The sitting right wing coaliation government in Norway had in their pre election amble, school education as a target for change.
It seems now that this is actually change-for-the-sake of change and picking a fight with the unions. Already they have done a cowardly bit of teflon politics by heaving responsibility onto the employer's organisation such that the fight the FrP and Høyere picked, gets fought out in the playground by the janitor. The gorvernment can then sweep in to claim some form of victory or let the country become tired of strikes.
On their strategy side it looks to me like they are trying to offer a solution to a problem that doesnt exist. It comes down to two elements which in my opinion are red herrings: firstly international league tables and secondly the supposedly unacceptable numbers of youngsters 'failed by the school system'.
My first comment on the latter is actually a right wing one: it is not the school system which has failed them, it is them who have failed the school system. In britain and other countries this type of student recieves remedial literacy and practical skills, both available here, and are the candidates for cleaning jobs, refuse collection, shop work and so on with the best becoming practical engineers. A few in any free society will drop out into criminality and especially narcotics. Fact of life. The remedial literacy exists here, while unfortunetly some practical apprenticeships and HND level courses once suitable for semi literates are now demanding maths, computing and often some knowledge of written English. That is a problem not for school teachers who try their best individually and as a system to pick up illiterate pupils and help them.
Secondly there is all this panic about league tables: why? Worried about korea and china beating kids into performing, while the private sector of course still denies access to some courses for the "thicker" pupils in order to keep their scores higher than state schools?
League tables are a poor measure of productivity and utility out in society, because they measure the outset - the academic system- and not the outcome - the economic value generated in society.
On this point, Høyere are just worried about very little in fact and the sabre ratteling is more ideologically motivated than based on fact. I could spend a couple of hours looking up facts but in my own experience and with some scant facts here is my take:
Norway seems to train far more university, college and apprentice-hnd engineers than other countries per capita. Also in the building trade. In terms of other vocational non university careers, there is a very large focus on "fag" - qualifications- for example in estate agency, sales, health and safety and the care sector. Being qualified is most often taken infront of actual experience and personal ability, where the reverse is often true in my experience in the uk.
Further more, of those who go to University, many more take master studies and leave with a higher standard of education within their chosen career area.
Coupled to national-service, which many youngsters see as an advantagous as a "gap year" often with practical training, work experience and character building. Then you see Norway produces a very well balanced bunch of productive young adults who can demand their high starting salaries. That Norway also produces a small percentage drop outs and wasters is not a real central political issue.
In terms of benefit cheats, the right wing would be far better off going after single mothers or rather run-off daddies and making them pay, or means testing "single" mums who have gone over to incapacity benefits while actually living with a well to do oil worker. The system is too easy to get into and with three kids can amount to an annual pretax equivalent income to over 500,000kr. Also capping households on invalidity benefit to a maximum income under that level too, many have a two person income of 580k with terribly bad backs but seem able to sit on a plane to Gran Canaria.
The trouble there is that the majority of those on invalidity benefits who did vote, voted for FrP: they want less tax, no road tolls, cheaper fags and booze. The bastard offspring of the socialist system blame the same system for pinching money from them. Here come FrP with threats to make them cut grass, clear snow and so on, but not for their core swing voter, the fifty something mildly incapacitated Mercedes owning hipocrite. They are leaving them well alone, and will probably blame the health system for failing them in due time, that is their way not as in proper right wing politics which blames the individual and puts the onus of them to adapt and find work.
Back to education: the government has found some evidence of lazy teachers who skyve off early and do not deserve such lon.g holidays on grounds of time in lieu. The fact is their parties are largely devoid of teachers in their ranks. I live with a teacher, and they work long hours with marking and preparation in the evenings ,often a 9 hour day as standard four days out of five, and sunday late evening orientations. Not to mention bending to those awkward parents who in their consumerist, frp - høyere way demand to discuss issues outside normal school hours. It must be the only service sector provision in norway open after 4pm. All you get after that from the private sector is telesales.
The government won on a mannifesto and sound bites which seemed to then capture the nations pre election, bored with Labour coalition feeling: down with road tolls, up with road building, do something about benefits scroungers, drop taxes.
Now they are instead prioritising ideological fights with the teachers and soon the health workers. Here in lies a dangerous fact: a key area of swing voters for them have been such workers, tired of road tollsc and also that the Norwegian double income model is very much daddy works offshore /onshore engineering, mommy works in nursing or teaching. Many families i know voted the new alliance in, and they will be the same ones voting them out when they see that tax cuts are not worth cuts in working rights.
Also the FrP in particular are constantly double communicating- using high ranking party members to set a propagandic tone while then the parliamentary party either tone down the intention or contradict the assertion. This irritates those academic types from labour who present a pathetic argiuement about this on tv, while the real dammage comes from both the milder voter who sees the threat of the extreme policy suggested outside parliament, also the core voter who is confused and will be dissillusioned. More extreme frp voters will also get tired and find or form more right wing parties as is the norm here.
The coalition also stand against a largely left of centre media here, who have though been pjicking up on the out of parliament sabre rattling until now, it makes for headlines, but are already tiring of the right wing trying to set the political news agenda with sound bites and posturing which bare little resemblance to policy making, and seems only to be media space grabbing in order to appease the far right voters.
Also in the last two years the immigration issue has moved centre of gravity away from "stop the tide" to more about law and order: in particular the new bug bear for the population is romanian gypsies stealing their way through Norway and psychiatrically disturbed asylum seekers: both a police issue in fact, in the background of no reversal in the cuts of "bobby on the beat" and the over reaction to terror.
The only big issue tackled with a right of centre politic in the last ten years has been pensions and the shortfall even Norways hugely successful oil fund has in liability to pay outs over the next thirty years. And that was tackled by the labour lead Stoltenberg government.