Quite literally, he can be described as an English NUT. In fact, he is an English NUT head because the National Union of Teacher in England is called “NUT” and Barber was once their head. We think NUT head is a pretty accurate description of this former accountant turned history teacher.
He started off in the teachers union leading a national boycott against standardized testing. But that was short-lived and he soon parlayed his position as spokesperson for British teacher unions into a university professorship and authored “The Learning Game.” During that time, Barber became Tony Blair’s speech writer on education issues. By the mid 1990’s, this daft, middle aged NUT head who loves his charts and graphs was emerging as a serious behind the scenes force in education. By 1995, Barber was selected to collaborate on the Labour Party’s education policies.
When Tony Blair became Great Britain’s Prime Minister in 1997, he made Barber the head of Standards and Effectiveness and Chief Advisor to the Secretary of State for School Standards. Barber later led the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit. Momma Bears will explain “delivery” to you later. But for now, think of it as something really bad that earned Barber the title as one of the scariest reformers in education.
In public office , Barber was the key architect in the U.K.’s public education reform.
He developed a three pronged plan:
1) National Standards & Accountability
2) Teacher Effectiveness
3) Market Reform (aka = School Choice)
Sound familiar??? Keep reading, there’s more…
From 1997 to 1999, the Labour Party implemented the first prong of Barber’s “Investment for Reform” plan by instituting “Large-scale reform driven from the top down; designing all the materials at the national level and training everybody in a cascade out; using accountability to publish results and school inspection to check that people were adopting better practices.” That is a direct quote from Sir Michael who goes on to brag that Prime Minister Tony Blair’s administration dealt swiftly with under-performing schools.
Schools that were unable to live up to the new British national standards were shut down without mercy. Many of which were located in Liverpool and low income neighborhoods in London. When the Brits complained that Barber went too far, too fast, he responded, "too bad." Critics suggested that Barber should have made more of an effort to get buy-in but he rebuffed their criticism. “I personally don’t believe that,” said Barber, “you have to be very clear what’s non-negotiable and be absolutely unapologetic.” Barber’s unapologetic slice & dice philosophy on public education reform earns him the title of:
World Class Education???
That rings a bell -- Cha-ching!!!
According to the report, “The world’s highest-performing educational systems exhibit three common attributes, which reinforce each other to ensure system alignment and focus on delivering high levels of student achievement.”
High (Dollar) Support
Aligned (Corporate Tax) Incentives
Okay... So Momma Bears added the information in parenthesis,
but you know it is true!!!
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