'Only for this I wanted to get out of the classroom'
On June 18, the General Members' Meeting elected teacher Thijs Roovers as the new daily director. According to the review committee, he was the only suitable applicant. "I would have preferred to compete with one or more opponents."
Roovers will start working as a paid chief executive of the from 1 August 2021 AOb.
A celebrity at the top of the union?
“I really don't see myself that way. Back then, when I often appeared in the media as one of the leaders of PO in Actie, I was regularly approached by complete strangers on the street. After I got back into the shelter, that still happened sporadically. And then only by people who work in education.”
Did you like that temporary status?
“The period that I was the figurehead was very intense. And fun. Jan van de Ven and I were called the 'seven hundred million men' at the time. We caused quite a stir back then. The nice thing was that we did that as a team and were appreciated for the content of our story.”
De AOb didn't you find much soup?
“That's right. In the beginning we were not happy with unions, umbrella organizations and the ministry. They poured out all sorts of things about education without involving the people in the workplace. We sounded the alarm and the friction that this caused ultimately led to great results. Also in terms of salary.”
In 2019 you became a member of the AOb. Do you even work there now?
“I found out that the AOb isn't that bad yet. It is the only club in the educational field that actively tries to involve the workplace in policy-making. And the union is tough enough to come back on wrong decisions. In my opinion, membership of a strong union is the only route to improvement.”
What will we notice from you?
“The choice for me is indicative of how the union feels at the moment. Much more activist and with the idea of involving members even more in our course. In concrete terms, I naturally want much more structural money to go to education. That is really very necessary. In addition, I want everyone in education to become a member of the AOb. Showing a common voice, that really works.”
'I want everyone to join the AOb. Letting a joint voice be heard, that really works'
Is that going to be a big hassle?
“That's right. As far as I'm concerned, we start with the teacher training colleges. There, future teachers learn a lot, but nothing about the importance of trade unions for the quality of education. As a professional group we have nothing to say about what is taught at the teacher training colleges. The Netherlands is the only country in the world where this is arranged so crookedly.”
More focal points?
“We are going to arrange that extra money goes to education and that educational staff spend it. So outside the administration. They have shown that the many billions extra does not lead to better education. We can do that better ourselves.”
A man with ambition, soon to be chairman and then minister?
“The new day-to-day management will elect a new chairman from their midst at some point. I see several suitable candidates. Other than that I haven't thought about this yet. Minister, never. It may have a little more power, but if AObdriver you have much more influence. Influence that extends beyond four years. Really, this is the only position I want to leave my spot in front of the class for. I will really miss that teaching. Maybe I'll keep doing it one day a week if that can be arranged to the satisfaction of school, students, my AObcolleagues and myself.”
Read also: Thijs Roovers candidate for the daily board