@brittwright22 is a Teacher of English in the Midlands. She is a wife, mother and recent Labour party member who likes to read and write in her spare time.
The majority of teachers are disillusioned by the way the Conservative party has approached education in the United Kingdom. We had Michael Gove accusing history teachers of spreading socialist propaganda, Nicky Morgan laughing in our faces with a workload survey that robbed us all of an extra ten minutes of feed forward marking, and legal changes which mean that many schools can be converted in to an academy or free school by force in order to further the Tories’ ideological goal of an education system paid for and profited from by private businesses. Clearly a financial director in a city bank knows more about young people and schools than some silly Leftie who went into teaching to help people; if us teachers had more sense then we’d be in better paid jobs after all. So, do we allow the rhetoric and the march of privatisation to continue or do we make a stand? Do we curtail to the wishes of the government and leave teaching in our droves, seeking the giddy heights of graduate recruitment agencies and private businesses? No. We need to make a stand.
For too long, politics has been about money. The only reason, in my view, that governments need to deal with finances is to ensure that effective public services are provided for the whole country, yet somewhere along the line we have got lost and seem to think that fiscal approaches are the be all and end all of political debate. They’re not. Education has been off the agenda for too long but now it’s time to fight for representation, resolution and respect. We have the opportunity to ride a wave of political optimism, regardless of our political orientation, and back Jeremy Corbyn for leader of the Labour Party. You may gasp, roll your eyes, or mumble unintelligible comments about him being ‘unelectable’ (because obviously you can only be a real politician if you’re a blue blooded slitheen who says whatever the electorate want to hear), but if you believe in education, Labour member or not, then your vote in this leadership contest could finally force political institutions to pay attention to the education system and the state that we’re in.
Corbyn wants to scrap university tuition fees. Such talk generally precedes assertions that such a policy is fantastical and unaffordable. Corbyn, however, has costed this and claims a small increase in corporation tax and National Insurance for higher earners will pave the way for such a reform. Hold on a minute, before we start naysaying and bitterly declaring that we’ve heard it all before, when was the last time a politician said anything meaningful about education? When was the last time someone said that education is important because if we develop people then our economy naturally develops as a result of the gains in technological research and academic understanding? Young people deserve to choose whether or not they go to university rather than this being predetermined by their financial background.
The Daily Mail are panicking (or cackling hysterically – you decide) that Corbyn has a following of disillusioned, young people who want to revolutionise society with the atrocities of…a fairer tax system, equal opportunities, and a pragmatic approach to foreign policy which values other cultures rather than forcing neoliberal tyranny upon them. From my privileged position as a teacher in a secondary school, I can see that a lot of young people are increasingly looking to the left-wing of politics for hope. In our mock election the Green Party won despite a Tory victory for the constituency in the General Election – no wonder they won’t let sixteen year olds vote. Whilst the Daily Mail and the Conservatives may decry the young for their sense of fairness, do the young of Britain not need all the hope they can get? It is unlikely they will ever be able to afford to buy a house, they will statistically be financially poorer than their parents, and they have studied at a time when government meddling in education may have cost them qualifications or opportunities that those who came before them benefitted from.
If a vote for Corbyn is a vote for representation and equality for the young people of Britain then surely any moral voter, Labour member or not, must see that this is an opportunity for the voices of the ignored to be heard loud and clear in Whitehall. Young people, teachers, the disabled, the elderly – all of the disillusioned of society could unite behind a fair, diplomatic leader who has courage in his convictions. There are no sound bites from Corbyn and no easy answers, he will not lie to you for his own gain but he will fight for what is right in an increasingly elitist political system. Hear, hear.