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Lessons at school

Lessons at school
Source: Wilhelm Sanke

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Petition against co-op schools

On 9 November 1976 NRW's state government publishes its school reform bill. Opponents are in full cry: "Standards will fall!"

The Gesamtschule (comprehensive school) is still a pilot project when bulletHeinz Kühn's government introduces the Kooperative Schule (cooperative school) as a step towards the reform of secondary education.

The draft legislation envisages a merger between the Hauptschule (a secondary modern-type school/5th-9th years of schooling) and at least one other type. The Realschule (intermediate-type secondary school preparing for non-professional careers) must, while the Gymnasium (grammar-type school qualifying for higher education) can, be subsumed within cooperative schools.

The idea is that, having completed a common orientation stage, the students should be streamed from the seventh year of schooling by performance, attending classes that embody the approach of the bullettraditional types of school, but all under one roof.

Some parents, supported by the Christian Democrats, fear that educational standards will be dragged down - a recipe for mediocrity. They campaign hard and initiate a referendum to stop the "Koop-Schulen". And actually win!

The only successful plebiscite against government policy to date in the history of North Rhine-Westphalia. By 1978 the plans for the cooperative schools have been quietly buried.

Dirk Bitzer

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