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