Minister Przemysław Czarnek broke the provisions of the education law, and some of the experts appointed by him did not have the authority to evaluate the textbooks, claims Krystyna Szumilas, a member of the Civic Coalition. She carried out a parliamentary control at the Ministry of Education. And announces another one. To this day, the press office of the ministry has not answered questions about the recruitment of textbook experts to the tvn24.pl portal.
The audit of textbooks is one of the most important sentences set by the Minister of Education, Przemysław Czarnek. He already mentioned that he wants to check their content in autumn 2020. – I see the need to re-examine the core curricula and textbooks in terms of the content they contain. I would like the pedagogy of shame to come out of our textbooks once and for all – he explained his motives. For weeks, however, it seemed to be just declarations unsupported by actions.
The minister chose the experts
However, in February this year it turned out that Czarnek had appointed a team of expertswho were to analyze high school books for the Polish language, history and knowledge about society. The team consisted mainly of specialists in the history of the Church, teachers from Catholic schools and conservative journalists. Most of them are related to Lublin, where Czarnek graduated and started his academic and political career.
“The team will work on raising the standards of approval and admission to school use of textbooks for the Polish language, history and social studies” – argued the Ministry of Education and Science in an official announcement. And it added: “The conclusions contained in the report will serve such a change in the regulations and procedures, which is to improve the quality of textbooks. The activities of the appointed body are also to develop guidelines for experts who give their opinion on the textbooks in terms of content and teaching.”
MPs say he broke the law
Experts had to read the books very quickly, because they finished their analysis of the textbooks at the beginning of March. However, the press office of the ministry has not answered our questions about the recruitment of textbook experts to this day. However, we were able to establish that each expert received PLN 475 for their opinion on a given textbook.
The details of the work were decided by opposition deputies headed by the former minister of education in the PO-PSL government, Krystyna Szumilas. They went to the ministry with parliamentary control. As a result, they assessed, inter alia, that the minister violated the provisions of the education law, and some experts were not authorized to evaluate the textbooks. Szumilas informed about the results of the first part of the inspection on Twitter.
Is it putting pressure on?
The inspection was carried out on March 26. According to the findings, Szumilas Czarnek had no legal basis to establish a textbook team. It did not define the requirements to be met by experts and did not announce the recruitment publicly. “The choice was made and approved by one person by Minister Czarnek” – points out the opposition MP.
He also notes that the experts have not prepared a report on the functioning of the process of approving the use of textbooks, which was announced by the minister. Instead, they reviewed specific titles. According to Szumilas, it is “an attempt to influence the future opinions of independent experts who give their opinion on the textbooks in accordance with applicable law.”
The former minister claims that even if the minister had the right to appoint such a team, the competences of its members raise doubts. Of the 14 people, eight were entered on the ministry’s list of textbook experts, and seven of them were entered on the list only after November 27, 2020, i.e. after the minister’s first textbook announcements.
What are MEPs going to do with these arrangements? – We have another meeting on Friday. Today we sent a letter to the ministry informs tvn24.pl on Monday Szumilas. And he adds: – We are waiting for more documents. We want a set of experts on the ministerial list and the minutes of the meeting with the publishers.
And the ministry is planning further inspections
Meanwhile, the ministry of education wants to continue to control textbooks. At the end of March, Deputy Minister Tomasz Rzymkowski announced this in an interview with “Nasz Dziennik”. Believes that you need to look more closely at books for early childhood education. – Parents can be sure that they will be thoroughly checked so that only content that complies with the best scientific knowledge and free from any manifestations of ideologization is directed to children – announces Deputy Minister Rzymkowski.
Main photo source: Rafał Guz, Paweł Supernak / PAP