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On breaking a strike.

A strikebreaker (sometimes derogatorily called a scab, blackleg, or knobstick) is a person who works despite an ongoing strike. Wikipedia

There’s a lot of chatter on social media about whether or not union members can *choose* not to strike, and whether they would get paid for working on the strike day if they went to work.

I haven’t got a definitive answer yet, but how very sad that any union members would be actively trying to find ways to break a strike.

How astounding that anyone would be encouraging others to do so.

And how utterly unbelievable to be hunting down possible loopholes to get paid on a strike day.

Yes, it’s term 4, yes it’s report season, and yes, there are bills to pay, but it’s no small thing to cross a picket line (literally or figuratively) and work on a strike day.

Once the settlement comes in, would strikebreakers expect the same gains as the members who actively held the strike?

I wonder?

Are we paddling this waka together?  If not, why bother joining a union?

unfair.gif
~ Dianne

Just what are primary school teachers asking for? And what has Ministry offered?

This week, NZEI teacher members rejected the Ministry of Education’s second pay and conditions offer and voted to go on strike again. But what is it they want? And what’s been offered?

What we want:

  • SENCO –  A Special Needs Coordinator (SENCO) for every school, so that children with additional needs have a dedicated expert. This job is almost always tacked onto the roles of teachers already busy with many responsibilities, and so doesn’t always get the dedicated attention it needs.
  • RELEASE TIME – Significant increases to release time so that teachers can complete assessment properly and have time to discuss and interpret the data they gather. Two days per term is just not enough to do all of this.
  • PAY – 16% increase over the course of a two year agreement.
  • PAY PARITY – A renewal of the pay parity clauses so that primary teachers aren’t worse off than high school teachers.
  • SALARY CAP – Remove the qualification-based salary cap so that teachers are no longer unfairly penalised for having trained under the earlier Diploma system and can move up the entire pay scale with experience as other teachers do.

What Ministry has offered:

  • SENCO – Nothing! 
  • RELEASE TIME – Nothing! (In the first offer, Ministry offered addition release equal to 12 minutes’ release per week, but that was withdrawn in the 2nd offer).
  • PAY – 3% per year over a three year agreement.
  • PAY PARITY – Agreed to renew the pay parity clause.
  • SALARY CAP – Allow only one additional step for those teachers affected by the cap.

As you can see, what was asked for and what has been offered aren’t even close to each other. Only one condition was met as asked for, and that is the Pay Parity clause. Dedicated SENCOs to support students with special educational needs are not in Ministry’s offer, miserly release time in the first offer was withdrawn in the second offer, and the pay offer is less than asked for and over a longer period, and Diploma-trained teachers continue to get paid far less than their colleagues despite having the most experience (and often being team leaders, senior staff, and the ones that train new teachers)!

When we are hundreds of teachers short for next year, and we know we will be thousands of teachers short within a couple of years, you’d think Ministry would listen to teachers and make the job more manageable and attractive so that we keep the teachers we already have and attract new ones.  But no.

Something’s got to give: Strike action dates and information can be found here.

If you want to see in full what NZEI teacher members are asking for and what was offered by Ministry, look here.

~ Dianne

 

Chris Hipkins, do or do not – there is no try…

It was great, today, to see so many coalition MPs, including the Prime Minister, turn up in the Beehive’s grounds today to hear and acknowledge why NZEI members were striking.

Chris Hipkins spoke eloquently about his understanding of the issues, agreeing that more must be done for students with special educational needs and that staff workload and retention issues must be addressed, and for that we were very thankful.

And we understand that not everything can be addressed at once. We get that this government inherited a cesspool of bad policies from National and ACT. We know the pot of money is not bottomless.  But we also know we are in dire straits right now. That the issues are happening all around us, and there is no time to waste.

So, whilst we are very glad this government treats education staff with respect and genuinely seem to listen to us, we need more than just sympathy; We need action.

Before it’s too late.

yoda and hipkins

NZEI Claims and Negotiations

Teachers Vote To Strike

Primary and Intermediate school NZEI members have voted overwhelmingly to reject the Ministry’s paltry pay and conditions offer, and to hold a three-hour strike on 15 August. But many at the recent paid unions meetings felt that a three-hour strike starting in the afternoon would not give a strong enough message.

For most teachers, a three-hour afternoon strike would impact one hour of classroom time, the rest of the three hours being after 3 o clock. Commentators point out that teachers’ work after 3 o clock – weekly meetings, planning, marking, paperwork and so on – would likely be rescheduled and still have to be done at some other time.  As strikes go, that’s rather lame.

