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Unqualified teachers

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NZ First Introduces Bill to Protect the Title of “Teacher”

Tracey Martin NZ FirstTracey Martin MP, Spokesperson for Education – Press Release

New Zealand First wants to protect the title of “teacher” and we will introduce a member’s bill to do so this week.

“The National Government, with support of the ACT Party and Maori Party, continue to amend the Education Act to allow individuals without in depth teacher training to market themselves as ‘teachers’ to parents and students.

“This is an attack on the status of our teachers and is likely to lower the standard of teaching and learning in schools.

“Parents should be 100% confident that anyone using the title of teacher has successfully completed the appropriate qualifications to support their students learning.

“This government has allowed Charter Schools to put untrained and unqualified individuals into classrooms and call themselves teachers. The new Education Amendment Bill will allow well-meaning degree graduates to market themselves as teachers, without in class supervision, after only an eight week Christmas course.

“Under the New Zealand First bill all parents can be assured that if their child has a ‘teacher’ then they are being taught by an educational specialist. By providing this simple method of identification parents truly have choice when it comes to who is leading the learning in their child’s education,” says Mrs Martin.

~ ENDS

More untrained teachers in the classroom

Last week, out of nowhere, government added a proposal to the Education Act update that would allow Teach First teacher trainees to be in the classroom unsupervised.

Yes, that’s right – a trainee with no qualifications in teaching would be allowed to be in charge of the whole class unsupervised.

You have to wonder why that would be proposed? What’s the justification?

Fishy goings on?

Before getting to the education issues, I first have to ask, how is it acceptable to add in such an important change to the proposed Education Act amendments without informing people so we have a chance to submit? That’s not democracy; it’s underhand, disingenuous and it’s railroading.

You have  to wonder what the process was that led to it being put in at the very last minute, too. The cynic in me can’t help but wonder whether it was purposefully held back just long enough to leave no time for people to put up submissions about the plan. If that’s not the reason, then why the last-minute appearance? Something’s fishy, and this time it’s not MPI’s catch quotas.

Lowering the bar

As with any proposals, we should ask who this proposal benefits and who it impacts.

We have a glut of well-trained, qualified primary trained teachers as it is, so where’s the need to lower the bar this way? What’s the imperative to have trainees in front of classrooms with no supervision?

Better Training?

I’d love to hear how unsupervised time in the classroom is better for the trainee than supervised training and co-teaching, where a teacher with years of experience observes and gives feedback and where the student can see the teacher at work and reflect on what works well and why.

Good self reflection on one’s pedagogical practice is something that develops over time, guided initially by mentors and becoming deeper and more meaningful as you grow as a teacher. It’s not something you can just do. After all, to begin with, you don’t know what you don’t know.

So how is being unsupervised/unmentored /unsupported a good move?

Better Trainees?

Teach First often cites that its trainee teachers have high degrees or Masters qualifications. But being a good teacher isn’t just about knowing your subject, and even more so at primary level where your subject will be only a tiny part of what you teach anyway.

Just as important as book smarts is knowing how to engage students, how to create a productive environment, how to plan effectively, how to adapt planning on the fly when you have to, how to deal with upsets, what to do to support those who struggle or who find a task easy, how to spot those who are not pushing themselves and what to do to help them, how to deal with parents’ concerns, what to do about the wriggler or the weeper or the kind that has a tendency to disrupt things. How to teach kids to analyse their own work and improve it, what to do about the kids who never push themselves and the ones who are too hard on themselves. How to help the kid that has started stealing things. How to stay calm and deal with  vomit, wees and a’code brown’so that the child involved isn’t stigmatised. What to do when a lunch box is empty or insufficient. Or when a child is taking other kids’ food. How to stick to timings, how to teach students to care for their environment and pack up the classroom equipment properly and efficiently. How to encourage and support reluctant readers. And what to do when the fire alarm goes or when a kid suddenly runs out of your classroom and keeps running.

While you’re learning those things, you need a mentor on hand.

Guinea pigs

Most pertinently, it is important to ask how this impact students.

ID-10031820

Image courtesy of joannawnuk at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Government keeps telling us that to give students the best change of success teachers must be excellently trained. How is this excellence?

