In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s election year, and that means it’s time to look at the various political parties’ education policies.
So, because we are helpful souls here at SOSNZ, here’s a handy alphabetical list of NZ political parties with links to their education policies online (or, where no education policy is yet published, a link to their general policy page):
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party Education Policy – none on party web page. Other policies are here.
Conservative Party Education Policy – none on party web page. Other policies here.
Maori Party Education Policy – not on party web page. Other policies are here.
United Future Education Policy – none on party web page. Other policies are here.
The ACT party has foisted a secretive, undemocratic, expensive and ideological experiment on New Zealand taxpayers with its so-called Partnership Schools.
ACT, the party of so-called fiscal responsibility, is quite happy to squander more than seventeen million taxpayer dollars on five small schools.
QPEC is concerned the policy has set up the conditions for the same kind of scams, fraud, mismanagement and poor academic performance that is plaguing charter schools in the United States.
Now the Epsom candidate is crowing that the “children are thrilled” to be going to these five schools. QPEC would like to know how the ACT candidate knows this.
No information on these schools is available through the Official Information Act, because the National Government legislated that the schools could work in complete secrecy.
There is no National Standards data so no public record of how they are doing.
We do know that the schools are costing taxpayers more than double the price of a state school education, and that three of the five schools had enrolment numbers below the guaranteed minimum at 31 March.
Local communities concerned were never consulted on whether they even want a so-called partnership school, nor on whether it is needed, nor on how they are expected to continue to offer a quality public education when such a well-funded school is set up alongside them.
QPEC is concerned that the ACT Party, having set these schools up to avoid public disclosure, is now claiming that they are successful, when they cannot know that. All we do know is that they are extremely expensive.
In the light of the Dirty Politics scandal, any political group that trumpets the success of a secretive, taxpayer funded scheme, needs to come under scrutiny.
Candidate David Seymour, who is likely to become an MP due to a deal between National and ACT, has been quite specific in supporting the South Auckland Middle School, a fundamentalist Christian partnership school.
We think it is highly inappropriate for David Seymour to be “going to Wellington”, as he said, to advocate for individual schools, or for a system that deliberately hides funding from taxpayers. Where is the openness and transparency that ACT used to support?
Contact: Dr Liz Gordon 0274545008
Epsom voters have an opportunity to protect the New Zealand education system this election.
PPTA is launching a campaign today to inform voters in the electorate about ACT’s disastrous charter school policy – with posters and leaflets being distributed (see attached sample).
“ACT’s education policies are based on an extremist ideology which has no basis in evidence,” PPTA President Angela Roberts says.
A single ACT MP brought in charter schools in 2011 and 2014 ACT Epsom electorate candidate David Seymour has boasted about his involvement in the policy and has committed to expanding it, she said.
“PPTA welcomes good education policy from whichever party advances it, but ACT’s policy is fundamentally broken.
“Its goals of expanding competition and market forces in education have been shown by international and local evidence to be worthless for raising the quality of the school system, and simply entrench social inequity,” Roberts said.
“Charter schools are an expensive and unnecessary experiment. Even the National-led government’s other single electorate support partner, Peter Dunne, voted against them and has said that they are not required,” she said.
Seymour said charter school students would get “no more or less” funding than students at public schools, Roberts said.
This year, the 350 students at charter schools are costing the taxpayer over $7million to educate, not including the start-up grants given to the schools in 2013. This would have been $2.5 million if they had stayed at public schools.
Contact: PPTA president Angela Roberts: 021 806 337
Authorised by Kevin Bunker, PPTA, 60 Willis St, Wellington
Findings in an independent analysis of the Government’s books, commissioned by the Green Party, reveal National is planning multi-billion dollar cuts to health, education, and environment spending over the next three years.
The analysis, prepared by Ganesh Nana of independent economic consultancy BERL, shows that National is stripping funding, in real terms, to the health, education and environment sectors to the tune of at least $3.837 billion over
the next three years.
“National’s election promises are being underwritten by major cuts to health, education and environment spending,” said Green Party Co-leader DrRussel Norman.
“National is being tricky with the books. This is a deliberate deception so National can claim a budget surplus when the reality is that hospitals will be under even greater pressure to cut services while every child in education will be worse off.
“At the time of the Budget in May, National brushed off criticism of these cuts saying they weren’t true. That was spin. National’s cuts to health, education and environment spending are real and damaging.
“National is attacking the elderly, the young and our environment with these funding cuts.
“BERL’s analysis shows National will cut health spending by 4.5 percent in real terms over the next three years. The cuts are actually 9.8 percent when you apply real health sector price increases.
“Education cuts amount to 1.7 percent over the next three years in total but are far more significant on a per pupil basis.
“In early childhood education (ECE) the cuts per child are 4.6 percent, 3 percent for primary children and 1.1 percent for secondary students.
“Environmental protection is cut by a massive 13.9 percent, leaving our environment vulnerable to further degradation,” said Dr Norman.
“In Government, the Green Party will maintain real levels of funding in health, education and the environment to protect against inflation and ensure vital services are not gutted.
“We will allocate $3.837 billion to health, education and the environment to protect these essential services for New Zealanders.
“The Green Party will reverse National’s cuts to our important services. Funding for our hospitals and schools and environmental protection will be maintained and inflation adjusted under the Greens.
“The Greens will use National’s provision for new spending to invest back into health, education and the environment to maintain real funding levels.
“Our plan to protect core Government spending is more than covered by existing budget provisions for new spending going forward and is affordable within budget parameters.
“Voters need to be crystal clear that a vote for National is a vote for spending cuts on health, education and our environment.
“Voters have a choice this election, re-elect National for big cuts to health and education, or protect the funding of our essential public services by voting Green.”
There was an air of excitement, tension and hope at last night’s Tick For Kids education forum in Wellington. The room was packed, and people were very keen to hear what the parties’ representatives have to say about education policy.
Kiwis are no fools, though, with people well aware of what Chris McKenzie called the pre-election lolly scramble to present popular policy, only 10% of which we might see post-election.
Given what we have heard so far and what was presented at this forum, we can only hope that far more than 10% of the promises come to fruition should there be a change in government.
So, to the night.
The panel comprised Hekia Parata (National), Chris Hipkins (Labour), Tracey Martin (NZ First), Peter Dunne (United Future), Chris McKenzie (Maori Party), Suzanne Ruthven (Greens), and Miriam Pierard (Internet-Mana) and was MCed very well by Dave Armstrong.
The candidates’ names were drawn from a bowl to determine the order in which they spoke – all very fair and orderly – and Armstrong made clear that people were welcome to mention each other, refer to other parties’ policies, and so on – unlike the shambles at Helensville the previous night. That got a big giggle.
(Clearly the Helensville event wasn’t run by Tick For Kids, otherwise it would have been far more interesting and informative.)
First up was Chris McKenzie (Maori Party)
McKenzie outlined a credible background in education and then won a significant ripple of applause when he said the Maori Party will reinstate ACE (Adult and Community Education) funding.
McKenzie also said they would make Te Reo compulsory and would look into the teaching of civics so that students understand the democratic process.
Given I had spent 90 minutes the night before trying to explain that very thing to my babysitter, I could well understand the need for civics in the curriculum. Maybe my high school colleagues can fill me in on what they feel is needed?
Peter Dunne (United Future) was up next
Dunne spoke mostly in generalities, with lots of feel good stuff about great teaching and high expectations, saying he wouldn’t be more specific as United Future’s policy is not out until next week!
He did, however, go out on a high note by stating UF would work to repeal charter schools.
Cue more audience applause.
Hekia Parata (National; Education Minister) was the next to take centre stage
Parata started by saying that student achievement had risen during National’s time in government and that now students are staying in school longer, saying that there was still more to do, especially for the neediest groups.
There was a wee round of clapping from one corner of the room. I later spotted that group leaving with Ms Parata – whether anyone *not* in her entourage clapped, I cannot say for sure…
Parata then said that special education needs was a key area of focus, and this elicited mumbling from the audience, most of whom are no doubt well aware that SEN provision is diabolical and has only got worse under this government. For my own part, it was all I could do to stay quiet and not shout “Tell that to Salisbury School!”
Parata continued on to say that Investing in Education Success (IES) policy would see to it that those issues are all addressed. This did not go down well with the audience. There was muttering.
Parata ended with a flourish by pronouncing “decile is not destiny” and banging the lectern. It might have gone down well were it not for the fact that teachers KNOW THAT already and don’t take kindly to being patronised. If she was waiting for a round of applause for her showmanship, she was disappointed.
