Ernie Buutveld delivers: when a person of Ernie’s stature does this, we should all listen intently

On Wednesday my computer went down (no not Whale Oil, it is at least 17 years old), then my website. The computer issue was handed over to DoubleClick, and developing a new website to Allan. I took the opportunity to visit Allan in Palmerston North, then to venture to Wellington to meet some friends including sources. As is my wont when important meetings are being held, if the opportunity arises, I like to pop in to have a look-see. I did this with the moot meeting for a quick half-hour, also I had a quick discussion with some of the attending principals.

In his heartfelt letter Ernie writes that the moot was ‘an important day in the life of NZ education when recommendations will be made about either a  rejection of these policies and their direction, or a capitulation by the sector to a government hell bent on an ideology and educational framework/landscape fundamentally different to that in which New Zealand has traditionally excelled.’

I will do a full report on the moot goings-on later – but as a quick summary, I’m sorry to say that the moot was a shambles: it had all the appearance of an executive stalling for time so they could capitulate without referring things back to the membership for a vote – or as Phil put it, stay in so they can help shape the policy. Phil was embarrassing in his expressions of mateship with Peter. I’m thrilled you have a little friend Phil, but please don’t allow the cost of that to be decades more pain and frustration for teachers and principals.

Most telling was Phil going around saying he had a big secret but he couldn’t tell anybody, but if people knew they would stay with the policy. (I want to make clear, I don’t support disengaging from the policy at this stage; I support staying in with clear bottom lines.) That big secret is no secret at all, it is that the government was going to put NZEI down and force things through no matter what. Actually, it won’t be as easy or comfortable for the government to do this as it might think, especially in election year. It will, though, be made considerably easier if the government can parade NZPF as supporting the policy. It’s not love Phil its just lust (for power).

I think a combined teacher organisation can win this one, but winning is not everything – as was the case for national standards, opposing them to spread suspicion and undermine policy credibility can bring rewards in the long term. In these troubled times, a retreat to Moscow is a legitimate and effective policy strategy.

The great thing is, for this campaign, teachers have the best catch-argument: ‘We believe that more money for special needs, lower class size, more support staff, and computers is what is needed, not unbalanced pay rises for some teachers based on the dodgy Shanghai model.’ and so on – happy days.

I have the highest regard for Ernie – yes, we had our rough times, but what relationship doesn’t? We are still talking (I think).

Congratulations to the Marlborough principals – their declaration through Ernie is in the best traditions of education history, culture, and New Zealand citizenship.

– – –

Media release

Tēnā koe

Principals generally have a mentoring group or cluster which is self-selected and meets about four times a year for mutual benefit. They of course cover a multitude of issues as they see them. I am in such a professional cluster we call our Principal Professional Learning Group or (PPLG). It comprises six experienced school leaders who at one time or another have or remain working somewhere in the Top of the South.

My group met over the last weekend and the more we talked and assimilated information about the changes being driven by the government, the more concerned we became. In fact we were so moved that we felt we could not do nothing in the face of the rate and nature of change being wrought by this government on NZ’s schooling. To this end we have written a media release in the faint hope that we might awaken parents and grandparents about what we are about to lose. Parents through their trustees have no voice through the NZ School Trustees Association – a  pity as they need to know what is happening.

I have attached the press release and some supporting material you may be interested in reading as background – one puts it very succinctly namely the YouTube link. I was the New Zealand Principals’ Federation president in 2009 and 2010 when National Standards were introduced. These reforms sit squarely on these dubious measures of educational progress and achievement – now viewed by teachers and school leaders as the measuring stick with which our schooling system will be bashed to death for the sake of privatisation under the guise of lifting achievement.

I urge you to become familiar with the material supplied and of course whatever else you will undoubtedly source yourself. As a granddad I am increasingly concerned for my grandchildren’s schooling experiences. Perhaps you will be able to prompt Marlborough folk to look more closely at developments in education.
The NZPF is holding its Presidents’ Moot tomorrow in Wellington with 120 of its regional presidents. All these threads will be discussed in strong voice at the James Cook. The Minister Hekia Parata , Secretary for Education Peter Hughes and other high-ranking MoE folk will be present. The moot is an important day in the life of NZ education when recommendations will be made about either a  rejection of these policies and their direction, or a capitulation by the sector to a government hell bent on an ideology and educational framework/landscape fundamentally different to that in which New Zealand has traditionally excelled.’

Ka kite ano

Ernie

Ernie Buutveld   ANZEI

+64 27 448 4789

Principal/Tumuaki

Havelock School

www.havelock.school.nz

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