Junior cycle reform rejected - ASTI decision disappointing

IT is very disappointing that the country’s largest second-level teachers’ union, the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) has rejected proposals on junior cycle reform reached after long and difficult negotiations, negotiations marked by considerable compromise on both sides.

The ASTI rejection comes after the Teachers’ Union of Ireland, (TUI) which represents a third of teachers at second level, agreed to the reforms.

That disappointment is exacerbated by the fact that the ASTI rejection is based on a mandate from fewer than 4,000 teachers and that only 38% of the 18,000 ASTI members even bothered to vote.

The opposition to the proposals, though decisive, hardly seems proportionate or of sufficent weight to stall the long-awaited programme to make the junior cycle more relevant and effective.

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan has already described the decision as “deeply disappointing”.

One of the debilitating characteristics of our society is how very long reform takes. This programme was initiated in June 2009 by then education minister Batt O’Keeffe.

It does seem bizarre that more than six years later one of the parties involved — the refusnik ASTI — says it believes a solution can be reached.

When? 2046 maybe? Or is that too ambitious?

The minister should consider imposing the solution already agreed with the TUI because she would probably have far more support than the ASTI could ever muster.

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