I’ve seen some good and great initial teacher trainees but also some absolute shockers, including ones with lots of classroom experience, so it concerns me that this proposal allows not just seasoned trainees but also brand new trainees to go into classrooms unsupervised. How someone with no teaching experience or training (practical or theoretical) can be expected to do a good job of teaching without guidance is mind-boggling.

As a teacher it concerns me: As a parent I am fuming.

My child is not a guinea pig. My child deserves a qualified teacher. And so does yours.

Reformers’ teacher training schemes – what’s the problem?

wanted teachersFor those of you that think how New Zealand structures teacher training in future isn’t an issue to be concerned about, take time to read this and see how, in the UK, outstanding university courses in Teacher training have been shut down since their equivalent scheme, School Direct, started.

The Department for Education boasts that take up for the scheme is great:

…there will be 17,609 places for School Direct trainees in 2015 and 15,490 higher education postgraduate places

Proponents cite the increasing numbers of applications year on year as evidence that School Direct works. I would posit that it is evidence that would-be teachers can no longer afford to go to university and prefer to earn money while training.  Who wouldn’t?  But that in no way means the scheme is superior in terms of training.

There are another concern, too.

As universities shut down their teacher training programmes, there will eventually be a lack of places even for School Direct trainees to get their uni-based components:

Under School Direct, schools recruit trainees directly and link up with universities to provide out-of-classroom training. Trainees have an “expectation of employment” at their school at the end of their training.

But critics are concerned that the shift to School Direct may destabilise the teacher training system because universities cannot guarantee student numbers – and so funding – year on year.

And there’s a teacher shortage looming in the UK…

Hey, but who cares, because when push comes to shove the government will scream !!!TEACHER SHORTAGE!!! and decree that teachers don’t have to be trained at all.

You know, like they don’t in charter schools already….

See the link?

Cheap, disposable labour – seemingly the government’s goal for all employees these days.

I think the most telling part of the article is when the Department for Education spokesperson said:

“The School Direct programme is a key part of our plan for education.”

Yes. I bet it is.

Alllllll part of the bigger plan.

I’m telling you, people, we are on one hell of a slippery slope.

~ Dianne

______________________________________________________

Sources and further reading:

http://news.tes.co.uk/b/news/2014/10/15/more-school-direct-places-than-university-pgces-in-2015.aspx

http://www.newstatesman.com/education/2013/08/why-isnt-government%E2%80%99s-school-direct-scheme-attracting-enough-schools

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/jul/08/teacher-training-in-schools

http://dianeravitch.net/category/teach-for-america-tfa/

 

Government continues bid to remove political independence of teachers – NZEI

stressThe government has ignored the overwhelming concerns of New Zealanders in its bid to quash the political independence of the teaching profession.

The Education Amendment Bill has been reported back to the House with a recommendation that it be passed.

The legislation will makes it easier for unqualified and unregistered people to act as teachers in charter schools as well as removing the right of teachers to directly elect their own professional body.

“The government has completely disregarded the overwhelming number of submissions which called on it to allow the new teacher representative body to remain professionally rather than politically driven,” says NZEI National Secretary Paul Goulter.

“Instead, once the legislation is passed, the Minister will handpick representatives for the new EDUCANZ body being set up to replace the Teachers’ Council.

“What other professional body has their representatives chosen by the Minister of the day rather than electing their own representatives?”

“This legislation is about ideology and undermining the teaching profession – not about addressing the needs of all New Zealand children and ensuring their right to quality public education.

“The government has also disregarded the views of New Zealanders who have made it clear they don’t want unqualified and unregistered people teaching in our schools.

“This is a major step backwards and will put the education of many children at risk.

“I am sure that New Zealanders will see how this legislation completely contradicts the government’s rhetoric about wanting to improve the quality of education.”

Labour’s education policies will raise quality teaching and learning – NZEI

nzei logoThe Labour Party’s plans to screen prospective student teachers will help ensure quality teaching and learning for children.

NZEI National President Judith Nowotarski says this will go a long way to ensuring that teaching remains highly professional and that the best and brightest enter the profession.

“In recent years there has been virtually no oversight of teacher training and this has led to too many courses, too many students and not enough emphasis on quality.”

“There needs to be a very high standard of entry into such an important profession.  Our children deserve only the best.”

