Tricks in parliament: reject and write off

Today, Wednesday, the SPD sweeps the CDU motion on refugee education off the table, only to present a similar motion later.

Objects of parliamentary desire: Refugee children in class Photo: Wolfram Kastl/DPA

It is rare for Sabine Boeddinghaus and Karin Prien to agree on anything. Normally, the parliamentary group leader of the Left Party and the education policy spokeswoman of the CDU are worlds apart. But what unites the two at the moment is their anger at the governing red-green coalition. The reason: For the parliamentary debate today, Wednesday, the CDU has submitted a comprehensive motion on the education of refugee children, which Boeddinghaus also describes as "worthy of discussion and in parts worthy of approval. The SPD and the Greens, however, will not refer the motion to the responsible school committee, but reject it immediately – and thus prevent its further discussion. According to reports, the SPD managed to push through the proposal in the face of the Greens’ gentle resistance: the small coalition wanted to refer both the Left Party’s and the CDU’s proposal to the committee.

"Done by own action": this is how SPD faction spokesman Claas Ricker justifies the no to passing on the CDU paper. In fact, the SPD, in coordination with the Greens, formulated its own motion, which will be submitted to parliament at the end of November – and which, according to Prien, "is partially identical to our proposal.

First reject, then write off, that’s usual with the SPD, says Boeddinghaus: "They did it the same way with our motion on schooling for refugee children." One consequence is "that concepts of the opposition are no longer discussed and we twiddle our thumbs in the committee," complains Prien: "I am extremely annoyed by this behavior of the government factions." Stefanie von Berg, education policy spokeswoman for the Greens, counters: "We didn’t write it off, we just took a little longer and fell behind."

Agreement with the opposition

The CDU motion, which the Left Party will agree with in large part, is about ensuring that children in initial refugee admissions are educated more quickly, and in smaller groups. In order to ensure this, the lessons, which are focused on language acquisition, should not take place in the initial reception centers themselves, but in nearby school buildings. The SPD and the Greens now support this demand. Similarly, the government factions’ motion adopts the CDU idea of not immediately placing refugee children in regular classes, but first teaching them German in integration classes. Here, too, there is little difference between the formulations of the black and red/green parties.

But there are also differences that will not now be debated in the committee on the basis of various draft proposals. Unlike the SPD, for example, the CDU is calling for special coordinators for the integration of refugees at schools. Nor does it want to have all refugees taught as close to their homes as possible, avowedly to prevent schools near accommodations from being unduly burdened. The CDU wants refugee children to be taught "values, norms and basic democratic principles as defined in the Basic Law" from the very beginning. The SPD, on the other hand, does not consider conveying what the CDU likes to call "Leitkultur" to be a priority.

The Left Party says the Christian Democratic proposal lacks "substance" and also "sensible financing proposals: The CDU "constantly refers to the debt brake, but then demands anything and everything," says Boeddinghaus. That’s how much demarcation has to be.

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