The Judgment of Solomon

December 1, 2014

“Writing in the Irish Independent today, Minister O’Sullivan said the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland and the Teachers’ Union of Ireland must understand that negotiation involves compromise.0009d70b-642StayHome

She said that having moved 60% of the way towards teachers’ demands, she is now being told that they will do business if she moves another 40%.

Ms O’Sullivan said this is not negotiation.

Unions have said they are resolute and united in their opposition to plans for Junior Cycle reform.

The unions are upset by plans for pupils to be assessed by their own teachers for 40% of their work instead of an external examiner.”

The above report is inaccurate and misleading and fairly typical of the level of propaganda leveled against teachers who will carry out a nationwide strike at second level tomorrow.

Teachers have cooperated and been to the fore of supporting and executing reforms in education. They have always as part of their normal duties carried out assessment on an ongoing basis of work carried out by their students.

This work has been crowned and validated by an objective and independent Junior Certificate examination that carried with it anonymous marking that guaranteed objective assessment with marks in one Junior Certificate being of equal validity to marks in another irrespective of the school in which the course work was done.

This objectivity provided  a means by which the examination system with all its flaws could through externally regulated judgment provide global independent and reliable assessment of the educational system at Junior Level.

In its place Jan O Sullivan wants to introduce local assessment. Teachers will be exposed to corruption of standards under pressure from parents and school management wishing to exert pressure for any number of reasons, such as payment of fees, falsifying poor teaching standards, provision of high marks at any cost.

The proposed 60:40 system is another austerity driven move by government to deny students their right to independent and objective regulation of their coursework through external and objective validation.

This will lead to declining standards and greater divisions in Irish society. Divisions with schools in better off areas separating themselves eventually from the public education system and providing their students with their own certificates of attainment. It could lead to the eventual breaking up of the public education system with common standards thrown away.

Erosion of standards with schools allowed to write their own marks will eventually impact on the quality of our universities with the university system having to take up the slack of failure at second level. Lack of discipline through protection of educational standards will have a severe impact on attainment at Leaving Certificate level with future crisis management dispute at poor attainment at this level if this is not based on the bedrock of external assessment.

Jan O Sullivan is a little like one of the two young women, who lived in the same house and who both had an infant son, came to Solomon for a judgment. “One of the women claimed that the other, after accidentally smothering her own son while sleeping, had exchanged the two children to make it appear that the living child was hers. The other woman denied this and so both women claimed to be the mother of the living son and said that the dead boy belonged to the other.

After some deliberation, King Solomon called for a sword to be brought before him. He declared that there was only one fair solution: the live son must be split in two, each woman receiving half of the child. Upon hearing this terrible verdict, the boy’s true mother cried out, “Oh Lord, give the baby to her, just don’t kill him!” The liar, in her bitter jealousy, exclaimed, “It shall be neither mine nor yours—divide it!”

The Junior Certificate is a little like that baby. It’s either objective, external assessment, or it’s not. Lets not divide it as Jan O Sullivan of Fine Gael lies and broken promises, under the false flag of reform that only masks austerity, would have us do.

The austerity driven agenda of FG/LB has smothered the educational system at second level. Let’s keep what remains of it and build upon it and improve it.

Not privatize it.

 

Till again…

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