One dramatic piece of news follows the next: scientific results indicate a decline in children's intelligence quotients during the pandemic, an estimated 50,000 teachers are missing in Germany, and almost as many students left school in 2021 without a degree. Germany is in the education crisis.
But the education summit of the traffic light government this week has degenerated into a summit from which hardly anyone expects any significant results. Among other things, because numerous Ministers of Education of the federal states do not even come. An embarrassment for Federal Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP). Above all, because the criticism of the meeting relates in particular to poor preparation and thus formalities - neither the date nor the content had been agreed, complained about Hesse's Minister of Education Alexander Lorz (CDU).
An appeal by 50 foundations, associations, trade unions and educational institutions speaks for itself: a "real" summit is needed - not with the minister, but with her boss, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD). Educational bazooka from the boss himself, please.
It is true that Scholz would do well to make solving the problems in the German education system a government priority. War in Ukraine, energy crisis, reverberating corona effects - the traffic light coalition has truly had to manage many crises since the beginning of its government. Therefore, to treat the educational misery as secondary would be a serious mistake.
Not only because the future of this country is largely decided in schools in general - but also because schools play a key role in another crisis, the migration crisis and the associated task of integration.
But what to do now? The various actors seem to agree that there needs to be better cooperation between the federal, state and local governments. The traffic light coalition agreement also contains a “commandment to cooperate” between the various levels. In terms of language, this is aimed at the contrasting "ban on cooperation", according to which the federal government has not been allowed to provide any financial aid for policy areas that are exclusively the responsibility of the federal states since the constitution was amended in 2006.
Its function: to limit the influence of the federal government on the state issue of education. However, the traffic light does not really want to touch this regulation, even if it has been softened again and again in recent years.
The call for the chancellor shows that the federal states obviously cannot get the school problem under control on their own. So that the government can now manage the crisis, it should take a bold step and break a taboo: finally question federalism in the education system - and work towards abolishing the ban on cooperation.
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