Does red-green-red have a plan for the ailing schools?

WAs the previous school senator Sandra Scheeres (SPD) dared, those who no longer have to win an election can only expect themselves: they have had the Berlin school system and their own policies evaluated by an independent commission. The result last autumn was more than sobering: Hardly any other country spends so much money on every student and gets such poor results. Abuses are responded to selectively without individual funding measures being meaningfully embedded in an overall strategy, which is why they fizzle out. At that time, the scientists named six fields of action and also insisted that an advisory board be set up to accompany the implementation of the recommendations.

Heike Schmoll

Political correspondent in Berlin, responsible for the “educational worlds”.

This advisory board was convened, made up of top-class scientists and practitioners and is headed by the former Hamburg State Councilor Michael Voges. Many parents of school-age children saw this departure as a signal in Berlin’s ailing school policy that they had been waiting for a long time. But what will happen now, after the election to the House of Representatives, of the proposals of the Quality Commission and the work of the Advisory Board?

View into the stairwell of a Berlin elementary school


View into the stairwell of a Berlin elementary school
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Image: dpa

Changes of government in Baden-Württemberg, for example, have shown that policy papers and inconvenient reform proposals tend to disappear in the drawer after elections and are never taken out again. It is still completely unclear who will get the education department in Berlin – SPD, Greens or Left. So far, only one thing is certain: those familiar with the Berlin education system, including those who are actually close to the three negotiating partners, have interpreted the guidelines of the previous talks as if no major changes were planned – and they are disappointed. They also miss a clear commitment to the further implementation of the quality strategy: there is not a word about this in the exploratory papers.

Lack of quality control and lack of staff

Instead, general phrases are formulated: “We will continue to drive investments in the education sector, further increase the quality of education and maintain the exemption from fees from daycare to university.” Berlin is already investing 10,400 euros for each student. That is significantly more than other states such as Saxony, which spends 7,800 euros per student, but comes up with significantly better results. While Saxony almost always lands in one of the first three places in performance comparisons, Berlin and Bremen regularly share the last places. This cannot be explained by a lack of investment – but it can be explained by a lack of management, a lack of quality control and a lack of staff.

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After 25 years of social democratic school policy, the Greens, the Left and the SPD still cite equal opportunities as the primary common goal in educational policy. A sign that all efforts to level differences have failed? The fact that the school building campaign for the ailing school buildings is to be continued shows that building renovation has not even started in many schools. It remains to be seen whether the planned remunicipalisation of school cleaning will make the classrooms and the unreasonable sanitary facilities of Berlin schools cleaner.

What is new is the return to the civil service of teachers. As the only federal state without civil service, Berlin had lost more and more trained teachers in recent years because they found civil servant positions in Hamburg or Brandenburg more attractive than having to deal with Berlin students for significantly lower salary.

13 percent early school leavers

The unions were against the civil service because teachers would no longer have the right to strike and the Senator for Finance feared the cost of pensions. For a long time, the SPD and the Greens, too, were strictly against civil service, especially the left. But at this crucial point, the future governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) seems to have prevailed. In the end, the greens and the left bowed to the power of the factual. Because the education administration is already forced to fill more and more teaching positions with lateral and lateral entrants; In primary schools, 70 percent now teach non-teacher specialists who often have inadequate educational training.

Another new feature is an apprenticeship guarantee for young people in order to give them “opportunities to participate and future prospects on the job market”. This melodious goal also hides a failure of the previous school policy in the capital: 13 percent of secondary school students drop out and leave school without a qualification. This is not surprising given that 40 percent of a year group fail to meet the minimum standards in reading, writing and arithmetic.

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