– Demands 2 & 3 (apart from the emphasis on the national curriculum *) are mainstream in the sense that they would appeal across the middle ground of politics.
– Demand 4 (votes at 16) is a political call, though not necessarily a party-political one.
– Demand 1, however, is overtly political as it calls for a Green New Deal which is a particular realignment of the economy.
I can happily sign up to these in broad terms despite considerable reservations about the new deal. **
The open letter goes much further than Demand 1, however; so much so that it might be hard for the middle ground to sign up for it. *** Part of the problem is language. Take these examples from the letter:
– "controlling, militarised teachers" All rather sweeping, as well as rather insulting.
– "we embrace a collective consciousness and international solidarity" This is straight from the People's Front of Judea playbook – or was that the Judean People's Front? I always get confused.
– "we act not for ourselves but for the collective ... our overwhelmingly selfless approach; we are empowered as individuals, but we strike for us all." This is just pompous.
– "Our world, our system, our future is dying" This is the sort of alarmist talk that makes people feel hopeless not determined.
– "Schools ignoring the climate crisis is a deadly tradition" Well, not quite yet.
All that said, I do like a lot of what is proposed in the letter to government because I think it will help students learn about the world, and might even help teachers teach about it. It is very earnest though. This is the last sentence:
"Educate us, and educate us now: to hide the truth from us is to turn a blind eye to the power young people have to save our planet."
There's irony here though, as the open letter reads more like a demand that students educate teachers, schools and ministers than the other way round. The whole thing reminded me of the 1970s – and not in a good way. I'd be tempted to give it a mark out of 10 were it not for the fear that I be thought to "care more about exams and mark schemes than developing curious and engaged individuals" which I don't.
–*– A lot of effort is still going into getting UKSCN to focus demands on the school curriculum (and by implication, the 2002 Education Act), rather than the much narrower national curriculum
–**– I doubt if sufficient economics is taught in schools to enable most students to understand the detail and the implications of the green new deal.
–***– The open letter to the unions goes much further and reads as if it were written by the Socialist Workers Party. For example,
"The same bosses who cut wages are polluting the air. The same bosses who tried to stop workers fighting for their rights are heating up the planet. The same bosses you fought in the past are the ones we will defeat together. You forced politicians to take action and so will we."
This is really not helpful if we are really going to have cross-party collaboration.