There were so many cuts made to our profession in the last decade, it’s hard to know where to start sometimes. However, which cut do the candidates think will be the most difficult to reverse?
I’m a very optimistic person. I do not focus on negativity as it’s simply too energy sapping. I have never subscribed to a narrow defeatist vision, so I’m hardly about to start now.
However, if I were to pick one cut that I feel may not be overturned soon – it’s the cut to the Modern Languages programme in primary schools.
The cuts that are most difficult to reverse though, and those that were most insidious are those that targeted the most vulnerable groups in society. That is why it was great that in January/February 2012 we prevented Ruairí Quinn’s attempted cuts to the DEIS scheme – cuts that were targeted at taking teachers out of schools in some of the most disadvantaged communities in the state. Those cuts were prevented by a massive campaign that brought principals, staff reps, teachers, parents and children in those communities together and put huge pressure on government TDs. That was a campaign that I am delighted to say I played a key role in helping to organise, it was a campaign built by branch committees, district committees, staff reps and principals and a real example of what is possible when we build from the ground up in a non-hierarchical manner.
The government had expected to get away with the DEIS cuts because they did not expect socially disadvantaged communities to organise a campaign of resistance. The cuts that happened to the Visiting Teacher Service for Travellers and to Resource Teachers for Travellers, and that we allowed to happen, targeted one of the most disadvantaged groups in society. As such they were the most insidious, and will probably prove difficult to reverse. But, both services were and are still clearly needed so we should never say never.