Battle of Britain
April 23, 2008
In the United Kingdom today, over 8,000 schools were shut down by a strike of the National Union of Teachers, angry because its members' pay, which has risen 19 percent in real terms since 1997, is scheduled for only a 2.45 percent bump next year. Thus, no school for little Nigel. Just about everyone, even those in Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labor government, has come out against the union. And George Bridges, former campaign director for Conservative Party leader David Cameron, has had enough of this sort of thing. In a piece titled "Time to crush the National Union of Teachers," he writes, "If we are to raise standards in education, we have to break the NUT's grip on schools." The strike isn't truly about money, Bridges notes, but about scrapping standardized tests and pushing a leftist agenda. To combat it, he recommends that the Tories make the "argument about standards, not structures" (i.e., focus less on the process of forming good schools than on emphasizing its results; tell parents about the fine schools that choice will produce, not the process of school-choice itself), and he pushes a "Big Bang" theory of reform through which many things are done at once (rather than the incremental changes that often occur). His plan is ambitious. To which Bridges would surely respond, "So are our enemies."
"8,000 schools could close in tomorrow's national teachers' strike," by Alexandra Frean, The Times of London, April 23, 2008
"Time to crush the National Union of Teachers," by George Bridges, The Daily Telegraph, April 22, 2008