Ms Nowotarski says Labour’s policy is a welcome shift from the current government’s policy of “dumbing down” the teaching profession by allowing unqualified and unregistered people into charter schools and early childhood education.

“It is ironic that the government constantly talks of improving teaching quality while at the same time allowing untrained and unregistered people to act as teachers in charter schools and early childhood education centres.”

Quality of education in early childhood would also get a big boost under Labour.

“We welcome Labour’s plans to require early childhood education centres to employ at least 80 percent qualified staff at early childhood centres.

“Once again, this is a big point of difference between the current government’s quantity over quality approach to early childhood education.

“Labour’s policies, including smaller class sizes, will go a long way towards improving education for New Zealand children, especially those who are vulnerable and struggling.”

Who ruined the education system? We did.

history is being written now

Your choice – actively work to change the direction of these reforms or accept that you are as much to blame as the reformers.

This from HuffingtonPost:

As I watch the education “debate” … I wonder if we have simply lost our minds.

In the cacophony of reform chatter — online programs, charter schools … testing, more testing, accountability … value-added assessments, blaming teachers … blaming unions, blaming parents — one can barely hear the children crying out: “Pay attention to us!”

None of the things on the partial list above will have the slightest effect on the so-called achievement gap or the supposed decline in [our] international education rankings. Every bit of education reform — every think tank remedy proposed by wet-behind-the-ears MBAs, every piece of legislation, every one of these things — is an excuse to continue the unconscionable neglect of our children.

As Pogo wisely noted, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” We did this to our children and our schools.

We did this by choosing to see schools as instructional factories, beginning in the early 20th century.

We did this by swallowing the obscene notion that schools and colleges are businesses and children are consumers.

We did this by believing in the infallibility of free enterprise, by pretending [our country] is a meritocracy, and by ignoring the pernicious effects of unrelenting racism.

We did this by believing that children are widgets and economy of scale is both possible and desirable.

We did this by acting as though reality and the digital representation of reality are the same thing.

We did this by demeaning the teaching profession.

We did this by allowing poverty and despair to shatter families.

We did this by blaming these families for the poverty and despair we inflicted on them.

We did this by allowing school buildings to deteriorate, by removing the most enlivening parts of the school day, by feeding our children junk food.

We did this by failing to properly fund schools…

We did this by handcuffing teachers with idiotic policies, constant test preparation and professional insecurity.

[The] children need our attention, not Pearson’s lousy tests or charter schools’ colorful banners and cute little uniforms that make kids look like management trainees.

[Our] teachers need our support, our admiration, and the freedom to teach and love children.

The truth is that our children need our attention, not political platitudes and more TED talks.

Read the rest of the article here.

Resist Teach For America (and Teach First NZ?)

resist TFAThe article below highlights concerns with Teach For America (TFA) and speaks to many of the concerns regarding Teach First NZ:

Article Reblogged from Cloaking Inequity:

“Have you ever found yourself trapped in the insufferable position of having to tolerate a Teach For America true believer relentlessly bombarding you with justifications for Teach For America’s placement atop the corporate org chart of educational excellence?

Teach For America is a $300 million “non-profit” organization that executes a highly sophisticated integrated marketing communications strategy that includes traditional and digital advertising, a wide range of experiential and special event initiatives, and plenty of public and media relations.

With millions spent on corporate communications, it’s to be expected that Teach For America has crafted a concise list of focus-group tested talking points. With discipline matched only by GOP pundits, Teach For America’s “brand evangelists” (from the corporate communications team all the way down to the on-campus recruitment interns) stay “on message” by relentlessly repeating the same lines. The only problem? Many are deceptive at best, while others are downright false.

Here are some suggested replies for eight of Teach For America’s most tried arguments.

1. When a Teach For America supporter says: ”Teach For America might not be the answer, but it’s a part of the solution.”

This is how you might respond: To overcome the challenges associated with educational inequity, Teach For America’s standard of training would require it to be vastly superior to any school of education or alternative route – not less. Corps members would need the ability to deconstruct their own privilege, fully understand their own role in historically oppressed communities, and develop strong relationships with true veteran teachers (not Teach For America corps members who only taught 2 or 3 years). Unfortunately, with only a few weeks of training, and often zero student-teaching hours within the placement community or assigned grade, Teach For America corps members receive nothing close to the unparalleled training that would be required to systemically reduce educational inequity. In all likelihood, by providing the least prepared teachers to the students with the greatest needs, Teach For America corps members may be doing more harm than good.