At meetings across the country there was a strong call to replace the three-hour strike with a full-day strike. A whole day. That, many argued, would have more impact and send a far stronger message.

Whether or not NZEI members strike for three hours or a whole day will in the end be down to them. It’s their union – they make that choice. The union is canvassing opinion now, and state that “[d]epending on the level of feedback, an online ballot may be held early next term to vote on whether to extend the strike to a full day on the 15th of August“.

Whatever they think is the best cause of action, NZEI members must make their voices heard. The time is now.

~ Dianne Khan, NZEI member

kuataetewa

 

Educators welcome reforms but need close consultation

Educators will need to be consulted heavily if the overhaul of education announced by Education Minister Chris Hipkins today is to be successful.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart said NZEI welcomed the reforms.

“We are generally pleased with the direction this Government is taking in education. We encourage the Minister to take the time needed to undertake the reform properly. Careful and planned implementation is needed and would set this Government apart from the previous National Government.

“There are huge and pressing issues that need resolving in education. Today’s announcement gives us some hope for these being addressed.”

The issues include: teacher shortages and the ability to attract and retain teachers, sufficient release time for teachers to teach and lead, ECE funding and a need to fix the ECE sector issues more generally, principal burn-out and stress, and more support for children with additional learning and behavioural needs.

“We want a world-leading curriculum and an education sector that fosters children’s love of learning and allows teachers to the freedom to teach and engage children in the learning that motivates them.

“However, the reforms will only be successful if teachers are meaningfully consulted in the development of the new programmes.”

Teachers were the experts in education and were able to bring to the table best practice and real world experience of children’s learning.

Over the past nine years under the National Government education has languished to the point that it is now in crisis.

Charters come at expense of children with high needs, say NZEI

NZEI Te Riu Roa is demanding the National/Act Government say how much it’s spending on four new charter schools, adding its money that should have gone on education of children with additional learning needs.

“It’s immoral to spend huge amounts of public money on schools that aren’t even needed, when children with additional needs are being denied the support they need to learn,” NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart said.

This week it was revealed that three and four year olds were waiting up to a year for an initial appointment with Ministry of Education specialists when they were identified with special needs.

“These children are being robbed of their right to an education, at the very time when it can have the greatest impact.

“The money being spent on charter schools would change the lives of thousands of children missing out on an education because this Government won’t properly fund learning support.

“The charter school experiment has not worked to raise achievement, according to recent analysis of school leaver results.

“It’s time to put an end to political interference in education, and focus on what works for all our children. That’s a strong public education system designed to ensure every child, not just some, achieve their full potential.”

Drop National Standards following damning survey – NZEI

Research showing less than 16 percent of teachers think National Standards have had a positive impact on student achievement is the latest evidence that the standards are not working and should be dropped, NZEI Te Riu Roa says.

A New Zealand Council for Educational Research survey of principals and teachers showed their opinions of National Standards had dropped further over the past three years. Less than a quarter said the standards provided a good picture of studenational standardsnt learning – down from 37% in 2013 – and only 20% said the standards helped motivate students to take on new challenges.

“This survey deals a huge blow to the credibility of National Standards and shows how dangerous it would be to use them as the basis of any future school funding system,” NZEI president Louise Green said.

“National Standards have failed to achieve the two purposes they were set up for –  lifting achievement, and giving parents better information about the progress of their children.

“Its bad enough that the standards are not useful for lifting achievement, or measuring progress, they also offer little to students with additional learning needs – the very group we were told they were supposed to help.

“Teachers have tried hard to make the standards work since they were introduced seven years ago and if they were helping children learn better we’d embrace them, but they’re not.

The survey follows recent international assessment findings that New Zealand children’s scores in maths and reading had dropped since the standards had been introduced.

“If National Standards have failed to lift achievement, don’t provide good information for teachers or parents, and are demotivating for students, the obvious solution is to drop them.

“Parents deserve good quality information about their children’s progress, children deserve a modern, broad curriculum that motivates them to learn, and teachers deserve the best teaching tools. National Standards fails on all fronts,” Ms Green said.

Special educational need support changes – mixed reaction

nzei logoToday’s release of a Cabinet paper outlining changes to support for children with special education learning needs has some positive developments but also raises a number of concerns, says NZEI Te Riu Roa.

As part of the Learning Support Update, the Ministry plans to implement a new service model that will include a single point of access for parents, whānau, schools and local communities, and Local Learning Support teams and a Lead Practitioner.

NZEI President Louise Green said such a move would be welcomed, and teachers and parents had long been asking for a single contact point.

