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Teachers’ craven leadership surrenders without a fight

As sellouts go, this is a biggie. 

The Labor Party aligned leadership of the Australian Education Union has surrendered to Julia Gillard without a fight.

They have lifted the proposed ban on NAPLAN testing, the testing that leads to league tables and reinforces the ‘superiority’ of selective private schools over poorly funded public schools.

So the kids in schools which do poorly in NAPLAN tests (which measure nothing except how to do NAPLAN tests and show you absolutely nothing about how children have improved over the years)  will continue to be stigmatised.  Parents will shop for ‘better’ schools and the money will follow the students.

The union leadership dropped their talk about defending kids from league tables, about fighting for a better deal for poorly funded schools, about resolute defiance of any attempts to beat the ban, all for 30 pieces of fools’ gold.

Gillard, in a really major concession, has agreed, wait for it, to meet with teachers, and, yes, there is more, to set up a working party.  That’s it. For this the leadership of the teachers’ union (did I mention they are ALP hacks?) stopped the most important industrial action in defence of educational principles in decades. 

Teachers were angry. They were gearing up to not supervise the NAPLAN tests next week.  The only reason Gillard agreed to meet the union leadership was the threat of disruption.

And despite the Labor Party’s Peter Reith like response to the bans – court cases, orders against the union, threatening to fine teachers, organising scabs – clearly the membership were united against the tests and would have destroyed them if the bans had gone ahead.

Now the tests will happen and in short order the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun will have league tables from the results stigmatising the ‘poorly performing’ schools and the rotten cycle of the the rich schools enriching themselves at the expense of the underfunded ones will accelerate.

Many union members will be both angry and deflated. They will be disillusioned and the numbers in the union will plummet. Why join a union that doesn’t defend basic principles, that demoralises its membership and backs down at the slightest anti-union threat from Gillard and her state Labor cronies.?

The union leadership has seized defeat from the jaws of victory.

This capitulation now lays the groundwork for the Labor Government to speed up the commodification of  public education and to increase spending on well off private schools. It will also mean that Labor and Liberal governments around Australia will attack teachers’ conditions with impunity.

It will also embolden Labor governments to use their anti-union laws to attack other workers who might contemplate industrial action.

The major problem isn’t that the leadership are Labor Party apparatchiks who don’t want to take on a Labor Government in an election year (although sacrificing our kids’ future on the altar of Kevin Rudd’s re-election was no doubt a major part of the leadership’s calculations).  

Trade union bureaucrats like the AEU leadership are not part of the working class. They are a strata of society whose function is to bargain with the bosses and their governments over the price of labour. They balance between capital and labour. They are if you like the retailers of labour power to the bosses.

Without an engaged and powerful rank and file to control them or even to push them these bureaucrats will inevitably side with the class enemy and its Labor governments.

No such movement of rank and file members exists in any union in Australia today. The concentration of power in the hands of the bureaucrats at the expense of the membership was a concomitant of the Accord years and the dominance of the idea of class collaboration underpinning that capitulation, a capitulation that roars down the corridors of history to today.

For teachers the end consequence of all this is becoming clearer.

We are witnessing the slow agonising death of public education in Australia and the current AEU leadership is now leading the charge.

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Comments

Pingback from Tweets that mention En Passant » Teachers’ craven leadership surrenders without a fight — Topsy.com
Time May 6, 2010 at 11:22 pm

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Passant. John Passant said: En Passant » Teachers’ craven leadership surrenders without a fight https://enpassant.com.au/?p=7139 […]

Comment from Augustus Winston
Time May 6, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Let’s face it teachers on the whole are a pretty gutless mob. I remember being bashed by these so called educators as a kid. And it wasn’t just the floggings but the humiliations that they made us endure. For my money Gillard can screw the lot of them into the ground, they get more holidays than anyone I know whilst indulging in a constant whinge-fest about their conditions. I suspect the only reason someone becomes a teacher is to push other people around

Pingback from The New Definition Of Leadership
Time May 7, 2010 at 5:11 am

[…] En Passant » Teachers' craven leadership surrenders without a fight […]

Comment from RJ
Time May 7, 2010 at 11:59 am

Great comment and thanks for your comment on my article in the national times. I agree wholeheartedly.

Comment from Jenny J
Time May 7, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Here here John P – well said!! WHY havent the Union been more proactive rather than reactive. It’s not rocket science that this was going to happen. WHY arent the Union better arguing – CLEARLY – the case for appropriate use (rather than abuse) of these stats. The Public and Julia are ill-informed and heading us in the deadly direction of aping the USA/UK experience. I’m a teacher and happy to be accountable, BUT I’ll be accounatable for that which I can control … nothing more !!

Comment from Vlad
Time May 7, 2010 at 6:06 pm

What was it Lenin said about left-wing communism? Please, save us from your Trotskyite wind-bagging.

Comment from marianK
Time May 7, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Not only that, the Union sudden capitulation makes it seem as if the issues at stake were really unimportant. Their behaviour comes across to the general public as just a bunch of children having a tanty. And Gillard comes across as having firmly put them in their place. The whole thing stinks. What really went on, I wonder?

Comment from John
Time May 7, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Thanks Vlad. You left out infantile. Answer me this. Has Gillard backed down? Will there be league tables after the tests? What has the AEU actually won?

I note none of the others commenting share your views. I think the AEU has a serious problem if all it can do is dismiss legitimate criticisms as trotskyite windbagging. Perhaps, if you can, addressing my criticisms might be more appropriate.

Has not one of your members complained about the sellout? Has not one of your members resigned because of the sellout? Has recruitment begun to drop?

And most importantly, I wonder if others like me (trotskyite windbags no doubt) are now thinking about how they can reclaim their union from the ALP hacks and turn it into a fighting organisation that defends public education and its members’ interests. Beware the rank and file Vlad.

Comment from John
Time May 7, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Thanks Rachael. It was a good article.