Tuesday, September 07, 2010

OECD report on Education not worth 1 column in Irish Times

Sometimes it's almost impossible to contain the frustration. Pointless reports, reported on by clueless journalists and used by shameless promoters/lobbyists to push home a point they want. What am I talking about? Well, the OECD report on education, Education at a Glance, 2010.

Why is it pointless? Because the study stops at 2007! Maybe the OECD hasn't noticed, but there may have been one or two economic changes that might have had an impact on some of the report's favored stats such as GDP, etc. So, this report is a fine as a history text, but offers nothing for the times in which we now live.

The clueless journalist? Charlie Taylor of the Irish Times, who claims that the figures show "that spending on education in Ireland has fallen back significantly since 1995 when the country invested 5.2 per cent of GDP on education." It's a fall in percentages, not actual spending, which has risen tremendously, but, really, who cares? We're bankrupt.

Shameless is how I'd describe all those teacher unions who think using a report based on 3-year-old GDP data is worth anything. Well, it isn't. Given that we've had a fall in GDP that is 3 or 4 times greater than the fall in spending on the Education (those are my rough estimates gleaned from here, here, here and here) will probably push us up and over that 'magical' OECD average.

To Charlie Taylor and teachers unions I pose this question: Was it better to have 4.4% of a big and growing pie or 5.4% of a small and shrinking pie?