The vote: when it comes to children, the best in the circumstances is not pragmatism it is submission

Dear NZEI teachers and principals of New Zealand

The NZEI national executive said they unanimously agreed that the ‘ministry offer was the best they could achieve in the circumstances’ and they encouraged you to accept it at Paid Union Meetings in September.

The executive went on to say that members have consistently asked: is the policy good for learners? How can teachers influence the move towards Communities ensuring they are genuinely responsive to learners’ needs and support quality learning?

The executive said they saw great examples of successful collaboration around the country.

The executive is talking rubbish and has become the purveyor of ministry-type propaganda.

Hear no wrongness, see no wrongness, hear no wrongness.

The Community of Learning sounds like something out of 1984, and with good reason: it is a corruption of language masking a corruption of behaviour.

This is a sad moment in the history of the NZEI; I believe its very future hangs in the balance.

The Community of Learning is an administrative change, as was Tomorrow’s Schools, and will do nothing for children’s learning, except some harm.

The Community of Learning is really Community for Control. The groups of schools will only have freedom consistent with government policy administered by the ministry and the education review office.

The executive should have asked: what is it that would improve learning? Two important responses would be: teachers sharing in all parts of education policy from formation to implementation; and schools and teachers having freedom to organise and teach differently within broad aims.

The government-enforced teacher groupings controlled by the bureaucracies are taking schools in a diametrically different direction.

The government-enforced groupings are another bureaucratic layer.

Does the executive really think the ministry and education review office are going to change their spots? Have they gone mad?

I’m out there fighting for justice for teachers, and they are doing cosy deals with the government.

Convincing teachers and schools of the efficacy of a policy is the government’s task, not theirs.

For the executive’s sake, the membership had better vote against the government-enforced groupings, because if it goes through, the resignations will shake the foundations of a once proud organisation.

When it comes to children, the best in the circumstances is not pragmatism it is submission.

I urge NZEI members to vote NO to more ministry and review office control.

If the government legislates compulsory, that is what governments do, but if we say NO, we will be there for children, that is what primary teachers do, New Zealand primary teachers.

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9 Responses to The vote: when it comes to children, the best in the circumstances is not pragmatism it is submission

  1. Tony Westrupp says:

    You are amazing! Thanks. Thanks. Thanks.

    Cheers
    Tony Westrupp ANZEI

    Principal
    Kaukapakapa School
    P 09 420 5477
    F 09 420 5557
    M 021 344 225

    “Kaukapakapa School students will have a strong foundation in numeracy and literacy, thus preparing them for the ongoing journey to further education, equipped with the confidence and self esteem to become good citizens.”

  2. kellyned says:

    Thanks Kelvin
    I do agree with you. I was called ‘negative’ at a recent meeting (Not by NZEI) However my concerns around CoS in brief are as follows:
    • It is another layer of bureaucracy
    • I struggle to manage the current layers of bureaucracy
    • My Board (and any other sane minded ones) do not want me out of the school
    • My Board (and any other sane minded ones) do not want best teachers out of the school
    • There is no evidence to support the notion that this will improve student achievement
    • The countries the ideas has been borrowed from are completely different contexts.
    • Some have been seduced by the money
    • If they are seduced by the money, do any of us want to work under their leadership?
    • With the groups around me all I see is a lot of travelling about – and that is only in the ‘goal development’ phase. No real work has been done yet.
    • I don’t doubt that given time the set goals will be used to punish schools for non-achievement.

    I do feel conflicted by it all because I don’t wish to deprive my staff of opportunities that might eventuate, but then again are they opportunities or snares?
    I seemed to be the only one willing to express real concerns. Which is concerning.

    It has occurred to me that we could focus upon accessing the Innovation Fund regularly and achieve much more focused outcomes for our students.

  3. alanm says:

    Hi Kelvin,

    Isn’t the whole point that the government and the ministry won’t change its spots the reason behind why the executive is recommending to accept the offer? If the offer is rejected the government will steamroll on regardless without educators having the opportunity to try and influence this policy just as this government has done with other unpopular policies from national standards to charter schools to asset sales and so on.

    Blind ideology is this government’s ethos and the union will be in a worse shape if this rejected and roles are assigned through IEAs. If you think the public care about this and the government will back down you aren’t reading your history. Only a change of government will change this.

  4. Kelvin says:

    To support the policies is to become complicit in them. If we become complicit, they become, like Tomorrow’s Schools, entrenched, and then when there is a change of government there is no change. Struggle for children and what is right is ennobling; becoming part of what is wrong is morally corrosive.

  5. Vern Stevens says:

    Well put Kelvin that is it in a nutshell. Thanks.

  6. Paul says:

    I suggested as much to you several weeks ago Kelvin. The voting id already well underway and NZEI are doing their darndest to make it a yes vote – shame on them and thiee schools who have signed up so far.

  7. Kelvin says:

    You did Paul, I suppose I needed someone to send me the information sheets from NZEI to put me fully in the picture. I am getting emails from principals explaining they went to meetings thinking they were only information meetings, poorly attended because of that, and suddenly being confronted with ballot papers that were then stuffed in satchels. The information provided tragically unbalanced and the voting process highly irregular. I am astounded that the NZEI is rationalising their betrayal of principles as being a response to the intransigence of the ministry negotiators; what did they expect? I urge the NZEI to pause or it could be the end of NZEI as we know it. The government’s enforced school groupings will be used as the ultimate instrument of government control. Did NZEI think they were going to be little islands of contentment in a hostile, angry, anti-teacher neoliberal sea. Members of the NZEI executive and staff have put themselves forward as leaders, well lead, demonstrate moral courage not weakness when Hekia says boo. Yes, to really lead is uncomfortable, puts you out of the Wellington loop, puts NZEI at risk of retribution, too bad – it’s the nature of neoliberal education. If you didn’t understand that you shouldn’t be there.

  8. John Carrodus says:

    Teachers like any group are only as strong as their weakest link which is nearly always within it’s own ranks very close to the sharp end. Whoever hold purse strings thus political power and favour are born with this instinct. They also rely on the fear of becoming a have not school instead of a will have school to win the day. But an mouth filled with ash will never taste as good as doing what is best for kids.

  9. Melulater says:

    These are hostile times in education. The Minister engages rarely with the NZEI Executive and is uninterested in doing so because she has her own agenda and will not vary.
    When the NZEI Exec say this is the best deal they could get, I believe them. But it has done them no favours putting this to the membership after the previous actions against IES. The membership feel betrayed and that NZEI has rolled over.
    The Exec admits it is a proposal that doesn’t go far enough for them, that doesn’t include all they believe it should. So why put it to us?
    The proposal we were asked to vote on is a pig with lipstick. Under it we would have the opportunity to do some further reshaping of how it looks/works. In my opinion, that would then make it a pig with lipstick, eyeshadow and blusher – but it would still be a pig.
    It needs to go back to the table. But not as a variance to the CA, but rather as a claim about how we want these roles to work.

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