2. When a Teach For America supporter says: “Teach For America corps members are more effective teachers. The Mathematica study shows that Teach For America corps members produce gains equal to 2.6 extra months of learning.”

This is how you might respond: This is how you might respond: First, there is no such thing as a test that measures months of learning. That would mean all students learn at the same pace. As any parent or teacher knows, that’s not true. In fact, the “gain” was just .07 standard deviations (miniscule in statistics). By comparison, reducing class size can increase learning by .20 standard deviations (3x more effective). Second, the study only included Teach For America secondary math teachers (136 of them), but claims that this is true for all Teach For America corps members regardless of whether they teach secondary math or not. In most communities, the majority of Teach For America corps members teach elementary, not secondary. Therefore, the miniscule test score gains in this study do not apply to the vast majority of Teach For America corps members. Using the Mathematica study to imply that all Teach For America corps members are more effective than other teachers is patently deceptive. (This entry was edited on 3/19/2014 to make a correction in response to a critiqued levied by Teach For America)

For more information on the Mathematica study check out:

How I teach 2.6 months more of math in a year than the rest of you slackers
New Mathematica TFA Study is Irrational Exuberance
“Does Not Compute”: Teach For America Mathematica Study is Deceptive?

resist TFA 23. When a Teach For America supporter says:  “Teach For America doesn’t take jobs from other teachers. Teach For America just provides corps members for regions that have teacher shortages.”

This is how you might respond: School districts run by politicians who are pushing for the corporate takeover of public education sign contracts with Teach For America to hire Teach For America corps members each year regardless of whether there is a qualified teacher shortage in the region or not. Chicago is a perfect example. In 2013, after closing 49 schools and laying off 850 teachers and staff because of “budget concerns”, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s hand-picked school board authorized an increase of 325 new Teach For America corps members at a cost to Chicago taxpayers of $1.6 million in addition to the salaries that the schools will pay Teach For America corps members. Teach For America corps members are now in direct competition with displaced teachers for available jobs at district schools and charter schools. Similar situations have occurred across the country includingBostonNew Orleans, and Newark.

4. When a Teach For America supporter says:  “Teach For America doesn’t take jobs from other teachers. Teach For America just provides teachers for subject areas that have teacher shortages.”

This is how you might respond: Teach For America’s school district contracts make clear that Teach For America teachers are to be considered for all open teaching positions in a district, not just hard to staff subject areas. Teach For America’s contract with Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish Public School System explicitly states, “Teach For America Teachers will be hired by School District for vacancies across the full range of grades and subject matters and not restricted or limited to so-called ‘critical’ or ‘shortage’ subjects or grade level vacancies.”

5. When a Teach For America supporter says: “One third (33%) of Teach For America corps member alumni are still teaching.”

This is how you might respond: Teach For America’s data comes from their annual alumni survey. Unfortunately, Teach For America won’t provide that survey data to outside researchers to verify their claims. However, peer-reviewed research studies show that roughly only 20% of Teach For America corps members are still teaching anywhere after five years (the national average is approximately 50%).

6. When a Teach For America supporter says: “Two-thirds of Teach For America alumni remain in education”

This is how you might respond: Teach For America’s data comes from their annual alumni survey. Unfortunately, Teach For America won’t provide that survey data to outside researchers to verify their claims. However, it is widely accepted that many Teach For America alumni, including those who only taught for two or three years, go on to become principals at privately managed charter schools and run school districts. This begs the question, “Are novice teachers with 2-3 years experience really qualified to be running schools and districts?”

TFA cartoon7. When a Teach For America supporter says: “Teach For America is not a part of a conspiracy to privatize education.”

This is how you might respond: In districts across the country, pro-business politicians are closing down public schools and replacing them with privately managed charter schools. Many recent court decisions have concluded that charter schools are not public schools even though they receive public money. A public entity is accountable to the public. A private enterprise is accountable to its board of directors and shareholders. Therefore, as public schools are closed and replaced by privately managed charter schools, the public school system is becoming privatized.

