New regulation of private school financing in Berlin fails

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Thu 19th Aug, 2021

The big deal has been postponed, but the election on September 26 will show whether it has been repealed: In the final weeks of the legislative session, the red-red-green coalition was unable to agree on the planned comprehensive reform of the school law. Thus, in the end, only the minimum consensus will be reached, which, however, should bring some innovations - for example, on after-school care, child protection and co-determination at school.

The most important thing for parents is that they will be able to bring their children to after-school care in grades three and four in the future without having to prove a need - for example, through employment or illness.Since the pandemic, support and exchange in the afternoon is considered even more important. Therefore, as reported, Red-Red-Green did not want to leave hurdles in the form of a needs test.

This step is a compromise: SPD and the Left actually wanted to achieve the elimination of after-school care fees. However, the Greens were not prepared to spare a double-digit million amount per year for this. They were able to argue with the recommendations of the Berlin expert commission, which had advised against pumping money into the system without ensuring qualitative added value for the promotion of children.

However, this refusal on the part of the Greens meant that the Left Party was no longer willing to agree to a central concern of the SPD and the Greens in return: The coalition partners wanted to increase the social permeability of independent schools and give them more money to support poor children and children with disabilities.

Part of this construction was that the independent schools should receive public funding already three and not only five years after foundation. The Left Party rejected this because it feared that more independent schools would then be founded.

SPD and Greens, on the other hand, found this aspect important because a free school with many children from underprivileged families could not financially endure a five-year waiting period.

This had only recently been shown by the case of the Free Intercultural Waldorf School in Treptow. The leftists were not swayed by this. For days, the coalition partners have been exchanging mutual recriminations about the failure of the "big" school law amendment, because the project had been intensively discussed for a year.

Meanwhile, time is running out. In order to achieve the small change in the remaining two plenary sessions, the coalition factions are using a draft school law already submitted by Education Senator Sandra Scheeres (SPD), but which they are depriving of central concern: Scheeres wanted to waive the written examinations for the intermediate school diploma (Mittlerer Schulabschluss MSA) of the tenth graders for the high schools.

These exams make a lot of work for the high schools, but bring little benefit because the high schools already leave the MSA material behind in grade nine. The Greens and the Left, however, did not want to agree to this because they do not want to expand the differences between grammar schools and secondary schools, but on the contrary to reduce them.

They were also not swayed by the fact that the Berlin expert commission had recommended eliminating the exams.What is to remain of Scheeres' draft is her plan to include preventive child protection in the school law: Every school is to be required to develop a child protection concept. According to reports, more data protection in the context of digitization, the promotion of multilingualism and the provision of schools with social workers, which until now has depended on the budget situation, will also be anchored in the law.

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