Teachers And PPF

 

Sir, - It behoves Joe O'Toole to acknowledge the legitimate concerns of teachers who are voting in such huge numbers against PPF, rather than using the media to pit himself against his own union members. He should make himself aware of the fact that certain aspects of this deal are unacceptable, no matter what "sweeteners" he comes up with.

How dare he, of all people, take such an anti-education stance by threatening that if teachers reject this deal primary education must automatically forego the right to an efficient and effective system, complete with proper funding, pupil-teacher ratio and ancillary staff. Surely this is the democratic right of all our children, regardless of pay deals, and especially in these days of budget surpluses. We were under the impression that Joe O'Toole, in his capacity as general secretary of the INTO, would consider it his duty to protect these rights above all else.

The new benchmarking system which replaces relativity (which TDs have no hesitation in citing as a basis for their 30 per cent claim) is being foisted on teachers without any clarification, its implications being deftly obfuscated by its architects. The only certainty is that the new system will have far-reaching consequences and will not be advantageous to education generally.

Pay issues, such as the paltry three per cent for early settlers and the less-than-inflation salary increase, pale into insignificance when the contingent aspects of the last four per cent are examined.

Fundamental changes are being sought in our conditions of service, without consultation or agreement. No other profession would be expected to embrace radical restructuring under these circumstances.

Teachers, contrary to what the media and the public believe, are not afraid of accountability. The present system of inspection, properly implemented, is the appropriate instrument to fully satisfy that requirement.

We most strongly disapprove of being railroaded by our own executive into accepting a deal that will inevitably lead to the lowering of educational standards and the decimation of the teaching profession. Teachers in other countries have travelled this road ahead of us and it is well documented that standards in education have fallen, for example, in England and Canada. In these countries, teachers are overwhelmed by the burden of needless paperwork, excessive testing and reporting, and education cuts, compromising quality teaching of the children.

There is an urgent need to enter into a real debate on the merits and demerits of our primary education system, to identify where we should be going, rather than blindly following the sometimes erroneous direction taken by other countries. Then, let's walk ahead together with our heads held high.-Yours, etc., M. Mhic Eochaidh, M. Ni Ghrada, C. Nic Choinshleibhe and M. Ni Dhubhaigh,

Gaelscoil Mide, Cill Bharrog, Baile Atha Cliath 5.