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November 12, 2007

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dearieme

You haven't explained why immigration controls became suddenly ineffective in 1997: did our coast stretch?

stuart

Exactly the same logic aplies to anybody who hires. Making it horribly difficult to sack anyone will increase job security with no cost, it's a win win!

Maybe France is onto something.

Alex

Dearieme, this is poor even by your pathetic standards. The immigration service was in a state of quasi-permanent crisis from 1993-94 onwards, due to the combination of the Balkan and central African wars, the end of the Cold War, and Michael Howard's irresponsible demands for more vote-grubbing "toughness" combined with less budget.

Jonathan

Why not take it all up a step... rather than tinkering with this or that policy why not question a little more throroughly why government should be involved in these spheres in the first place. I use an old example but imagine what food provision would be like if the government had decided to nationalise that essential need alongside healthcare. Ye gods. Your thesis on shortcomings of management are well taken but it requires very large blinkers to continue hammering away looking for state solutions when they fail so terribly in nearly every sphere vs private enterprise. Which is 'less worse'?

reason

Isn't the real argument against sacking teachers that it takes a long time to train, and you would be better working out how to motivate them to perform better. Sacking them discourages not only them, but also other people thinking of becoming teachers and even worse make some good teachers feel that teaching is an insecure profession and leave.

Besides which, I'm horrified that here in Germany they have the same teacher take a class for the WHOLE of primary school. One of the great joys of going up a grade for me was getting shot of the old teacher. I don't think teachers do much for most kids, but bad teachers might hold some of them back. So long as a good one comes along the next, resiliant kids should catch up.

If school is about grading and socializing kids, learning to cope with a variety of personalities (and grading biases) is surely a plus.

Max

Is that "where's your tool" as in:

"Where's your tool?"
"What fuckin' tool?" Baldy spits back
"This fuckin' tool!" shouts Carlin as he koshes Baldy.

Max

What happens when the state gets involved in food production?

Something like this chart on US Federal food subsidy compared to Federal nutrition recommendations: http://www.pcrm.org/magazine/gm07autumn/images/pyramid.jpg

Tristan Mills

I think we need a better way to provide education. Its currently a mess. Simply sacking bad teachers (how do you decide that?) doesn't work.
I think teachers should be subject to the risk of being sacked though, it would increase the pressure to work.
Doing it now however would just result in the teachers that don't fit the government's model of a 'good teacher' getting sacked.

If we had a market in education and teacher mobility, teachers would gravitate towards institutions which suit them better and into which they'd fit well.

As for government waste- one easy way would be to stop government doing so much. They could start with import duties etc (although that's largely tied up with the US) then scrapping ID cards, tax credits (raise the threshold instead) and subsidies to the arts and to business.
Oh and lots of regulation can easily be removed too, although where to start would be difficult...

It is of course possible to cause cultural shifts, they managed in China and the USSR...

I think what is consider feasible is more a case of what can politicians use to get votes and look like they're doing something about rather than what could actually be done...

dearieme

"The beginning of the New Labour “immigration programme” marks a serious failure on immigration policy. The Labour Party came to power in 1997, when the net inflow of migrants into the UK had actually fallen from 77,000 in 1994 to 47,000 in 1997 (Office for National Statistics, 15 December 2005)." I can't vouch for that data, but a quick Google suggests that an awful lot of people seem to hold it as uncontentious that Labour upped immigration enormously, and deliberately; that their policy had nothing to do with "asylum"; that they have been strangely reluctant to explain and claim credit for their efforts.

Patrick

The proposals regarding teachers struck me as very misplaced. Rather than tackle the problem - alleged poor teaching skills - it is proposed to simply get rid of the teachers.

Where are excellent replacement teachers to be found?

It is a manager's - and a head teacher's - responsibility to manage and develop their staff; not sack them.

Dipper

what would happen if the state was responsible for food provision?

It would be awful. There would be very little choice. The state would bend to the wishes of the agrochemical industry rather than the people. Local producers would be pushed out of business.

Oh. Hang on a minute..

Maynard Handley

"I think we need a better way to provide education. Its currently a mess. Simply sacking bad teachers (how do you decide that?) doesn't work."

Mmm. The starting point for this whole discussion appears to be that the dear little angels attending schools would just love to learn if only the damn system would stop forcing them to watch TV and play video games, and would allow them to go to the library every so often.
How about an alternative analysis which starts from the (somewhat more accurate) point that some children are thugs, and most are lazy cretins. Given this, what are we trying to achieve?
- do we want the few that are actually interested in bettering themselves to have a chance? If so, the power to be given to headmasters should be less about tossing out teachers and more about tossing out children.
- do we want as many as possible of the lazy to at least learn something? If so, first off figure out what it is we want them to learn, and second create environments where learning is going to happen --- uniforms, no cell phones in school, disruptive types segregated in their own jails away from everyone else; severe punishments for those who don't do homework, etc etc.

