The party cites a report by the National Agency for Education (Skolverket) which questions local control of Swedish schools. The proposal is outlined by party leader and current education minister Jan Björklund and two other members of the Liberal’s governing board in an opinion article published in Tuesday’s edition of Dagens Nyheter.
According to the report, handing over more control for schools to Sweden’s 290 municipalities is one of the reasons why Swedish students don’t perform as well today than they did in the 1990s.
The “dual leadership” of having municipalities and the state share responsibility for schools results in a “muddled system of control”, according to the Liberal Party.
“The question of ‘who is responsible?’ should be able to be asked and answered for any given operation. But when it comes to schools, the state can simply blame municipalities, while the municipalities can claim that it is due to poor governance by the state,” write the authors.
Another reason for renationalizing the schools is a requirement in Sweden’s schools law which states that all children have the right to the same level of education.
Today, there are large differences in school spending between different municipalities, the authors claim.
“No one’s life conditions should be worse simply because they happened to be born in a municipality that doesn’t prioritize education,” write Björkland and his colleagues.
They also think that the status of the teaching profession has dropped and that it has been harder to recruit young people into teacher training programmes since municipalities were given partial control of schools in the early 1990s.
Björklund and other leading Liberal Party members have previously expressed support for giving full control of schools back to the state, but the party’s 2001 national conference nevertheless decided that the main responsibility should remain with municipalities.
Now the party’s leadership wants to ditch the earlier decision at its next national conference, scheduled for later this autumn.
According to the Liberal Party, it’s high time to bring up discussion of the issue among the four governing centre-right Alliance parties.
Currently, no other party has taken up the issue of renationalizing Sweden’s schools.