Teach For America’s role in this privatization agenda is by providing corps members to teach at the newly opened charter schools for wages that are often well below the first-year salary of local public school teachers. Recent documents revealed that many charter school management organizations are so dependent on Teach For America to provide them cheap labor that charter managers are reluctant to open new schools without Teach For America.

For more information on Teach For America’s connections to other agents in the privatization and corporate takeover of public education, read the report Mapping the Terrain: Teach For America, Charter School Reform, and Corporate Sponsorship by Teach For America alums, Kerry Ketchmar and Beth Sondel.

8. When a Teach For America supporter says: “Teach For America corps members will now have one year of training.”

This is how you might respond: This is a step in the right direction, but no details have emerged. Furthermore, it is being launched as a pilot program and will most likely not include all corps members. Therefore, Teach For America will still send thousands of the least prepared teachers into classrooms with children who have the greatest needs.

This article is reblogged from Cloaking Inequity

For all of Cloaking Inequity’s posts on Teach For America click here.

Poll shows paltry public support for new school roles

In the lead-up to the 2014 Budget, less than 6% of people think the government’s plan to establish new leadership roles for some principals and teachers is a good use of increased education funding, according to a new poll.

The poll, commissioned by NZEI Te Riu Roa, surveyed a cross-section of New Zealanders last month and found little support for prioritising the $359 million Investing in Educational Success policy, which has also been widely panned by teachers.

Respondents were somewhat supportive of the package (56%), but when asked what were the most important areas of education in which to spend extra money, the components of the policy were bottom of the list by a wide margin (paying $40,000 to executive principals to oversee a group of schools – 1%; paying $50,000 to experienced principals to turn around struggling schools – 6%; paying $10,000 to experienced teachers to work with teachers in other schools two days a week – 3%).

The poll showed that the public was more interested in

  • reducing class sizes (32%),
  • employing only qualified and registered teachers in early childhood centres (31%), and
  • more administrative support so teachers can focus on teaching and learning (29%).

See the poll results here.

NZEI President Judith Nowotarski said the poll showed that teachers were not alone in believing putting the money into frontline teachers and support would be a far more effective way to lift student success.

children“The government dreamed up this policy with the idea that it would somehow benefit students. It’s a great pity they didn’t bother to consult anyone who knows anything about what students need for educational success,” she said.

Parents are starting to ask questions about the lack of consultation in the spending of this significant amount of money.

An Auckland mother has set up an online petition asking the government to consult teachers, principals, boards of trustees and parents before implementing the policy.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: 

NZEI National President Judith Nowotarski: ph 027 475 4140
Communications Officers: Debra Harrington ph 027 268 3291,
Melissa Schwalger 027 276 7131

Strong opposition to Teachers Council revamp

Teachers have expressed strong opposition to the government’s plans to change the Teachers Council, because of concerns it will undermine quality teaching for New Zealand children, said NZEI today.teamwork

As submissions to the Education Amendment Bill (No 2) closed this week, more than 450 NZEI members had made submissions opposing the legislation.  The Bill makes it easier for unqualified people to act as teachers, removes the right of teachers to directly elect their own professional body and replaces a high trust model with a low trust, compliance-based framework.

NZEI President Judith Nowotarski said all students deserved to have a qualified and registered teacher.

“The legislation undermines quality teaching by extending the status of people with limited authority to teach and allows for unqualified people acting as teachers in charter schools.”

“There is no place for unqualified people acting as teachers in schools or early childhood centres.”

“The Minister of Education claims to be creating a more independent body, valuing teaching and fully trusting teachers. But this Bill is really undermining the teaching profession. It is putting students at risk by lowering teaching standards for staff in charter schools. To top it off, the Bill expands government control by introducing the right for the minister to directly appoint every member.”

“Extensive consultation last year showed the sector clearly wanted an independent body whose members were directly elected out of the profession by the profession, along with appointments made in the public interest,” said Ms Nowotarski.

The new Education Council will replace the Teachers Council as the regulatory and professional body of teachers.

Hoping for some honest answers on charter schools

 

bagbreatheTeachers don’t often switch off.  A good friend refers to holidays as “non-contact” time. And given our government’s habit of pushing through major education legislation during the holidays, you start to feel like those kids in Jurassic Park, sheltering and hyper-aware of every movement as the velociraptors keep testing for gaps in the perimeter.