“The concern is that there is still no more funding, even though the ministry acknowledges that the number of children needing learning support is growing, and principals are reporting that the significant needs of children in their schools are not being met,” she said.

“There is no detail around who will staff the learning support teams and lead practitioner roles. If they are existing specialist staff, this reduces the available expertise needed by individual children. If the role is to be taken by teachers or Special Education Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) in schools, a lack of resourcing for the extra responsibility will be an issue.”

Ms Green welcomed the acknowledgement that more speech language therapists were needed and that the eight-year cap on frontline staff could be lifted.

“However, they have also signalled a move to some private provision of services, even though it would be more cost-effective to use ministry-employed staff. Fewer children will be assisted if funding is going via private operators. We don’t want to see any privatisation of this essential public service for our children,” she said.

Ms Green was pleased that the new service model would be trialled in one area first, but said many questions remained around the details of the model and their implications on students.

Parata backs down on bulk funding plans

Demise of bulk funding a big win for teachers, learners and school communities

NZEI Te Riu Roa and PPTA congratulate the Minister of Education and Cabinet for making the right decision to reject bulk funding of schools.

NZEI President Louise Green and PPTA President Angela Roberts say taking bulk funding off the table is a big win for public education and for the thousands of teachers and school support staff who united in unprecedented numbers at more than 50 union meetings around the country in September.

PPTA President Angela Roberts says parents and educators had rejected bulk funding because they realised it was a cost cutting tool that would force schools to make trade-offs between hiring teachers and other costs.  Thousands of parents signed postcards to the Minister calling for better funding, not bulk funding during a national roadshow organised by the two unions earlier this term.

Angela Roberts says the win is good news for learners, as bulk funding led to fewer teachers, larger class sizes and narrower subject choices for students.

She says the two unions welcomed the opportunity to now focus on how funding could be used to improve equity.

“Now that the distraction of bulk funding has been removed we can begin the real work of developing an equitable funding model that works for every child,” she said.

However, Louise Green warned that ditching the decile system and replacing it with more targeted funding would not  help schools unless the chronic underfunding of education was also addressed.

“We call on the Government to take the next step — to increase school funding and restore funding to early childhood services, which has been frozen for six years,” she says.

Both unions’ National Executives are meeting this morning and the Presidents will make a joint statement at lunchtime.

What:               Joint media stand up by NZEI and PPTA Presidents

Where:             Thorndon Hotel, 24 Hawkestone St, Wellington

When:               12:30pm, Friday 18 November

The ‘Better Funding’ Bus Tour

better-funding-bus-2

From Monday 10 October, three buses will set off on a Better Funding Bus Tour of more than 100 schools and ECE centres.

NZEI Te Riu Roa and the PPTA are launching an education bus tour in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch next week to raise awareness of the Government’s proposed radical reforms to school funding and the chronic underfunding of schools and early childhood services.

The bus tour aims to spread the Better Funding message to parents and whānau and the wider community, and educators will be talking to parents at drop-off and pick-up times about why children’s education needs more investment.

There will be Better Funding postcards to sign and send to Parliament, plus they’ll be asking the public to sign our Support Staff petition.

NZEI President, Louise Green explained:

“We are already seeing this with the Government’s freeze on the school operations grant, which funds support staff salaries and other general operating costs, and which has been frozen this year. Recent analysis of the 2016 operations grant shows that a majority of schools will be worse off when inflation is taken into account. 

“Meanwhile, bulk funding in Early Childhood Education has also been frozen for five years in real terms, with services now under huge financial pressure to cut qualified teachers and increase group sizes.

“The quality of our children’s education shouldn’t be put at further risk from underfunding and flawed funding models. We need to restore full funding for quality teaching in early childhood, and at least an inflation increase to the operations grant to ensure schools have enough money to cover basic running costs, and to pay and keep on support staff who are funded from this allocation. 

“No parent wants larger class sizes or fewer teachers for their kids. Our campaign is about valuing education and ensuring there is better funding to deliver the best education possible for New Zealand kids.”

This campaign is a great chance for families and wider communities to ask questions about what’s going on, so mosey on up and find out why educators are not at all happy with the Minister’s overall education policy and, in particular, the “Global Funding” plans.

Details of where the buses are going to be are here.

You can follow the campaign on Twitter at #betterfunding

Special education funding cuts revealed

220916-rally-1Special education funding cuts have been revealed on eve of rally at Parliament to support inclusion education.

Educators are joining with disabled people, families and service providers to rally at Parliament tomorrow, Thursday 22 September, to let Government know that their Special Education Update is totally inadequate and it is time to invest in inclusion.

