Poland: Teachers, students demand resignation of far Right education minister

Giertych, Polish cartoonBy Cezar Komorovsky:

Poland: Teachers, students demand resignation of education minister

8 July 2006

The appointment of neo-fascist Roman Giertych of the League of Polish Families (LPR) to the position of national education minister has provoked protests by concerned workers as well as youth throughout Poland.

The May 5 appointment was denounced by Gazeta Wyborcza as “a slap in the face for all Polish teachers.”

Student demonstrations immediately occurred in most large cities after Giertych’s appointment, with more than 10,000 marching nationwide demanding his resignation.

“We fear that an atmosphere of nationalism, chauvinism and radical clericalism along the lines of the ideas propagated by Radio Maryja (an ultra-nationalistic, anti-Semitic Polish radio station) will now penetrate into all schools.

The already limited pluralism will be completely erased,” declared a spokesperson for the student demonstrators.

The Polish Teachers’ Association (PTA) had already requested his dismissal.

“The minister lacks competence in the area of education,” said PTA head Slawomir Broniarz.

“He is unfamiliar with the functioning of the Polish education system.”

An online petition calling for Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz of the Law and Justice Party (PiS) to remove Giertych as education minister received 60,000 signatures within 40 hours in early May.

A group of students, teachers and education experts then gathered 140,000 signatures calling for Giertych’s resignation a month later.

More than 2,500 teachers came to Warsaw on June 9 to protest Giertych’s appointment.

Roman Giertych, born in 1971 in Srem, Poland, comes from a prominent family of Polish chauvinist politicians.

He father, Maciej Giertych, was the LPR presidential hopeful in 2005, and his grandfather, Jedrzej Giertych, was a central figure in Poland’s inter-war ultra-nationalist circles in the 1920s. (See “Poland: Right-wing extremists officially join government”)

Giertych is remembered by many of his teachers as having been an average student.

His biology teacher recalls him as a “consistent questioner of the validity of the theory of evolution” [see also here] and a “militant.”

From the BBC:

It’s not often you hear a paean of praise to the Spanish fascist dictator General Franco these days.

And you certainly don’t expect to hear it in the European Parliament.

So members were shocked when Polish MEP Maciej Giertych got to his feet.

He was speaking in one of those debates that seem rather pious and pointless, to mark the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish civil war – full of MEPs condemning a regime that is long dead and buried, already reviled by most.

Now Mr Giertych is not some marginal figure.

He was a presidential candidate and his party is a coalition partner in the Polish government. His son doubles as deputy prime minister and education minister.

See also: Poland: Kaczynski brothers now control two most important political posts.

See also here.

4 thoughts on “Poland: Teachers, students demand resignation of far Right education minister

  1. Republicans don’t like science.
    Posted by: “Holly Venn” lovecats_888@yahoo.com lovecats_888
    Date: Wed Aug 2, 2006 9:00 pm (PDT)

    Evolution Opponents Lose Kansas Board Majority

    Published: August 2, 2006

    Kansas voters on Tuesday handed power back to moderates on the State Board of Education, setting the stage for a return of science teaching that broadly accepts the theory of evolution, according to preliminary election results.

    With just 6 districts of 1,990 yet to report as of 8 a.m. Central time today, two conservatives — including incumbent Connie Morris, a former west Kansas teacher and author who had described evolution as “a nice bedtime story” — appear to have been defeated decisively by two moderates in the Republican primary elections. One moderate incumbent, Janet Waugh from the Kansas City area, held on to her seat in the Democratic primary.

    If her fellow moderates prevailed, Ms. Waugh said last week, “we need to revisit the minutes and every decision that was 6-4, re-vote.”
    Ms. Morris lost to Sally Cauble, a teacher from Liberal, who has favored a return to traditional science standards.

    Taking another seat from the conservatives in the Republican primary was Jana Shaver of Independence, a former teacher and administrator, who ran far ahead of Brad Patzer. Mr. Patzer is the son-in-law of the current board member Iris Van Meter, who did not seek reelection.
    In another closely fought Republican race, in the Kansas City-Olathe district, Harry E. McDonald, a retired biology teacher, lost to the conservative incumbent John W. Bacon, an accountant.

    The results seem likely to give the moderates a 6-4 edge on the 10-member board when it takes over in January. Half the members of the board are elected every two years. The election results are not final until certified by the Kansas Secretary of State, Ron Thornburgh, following an official canvas.

    Both moderate Republican winners face Democratic opponents in November, but the Democrats are moderates as well, favoring a return to the traditional science standards that prevailed before a conservative majority elected in 2004 passed new rules for teaching science. Those rules, enacted last November, called for classroom critiques of Darwin’s theory. Ms. Waugh, the Democrat, does not face a Republican opponent in the general election.

    The changes in the science standards, favored by advocates of intelligent design who believe life is too complex to be have been created by natural events, put Kansas at the vanguard of efforts by religious advocates critical explanations of the origin of life that do not include a creator. But intelligent design was not referenced in the Kansas standards.

    The curriculum changes, coming after years of see-sawing power struggles between moderates and conservatives, drew widespread ridicule and, critics complained, threatened Kansas’s high standing in national education circles. But Steve E. Abrams, the chairman of the board and a veterinarian from Arkansas City, said the changes only subjected evolution to critical scientific scrutiny.

    More Articles in National »


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