The Dutch government appears to be in a state of confusion. As a result, its finger-lickingly liberal image has been slightly dented. Christian Democrat Education Minister Marja van Bijleveldt has told parents they take on too much. She compared their behaviour to filling their plates with a luxury breakfast – they want to have it all. A good job, an active social life and time to themselves. Apparently unaware of the irony she then went on to call on parents to become more involved in their children’s schools. Hey wait a minute… Didn’t she just say parents were already taking on too much?
Of course her call had nothing to do with Christian values and a latent wish to get mum’s back behind the kitchen sink. No dad’s should get involved in schools too.
Parents are up in arms – wasn’t this the government that was telling them they should go out to work. The schools have been remarkably silent. But I don’t remember any appeals recently from my children’s secondary school for more parental participation. So maybe it’s not such a big issue for them.
In Amsterdam, education alderman Lodewijk Asscher has taken a different approach. He invited active parents to voice their grievances against schools yesterday evening. Two hundred angry, critical and satisfied mums and dads turned up spew their gall and sing their praise accordingly. Obviously Mr Asscher’s listening ear had struck a chord -where Ms van Bijsterveldt’s blind accusations of parental indifference hit a sore point.
Meanwhile the Freedom Party has submitted a “It’s Mr Jansen to you” motion in parliament. The far-right party wants to restore order in the classroom by making children go back to using the formal “U” to address teachers rather than saying an informal “je” for “you”. A suggestion that is likely to lead to another wave of indignation from freedom-loving parents.
So is this the small government, the conservative-liberal VVD party had in mind? Or was it small-minded government they meant?