“NZEI is concerned that the Special Education Grant (SEG) paid to schools through operational grant funding is failing to keep up with wage inflation and roll growth,” said Louise Green NZEI Te Riu Roa President.

“Between 2009 and 2016, the SEG fell by 1.8% when labour cost increases are taken into account, according to information released to Education Aotearoa under the OIA.

“In the same period, school rolls have risen from 760,859 students to 776,816 and the identification of students with special education need has increased dramatically. So there really needs to be much more funding going into SEG than the Government is current providing to ensure the value of the funding per student increases.

“The SEG is mainly spent on teacher aides to help meet students’ special education needs. The inadequate levels of funding puts real pressure on a school’s ability to provide the best education possible for all their students.

“Any parent or teacher of a special needs child can tell you that the level of learning support funded through the Ministry of Education is inadequate, and in many cases non-existent.

“The recent Special Education Update proposal to shift resources to pre-schoolers, without putting any additional funding into the system won’t work in the best interests of all children who need the support. They need more funding.

“We strongly support greater investment in early intervention, but that should not come at the expense of those who need support when they are older. Funding should be based on the need for intervention and support, not age,” said Louise Green.

220916-rally-2RALLY DETAILS

Education for All Rally

Where: Parliament forecourt

When: Tomorrow, Thursday 22 September 4.30-5.30pm

Organised by Education for All, a collaboration involving the disability and education sectors, including NZEI Te Riu Roa

Facebook Event Page

Online learning with private companies will harm children’s learning – NZEI

nzei logoGovernment plans to legislate for children from 5 years old to choose to do their schooling online using private companies who do not have to have qualified teachers, will horrify both parents and educators, NZEI Te Riu Roa says.

NZEI President Louise Green said the plan undermined the very worthy goals for education proposed in the same legislation – the Bill for the new Education Act.

“We welcome the high level goals and the reassertion of the right to free quality public education in the Bill, Louise Green says. But New Zealand schools already offer online learning integrated with face-to-face teaching, although support and resourcing is needed to improve equity of access.

“However, in no way does the online learning framework the Bill proposes match what we know works best for student success. Experience of online schooling in the United States is woeful and all the evidence is clear that high-quality teaching is the  single biggest influence in-school on children’s achievement, particularly for our most vulnerable learners.

“Particularly for our youngest learners in ECE and primary school, education is also about learning to work and play with other children and to experience both growing independence and a range of activities outside the home. Online learning cannot replicate important social and experiential learning schools offer.

“This proposal was not subject to any consultation prior to appearing in the Bill. We are concerned it will open the door to a new market in private provision subsidised by the taxpayer that will take resourcing away from public schools.

“There is also a serious threat that children with learning difficulties or other challenges will be pressured into online learning as the cheapest option, rather than the Government taking full responsibility for specialist, personalised support to enable every child to reach their potential.”

The Online Charter School Study 2015  by the Centre for Research on Educational Outcomes showed that the academic benefits of online charter schools are currently the exception rather than the rule. See other implications  here or  full report. 

– NZEI

Campaign launched to reverse school funding freeze

nzei logoNZEI will tomorrow launch a nationwide campaign to reverse the Government’s freeze on school operations funding in order to secure sustainable resourcing for school support staff.

In its May Budget, the National Government snuck through a freeze to the school operations grant that pays for support staff wages and all other essential school running costs.

“This funding freeze is unprecedented. No Government as far back as 1999 has ever frozen school funding before, so this will put already strained school budgets under more pressure,” said NZEI President Louise Green.

“…this year’s budget freeze actually equates to a 0.5% per-student cut in operational funding for schools next year because of roll growth”

Research done by Infometrics shows this year’s budget freeze actually equates to a 0.5% per-student cut in operational funding for schools next year because of roll growth. It’s an even bigger cut when you take inflation and other costs into account.

“This cut will force schools to make trade-offs between support staff and other running costs. More pressure will go on parents to pay larger donations to cover the funding shortfall.

“We support more funding for the most disadvantaged students, but it should be in addition to adequate funding levels for all schools.”

“While the Government has put in a small amount of additional funding for the most disadvantaged children they have done this by cutting the per-student ops grant funding across all schools, creating winners and losers.

“We support more funding for the most disadvantaged students, but it should be in addition to adequate funding levels for all schools.

“Support staff like administration staff, teacher aides, technicians and others are most at risk of having their hours cut due to the funding freeze.

“Support staff already suffer from poor pay and precarious hours of employment despite their crucial role supporting children’s learning. The funding freeze puts them under greater stress and threat.

