I've been silent too long.
I just found myself in tears listening to Joni Mitchell's peerless "Blue". Liz Lochead having chosen "All I want" to take to her desert island provoked me to dig out my copy and play it through, following the lyrics on the sleeve notes. Just a couple of bars of "Little Green" always starts me off and by the time I got to "The Last Time I saw Richard" and its reflections on the death of optimism I was nearly ready to give up the ghost.
Confronted by the endless awful news in the Observer again, my tears flowed for a world that until that godawful referendum seemed flawed but liveable in. Now I feel stateless. I don't recognise where I am any more. I don't mean in a physical sense. I think the word is deracinated - uprooted. It is unbelievable just how quickly everything I believed in and valued has turned to dust. Trump's ghastliness sucks the air from my lungs. The prospect of Tory rule without end fills me with black despair. I don't want any of this. It spells disaster for so many.
There must be thousands, if not millions, like me. What are we to do?
I guess I'm meant to be writing something snarky about education, my stock in trade. It wouldn't be hard. I just need the Tories to publish their inevitably pathetically thin and evasive manifesto to confirm their intention to impose an education policy on the nation that is discredited even before it's enacted. I can't stand this abject stupidity.
This is not a good day to summon up humour, so as a way of deflecting melancholy I'll share something I wrote for a conference of lovely, intelligent governors in Lewisham recently.
It was on the theme of governance and where it is going. Here's what I suggested as a possible future for education:
Eventually all but a few untouchable schools become academies as part of very large MATs because LAs have virtually disappeared. MATs are traded on the stock market as commodities. Most are owned by EU governments and PLCs (now we've taken back control). Some have even been bought and sold on Ebay.
Governance is gradually removed from all schools by MAT CEOs who argue with one voice "If your uncle is going in for brain surgery do you need someone going in from the community to oversee it?" * The community demands to know what brain surgery is, since the NHS closed down years ago. (*Comment actually made by Andrew Fielder, CEO, Aspire Academy Trust, Cornwall in defence of removing local governing bodies from the Trust's schools)
MAT Boards (now renamed Compensation Committees) increasingly collude with Principals and CEOs to award themselves bigger and bigger pay rises for doing less and less, more and more ineffectively. But there are fewer and fewer teachers to teach the children. And more and more children. Who are getting fatter and fatter. Schools are literally bursting at the seams.
Standards decline dramatically. The government changes the metrics every year to disguise the decline, celebrating year on year statistical improvements.
A series of scandals hits the news, all featuring fraud and embezzlement by a few freeloaders at the top of the biggest MATs. Earl Gove's coalition government has to be seen to do something.
A new White Paper proposes the renationalisation of academies, henceforth to be known as "schools", the introduction of local accountability via new area councils and the appointment of boards of local governors in all schools in order to bring education back under public control. This will, of course, represent excellent value for money for the taxpayer and be partly paid for by selling off the nation's remaining pigeons, motorways and skies.
In a light-hearted advert with a serious message, Education Ministers Mel and Sue appeal for 300,000 members of the public to come forward as school governors. Unpaid, of course, but with a chance to appear as contestants on a new series of "Britain's Hidden Heroes".
Lord Toby Young (Barking) praises this return to sanity and local decision-making, castigating all those who advocated academies and free schools. The Daily Mail's headline next day refers to Lord Harris and other academy sponsors as "Yet more Enemies of the People".
In the US, President (Michele) Obama changes the law so that she can serve a third term, by popular demand.
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