The IES vote I confidently predict will be decisively against bureaucracy and control. As a suggestion, principals and teachers have found the preceding posting useful to school and group discussions:
At Hamilton yesterday, Phil Harding made his last stand as NZPF president, in probably the most unfortunate tenure in NZPF’s history. If National returns, he will, no doubt, reappear in many government groupings and forums in the years ahead. But that is beyond us. I asked a number of those attending how he went. Appalling summed up the response. You understated him they charged. A bad movie scene they lamented.
Principals need to read very carefully the statements of the candidates for all NZPF executive positions. Are there any weasel expressions? are the statements of incumbent members and office holders convincing in respect to NZPF actions? For incumbent members and office holders, the rule of thumb might be: have I definite evidence that that incumbent member or that office holder fought the good fight both within the NZPF and without? If not, I suggest you vote for someone else. I also suggest you forget about geography in your voting and concentrate on moral courage and the ability to act on principle. You might also cast your mind back to how those members and office holders performed at conferences, the moot, and the recent special meeting to discuss the IES. (If I could only tell you what I know – but an outsider like me should not poke his nose too deeply into the functioning of an independent organisation like NZPF.)
In respect to the IES, you should know that it originated in the Treasury and is being sponsored and driven by Bill English and Steven Joyce. My information from within the ministry is that the system, after the honeymoon period, is to be a vehicle for the work of the Government Task Force looking at changes to the Education Act. The restructured ministry will also play its part in bringing bureaucracy close to schools.
As well, there is ERO. It is already licking its lips at the prospect of an extension of its power; already trying out its sad but destructive little bureaucratic games. For instance, all the schools and early childhood people in the Waihi Cluster were invited by ERO to be part of a cluster review. They attended a meeting held at Waihi College where four representatives discussed the framework for the review. An ‘expert’ was brought down from Auckland for the purpose. When asked, the review office vehemently, but unconvincingly, denied there was any connection with the IES. A similar review, it seems, has taken place at Paeroa. This is a signal that IES will mean cluster reviews as well as school ones. A final turn of the bureaucratic screws and goodbye – kaput – to any possibility of school individuality.
So there you go: a touch of our future in the present.
A heartening bit of news, though: The Waihi Principal Association met this week and the five primary schools in attendance unanimously decided to withdraw from the review.
With two votes coming up soon, the future of primary education is in your hands and with another vote in six weeks, if there is no change of government, there it will reside again. The one interesting proviso is that if NZ First is on the cross benches, that will be a considerable dampener on National’s education ambitions.