Friday, June 15, 2012


So where does the government now find the other $114 million in 'savings' it wants to make in the education system? Be afraid, be very afraid. Anything is possible (anything, that is, so long as it drives a wedge, as Giovanni Tiso memorably says, 'between the aspirations of the middle class and the realities faced by the working class'). Here in Los Angeles, where I am at the moment, the LA Times has just led with the news that, rather than sharply increase class sizes or eliminate adult education programs—both, apparently, politically unacceptable—the city's education authorities are reducing the teaching time. It looks as though up to five 'instructional days' will be cut from the 2012-13 school year; that would bring to 18 the number of school days cut over the past four years. It's a way of paying teachers less, of course: five fewer days of teaching could be equivalent to as much as a 5% salary cut, according to the Times. But the main teacher union apparently feels it has no choice but to accept it: the alternative would be mass layoffs. The mind baulks at the thought of 18 days being lopped off the New Zealand school year, but you have been warned. When the bean-counters fix their gaze on public education, they don't see students or teachers, they don't actually see people: they see beans. And guess what else in LA? At the same time as all the above, the Times reports, the education authorities are 'under pressure to boost test scores, and use them as part of teacher evaluations.' I might just as well be back home.

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