The Logic of the Lockout

Danish education is expensive.

We want to save money.

Salaries are the most expensive part of running a school.

If teachers take more lessons on, we can fire surplus teachers and save on salaries.

If teachers are not paid for the time they spend preparing for and assessing lessons, we can save on salaries.

If we close down special needs units, we can put those students in the classes that were already there, we can fire special needs teachers (who get paid extra), and save on salaries.

If we say class sizes should be larger than they are now, we can fire surplus teachers and save on salaries.

Let’s pretend we are putting special needs students in larger classes with teachers who have had no extra training, to help them. So the voters don’t get angry. Let’s claim, when teachers fail to reach a significant minority of their students under these conditions, it is because they are bad teachers.

Let’s bring up that some studies have claimed Danish schoolchildren are underachieving.

Let’s ignore studies that are ambiguous or claim that Danish schoolchildren have been improving recently.

Let’s ignore studies that say teacher quality is the factor that most affects achievement (increasing teacher quality might mean increases in salary)

Let’s say:-

If Danish schoolchildren were in school longer, they wouldn’t underachieve anymore.

Let’s avoid:-

International studies do not suggest there is a relationship between contact hours and achievement.

Let’s suggest that teachers have a working time agreement in place where there is no upper limit of lessons they teach a week and some lessons will have no paid time to prepare or assess.

Let’s say no other job has paid preparation time. (And ignore that soldiers de-brief, lawyers research, politicians consult with civil servants, doctors write and read medical notes, plumbers get supplies from the wholesaler). Let’s pretend preparation time means deciding what topic to teach each morning.

Let’s claim that the plan is in the best interests of the students.

If the unions refuse, let’s make the teachers have a month or two with no income and the parents have a month or two with no (or a lot fewer) lessons for their children.

Every time someone complains this is bullying or unacceptable behaviour or unfair on students, claim that the unions can stop this any time they want.

Claim that the changes are for the students. Not the budget. The students. Keep claiming it.

Run national slur campaigns in the press and online. Make a lot of claims that put teachers in a bad light.

Ignore that children and adult learners who do not attend state schools are affected by the lockout (but already have different outcomes at the end of their education and will not be affected by the folkeskole reforms that are the ‘reason’ for the lockout.)

Ignore that losing the goodwill of your staff does not improve productivity or work quality.

Ignore that students missing out on these weeks will not get this time back. Ignore that a twilight session or a summer school or a Saturday cannot undo the damage of an indefinite number of weeks away from school. Do not address that students and teachers may be unavailable for the catchup hours.

Save millions on salaries every day the teachers are punished for being in a union that is fighting to have their value recognised.

Praise yourself repeatedly for using a model of negotiation where, through cooperation, both parties reach a mutually satisfactory outcome.

7 thoughts on “The Logic of the Lockout

  1. Let’s just keep in mind that this is not necessarily the logic behind it and the some of the oneliners presented here are a direct lie.

    I am totally aware that the Danish government is not the best when it comes to taking research into consideration and also that DLF (the danish teachers union) is fighting to keep the power they have right now.

    A blog about this topic should perhaps focus on the children and the research that shows what kind of organisation best supports their learning.


    1. Go on. Where have I lied?

      I have a longer post in the works about school improvements but it struck me that since these negotiations are about saving money and not increasing quality, it could wait for another day.

      It’s a money grab. It’s transparently not about making schools

      EDIT: I wrote the thing about school improvement and: what a shock: no one cares.


  2. As a Brit I just can’t get over how little activism and public outcry there has been. Apart from the shocking behaviour of the councils (and government) why aren’t the Danish people up in arms?
    They pay tax to have their kids educated but no one is saying why aren’t teachers allowed to educate my kids?
    But on the other hand am I really surprised…
    Seems in an ironic way quite fitting that they buried Thatcher this week – and some of us still remember her heavy hand with the Unions and war against civil servants. So, Denmark at the moment reminds me of Thatchers Britain – isn’t that just so lovely!


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