Saturday’s the one morning I do try to disengage the teacher brain and enjoy a meander round our local farmers’ market with my mum. But this weekend, the Act party were on the “community group” stall – including the Epsom candidate, David Seymour, who assisted John Banks with the drafting of Act’s charter schools policy.

I’ve read and archived more than 500 articles and op-eds on the decimation of American public schooling in favour of charter schools; that virtual pinboard records the same cynical treatment of state schools in the UK – and now here. It fills me with a cold anger that this is being done to students, teachers and schools. Community as a concept is avidly being unpicked. And schools are some of the nicest communities I’ve ever experienced, held together by a lot of personal sacrifice. Targeting them seems like the educational equivalent of harp-seal clubbing.

So this was a chance to talk to the people who are doing things to education – and fair play, Seymour was fronting up in public. Some other politicians who are neck-deep in this aren’t very good at that.

The charter schools pilot makes me want to grab a paper bag and breathe into it vigorously. Part of my job is to promote scientific thinking in children. It’s the simplest of bottom lines: you keep all variables but the one you’re examining the same for it to be a fair test. Charter school students were receiving more funding per head than public school students, and class sizes were 12-15 compared to 28+ in public schools. So that was one of the questions I put to Mr Seymour – how can this test be called “fair”?

The information on funding is “untrue”  and class sizes “will grow,” he said. But, I said, that’s not what some charter schools are advertising on radio.
I was then informed that it was a “natural experiment”, and results would be “corrected”, controlling for covariates after the trial.  I did a bit more reading later on – yes, they are an option when testing in science. The following gave me slight pause:
“Natural experiments are employed as study designs when controlled experimentation is extremely difficult to implement or unethical, such as in several research areas addressed by epidemiology (e.g., evaluating the health impact of varying degrees of exposure to ionizing radiation in people living near Hiroshima at the time of the atomic blast) and economics (e.g., estimating the economic return on amount of schooling in US adults.”

(Also see this paper  and this paper for a deeper discussion of this type of test.)

Apparently I’m a ‘conspiracy theorist’ for believing that charter schools are the beginning of privatisation by stealth, no matter how much evidence there is for it in America and the United Kingdom. But you heard it here first, and I asked if I could quote him on it: schools will not be forcibly privatised against the wishes of their communities, as is happening in Britain. I look forward to following that up.

I asked him about the effect of competition on the thing that makes good education: sharing of knowledge and resources. He hadn’t heard of the charter school in New York visited by a New Zealand teacher, where all doors, windows and cupboards are locked – not because it’s a dangerous neighbourhood, but because teachers are worried about others “stealing” their ideas.

Seymour challenged me on what I would do with a middle school like the one he attended, where children were apparently allowed to run around and do whatever they liked. (Aren’t there mechanisms in place already? Commissioners?) He also asked if I had visited any of the charter schools myself – the people behind them were all good people, doing good things. I asked him if he’d visited any of the schools in the area where I work to see the good things they were doing, too.

Seymour was lukewarm on the idea of National Standards – shock! common ground? – but it’s because they run counter to Act’s ideas of “freedom” from government control. It was my first real-life encounter with someone who believes so fervently in decentralisation, and it was a strange feeling. Like standing on opposite sides of a Wile E Coyote canyon and trying to make ourselves understood.

It was also fairly heartbreaking to hear an older supporter on the stand, someone kind enough to volunteer to read with children at a school in an area of very high need, ask “Why can’t we just give it a go? Why can’t we have a choice?”

If it really was just about choice, and getting the best deal for our kids, and the public system wasn’t steadily being undermined at the same time, maybe I wouldn’t be so angry.
So I left, feeling like I’d engaged in some harp-seal clubbing of my own in directing that beam of fury at the two ACT supporter ladies. (And embarrassed that I’d lost track of time and stood Dianne up for breakfast.)

Funny how a day can pan out, however. Later at the Quality Public Education Coalition forum, chairman Bill Courtney caused heads to swivel when he greeted Alwyn Poole in the audience before giving an update on charter schools. Poole is the principal of Mt Hobson Middle School. He’s also a member of the Villa Education Trust, whose South Auckland Middle School is one of the first in the charter schools pilot.

What a magnificent thing it was to be able to ask questions openly of someone involved in this, and to receive frank answers. (At last!) And to know that this person has extensive experience in education (and multiple teaching qualifications).

