Dita DeBoni, One News
Every now again, while our attention as a country wanders to the Olympics, or housing prices, or the tragic relationship breakdown between Princess Beatrice and Dave Clark, a sneaky band of free-market zealots launch their perennial assault on our education system.
The band is led by hugely ineffectual Government minister Hekia Parata. Her offsider commands the support of a whopping .69 per cent of the voting electorate, and appears to hate teachers having any agency of their own.
That would be Act Party leader and Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education, David Seymour.
It’s an amazing quirk of our system that some who gained just over 16,000 votes at the last election holds such incredible sway over our education system. And by amazing of course, I mean horrific.
Because it is Seymour’s misguided ideas that are setting a course for education as experienced by our children, and their children, and it is one that seeks to demean and devalue teachersunions in the service of privatising large chunks of our teetering system.
We can put aside the patchy performance of charter schools, the ongoing experiment that is National Standards, the continued propaganda over performance pay for teachers (for the record, OECD reports suggest no link between performance pay and student achievement, and that there are many other ways you can reward and retain gifted teachers), and the numerous other ways the ministers have misinformed the public about the wrong-headed direction in which they are taking us.
Their ideas, tried overseas, have led to systems that are more inequitable and less robust than anything run by Government. But perhaps they assume none of us read the foreign press.
Their latest nonsense is so-called “global funding”.
Of course, this is bulk funding, but given a PR spin, and is designed to bring in performance pay through the back door.
It would reintroduce an idea that has already been tried and found wanting by the New Zealand education system, and would lead to larger class sizes in public schools that already struggle to properly fund the number of students they have.
This is why most teachers and school staff reject it. Because it is not aimed at making education better. It is only about breaking teacher unions.
There is no duty of care to students, or concern for a workforce already under severe pressure. There’s just a horrible cynicism that tries to pitch the teachers union against parents, all in order to enact loopy free-market ideas that are almost universally discredited.
“The thing you’ve got to understand about the teachers union is there’s a reason they don’t call it the children’s union, because they’re not there for the benefit of the kids, they’re there for the benefit of the teachers,” bleated David Seymour in answer to questions about the new bulk funding plan.
“Well as a taxpayer, I pay taxes for the kids.”
Well, David Seymour, there’s a reason that the best education systems in the world are guided by educators, not by politicians. I’m a taxpayer, and I pay taxes for the kids too – not for inexperienced, immature politicians, acting on behalf of business donors to implement ideas barely anyone wants.