Richard Hatcher is a member of the education faculty at the University of Central England, Birmingham. He has been active in political and educational struggles for several decades. He has been a member of the Socialist Teachers' Alliance, an influential group within the National Union of Teachers. Recently he has been involved in the education strand of the European Social Forums in Florence (2002) and Paris (2003). Hatcher is coordinating an education planning network for the European Social Forum in London in October 2004.
Rethinking Schools hopes to call attention to the way corporate globalism — called "neoliberalism" in many parts of the world — affects education. We also hope that this insider's view of changes in the British educational system will move our readers to recognize the parallels and perils of privatization in both countries.
Rethinking Schools editor Bob Peterson interviewed Hatcher recently. The following are excerpts from a longer conversation.
RS: Could you describe what you see as the similarities and differences between K-12 education in Great Britain and the United States?
Hatcher: In many respects they are similar. Perhaps the most important difference is the degree of central government control in England. This has been a fairly recent change. For most of the last century, teachers had a fairly free hand in the schools to decide what to teach and how to teach it.