Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/156/7799
Tackling the propaganda
DAVID AARONOVITCH, a columnist for the Independent, launched a vitriolic attack on the teachers' strike decision. He concentrated on Socialist Party member Bob Sulatycki who closed the conference debate on performance-related pay. "Vengefully (since I don't appreciate threats to my children's education), I fed Mr Sulatycki into my search engine, and found him to be an occasional contributor to Socialism Today, the theoretical journal of no less an organisation than SPEW. Ha ha! Remember them, the Trotskyist Socialist party of England and Wales? No? Oh, never mind."
Aaronovitch would obviously be much better attacking government policies for disrupting his children's education as Bob Sulatycki replies below:
THE SAME old ritual every Easter - shoddy reporting of NUT Conference. Now it's David Aaronovitch's turn. He's been busy searching his Internet about me. So much less difficult than phoning to talk in person, when I could have told him "Yes, I have contributed to 'Socialism Today'. So what?"
Vengeance, apparently prompted by my participation in the Performance-Related Pay debate at NUT conference, motivated his trawl through cyber space. Why no vengeance towards David Blunkett? He's proposing to shut schools for two days, so that teachers learn to appreciate the benefits of his new schemes.
PRP and Performance Management are unfair, bureaucratic and overwhelmingly rejected by teachers. They will lead to a joyless saga of testing and form filling. Teachers will turn from colleagues into competitors, thereby undermining the trust and teamwork on which schools depend.
Now, obviously, that is only what teachers believe, and therefore won't cut much ice with Mr Aaronovitch. But many parents are aware that teacher dissatisfaction is leading to a flight from the classroom. Vacancies are at a ten-year high.
Teacher training course applications have plummeted.
Opposition to the Victorian Payment By Results system led to the creation of the NUT 130 years ago. It was a system that took over 30 years to replace. It was universally loathed and reviled by teachers. It created one of the most backward education systems in the then developed world. That is why delegates supported the statement
"If we don't strike on this, what do we strike on?" - a measure of the importance of PRP, not the triviality of strike action.
I hope that NUT members will see through the fog of misrepresentation, and vote against a system which will profoundly damage the job we still want to love, despite all the government's efforts.
This was published in The Independent on 2 May
In The Socialist 5 May 2000: