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Education, GERM (Global Education Reform Movement), Government Policy, New Zealand, PPTA, Teacher Intimidation, Teachers Council (by any name)

The new Teachers Council: Just what is EDUCANZ’ remit, exactly?

Concerns are coming from all angles about just what EDUCANZ’ functions will be. It looks to many like it’s more groundwork for kneecapping teachers and laying the groundwork for corporatising the school system.  As ever, all of this is being done on the sly.

The PPTA have raised serious concerns

In introducing the Education Amendment Bill (No 2) to Parliament, the Education Minister indicated a clear intention of pushing it through prior to the election, presumably in the hope that no one will look too closely at the proposed changes.  Submissions close 30 April 2014.

The bill sets out an extensive new role for EDUCANZ which includes:

•    Developing new sets of standards (separate criteria for registration and practising certificates and “standards for ongoing practice”).  (We don’t know what all this means either but suspect it is connected to the five levels of performance pay that the chairman of the EDUCANZ Transition Board, John Morris, has recently written about.)

•    Mandating an audit and moderation process of at least 10% of practising certificates.

•    The Teachers Council Code of Ethics, currently an aspirational document reflecting the professional status of teachers, is to be turned into a more directive “Code of Conduct” while the EDUCANZ council develops its own code. The legislation says teachers will be consulted about this new code but, as we have seen so far, that does not mean any account will be taken of their views.

•    The EDUCANZ council is supposedly more independent because it will be a statutory authority instead of a crown entity but it will be made up entirely of appointments by the minister of the day and it may not have a single practising teacher on it. There are no elected positions and no union positions. The board will be accountable only to the government of the day not to the profession.

•    The registration fees are certain to rise significantly given the range of new tasks for the council. 

PPTA is not opposed to the bill’s changes to the council’s discipline and competence provisions or to the role the council has in ensuring all teachers are “fit to teach”. We are, however, totally opposed to the range of unnecessary functions proposed for it as it can only result in substantial increases in the fees charged to teachers.

 

And big concerns about John Morris

conflict of interestIn light of Mr Morris’s recent proclamations in support of performance pay, PPTA decided to write to the Education Minister.  This is an except of that letter:

Dear Minister

I am writing to express my grave concerns about the appropriateness of John Morris continuing in his role as chair of the Transition Board for the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand (“the Transition Board”) in the light of the agenda he has prescribed for it in his publication Teaching Stars – Transforming the Education Profession (“the report”).

On page five of the report, Mr Morris advocates a central role for EDUCANZ in developing and overseeing a complex and highly bureaucratic performance pay system.

Mr Morris makes it clear in the publication that he chairs the Transition Board and fails to distinguish between his official position and personal opinion. He should have been explicit about what the approved goals for EDUCANZ were as distinct from his own personal views because otherwise it looks like he has made an official statement from the Transition Board.

As the Chair of the Transition Board, Mr Morris is required to act consistently with the terms of reference for the Transition Board, which includes a “no surprises” requirement and an obligation that members of the Board act consistently with the objectives and functions of the new body as defined by Cabinet. Mr Morris has failed to meet this requirement and substantially undermined any integrity of the reforms and process to be followed by the Board.

More concerning for me is the contempt that Mr Morris is showing for the 70,000 or so teachers who are going to be expected to fund the operation of his grandiose performance pay scheme. It is unacceptable that before teachers have had an opportunity to comment on the legislation and before the actual board has been formally established, the chairperson of the Transition Board has declared what the role and function of the body is to be. How can teachers have any trust in the process for establishing the new council when the chair of the interim board has revealed an agenda to use the body to introduce performance pay? There has been no consultation or agreement to these changes with the sector.

 

Death by a thousand cuts

It seems to me that the government is taking incremental steps along the road to privatisation of the public education system in New Zealand, with lots of small knives hacking away at the same poor beast until it is dead.

Only when it’s too late will people realise what has been lost.

 

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Sources and further reading

http://www.ppta.org.nz/issues/tc-review/2926-education-amendment-bill-pums

http://www.ppta.org.nz/issues/tc-review/2913-john-morris-educanz-board

http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2014/0193/latest/whole.html

http://www.teacherscouncil.co.nz/content/code-ethics-registered-teachers-0 (current code, under the Teachers Council)

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"One needs to be slow to form convictions, but once formed they must be defended against the heaviest odds." Gandhi

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