Shortened School Year, Lobbyism, Transparency

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Today is the last day the graduates from Bavarian “Grammar Schools” of the year 2012 can give written testimony of their competence. They will be asked questions in mathematics.


Well, today is May, 18th.  In Bavaria, the school year is supposed to last until Wednesday (!), August, 1st. We have to thank the Minister of Culture and Education,  Ludwig Spaenle for the shortened year. Mind you, we are talking 2.5 months!
Now isn’t that strange? But how did this shortened school year originate?

I graduated from German “Grammar School“ in 1969. A few years before that, the compulsory military service was shortened to 18 months. Up until then, the graduation exams were written at the end of term, in July. Some universities, such as TU München, only allowed freshmen in the winter term (starting in November). The military service for the graduates started on October, 1st, which meant that you returned one and a half years later, at the end of March. That meant you had to somehow spend another half year before you could start with your university studies. In other words, the total time lost for the so-called “W18-Mann” was two whole years.

Consequently, they introduced the “W15+” for the first time in my graduation class of 1969 – strangely enough, the girls, too, were concerned. The underlying idea was simple. If the male graduates who had to be trained for ”defending the country“ were allowed to start their military service on July, 1st and permitted to serve the missing three months “at a not yet specified time in the future”, they would return late in September and the total loss of time would only be one year.

Accordingly, the last school year (depending on how you counted, it was named either the 9th or 13th form), was made a shortened school year. Of course, they stuck to this nonsense until today, even though the duration of the compulsory military service has been shortened several times, which should have made the shortened school year unnecessary.

I had assumed that the introduction of the G8 (reduction of the grammar school time from 9 to 8 years) would have been the latest date for abolishing this shortened school year. Because if you shorten the entire education time so considerably, keeping up the shortened school year definitely seems less goal-oriented than the abolition of an entire school year.

Today, I realize this assumption of mine was totally incorrect. I assume the teachers’ lobby had a word or two to say in the process.

So now we did not get a G8, but a G7.5. This is another one of the escapades of Bavarian educational policy. Maybe Herr Stoiber just forgot to take a closer look when he introduced the school reform.

But then, what can politics do where lobbyism is so strong? Again, it is all about votes. As always…

Incidentally, I do not know a single W15 who later had to go back and serve those missing three months. Well, this is a rather harmless form of the then also quite normal “injustice in the legal procedure of compulsory military service“. Also, I personally know quite a few super athletes who were excused from military service for very fishy medical reasons, regardless of their having been “fit as a fiddle”.

That, too, was quite normal in those days. Well, it is also a kind of lobby, isn’t it…

(Translated by EG)

Incidentally, to this day, I never saw any of my graduation exams again. At the time, we fought quite fiercely for being permitted to see them after correction. But in 1969, the administration and politics were just as arrogant as today when it came to ignoring what the citizens wished. The reasons given were always obscure, if there were any reasons given at all.

Even after the legal preservation time for the exams had expired, my graduation works, which I consider my personal intellectual property, were never handed back to me. As I see it, I have a legal right to intellectual property, at least as far as my German essay is concerned. But they ignored this argument. Of course, I would have been happy to take photocopies, instead of the originals. After all, the paper I wrote the essay on was not my property.

Today, the graduate students do not get their works back either. They can only take a look if very special circumstances are claimed. So is it a surprise that more and more people demand more transparency?

And it also shows that intellectual property is only taken seriously if commercial interests of certain sectors are concerned and they are backed by their lobby. So, again, we have lobbyism. Incidentally, lobbyism can be very stupid, because more and more often, it is detrimental to precisely those it wants to advance.


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