The bottom line is that whether you are invading Iraq or reforming education, if your starting point is some fairlyland totally unconnected with reality, it's really irrelevant the quality of your subsequent analysis.

young man

Your immigration argument is rubbish.

The UKs cborder might be long but is mostly coastline and the UK doesn't border mexico.

Besides which the US could easily stop the vast majority of illegal immigration rather cheaply by buidling a fence. The fact is they don't really want too, I suspect rich americans quite like there cheap illegal labor force.

Australia manages to police its much larger coastline quite effectively, the uk can too.

Kevin Carson

Reminds me of Paul Goodman's comment on managers who "don't know what a good job of work is," and therefore have to resort to extrinsic measures as a proxy.

And as Oliver Williamson noted, disgruntled workers are prone to "perfunctory compliance": that is, they comply with unreasonable management demands in areas where compliance can be measured, while resorting to foot-dragging and waste, and other forms of passive (or active) sabotage in areas that can't be measured.

Alex

Australia manages to police its much larger coastline quite effectively

Most of which faces on to one of the Tasman Sea, the Southern Ocean, and the Indian Ocean.

Next question.

Alex

"I can't vouch for that data"

So why the fuck are you bothering other people with it?

"A quick Google suggests"

Trans. "People who agree with me say"

Poor.

Lee griffin

young man: Immigrants from where? Australia is situated at least some 20 times further from a "populated civilisation" that would feel the need to leave/flee their country, and even for those countries closes to it it is easier to flee north towards China or

Besides, how much of a "problem" immigration is is down to the perception of the current residents of a country. Do a search for Australia's immigration problem vs the UK's and the difference is immediately apparent in the underlying perception.

The comparison of Australia to the UK is rather facetious, whereas the comparison between the US and UK regarding Mexico is a lot closer to the situation the UK faces.

That's not to say it's comparable about how to tackle it nor that the OP has much of a point with regards to the UK border length.

dearieme: However it is always spin that drives this issue, unfortunately, isn't it? Statistics tell everything and nothing at the same time. Can you gain illegal immigrant figures for 1994 and 1997? What about the context of how policy change over history? War in the balkans, atrocities in Africa...I'm not suggesting that these weren't happening pre-1997 but they were definitely happening after 1997 in a time when the EU started actively dealing with immigration across all it's states.

Can you come on here and prove your accusations against the Labour government aren't somewhat misguided if not false given the complete change of continental immigration policy and economic change over the last decade and cultural/lifestyle shifts?

I for one would be very interested to hear facts rather than spin and rhetoric that immigration is more of a "problem" because of a governments lack of ability to manage their borders rather than the much more logical reasons of more open immigration for EU residents, the strength of the British economy, and potential cultural/lifestyle allures that the UK has gained for non-UK residents.

Lee griffin

Hmm, I managed to miss out part of my first paragraph, it should read...

"young man: Immigrants from where? Australia is situated at least some 20 times further from a "populated civilisation" that would feel the need to leave/flee their country, and even for those countries closes to it it is easier to flee north towards China. The UK's proximity and transport connections to the rest of Europe, and proximity to the balkan states and Africa mean that it will always be part of a group of countries targeted much more than Australia ever will"

Bishop Hill

Dipper seems to believe that there is currently very little choice of food in this country.

How odd! When was the last time he went to a supermarket I wonder? And has he ever been to a country where the state did run the food supply?

Meanwhile Patrick says that it's not the headteacher's job to sack staff. Well, no, I suppose not. It's his job to work out whether the teacher concerned can be made into a good teacher somehow or whether he/she is irredeemable.

Some people seem to have a very strange idea of what management is.

Roger Thornhill

Chris, your counter-argument re teachers just outlines symptoms of other systemic problems to do with the State education paene-monopoly.

If Heads were truly in charge, hired, set pay scales and had their objectives in line with those of their parents and pupils (i.e. they got funding via vouchers or such), then only rarely will teachers need to be fired, yet the ability/sanction needs to be there without the unions busting in and crying foul. Same goes for pupils - Heads need to have the final say on exclusion.

Pay good teachers ALOT, but this needs pay flexibility on a per-school basis and the end to the demand that a teacher has to be employed against the will of the Head - which is what would happen if duff teachers cannot be sacked.

Innocent Abroad

I strongly suspect that if you carried out a survey in which bosses (whether headteachers, bank managers or anyone else) were asked to rate their staff, the one thing it would show is that they preferred the ones they'd hired themselves to the ones they inherited.

Bishop Hill

Roger

Yes Chris's argument is an odd one. A head may recruit a teacher on the basis of a CV, and a couple of interviews, just like any other job in any other industry. In any other industry managers get it wrong and end up having to fire the people they have hired. Quite what Chris sees as special about schools - why they should not be allowed to fire people who turn out to be incompetent - is beyond me.

