Only to the extent … Posting 3
What was to be posting 3 (Hekia, a speech of hers, and why education policy is based on myths, lies, and fear … and to that I should add bribery) is now to be posting 4.
My intuition tells me that principals are capitulating at a rate of knots; without reference to their teachers, and ignoring the pleas of their teacher organisations.
This posting is written in haste but not with any sense of surprise. Readers may remember that in my first postings on the cluster policy I said making voluntary joining the cluster system was a ruse because the government had too many levers, and schools were too vulnerable, for that to become a real choice. But the speed and manner of the capitulation by principals means no matter how much they deny it, principals will feel compromised. That will be a kind of corruption and make it difficult for principals and teachers, all of them, to sustain an idealism and resistance in the years ahead.
The motivation for this posting is that my source within the ministry tells me special needs funding in schools is going to be severely slashed. Special needs teachers, those wonderful people who give so much and such a pittance in return are going to hurt.
My source tells me that this is the first of many cuts to services as a way of recouping the expenditure on clusters. And later, pay rises for teachers will be limited to 1% if not less. The informant believes special needs teachers were targeted first as a payback for their agitation and protest marches. As for pay rises, the government is anticipating a much weakened NZEI as a result of principals going against NZEI policies, and EDUCANZ forbidding teachers and principals speaking out on government policy. As well, the government is going to say, if you want more money, become a lead or expert teacher.
I know there will be those principals who will complain that this special needs reduction was not signalled before the election. Well, it was, but in neoliberal government style, obscure in language and secret in announcement. It was in Hekia’s speech to the Iwi Chairs Forum in November, 2013, I was going to warn you about it. She said the cluster system would mean much less need ‘for interventions’. That was it; don’t say she didn’t tell you.
I am getting many emails from distressed principals, especially of small schools, saying the bigger principals are meeting together, doing deals with the ministry, and then calling all principals together as though a done deal.
These are dangerous times, we must stick together. I am simply urging principals to listen to the teacher organisations.
I am urging you to not give up and not give up on my postings – even though I am going wider in my topics. Posting 2 in the series carries most important messages.
In 1999, I spoke to a group of principals. My main message was that they support their organisations and don’t give way in their thinking even if, in the end, they have to give way in some of their actions.
After that, I dropped out for a number of years, biding my time to when I would return. At my age, I don’t have the time to do that again, so will hang in there – after all, comparatively, there is a stronger base for an ideology of freedom and resistance to be pursued.
I urge you to stay strong, not necessarily to the bitter end, but while things pan out. Think of this special needs imbroglio as your future and the children’s.