Courtney’s talk used South Auckland Middle School’s figures to explain how funding has been allocated. He also made the point that the charter school model has been hijacked by the privatisation movement. One of the first proponents of the idea, Albert Shanker, saw it as a way to allow teachers greater autonomy, to engage the students who weren’t being served by normal schools.

This sounds like what Poole’s schools have been able to do: Poole said he works with children with needs like dyslexia or Asperger’s, or kids who need a “boost” at middle school level. He was asked why couldn’t he achieve it within the system as a special character school. In 2002, that option was “blocked”. They were looking for “ways of expanding what we do”, so applied for the partnership school option.

The school doesn’t carry the same infrastructure as state schools, principals do admin and teach, and they have “a nice lease agreement”. They also have qualified teachers and teach to the New Zealand Curriculum.

Poole was also asked if some of the biggest barriers to learning faced by many schools in Manukau, such as transience, were problems for his school. Transience, less so, but they have had a small degree of truancy (10 hours), and two students had a conflict and left during the school day.

 

Chest

Class size, and the basic mathematics of time for giving one-to-one support, seems to me to be the elephant in the educational tent. It’s splitting it at the seams as most politicians studiously try to avoid treading in its dung.

Unlike many politicians, Poole openly acknowledges that their 1:15 ratio is part of their success in helping students. Why not campaign for the same ratio for state schools? an audience member asked.
Poole:  “We love our 1:15 ratio and we would advocate for it very strongly.”

Poole said that they’ve also applied to the Ministry for funding to evaluate their model with the help of the University of Florida.

I went up to him afterwards to say thank you, and realised he must have seen some of my trail of articles on charters on the SOSNZ Facebook page (eek).

We touched on something that came up when he spoke to us: dyslexia. When I was a BT, I had a fantastic student who was also dyslexic.  I also had a fairly big class and very basic training in how best to support him, but fortunately, he had a proactive mum who could share her knowledge. I still collect resources now based on what I wish I could have done for him.
Poole started to talk about the things they do, and there was that moment, that neat spark you get when you meet another teacher who might have the solution for the child that you want to help, who will no doubt share it with you, because that’s what we’re both here for, after all.

And that’s what I find hardest to accept: we have educators being pitted against educators in this. Experience, training and knowledge is being dissed.

When stuff like this is happening, the problem is now having faith that the current Ministry of Education is “getting out of bed every morning”, as Courtney put it, with their main aim being to guarantee every child a quality education.
But as Courtney notes, there is no official, publicly available ‘Isaac Report’ to enlighten us on the findings of Catherine Isaac’s working party.  There is no attempt to be scientific and explain how the government intends to evaluate the pilot schools, and the concept. Instead there’s a second round of schools funded before any meaningful data has been generated by the first.

There’s not a recognition that public schools overseas are still managing to deliver results, even though they’re being treated like the Black Knight in Monty Python, battling on and squirting blood as another limb gets lopped off.

I got a lot of answers on Saturday. Now I have a new question. Will all educators – partnership school and state – be willing to dare to do what annoyed Tau Henare so much about the Problem Gambling Foundation: stand together to “bag the hand that feeds them” and oppose the secretive development of policy that serves ideology – not kids?

Screen-Shot-2014-03-21-at-7.47.40-pm

Easy way to make a submission on the Education Amendment Bill 2

speak-outThis Bill replaces the Teachers Council with EDUCANZ, and it is imperative you understand what changes that will usher in.

It is even more important that you send in a submission if you oppose those changes.

Thinking others will deal with it is as good as agreeing to the changes: If you think the changes are wrong, then you really do have to have your say.

Doing nothing is not an option.

Make a quick and easy submission here.

Write and register your own submission here (the link is at the bottom of that page).

