July 10, 2010
CAMERON'S COAL MINERS:
Union rules: If David Cameron is looking for potential enemies, he need not worry about the Labour party. (The Spectator, 10 July 2010)
It is hard to overstate the power of teachers’ unions in Britain. For decades they have worked with local authorities to assert complete bureaucratic control over the schools system. The Education Secretary’s job is to pretend to have power (as Michael Gove will be finding out). The minister is tied like Gulliver in a matrix of regulations, legal threats, and arm’s-length agencies over which he has no power while the system is run by officials he can’t sack. From this stagnation, we have an education system run for the benefit of its providers more than its users.
If Mr Gove’s ambition were only to slash the schools budget, he would not represent a danger to the unions. But instead he wields a new model, in which schools will be independent of government — and able to pay good teachers what they like. With this will come a practice now obsolete in Britain: sacking bad teachers. Determined young teachers may even be able to set up their own school, just as determined lawyers can set up their own firm. There would be no need for a union, ensuring collective pay bargaining.
Posted by Orrin Judd at July 10, 2010 11:26 AM