Lessons from the teachers’ conferences


Sir, – As a teacher, I wish to apologise to your letter writers (April 4th). I wish to apologise for wanting to ensure that young teachers, on their “huge incomes”, can afford rent, food and taxes. I wish to apologise for wanting to ensure that teachers of the future are encouraged to strive to be the best teachers that they can be. I wish to apologise for putting my students’, my children’s and the country’s future education above a Minister’s ego.

Finally, I wish to apologise for being so angry at the way education is being eroded that I let out a few shouts at one of our great leaders. Or maybe the public simply doesn’t know what is happening to our education system? Maybe people believe the Government on this one issue. – Yours, etc,


ASTI Delegate,


Timoleague, Co Cork.

A chara, – The criticism of the teachers’ response to the commentary delivered by the Minister for Education at the INTO congress in Cork on Tuesday morning belies a number of truths.

A speech, which repeatedly alluded to the term “outcome”, demonstrated the objectives of a department and Government which is clearly intent on pursuing a deeply flawed business-model approach to educational provision in this State.

The red card shown to the Minister listed 25 cuts which have been imposed on educators and on schools over the past number of years, including among others, cuts in resource teaching hours as well as the abolition of essential grants.

The Minister did not once refer to the terms “poverty” or “inequality” in his speech, which are the primary causes for educational under-achievement in this country. As a member of a political party which was constituted to represent the interests of labour and the working classes, it is hardly surprising that his delivery was given an emphatic “red card” by those present. – Is mise,


Steeple Manor,

Trim, Co Meath.

Sir, – Government Ministers continue to insist that there is no alternative to Croke Park 2 and Ruairí Quinn warned this week that rejection of the proposals by teachers’ unions will have an inevitably detrimental impact on front-line services.

There is, of course, an alternative and that would be to spread the impact more equitably through the tax system. By all means let us have a debate about the respective merits of reducing spending as against raising revenue, but it is nothing short of deceitful to suggest the alternative doesn’t exist.

The Government needs to explain why, with 1.8 million people still at work in Ireland, the 300,000 employees in the public sector should be required to shoulder the entire burden. If the objective is to encourage public servants to vote for the proposals, then senior Ministers would be better advised to attempt an answer to this question than to scaremonger about front line services. – Yours, etc,


Philipsburgh Terrace,

Marino, Dublin 3.

Sir, – Was there nothing on the agenda of the teaching conferences about education? Are the divisions in education ever mentioned, the private schools and colleges where preferential treatment is the ethos? The poor records of second-level schools in large working class urban communities in achieving third-level access for students? The vast majority of people in the workplace work hard, most of them not well paid and enjoying only that time off as laid out in the legislation. The local parks, clubs and playing fields in the evenings and at weekends are full of those same people giving their time to the community. These are people getting on with it and their struggle is by far greater than teachers’.

Very few people in disadvantaged areas ever receive or emerge from third-level education and fewer still become teachers. This is not a reflection on the abilities of children, but of a discriminatory and unequal education system which has had neither the will or the ability over generations to change.

The public in general might have an interest in the annual teacher conferences if some of those issues were discussed. Is it necessary to have three separate conferences on the same theme?

Sir, will The Irish Times for once speak for the little man? – Yours, etc.,


Millbrook Road,

Dublin 13.

Sir, – I see in today’s paper (April 4th) three letters, all of which are teacher-bashing; plus there was a Department of Education apologia by Brian Mooney on Tuesday (Education). So much for the paper of record’s balance. – Yours, etc,


Grace Park Road,

Drumcondra, Dublin 9.