Yes, I read the comments under a Telegraph education article...

As the Easter conference season ends one thing is clear. Teachers and their unions are not happy. I lost count of the number of threats to go on strike, particularly from the NUT. I can understand and share quite a bit of this anger. It is clear to me that the Government are imposing ideological educational policies on schools with little or no evidence that they will improve education.

Only yesterday the LSE academic Stephen Machin wrote in the Guardian that the Government were effectively mis-using his research to back their academies programme. He says:
Under the new programme, it is not only secondary schools that can convert – primaries can, too. So drawing comparisons with the Labour academies is simply not comparing like with like. 
Nevertheless, our research has been widely cited in policy circles and in the media, usually as evidence for the success of the coalition's academies programme. Sometimes it is said that our research refers only to the Labour academies; more often this goes unstated. And unfortunately, our evidence on Labour academies has frequently been marshalled in support of the new academies programme, usually (though not always) without offering the caveat that the new academies are rather different. 
We do not yet have robust, academically rigorous evidence on the coalition academies. For one thing, it is very early days, and as research on US charter schools also shows, time needs to pass before it is possible to evaluate their impact in a meaningful way. 
It may be, in due course, that these new academies do deliver performance improvements. But we know nothing of this yet, and translating the evidence from the old programme over to the new, without appropriate reservations about whether the findings can be generalised, is, at the moment, a step too far.
So the Government's plans to force over 200 primary schools to become academies - which at Downhills in London is opposed by 90% of parents, all the teachers and the Governing Body (before Gove sacked them) is taking place with no evidence at all that it will produce any improvements.

However an opinion piece in the Telegraph tonight takes a quite different view suggesting the NUT and the other teaching unions are showing their "true colours":
In truth the teaching unions have done us a great service at their recent conferences by revealing just how reactionary and self-serving their agenda is. We don’t need to dwell on the fact that the NUT conference is heavily attended by the Socialist Workers Party, which speaks for a tiny handful of voters on the extreme Left who want to change the government via a workers’ revolution rather than a democratic election. We can pass over the fact that NUT delegates once forced David Blunkett, then Labour education secretary, to take refuge in a room for 30 minutes after he committed the heinous crime (in their eyes) of condemning teachers’ strikes and promising to sack bad teachers and shut failing schools. These things scarcely matter, when compared to their actual demands in regard to education and their own privileges.
I can't say this surprises me. There are certainly some extreme members of the NUT who make a lot of noise and speeches and to some extent this is playing into the Government's hands.  It is easier now for Gove and others to suggest that it is the unions that are being unreasonable. Trots. Enemies of promise. Ideological. Call them what you will.

But read under the article and it gets a lot more frightening. Scores of comments where teachers are referred to in extremely derogatory ways by Telegraph readers. Take this as an example:
Do as Regan did when the ATC went on strike....Draw up a ready reserve of teacher's from the recently retired and personell from industry. Avoid the teacher training colleges at all costs as they are a hotbed of the lunatic left. Instruct the intelligence services to draw up a hit list of SWP /RCP and the political allegence of other known manevolent teachers currently employed in the profession, then wait for the strike to begin.
Fire the above immediately... As in day one of the strike and make sure you drop as many on the first pass as possible and make damn sure it numbers in the thousands. Delete the bad apples from the barrel and the rest should fall in line pretty damn quick.
And these:
Surely we should line them up against a wall and shoot them as well, no? 
No... Ammunition is expensive and they arn't worth the cost of the rounds.... Besides who am i to deny macdonalds the opportunity to recruit new burger flippers.
And the inevitable:
Those who can do, those who can't teach. 
They want to try life in the real world beyond their little gates and they'd be in for one almighty shock.
I am not quite sure I go anywhere that seems more like the "real world" than my youngest son's primary school classroom. Certainly it is more "real" than most workplaces...

Others speak of the "gold plated pensions" they assume teachers get with a mixture of anger and envy. Now I know Telegraph commentators are probably as unrepresentative of most people as the more vocal NUT reps are of all teachers but this shows that many people are going to believe that it is teachers that are unreasonable.

But what really gets me is the complete and utter lack of any respect for teachers by these commentators. Doubtless the same people that lament the lack of discipline in schools and the fact children don't do what teachers tell them. Whey should they? I am sure many of these people are parents and perhaps pick the Telegraph up and say these kind of things in front of their children....

It maybe that what the Government really wants is the unions to call strikes and then "defeat" them. I hope not. The last thing any of us need is even more disruption to children's education. As I blogged before it is our children that will be the collateral damage.

But it doesn't have to be like this. Just have a read of this description of the education system in Finland. A country that outperforms us on the international league tables the Government is so keen to talk about. 
Q: How does your country measure school success and hold schools accountable for educating students effectively? 
Finland is not very inspired of measuring education but we take educational assessment very seriously. This is perhaps because our definition of school success is very different compared to how success is understood in the United States or in much of the world. Successful school in Finland is one that is able to help all children to learn and fulfill their aspirations, both academic and non-academic. Many educators in Finland think that measuring of what matters in school is difficult, if not impossible. That’s why assessment of and in Finnish schools is first and foremost a responsibility of teachers and principal in school. They are reporting to parents and authorities how successful their school is in achieving commonly set goals. By this definition, school success is a subjective thing that varies from one school to another. 
We don’t use term ‘accountability’ when we talk about what schools are expected to do in Finland. Instead, we expect that teachers and principals are responsible collectively for making all children successful in school. There is a big difference between social responsibility for all children’s learning in school and holding each teacher accountable for their own pupils’ achievement through data from standardized tests. External reviewers of Finnish education have repeatedly recognized this difference between Finnish schools and American schools, for example. Shared responsibility has created strong mutual trust within Finnish education system that is one frequently mentioned success factor of Finnish education. As a result, we don’t need external standardized tests, teacher evaluation or inspection to assure high quality.
You can read the rest on Pasi Sahlberg's excellent Blog. What a world of difference. I am not suggesting we can just adopt the Finnish approach just like that but it shows that education doesn't have to be about competition, testing, inspection and pitched battles between politicians. Teachers need to be trusted and valued. Until we do so, I don't think we can be surprised that many are angry and fed up.

Perhaps this is some kind of an anglo-saxon disease, this piece from America today is also well worth a read. Talking about education in America Diane Ravitch says:
What has happened in the past two years? Let's see: Race to the Top promoted the idea that teachers should be evaluated by the test scores of their students; "Waiting for 'Superman'" portrayed teachers as the singular cause of low student test scores; many states, including Wisconsin, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio have passed anti-teacher legislation, reducing or eliminating teachers' rights to due process and their right to bargain collectively; the Obama administration insists that schools can be "turned around" by firing some or all of the staff. These events have combined to produce a rising tide of public hostility to educators, as well as the unfounded beliefs that schools alone can end poverty and can produce 100 percent proficiency and 100 percent graduation rates if only "failing schools" are closed, "bad" educators are dismissed, and "effective" teachers get bonuses.
Is it any wonder that teachers and principals are demoralized?
Sound familiar? To be honest we have better teachers than we deserve given the level of abuse they have to put up with. And I mean abuse from adults not children.
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