It is astounding the list of wrongs done to the Kiwi education system in a few short years. I’m not exaggerating – it is just beyond belief. To the point that when I try to think of it all, my head hurts and a thousand conflicting issues start fighting for prominence rendering me unable to sort through the spaghetti of information and in need of a big glass of Wild Side feijoa cider.
I live and breathe this stuff, and if I find it bewildering I can only imagine what it does to the average parent or teacher, grandparent or support staff.
So I am truly grateful that Local Bodies today published a post listing the long list of things public education has had thrown at it since National came to power.
This is the list. It needs to be read then discussed with friends, colleagues, family, teachers, students, MPs and the guy on the train. Because this is it – this is what has been thrown at education in a few short years. It is no overstatement to say that New Zealand Public education is under attack.
Take a breath, and read on:
A National led Government was elected and New Zealand’s public education system came under heavy attack:
- $35 million gifted to private schools (4% of students).
- $25 million slashed from the Education Ministry (according to assessments it is the worst performing ministry).
- Introduction of new curriculum abandoned and National Standards implemented without trial, against advice and with limited consultation (legislated into law).
- Cost of repairing leaky school buildings over $1.2 billion (after National’s de-regulation of building industry in 1991).
- $400 million wiped from the early childhood budget and the target for qualified teachers dropped to 80% (many centres operating at 100% had massive budget cuts).
- Curriculum narrowed to literacy and numeracy and all other advisors sacked(Science, Technology, Arts…).
- The expectation that schools provide healthy food wiped to allow commercial interests into schools again to sell processed food and fruit in schools scheme slashed.
- Funding for technology teachers in intermediates cut.
- Class sizes over 1:27, 6 more than the OECD average
- Health camps closed.
- Residential schools for behavioural needs closed (one illegally).
- Schools who questioned Standards were threatened with having boards and principals sacked and had PD withheld.
- Christchurch school closures are poorly managed and questioned by an ombudsmen and found wanting by a court decision.
- New Education Ministry head employed from UK with a background in Charter Schools and limited knowledge of New Zealand system.
- Novopay signed off and implemented without a proper trial despite having 147 software faults. Schools are having to devote hours of time every week to deal with past and ongoing problems.
- Charter Schools introduced despite no evidence of need and are given afinancial advantage over public schools. The Civilian’s satirical take on Charter Schools is actually not far from the truth.
- Private schools capture special needs funding over low decile schools.
- Hekia Parata remains in Ministerial role despite poor performance and little respect from the public or the education sector.
- After five years under National, New Zealand’s international ranking plummets to as low as 23rd.
- Internationally regarded research reveals New Zealand schools are suffering serious harm under the National Standards regime.
- The Prime Minister announces that $359 million will be spent on Executive Principals and Teachers who are successful in raising achievement in National Standards. Many question why the money is supporting a corporate management system and isn’t being spent directly to help children with high needs.
You can add to the list the change to teacher training that allows teachers to train in 6 weeks in the school holidays and then train on the job in one school without varied practicums, just as Teach For America does to bring in low cost, short term, untrained ‘teachers’. (Coincidentally great for charter schools, especially those running for profit.)
The full Local Bodies article is here. It is well worth sharing and discussing (share the original, not this – the full article is better)
Please be aware that what has already gone on is just the preamble to far more extensive measures getting increasing more about Milton Friedman’s “free market” than about good, equal, free public education for all.
Unless you want NZ to descend into the horrors being seen now in England and the United States, you need to act. How?
- Speak up. Talk about the issues with others – encourage them to think about what’s going on and what it means in the long run; and most importantly,
- Vote. VOTE. Definitely vote. And encourage everyone you know to vote, as well.
Because three more years like this and the list above will look like child’s play.