The NZEI national executive said they unanimously agreed that the ‘ministry offer was the best they could achieve in the circumstances’ and they encouraged teachers to accept it at Paid Union Meetings in September.
I am astounded that the NZEI is rationalising their betrayal of principles as a sensible response to the intransigence of the ministry negotiators; what did they expect?
The government’s policy of enforced school groupings will be used as the ultimate instrument of government control. Does the NZEI think they are going to be little islands of contentment in a hostile, angry, anti-teacher neoliberal sea? The school grouping policy will do nothing to allow teachers to teach with greater freedom; teachers will still be excluded from policy making and decision making; the narrow pedagogy and philosophy of the education review office will still dominate; the system will still be bound together by fear; teachers will still not be properly represented on the governing teaching body; teaching to measurable objectives will still dominate; national standards will still cripple learning, especially for certain groups of children; government controlled advisory services will still be the only ones available; further bureaucratic burdens and threats are still in the offing; academics will still be controlled by contracts; and education will be even more centralised and bureaucratically controlled.
Members of the NZEI executive and staff have put themselves forward as leaders; as such they should demonstrate moral courage not weakness when Hekia says boo. To lead can be uncomfortable, put NZEI out of the Wellington loop, put it at risk of retribution, too bad – it’s the nature of neoliberal philosophy. If you didn’t understand that you shouldn’t be there.
The executive went on to say that members have consistently asked: is the policy good for learners?
The executive said they saw great examples of successful collaboration around the country.
That kind of naïve sentiment has echoed disastrously in 20th century world history, as it did in New Zealand education with the introduction of Tomorrow’s Schools.
The executive has become the purveyor of ministry-type propaganda.
The government policy of enforced school groupings is a culmination of Tomorrow’s Schools and National’s unrelenting drive to control teachers and the curriculum to neoliberal ideological ends.
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.
To support the government policy as NZEI is doing is to become complicit in it. If teachers become complicit, as happened with Tomorrow’s Schools, the policy becomes 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.
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 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 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? Convincing teachers and schools of the efficacy of a policy is the government’s task, not theirs.
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 they say ‘no’, teachers will still be there for children, that is what primary teachers do, New Zealand primary teachers.