And if showmanship is what was called for, we were in luck, because the next person to speak was Tracey Martin (New Zealand First), who always gives a clear and excellent speech.
Tracey Martin (New Zealand First)
Martin pulled no punches, opening by saying that teachers and the education system have been under constant attack by this government and it’s been relentless. She listed what we have seen from National: increased class sizes, charter schools, national standards and more.
Martin said parents were tricked into supporting (or at least not fighting) National Standards by the promise that they would be helpful, but said that’s not turned out to be the case.
In other words, the sales pitch doesn’t match what’s delivered.
The audience seemed to agree, with a large clap and mutterings of “too right”.
There was no pause as Martin went straight into EDUCANZ and the assault on teachers’ democracy. More clapping.
Martin then made absolutely clear that NZF would repeal both National Standards and charter schools. Applause from the room.
She went on to say that the conversation about how to improve education needs to be given back to teachers, that the sector itself needs to be involved and listened to.
She said change should be driven by teachers and facilitated by politicians, not the other way around.
Barely pausing for breath, Martin said Boards of Trustees (BOTs) would get compulsory training under NZF plans, ORS funding would increase to 3%, and there would be more money for special needs across the board.
This was all very well received by the audience, and Martin ended by saying (in a wee dig at Dunne) that New Zealand First’s education policy is already online, in full, and had been there for three months. She urged us all to read it. You should.
Suzanne Ruthven (Green Party)
Tracey Martin was a hard act to follow, but Suzanne Ruthven from the Green Party (who was standing in for Catherine Delahunty due to a family emergency) spoke to the effect of poverty on a student’s chances of success, said that education needed to be seen in its wider context, and outlined briefly the Green Party’s School Hubs Policy.
Ruthven explained that School Hubs would be flexible, there was money there for a Hub coordinator so that teachers were not expected to run them on top of their workload, and that schools and communities to mould them in whatever ways best suited their own needs.
And now to Chris Hipkins (Labour)
Chris started by saying he got a top rate education in a state school, and thanked his maths teacher who he had spotted at the back of the room.
He won the crowd over further by quoting Beeby:
“…every person, whatever his level of academic ability, whether he be rich or poor, whether he live in town or country, has a right, as a citizen, to a free education of the kind for which he is best fitted, and to the fullest extent of his powers.” C E Beeby
Without a pause for breath, Hipkins said charter schools would be repealed under Labour. National Standards would be gone. IES would be gone. School donations would be addressed.
He then said the Advisory Service would be put back in place, and the audience erupted into applause and cheers.
He went on – ECE would be funded to 100% qualified staff – more clapping
– and EDUCANZ would be ditched – HUGE applause and cheers, again, from the audience.
Hipkins sat down with the clapping still going.
Miriam Pierard was next up
Pierard explainsed that until very recently she was a teacher, and she believes once a teacher always a teacher.
It is, she says, time to take the education system back.
Pierard was clear that poverty and education need to be addressed together and that any government must work alongside teachers to find solutions. She stressed that the Internet Party want to hear from teachers about what they believe needs to be done.
Pierard reminds the crowd that ACT Party describe teachers as “vile” and says not all politicians feel that way.
Pierard ends by asking how many teachers in the room have been stuffed over by Novopay? Over half the hands went up. There’s applause for the recognition of the scale of the problem. She nods, sagely.
We all nod.
And with that, the candidates’ speeches are over, and we are onto Question Time… which deserves a post all of its own….
Other articles about the event:
“This is the last chance teachers have to elect their own council before the Government replaces it with the newly formed Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand (EDUCANZ).
“Education Minister Hekia Parata has cited low voter turnout as a justification for doing away with elections altogether. That’s clearly caught people’s attention and the high interest in this year’s council election shows just how much teachers value their voice.
“For a professional body to be effective it must have the confidence and support of those that it seeks to govern. EDUCANZ won’t have that support because teachers feel so disempowered as a result of its creation.
“Submissions to the select committee considering this change overwhelmingly opposed the removal of democracy from the teaching profession. In fact, the Government’s wider education reforms were completely opposed by 91 per cent, or 855 of 937 submitters.
“Labour believes teachers should have their own voice.
“A Labour Government will guarantee their right to elect their own representatives to their professional body,” Chris Hipkins says.
For more information:
The candidates are as follows.