“We need better operational funding for schools that allows them to meet children’s educational needs. We also want support staff to be paid centrally like teachers are, so they are not competing with other costs and resourcing needs,” said Green.

The support staff campaign is part of the wider Better Funding Better Learning campaign being run with the PPTA to respond to the government’s proposal to introduce global funding, which could result in fewer teachers and larger class sizes.

“This funding freeze highlights the perils of bulk funding. We need to reject bulk funding for support staff and ensure it is not extended to include teaching staff,” said Ms Green.

Support staff will be starting their campaign by launching an online petition on Monday calling for parents and communities to message the Education Minister to reverse the funding freeze.

~ENDS

#betterfunding

Why ‘global funding’ isn’t a good thing

Today, Angela Roberts (PPTA) and Louise Green (NZEI) announced unprecedented joint action on Government funding proposals. The proposals are not welcome and are very much seen as a threat to the New Zealand education system – a threat that could lead to increased class sizes, less qualified teachers, fewer support staff and so it goes on.

Teachers, Support Staff, Principals and parents all need to be aware of what is being proposed and the impacts it could have. At the moment, few are being consulted with, and those that are ‘in the tent’ are under a gagging order, preventing them from telling the rest of us what is truly being proposed.

Here, Angela Roberts and Louise Green explain why they, as heads of the two NZ teachers’ unions, have taken the huge step of calling paid union meetings (PUM) for both unions together in order to look at the proposals:

The Paid Union Meetings will be held around the country between 5 and 16 September, starting with Auckland Town Hall on 5 September, Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre on 6 September and Christchurch’s Horncastle Arena on 7 September.

Meetings will be held at either 9am or 1.30pm to minimise disruption to teaching programmes, children and parents.

Find more details on betterfunding.org.nz 

~ Dianne

Featured image courtesy of NZEI & PTTA.

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Educators join forces for better funding for learning

bulk funding nzei and ppta joint meme

PPTA and NZEI Joint Press Release

Educators from early childhood to secondary schooling are uniting to respond to the government’s latest funding proposal, saying it could result in fewer teachers and larger class sizes.

The government has also refused to explore any increase in funding for education.

PPTA and NZEI Te Riu Roa today announced they are holding combined meetings of their 60,000 members in September.  The meetings are to plan a response to the government’s “global funding” proposal, which is effectively a return to the failed bulk funding experiment of the 1990s.

The education unions have never before undertaken joint meetings of this scale, involving principals, teachers and support staff from ECE to secondary.
The government’s renewed attempt to propose bulk funding would mean all staffing and school operational funding would be delivered to schools on a per-student basis in the form of cash and “credits” for staffing.

This would mean parents on Boards would have to make trade offs between the number of teachers they employ and other non-teaching costs of running a school. This would incentivise:

  • Fewer teachers and larger class sizes
  • The loss of guaranteed minimum teacher staffing for specific year levels such as new entrants and senior secondary classes
  • Increased casualisation of teacher jobs which could undermine quality of teaching
  • Further downwards pressure on support staff hours and pay, which is already bulk funded through schools’ operational grants
  • Removal of the government’s responsibility for issues such as class size and curriculum breadth
  • Removal of certainty about increases in funding to keep up with cost increases or population growth.

bulk funding ppta

Early childhood education has languished under bulk funding for many years and most services have had to make cuts, hire fewer qualified teachers and increase fees to parents. Schools would face a similar threat.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Louise Green and PPTA President Angela Roberts announced the nationwide Paid Union Meetings at a joint media conference at Wellington Girls’ High School today.

Ms Roberts said bulk funding was simply another back-door attempt to increase class sizes, which outraged parents when it was last attempted three years ago.

“This proposal would result in parents on school boards being forced to do the government’s dirty work the moment the budget gets squeezed. The complexities of juggling credits would also undermine the board focus on improving children’s learning,” she said.

Ms Green said early childhood education and support staff had suffered under a form of bulk funding for many years and to extend that across the sector would be disastrous.

“The past five years of a per-child funding freeze in ECE have forced many centres to compromise quality by reducing the number of qualified teachers. There is no reason to think bulk funding would work any differently in schools,” she said.

The Paid Union Meetings will be held around the country between 5 and 16 September, starting with Auckland Town Hall on 5 September, Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre on 6 September and Christchurch’s Horncastle Arena on 7 September. 

Meetings will be held at either 9am or 1.30pm to minimise disruption to teaching programmes, children and parents.

Find more details on betterfunding.org.nz.

bulk funding nzei and ppta joint meme

 

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