Home > Education Policy > The Problem with Democracy

The Problem with Democracy

Today Ross Morrison McGill (@TeacherToolkit) tweeted this:


The sooner politics is separated from education, the better for everyone. (Ross Morrison McGill)

The tweet was in response to this guardian article which claims that Rachel de Souza was given advance warning of inspections. If these claims are substantiated then this is a ridiculous situation, but I feel it is particularly worrying that people are arguing that we should remove Education Policy from politicians entirely. This is a claim I’ve heard often, and it scares me.

We live in a democracy, everyone over a certain age (bar some prisoners, but that’s a different debated for a different day) is entitled to turn out on election day and cast their vote, based on the manifestos put forward by each party. These votes are counted and the party who gains the most seats forms a government. In an ideal world everyone who is enfranchised to vote would read, at the very least a summary of, each manifesto. They would decided which manifesto agrees with their own views, and vote accordingly. In reality more people don’t vote than vote for any party and vast swathes of those who do vote on issues that are extorted by the press and don’t realise what they’re voting for! (I refuse to believe that THAT many people thought that the best way to improve the UKs deal from the EU was to vote for a party who refuse to vote in EU decisions as policy!)

I was (still am) a vocal opposer of both the Conservatives and the (not actually so) Liberal Democrats at the last election. But as a believer in democracy I had to accept their mandate to form a government. The other option would be to raise an army and revolt, and although I’m sure I could make the country a better place if I was in sole charge, I can guarantee others would disagree.

So what’s this got to do with Education?

Well everything really. When we choose a government those manifestos involve Education Policy. Education is a massive party of running the country. And I feel it should be.

What are the other choices?

We could hand control of Education to the private sector. This idea is abhorrent. Education would be reduced to a balance sheet.

We could hand it to the third sector. We could, at least then there wouldn’t be profit element involved. But who would be in charge? Someone I chose? Someone you chose? Someone the government appoints? Someone elected? All of these scenarios give rise to exactly the same problem that the government being in charge gives. So why create extra bureaucracy?

I do get annoyed by the fact that Education Policy seems to be used by politicians to score points, I’ve written about it before, but Education is important and people do hold different views on the best way to run it. It should be part of the remit of the government, it should be at the forefront of what they do and how people vote.

If you don’t like what’s happening, there are democratic channels to go down to affect change and I would urge everyone to do so. Write to your MP, campaign for the issues you believe in and campaign for the party that best represents your views.

There are 2 main problems with Democracy, the first is we don’t all always agree. This is an inevitable by product of the democratic system, a system that is, in my view, the best way to run a country. The second problem is apathy. At the recent local elections national voter turn our was less than 40% so around 2/3rds of those with the right to vote told us they just don’t care. This is a problem we need to address. I’m not sure how, perhaps compulsory voting as in Australia?

Addendum: Since writing this post I have spoken with Ross and he wasn’t advocating removing Education Policy from the government. He was expressing a wish to end the corruption and the way people politicians and press buy favours. This is certainly a sentiment I agree with and may write about more in future. I have, however heard others express the view that Education Policy be removed from government control.

  1. August 17, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  2. August 17, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Just wanted to share this blog: Seven things teachers are sick of hearing from school reformers http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/08/14/seven-things-teachers-are-sick-of-hearing-from-school-reformers/ – point 7 refers to education and politics.

    • August 17, 2014 at 5:52 pm

      Interesting post, thanks for sharing.

      • August 17, 2014 at 6:53 pm

        It was this sentence: “an academy chain chaired by xx, a Conservative party donor …” that prompted the tweet. Can share more via email.

      • August 17, 2014 at 7:10 pm

        Aye, would certainly be interested in that. Email is: Srcavadino@gmail.com

  3. August 17, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    I think it’s quite right and proper that the Government, however unpleasant it is, gets to set Education policy. However, I think there should be a much higher barrier to tinkering of the kind the last EdSec indulged in.

    The real problem with democracy is that I’m not the only voter 😉

    • August 17, 2014 at 9:15 pm

      Aye, I think we all feel that way often!

  4. August 20, 2014 at 2:02 am

    I now blog about math education rather than do it, partially because of a princi – er, CEO who said, “We are a business. Our students’ PSSA scores are our product.” Er, never mind! The miserable thing is that that administrator still has her job and $250K salary, and I don’t have the job or one-fifth the salary. And I’ll be surprised if my students don’t remember way more about the playgrounds we designed than the standardized tests they took!

    • August 20, 2014 at 2:04 am

      That’s really sad to hear. And is a real worry if education is moved away from public control.

  1. August 24, 2014 at 6:53 pm

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