Early Childhood Education Sector
ANDREWS Tiffany – Tauranga
CONNELL Bevan – Upper Hutt
EDGELER Clair – Auckland
IVES Phillipa – Christchurch
JEUNE Margaret – Levin
SHEARSBY Viv – Christchurch
SPRAGGS David – Gisborne
TREWEEK Julie – Matamata
VARNEY Jenny – Upper Hutt
WALL Josie – Papakura
WILSON Cathy – Porirua
BLAKEY Shelley – Tauranga
CRONIN Brenda – Auckland
HIWINUI SOLOMON Arna Rose – Raglan
MACKIE Sarndra – Rotoura
ORMANDY Sally – Christchurch
ROBINS Susan – Auckland
SARICH Shell – Northland
SHORTLAND Jim – Moerewa
TAMAMASUI Pena – Auckland
TUIONO Teariki o te Maka – Auckland
AMOS Claire – Auckland
CASSIDY Megan – Christchurch
CRUDEN John – Timaru
FLAVELL Will – Auckland
GOULD Jan – Wellington
KAHL Jo – Wellington
KING Stuart – Auckland
MCGRATH Fiona Gaylene – Whangarei
MITCHELL Karen – Auckland
OTTO Pennie Vaione – Auckland
PIERCE Gregory – Havelock North
SHEPPARD Doug – Lower Hutt
TARRY Michael – Auckland
BRUCE Linley – Auckland
MALCOLM Anne – Auckland
NEWMAN Pat – Whangarei
The elections will be conducted by internet and postal voting, using the First Past the Post (FPP) voting system.
Voting information together with information about the candidates will be sent to all registered teachers on Wednesday 3 September 2014.
Voting closes at 12 noon on Friday 3 October 2014.
Candidate names will be listed on the voting documents in pseudo random order.
Any queries are to be directed to the Returning Officer on the Election Helpline on 0508 666 001
Key political figures will debate the rights and interests of children at a forum to be held at Ponsonby Primary in Auckland next week.
The event promises to be a lively one with Education Minister Hekia Parata facing off against a full complement of party spokespeople and candidates.
Those taking part alongside Hekia Parata include:
The event is being run under the banner of ‘Tick for Kids’; a collective that seeks to put the interests of children at the centre.
Spokesperson Anton Blank says, “We want New Zealanders to engage with politicians about issues for our children. These local events provide platforms for everyone to articulate these concerns to political candidates directly.”
With so many important politicians involved the debate is bound to be vigorous and wide-ranging, covering education, health, housing and child poverty.
“We know that the New Zealand public is concerned about increasing rates of child poverty,” says Anton Blank.
He states that the ‘Tick for Kids’ movement, which is less than a year old, is becoming an important non-partisan force in New Zealand and the engagement of politicians in ‘Tick for Kids’ events is proof of that.
When: Wednesday August 6th
Where: Ponsonby Primary School, 44 Curran Street, Herne Bay, Auckland
For more information:
More than 30 organisations supporting the Tick for Kids campaign leading up to the General Election on 20 September are disappointed to see the latest Household Incomes Report and Economic Survey showing there are still far too many children living in poverty, leading to many going without the basic good and services they need. Children carry a disproportionate burden of poverty in New Zealand, with 22 percent of those aged 0-17 years in poverty because policies do not maintain adequate income levels for young families and housing costs lead to high outgoings.
Director of Mana Ririki, and Tick for Kids spokesperson, Anton Blank said, “The report confirms the difference that can be made to New Zealanders’ standard of living when the right policies are in place. Older people are a powerful lobby group – consequently the political parties have responded with policies that provide a guaranteed minimum level of income that keeps up with inflation and wage growth. Just 7 percent of those over 65 years live in poverty.
“The report released today is a reminder of what happens when voters and political parties ignore children. It shows a widening gap in the incomes of those on benefits and those on wages, particularly for sole parent families. It also shows that half of families living in rental accommodation and receiving the Accommodation Supplement are paying more than 50 percent of their incomes on housing costs.
“Successive governments have neglected children and voters have allowed them to do so. As a result, children are those most likely to live in poverty – with all of the negative health and education impacts that result from it. The reports shows that:
“Anyone concerned to ensure that New Zealand is a secure, productive and creative nation needs to call on political parties to prioritise children. It is time to build the political consensus that ensures children have a standard of living that supports their development and meets our nation’s legal obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said Mr Blank.