Minister Stark-Watzinger: A finance expert for education

Status: 10.12.2021 12:31 p.m.

She stands for economically liberal positions, wants to promote digitization – and calls for stronger cooperation between the federal and state governments: Bettina Stark-Watzinger has taken up her post as Minister of Education.

By Hans-Joachim Vieweger, ARD capital studio

The handover has been completed: the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Education has been transferred from the CDU politician Anja Karliczek to Bettina Stark-Watzinger from the FDP. She took her oath of office to the President of the Bundestag Bärbel Bas with the religious affirmation: “So help me God.” The other FDP ministers did the same, but Stark-Watzinger is very aggressive about her membership in the church – as well as other convictions: “I am Catholic, in the FDP and a Eintracht fan – nothing can shock me anymore,” said the politician before the federal election.

Hans-Joachim Vieweger
ARD capital studio

In the Bundestag since 2017

The mother of two daughters has been a member of the German Bundestag since 2017. In her first parliamentary speech, she was hardly slowed down in her flow of speech by her party friend Wolfgang Kubicki – in his capacity as Bundestag Vice President. The final punch line with a quote from Mark Twain should be right: “When we lost sight of the goal, we doubled the speed, that can’t be the way, ladies and gentlemen.”

First of all, the studied economist made a name for herself in financial matters in the Bundestag – in line with her previous position as managing director of the prestigious Institute for Financial Market Research at the University of Frankfurt. She hardly takes over the chairmanship of the finance committee in parliament.

It stands for classic business-liberal positions of the FDP, as here in an internal application speech: “Who builds and finances schools when our companies are no longer making a profit? Economic performance is crucial for us as a society to be able to master our common goals . And we have a secret weapon for this in our country: it is our social market economy. “

No surprise

However, the appointment of the finance politician to the Ministry of Education does not come as a complete surprise. After her election as the parliamentary managing director of the FDP parliamentary group and her move to the budget committee, Bettina Stark-Watzinger is in charge of the budget of the Federal Ministry of Education – a smart move in a party teeming with financial politicians. And the combination could help to implement the requirements of the coalition agreement “because we don’t want to invest less, but more in education”.

Shortly before the election, she made an article for the daily newspaper “Die Welt” entitled “We need an educational revolution” on central educational issues – many of her theses appear in the coalition agreement. A central idea: the federal and state governments should cooperate more closely on educational issues – the Basic Law may have to be changed for this – so far, education has primarily been a state matter.

The digital pact at a glance

In doing so, she has a particular focus on the digital pact for schools. Although the predecessor in office Karliczek (CDU) had already initiated it, large parts of the billions in funding have not yet been called up by the school authorities due to complicated rules.

The corona crisis did not only reveal the deficiencies in digitization, says Stark-Watzinger. The school closings have also exacerbated inequality in educational opportunities. The new minister wants to counteract this by promoting talent schools, “so that the children who need support get it.”

After all, the new minister also wants to make progress in the area of ​​research: The challenges in the area of ​​decarbonization and digitization are so great that it would not be possible without strong answers from science.

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