Over 2,000 teachers and student teachers took part in a protest today against education cuts outside Dail Eireann today. Student teachers marched from Colleges of Education to join serving teachers from across Dublin in protest at recent attacks on Newly Qualified Teachers pay and cuts in general to education.
Richard Boyd Barrett TD raised the issue with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Leaders Questions today- see HERE.
The Dublin Council of Trade Unions have called an anti-austerity protest for Novemeber 24th to which people were encouraged to attend.
At Leader’s Questions this morning ahead of today’s teacher’s protest, People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, accused the government of introducing “wage apartheid” with its new salaries for newly qualified teachers (NQT’s).
The starting salary for NQT’s is €30,700 – 25% lower than teachers who began their careers last year. Over the course of their working life new teachers will earn nearly a quarter of a million less than their colleagues who are just one year ahead of them.
Richard Boyd Barrett TD said: “The Taoiseach may feel “special” after his conversation with Angela Merkel on Sunday but this feeling of being special is not shared by the thousands of teachers who are going to march this afternoon against the cuts to education over the last years.
The Taoiseach was a teacher himself and should understand more than most, the impact of these cuts that have not only seen the NQT’s earning 25% less than their colleagues but have also seen drastic cuts at all levels of education. Class sizes have been increased, supports for children with special needs have been slashed and fees have been introduced at third level.
Now the government is threatening a further 77 million cut to the education budget. If the Taoiseach really wanted our children and those who care for them to feel “special” he would make sure that the super wealthy and the corporations paid the price of this crisis rather than presiding over the destruction of our education system.
In a statement, Richard Boyd Barrett TD for the People before Profit Alliance/ULA has condemned as “outrageous” the move by Clare Co. Council to deny third level grants to applicants whose parents have not paid the household charge.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said it was also unacceptable that the Minister for Education would allow Clare or any other Council to engage in this sort of bullying, with money that was not their own but which was given to them by the government specifically to provide grants for third level applicants, who were entitled to them.
Deputy Boyd Barrett called on the Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn, to intervene in the situation and instruct Clare Co. Council and all other Council’s that such abuse of grant funding must cease immediately.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said: “It is simply disgraceful that any Council should threaten to deny any young person access to third level education in an effort to strong-arm their parents into paying an unjust austerity charge.
It really is indicative of the depths to which the government has sunk that it would allow local authorities to blackmail families over the future of their children in an effort to force them to pay a totally unjust tax.
This money does not belong to the County Councils. It is a totally separate stream of funding to the Local Government Fund which Phil Hogan has reduced. The grant funding is specifically provided for third level grants to ensure access to third level education for the children of families who could not afford it through their own resources. So, this is a despicable misuse of education funding that will, yet again, affect low income families and potentially threaten the education and career prospects of those young people.
Minister for Education, Ruari Quinn, should immediately intervene in this situation and tell Clare County Council and any other Council that is considering such action to get their hands off grant funding.”
School communities from across the country including Leitrim, Donegal and Wexford took to the streets outside Leinster House yesterday in advance of the Dail Debate of the Technical Group motion on the issue. Speakers at the rally organised by the Save Our National Schools Campaign (SONS) included TDs Richard Boyd Barrett (People Before Profit Alliance), Luke ‘Ming’ Flannagan, Thomas Pringle, Joan Collins and Clare Daly, Ann Fay, President of the Irish National Teachers Organisation, parents, principals, teachers and representatives of SONS.
A video of Richard Boyd Barrett’s speech in the Dail debate can be seen HERE
Today, Wednesday 4th July, children with special needs, and their parents and school support workers, took to the streets and march from the Central Bank on Dame Street to Leinster House.
The protest was in response to the catalogue of cutbacks being imposed by the current Fine Gael/Labour government. Cuts in carers’ allowance, in respite care allowance, in domiciliary care allowance, in special needs assistants, in resource-teaching and now in provision for school leavers to serve the needs of speculators, banks and bondholders.
The protest was organised by the Alliance against Cutbacks in Education [A.C.E.] and was addressed by parents, teachers, special needs assistants, special needs organisations, including Down Syndrome Ireland and a number supportive TDs.
Speaking in the dáil today on a private members bill on the protection of small schools, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett TD said small schools are a vital part of communities across the country that have already been ravaged by cuts to a range of local services.
(Video of the Richard Boyd Barrett speaking in the debate this evening, see above)
Following a meeting with the Troika today it is clear that the policies of privatisation and cuts are set to continue.
The loss of these schools would have a lasting detrimental effect and dire social consequences on the surrounding community. The logistics of possible amalgamations and school closures have not been thought through. The long term effect of these cuts could in fact cost the state more, through necessary increased transport costs, the expansion of existing school buildings and much more, which would follow any amalgamations or closures.
If the government were to get away with the proposed cuts to small rural schools, struggling families will be the ones to bear the brunt of the increased transport costs, fundraising for new classrooms and children will be crammed into already overcrowded and inadequate school buildings.
On top of cuts to SNAs and resources for groups such as Travellers this is another short-sighted and cruel proposal.
In these times it is often claimed by the government that they don’t have a choice in the matter- that there is no alternative- but there are alternatives- For example: a recent report by Revenue Commissioners states that if they were allowed €6m to employ staff they could bring in €100 million per annum in uncollected taxes. This alone would mean there would be no need for these cuts
In his statement, Richard Boyd Barrett TD said, “In 2008 Ruairi Quinn speaking in the dáil, said that education cuts being proposed by Fianna fail were ‘a life sentence for children, their parents and grandparents’ and would do “irreparable damage”.
“Minister Quinn also said that investment in education was ‘a building block for future prosperity and social cohesion’ and would do “irreparable damage”. I would like to remind the Minister that this is still the case in 2012.”
“We should be defending every job and all services in our education system. The Labour/Fine Gael government intention to slash public education services comes directly from the rightly despised McCarthy Report of 2009.
A viable and sustainable small school is one which serves its community no matter how small the enrolment. In the context of the McCarthy report „viability‟ equals cost-effectiveness and financial considerations, rather than social and educational considerations.
We should reject attempts to place financial viability as a benchmark of whether to retain a service in our schools or not. We are venturing down a very dangerous path- which could threaten much more than just our small schools. What might be the next educational service or support that the government might consider “not cost effective” or “viable”?
Richard Boyd Barrett TD, People Before Profit/ United Left Alliance joins deputies from the Technical Group today for a photocall on the Technical Groups proposed Small Schools Bill Proposal – Education (Amendment) (Protection of Schools) Bill, 2012.
The Bill is due for debate next week and there is a protest at Leinster House at 6pm on Wednesday 4th July, called by the Save Our National Schools campaign.Please support. Download poster below.
Richard Boyd Barrett TD, Education Spokesperson for the United Left Alliance speaking to Education (Amendment) Bill 2012 in Dail Eireann on Thursday, 1 March 2012. Issues addressed in the speech include: Education Cuts to special education small rural schools, new entrant teacher pay cuts, employment of unqualified teachers and teacher supply panels.