Of course in most industries, someone who recruits a useless member of staff is unlikely to be able to do so many times before they find themselves eased out. Of course with "democratic accountability" things are probably different.

The recruitment thing is a classic case of asymettrical information isn't it? The applicant says they're a great teacher and the head doesn't really know one way or the other.

Alex

The head says they're essentially honest; and the applicant doesn't really know either way.

The applicant, however, has far less power to do anything about it. Managerialists can sack their mistakes, and anyone who has the misfortune to be right when they are wrong; the rest of us can plant vines, or hope we have enough left to do so.

Shuggy

\"In fact, if you gave heads more power to sack teachers, the ones who\'d get the boot would be the staffroom curmudgeons, the ones who didn\'t share the head\'s \"vision\", the older more expensive teachers, the ones who believe students should be educated rather than just taught to the test.\"

And the Heads would reward sycophants - more than they do already, that is. Personally I think it\'d be a lot of fun if the staff could sack the Head.

\"If Heads were truly in charge, hired, set pay scales and had their objectives in line with those of their parents and pupils (i.e. they got funding via vouchers or such), then only rarely will teachers need to be fired, yet the ability/sanction needs to be there without the unions busting in and crying foul. Same goes for pupils - Heads need to have the final say on exclusion.\"

My, what a lot of faith you have in Headteachers. Why is this?

Roger Thornhill

Alex: It is not just "managerialists". It is imperfect, but just less imperfect than many other ways of doing it.

Shuggy: I want good Head Teachers as fact, not "faith". If they are not up to it, they should go, too.

If you want such "fun", then set up a school with your system and see how well you do. I would like you to have such a freedom, but also with the freedom for others not to use your system and compete in parallel. Lets see where the good Teachers and Head Teachers end up working and the parents send their kids. If one system ends up working best for the education and well-being of the children from the point of view of parents and employers, I will not care.

Shuggy

"I want good Head Teachers as fact, not "faith". If they are not up to it, they should go, too."

No - you seem to want them to have these powers *now*. What makes you think they are competent to exercise them? I'd be particularly interested to hear what makes you think they know what a good teacher is, given that the overwhelming majority have to rely on *memory* for their information about what it takes to teach a class or even what the inside of a classroom looks like.

"Lets see where the good Teachers and Head Teachers end up working and the parents send their kids"

Ha ha - no, we already know the answer to this. Bloggertarians - who are, as everyone knows, all experts on the subject of education - will tell you that the best teachers end up in either the private sector or in grammar schools. Y'see, apparently the best teachers are a) motivated by money b) wouldn't dream of working with the poor.

Roger Thornhill

Shuggy "No - you seem to want them to have these powers *now*."

Do you not see how absurd you are in disagreeing with my point by saying you somehow know that I am saying something else? Having Heads accountable is all part of the answer and I am surprised it actually needs spelling out.

Shuggy: "Ha ha - no,"

Well, I don't know who these people you refer to are, and I certainly do not hold that view and I would think if such people did hold the view you suggest, it would not be for the reasons you put forward. Again, you do look really odd telling someone that they are wrong because a viewpoint you create and falsely attribute to them is wrong.

Shuggy

"If Heads were truly in charge, hired, set pay scales and had their objectives in line with those of their parents and pupils (i.e. they got funding via vouchers or such), then only rarely will teachers need to be fired, yet the ability/sanction needs to be there without the unions busting in and crying foul. Same goes for pupils - Heads need to have the final say on exclusion."

Ok - so this was a future aspiration and you're talking about a regime where Heads are accountable too. Except you didn't mention this, far less how and to whom they should be accountable. Then you finish off with some lame remark about this not needing to be 'spelled out' so that you can claim I look absurd? Hmph! I'm afraid it does need spelling out. Presently, for example, they are accountable to the council with regards to their exclusion policy. You obviously don't think they should be - so to whom are they to give an account of their exclusion policy? Or shouldn't they, as your previous comment implies? And if they shouldn't, they aren't really acountable, are they?

Second point: this was a joke - not particularly directed to you. Try to be less sensitive.

Dipper

Bishop Hill - yes and no. Much of our food industry is run by the government, or the EU. Regulations force out small producers and hand the market to multinationals. And on our local estate of 10,000 people there is - by design - one supermarket.

Read http://www.lovereading.co.uk/book/1054 for an alternative view of the state of our food industry.

Bishop Hill

Dipper

OK, point taken. But the choice in our over-regulated market is still enormous compared to a state-run system. I lived in China for a couple of years when the free market reforms were in their early stages. Believe me the choice we have is amazing, even now.

Roger Thornhill

Shuggy, absurd is not for spelling it out, just your presumption.

As for Heads, "giving account" is a world away form being "accountable" - one is just transparency and another implies subordination. Heads who are not employed and managed by the Council should not be subordinate to them, as that implies authority without responsibility. Ideally, schools should be possible outside the direct control of the Council. We have seen how disruptive it is if the Head is not where the buck stops.

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