Money at root of authorities' slide

14th February 2003 at 00:00
IN my view none of your contributors touches on the fundamental reason for the decline of local education authorities since 1970 ("100 years of LEAs", TES, January 31).

The first reason was money. The financial crisis produced by the Arab-Israel war and the rising cost of oil drove central government to much tighter means of expenditure control - he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Second, Europe. James Callaghan's famous Ruskin College speech of 1976 and Shirley Williams' "Great Debate" on education were the first stirrings of a central government from whom significant areas of independent territory had been removed, following our accession to the European Community.

Third, we have enjoyed relative peace for the past 60 years, thus allowing central government to concentrate more fully on domestic issues such as health and education.

Fourth, the decline in LEAs has been part of the general decline in respect for and participation in, democracy, as reflected in lower turnouts at all levels of elections.

Too few people have seen LEAs as worth fighting for.

Christopher Tipple

Danefield, 6 High Park

Morpeth, Northumberland

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