An eclectic: 2008 prediction; unprincipled opportunists; Waihi, our future?

This posting has limited purpose and scope:

A 2008 prediction of education under National – read and weep.

The PPTA executive – a bunch of unprincipled secondary opportunists and the fallout.

A glimpse of our future through the IES trial at Waihi.

It was 5 December, 2008 – National had just won the election – and I wrote ‘National: Smoke and Mirrors’ Part 1, the following is the first paragraph:

‘Primary school education I will point out is heading for an era of under-funding and over-hype. National’s education policies, I say, need to be seen in the context of a pulling back on social spending so that tax cuts can be offered at the end of each election cycle. (This pulling back will, in itself, I point out, also have a detrimental effect on numeracy and literacy.) These and other policies are portrayed as tawdry, populist, and a failure of integrity and imagination, with Anne Tolley the perfect accompaniment – reliably platitudinous. Schools are already assessed up to the gunwales; they already know largely what to do, and where they don’t, the last thing they need is more pressure from the review office for even more assessment; bureaucratic intervention and other major characteristics of ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’ are described as the problem not the solution – we are already reaping what we have sown.’

Well what do you think?

And here is that cycle of cynicism being repeated. Education could have been one of the defining issues of this election, but it hasn’t been – it hasn’t been because one of the teacher organisations went rogue.  We were so close. A significant number of parties had wonderful education manifestos – an inspirational education future was there, but it was snatched away, snatched way by the actions of a small group of unprincipled opportunists – the PPTA executive. An executive that signed into the government’s IES, and derailed the education debate. All this is without putting the IES to its membership.

The IES has provided, as national standards have in previous elections, a glib propaganda platform of distraction. The PPTA in signing up for the IES, by that very action, has run interference on education in such a way as to prevent education becoming a central election issue. If both primary and secondary had rejected the IES, National would have been forced into a real education discussion about real issues. But no, the PPTA executive went rogue and the consequences will be severe.

Teachers should note that education expenditure, even with the $359 over the next four years, is set to fall. That means all teachers can expect virtually no pay rise – and even worse, no extra teachers and support teachers to help children with special needs, also a worsening of the rort that is internal NCEA and the associated funnelling of students into soft NCEA units.

A writer in this site’s Comments section says that the PPTA executive claim that the IES provides better career pathways is nonsense – a career pathway should have some permanency to it and the pathways’ scheme has none.  The writer points out that the ministry says that schools can determine their own focus, yet Hekia Parata, when questioned as to where the funding for PLD was to come from, is on record as saying that clusters will access PLD from the ministry. And the PLD options for 2015 are very narrow and clearly linked to national standards.

Daryl Aim who put up such a brave fight to save Kawerau Intermediate (and what a corrupt story that is) reports on the Waihi experience when ERO tried to set up the Waihi schools and much else besides for an IES trial.

This is his story:

I was elected by other primary schools to be the representative on the ERO reference group for the Waihi Cluster Review. The review was to be around transitions of students at all levels of schooling, including early childhood and into the workforce.

When I was questioned by Phil Cowie, leading the ERO team, about its obvious ties to IES – he was adamant that it was coincidence – yeah right!

I attended the reference group hui in the last school holidays. The group was made up of the Waihi College principal, three early childhood operators, myself, the ERO team and a woman from Auckland who was presented as an expert on the model. We spent half a day framing the dimensions for review. The ERO team were also very interested in drawing up a list of community groups who could be part of the review.

My feeling following the meeting was that this was clearly a trial for a post-IES ERO system. A cluster review system where poorly performing schools can be singled out and dealt with.

After taking my views back to our primary cluster principals those present were unanimous in their decision to withdraw from the review.

ERO attempted a last minute salvage operation wanting to meet with us late on Friday – no chance!

Then an e-mail went out to all early childhood, primary schools and the college stating the review would not go ahead, and how disappointed the ERO team were … boo-hoo!

Imagine waking up on Sunday morning after the election and pondering the vocational prospect of this bureaucratic nonsense. Imagine your school being messed up in day-to-day detail by the ministry, ERO, PDL providers, community groups, other schools, local high school – all busily dispensing advice.

We read about our future recurring to dismal education effect; our present being stuffed by a group who just don’t care; back to the future again – and it is dismal; but there was one heartening thing – the decisiveness and courage of Daryl and the Waihi primary principals in giving ERO its marching orders.

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2 Responses to An eclectic: 2008 prediction; unprincipled opportunists; Waihi, our future?

  1. Austen Pageau says:

    I find these repeated attacks on the PPTA Executive to be really over the top. Most of your assumptions are based on your feelings towards the National Government which make you jump to all sorts of conclusions. I’m not sure what you mean when you say there is no career path being offered here. The Community of Schools classroom teacher roles must be at least 60% permanent on exactly the same formula as Management Units. If you argue that we shouldn’t pay more for teachers taking on extra responsibilities and we shouldn’t ever take our best teaches out of the classroom to help others then you are basically saying we should eliminate HODs, Specialist Classroom Teachers and deans.

    It is particularly surprising you would raise the threat of this spending hurting our chances for a general pay increase next year. The PPTA has always known that no matter what party is in government it will likely require a significant industrial campaign to get a significant pay rise. No government has ever just asked, how much do you want? But then the NZEI wouldn’t know that since every pay rise it has won for the last decade and more has been thanks to PPTA taking the industrial action, suffering the public scorn and the lost wages.

    What I find particularly odd is that you are lumping IES in with the GERM when in fact it is the opposite. GERM policies favour competition and choice whereas IES is all about collaboration and moderating the negative effects of competition. The policy likely comes not so much from National as it does from Peter Hughes, the new Secretary for Education, who last year spoke about the importance of collaboration between schools.

    To say the PPTA Exec has betrayed the campaign against National is totally unfounded. As a public sector union PPTA is not tied to the left or right parties but has instead called for a cross-party consensus on education. It praises good policy no matter where it comes from and attacks bad policy no matter which party proposes it. Just today PPTA launched a campaign attacking Act in the Epsom electorate for their charter school policy. But there isn’t going to be an attack on IES, a policy which answers several long-standing PPTA demands and seems aimed at reversing GERM a bit, just because it comes from National.

    My biggest issue with this article is that you are attacking our motivations, our morals. You assume that we share your thinking, that PPTA thinks this is an awful policy but it gives us a lot of money so screw everyone else. You’re wrong about that. There has been hours of discussions at all levels of PPTA over the policy and the consensus has been that the policy is good for students, good for the overall system and good for teachers. You can disagree with us about that but at least accept that we all have the same intentions, the same goals, we only disagree on how to get there.

    As for it not being put to the members yet, I have already explained that was a practical matter as we only have one more PUM this year and it is needed to debate and vote on the final package. Members views were canvassed at a previous set of PUMs and at regional meetings earlier in the year before we proceeded to negotiations. You called one of those PUMs a farce but remember there are two dozen regions in PPTA and each PUM would have been different based on the Exec member running the meetings.

  2. Kelvin says:

    IES about collaboration … oh please.

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