School report for citizenship – could do better.

What a nice break that was (although adding another child to my family could/should hardly be considered a break).

I’ve worked nearly every day I can since the age of 16. I worked so I could put myself through college; I worked so I could put myself through university; I worked so I could experience all the trappings of ‘Old London Town’, recently I have worked to keep a roof over my family’s head. Cards on the table time….I’m a teacher, a nurse, a diplomat…I’m a public servant. I, like most public servants, pay taxes. I also pay student loan repayments and pension contributions. I don’t have a credit card or an overdraft, in fact, apart from my student loan I’m totally debt free. I have never been arrested…I am a public servant. However, I am the only bread winner in my beautiful family of four. By 2013 I will earn just above the cut off limit for child benefit. Since May I have seen my pay frozen for the next two years, my children’s child benefit taken away and now I face the prospect of a de-facto pay cut if the findings from the Hutton report are implemented. I am a public servant.

I am told that in order to be a good citizen it takes more than just, raising a family, paying taxes, abiding by the law and teaching the leaders of tomorrow. I’m told that I have to do more…my country needs me. I, like most citizens of this country, work extremely hard. Since September I have worked an average of 55 hours a week (this includes Sunday)…I am most definitely not on my own and there so many more people that work harder and longer, and for less. I am a public servant. I guess my point is, what more can I do?

I didn’t go into teaching for the holidays or the generous pension at retirement; I went into teaching because I wanted to offer children a better standard of education than I received…I wanted to make a small difference to the country in which I grew up in. I don’t feel that I should be bribed into doing it and I don’t feel that I should be bullied into leaving. I am a public servant.

We were told today by Emma Boon, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance: ‘It is not right for taxpayers to be subsidising million-pound retirement benefits for the public sector elite while seeing the value of their own pensions plummet’. I look forward to announcing to my colleagues tomorrow morning that we no longer pay tax, not only that, we also each get a million-pound on retirement. Now I’m not saying that being the campaign manager for the TaxPayer’s Alliance isn’t a proper job but Ms Booth is clearly not good in her current role as she has failed to understand, recognise that public servants also pay tax.

I’m sure that when the coalition have finished demonising the unemployed, public servants, the north, local councils, the police, the NHS, Europe, immigrants then I’m sure they will get around to the tax evaders and the bonkers bank bonuses. The coalition are some what correct in their approach to citizens that choose not to seek work or undertake work if they believe it beneath them. However, the proportion of those that fiddle the benefits system doesn’t come close to the proportion of those that fiddle the tax system. The top 10% of this country own 90% of it’s wealth, this leaves 10% of wealth to 90% of the country.

So to sum up, I need to work longer for less money, I have no right to financial assistance through the taxes that I pay and I have to work for free during the only time that I get to spend with my family. I am a public servant…is this fair?

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What’s in a name?

Juliet:
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo & Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

This got me thinking, what is in a name? Do our names reflect our personalities? Do our names make us predisposed to certain actions, to certain ways of thinking, political ideologies even? For instance if you look up the meaning of the word ‘Gove’ (Michael), it means ‘A mow‘. Look up the word ‘Mow‘ and you receive this rather ironic meaning;

‘mow 1 |mō|verb ( past part. mowed or mown |mōn|) [ trans. ]cut down with a machine’

‘cut down with a machine’…well that is what a lot of teachers, parents, students, building contractors & architects were screaming yesterday after his needless dismantling of the BSF programme.

Lets try again, if you look up the word conservative in the dictionary the first description happens to be, ‘disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.’ We also get, ‘having the power or tendency to conserve’ The problem here appears to be that the current Conservative party wants to be all things to all people, it wants to ‘limit change’ while actually proclaiming the opposite; and on the matter of having the ‘tendency to conserve’, well it doesn’t seem that interested in conserving any jobs at the moment.

So lets take a closer look at some other names and their meanings;

Liberal – ‘willingness to give-in large amounts‘  – they have certainly done this. The tories are always stating what influence the Lib Dems have had on the shaping of policy but have they really? Cleggs statement on the referendum for voting reform is a case in point. For as long as I can remember the Lib Dems have been banging on about ‘Proportional Representation’. Now they are willing to compromise and take a new voting system that is the weakest, watered down form of voting reform available. They argue of course that it’s the only deal they could get. By that thinking the next time anyone buys a car we should just take any deal offered to us because at least that way it’s a deal…no matter what ramifications that deal may have.

Labour – ‘productive activity, esp. for the sake of economic gain’ or ‘to act, behave, or function at a disadvantage’ or ‘to burden or tire’ – all three of these meanings could be levelled at the current and previous incantations of the Labour movement/party. They certainly went into government with productive activities for the sake of the country’s economic gain (New deal, Minimum Wage, etc). They have always been hampered or have always had to function at a disadvantage due to the nature of the class system that is still prevalent in the country. Finally no-one could argue that they became burdened and they certainly began to tire.

Cameron – ‘one who had a wry nose’ – On the face of it this is quite amusing…however, if we look up the meaning of the word ‘Wry’, the trend continues. ‘Wry’ means ‘devious in course or purpose; misdirected; contrary; perverse; distorted or perverted, as in meaning and finally bitterly or disdainfully ironic or amusing‘. The disdainfully ironic thing being that Cameron seems to leak every inch of these descriptions. His policies are seen to be devious in course, his ideology is misdirected, contrary to what the public really wants, his party’s mandate to govern is a perversion of our political system, he has distorted and perverted the Lib Dems into his thinking through the purchase of their souls for the mere hint of power.

Clegg -‘one who came from, or lived near Clough (dweller at a hollow or ravine) – Clegg came from or was a dweller of a ravine and that is right where he has left his party. Sadly for the Lib Dems they have been led down a ravine that has now had its natural entrance and exit cut off by the Conservatives. The only way out for them is to climb the steep slopes of mounting public condemnation of their machiavellian pursuit of power.

In all honesty these names are meaningless, no logical free thinking person believes that the decisions that we take are determined by our given names. It could all work out well in the end…someone said to me today that it doesn’t matter that schools aren’t going to be rebuilt because ‘people make a difference  not buildings’. I suppose he was right, however, buildings and facilities aid a students self worth. When walls fall down they need to be fixed, that money needs to come from somewhere, inevitably it will come from monies earmarked for text books, computers, etc.

Martin Buber said ‘The real struggle is not between capitalism and communism, but between education and propaganda.’ – We all need to look past the propaganda and educate ourselves to the true cost of cutting education.

Pupil Premium & Free Schools

The Con-Dem party have delivered the following promises on education;

• new providers can enter the state school system in response to parental demand
• We will fund a significant premium for disadvantaged pupils

These flagship policies from both parties don’t marry together. How can they?

The ‘Pupil Premium’ policy was designed to inject much needed money to disadvantaged pupils/disadvantaged schools. However, the ‘Free School’ policy allows ‘anyone’ to set up a school anywhere for anyone. The government will give state education funding for those who wish to do this. Funding that will have a direct impact on existing school budgets.

Surely this is either taking money away from disadvantaged pupils or taking money out of disadvantaged schools…or at the very least disadvantaging schools further.