Bavaria wants to pull out of the planned advisory body, the project is on the brink of collapse. Anja Karliczek now sees the ball in the states’ court.
Abitur exams at a high school in Vilsbiburg Photo: Falk Heller/argum/imago-images
Ever heard of the National Education Council? No. The body doesn’t even exist yet. And it will probably never exist.
Bavaria’s Minister President Markus Soder (CSU) had declared on Sunday that Bavaria was pulling out of the planned National Education Council. Also Baden-Wuerttemberg pulled briskly after. "The National Education Council is a completely superfluous body that can logically be dispensed with. Therefore, Bavaria’s decision is logical and consistent," said Baden-Wurttemberg’s CDU Education Minister Susanne Eisenmann in a press release on Monday.
The Education Council is part of the coalition agreement, which was negotiated and signed by the CSU and state representatives from Baden-Wurttemberg, among others. The committee was to consist of experts and representatives from the federal and state governments and submit proposals for greater transparency, quality and comparability in the education system. For example, on the comparability of the baccalaureate or on how to make it easier for families with school-age children to move from one state to another.
Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek, CDU, told reporters Monday that she was saddened by Bavaria’s decision and could not understand it. She said that the Education Council was neither planned as a bureaucratic monstrosity, as spread via the media, nor was it an invention of the federal government. It was not a matter of interfering with the education systems of the states. Nevertheless, in view of the 6.2 million functionally illiterate people in Germany, she believes that the state as a whole has a responsibility to provide good education.
Soder defended the decision again on Monday. "We simply don’t believe in the future of this idea. It was a nice attempt to give it a try. But it is ultimately also a contradiction to the federal education constitution that our Germany has," the CSU politician said. The fact that decisions are made in Berlin ministries about what takes place in Bavarian or Bremen classrooms is "doomed to failure," he said.
This is an argument that Karliczek cannot understand. It was never about lowering standards, she said. She also tried to explain this to Mr. Soder. Other CDU education politicians are also dismayed. Tankred Schipanski, a member of the Education Committee in the Bundestag, sees an opportunity "to improve our education system wasted." The National Education Council is not intended to lower performance levels, but to improve them nationwide, Schipanski said.
The negotiators from the federal and state governments had already come very close. In December, the National Education Council was also to be discussed at the meeting of education ministers. It was clear that the council would consist of two chambers and would adopt recommendations with a two-thirds majority. In addition to academics and practitioners, the council would also include representatives of the federal government, the states and local authorities. Who would send how many people was still a matter of dispute, but it was clear that the federal and state governments should not be able to outvote each other.
Education Council "not a dogma
So are there other considerations behind the withdrawal of Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg than content? In Baden-Wurttemberg, Education Minister Eisenmann is currently also trying to make a name for herself as the CDU’s top candidate for the state elections against the Green Minister President. And sometimes against her own party friends. She has already suggested to her CDU colleague Karliczek that she resign in the dispute over the location of a battery factory.
In the case of Soder in Bavaria, the Bavarian Green Party chairwoman Sandra Detzer states "showmanship."
Federal Education Minister Karliczek now sees the ball in the states’ court. The CDU politician will probably not fight on the subject of the Education Council. In the end, the Education Council is not a dogma, says Karliczek. But she will stick to the goals of greater transparency, comparability and quality in the education system. Next week, she will meet her state colleagues again. Then they all present the results of the Pisa study together.