 

EDUCANZ facts:

  • All members are to be appointed by the Minister of Education.
  • Teachers do not get to vote in a single representative to EDUCANZ.
  • The Bill stipulates a maximum of teachers possible on the council – no minimum – meaning it is possible that there would be no teachers of the council at all.
  • Even if some teachers were on the council, they would still be hand-picked by the Minister of Education.
  • The new “limited authority to teach” (LAT) provisions mean that someone “with specialist skills but not a teaching qualification” can be authorised to act as a teacher for three years at a time without the employer having to prove that they have tried unsuccessfully to fill the position with a trained and qualified teacher.
  • LATs have a lower good character and fitness to teach threshold than registered teachers, as LATs with criminal convictions are not barred whereas registered teachers are.
  • >The Bill (Section 382) replaces teachers’ current aspirational Code of Ethics with a more prescriptive Code of Conduct, which could be used to gag teachers from opposing or speaking out about government policies (such as National Standards, PaCT, performance pay plans, and so on).
  • Teachers will still fund more than 90% of the operations of the Council through their registration fees.

 

Is this what you want?

Do you want teachers’ professional body to be led by government appointees, have your voice silenced, have your professional status undermined, be replaced by cheap untrained labour, have LATs with criminal convictions in the classroom, and then pay for the privilege of all that?

If the answer is NO, then please make a submission.

Make a quick and easy submission here

Write and register your own submission here

.

Further information:

http://www.ppta.org.nz/issues/tc-review

http://www.ppta.org.nz/issues/tc-review/2957-educanz-faqs

https://www.greens.org.nz/takeaction/submissionguides/education-amendment-bill-no-2

http://boonman.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/my-submission-on-the-education-amendment-bill-no-2/

http://www.teachingandelearning.com/2014/04/the-educanz-bill-i-have-made-my.html?m=1

 

EDUCANZ, Professionalism and Politics, by Dave Kennedy

control pulling the strings

The changing face of teaching and how the replacement Teachers Council, EDUCANZ, will seal teachers’ fate as “classroom technicians that have to support politically prescribed programmes and data collection” says Dave Kennedy:

The New Zealand Teacher’s Council is the crown entity that is currently the professional and regulatory body for all teachers from early childhood through to most other educational institutions. The NZTC has done some excellent work in developing professional mentoring programmes, developing the Registered Teacher Criteria and maintaining professional standards. It has done this with a relatively limited budget and unlike the Medical Council, which operates independently from the Government, theNZTC has 11 people on the Governing Council, but only 4 are independently elected by the profession, the rest are Ministerial appointees.

Parents and children should be served by professionals who are motivated and driven by the ethics and ideals of the profession and a duty of care that is not corrupted by political ideology. For doctors, the sanctity of their relationship with their patients is paramount and without high levels of confidentiality and trust they would often struggle to treat their patients when a full disclosure of their life-style and medical history is necessary. Teaching and learning should be about meeting the needs of each child based on the professional knowledge of the teacher and parents need the reassurance that their child’s interests come before politically driven expectations. To truly operate as a profession teachers need to have a teachers council that is independent of both the Government and unions.

I find it appalling that we have a Government that is deliberately and dishonestly undermining the teaching profession by suggesting that there is a crisis in teacher quality and discipline and that political measures are needed to solve it. The idea of a teacher using their position to abuse children is every bit as abhorrent for teachers as it is for the general public and yet there is the encouraged perception that the profession had deliberately protected such people and that there is a widespread problem of offending teachers. The facts tell a different story.

Read the rest of the article here

The List: What National has done to New Zealand education

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:

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?

  1. 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,
  2. 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.

~ Dianne

one person stands up and speaks out

Ravitch - public schools under attack

My submission to Stuff Nation, by Boonman

“They are developing policies not to benefit children but to benefit those who wish to invest heavily in a privatised education system.”

Since the current National government slipped through a policy on charter schools as part of their deal with John Banks and the ACT Party, the education system in New Zealand has started to resemble a chaotic mess.

This chaotic mess was started not to benefit New Zealand children but to open the education system up to wholesale privatisation. It has nothing to do with education children or improving standards or anything of that nature. These current education policies are drawn directly from Neoliberal Education Policy 101. They are utterly ideological and utterly doomed.

Their policies are full of contradictions. On the one hand the government say teacher quality is the single most important contributor to student success yet they are allowing unqualified and unregistered teachers to front classes in charter schools….”

A brilliant letter to the editor by Boonman.  Read the rest here: My submission to Stuff Nation.

via My submission to Stuff Nation.

Charter School Children Put at Risk

Unqualified charter school teachers will be exempted from a strict code of conduct for other teachers, and will not be subject to any oversight by the new Education Council, highlighting a dangerous double standard in the Governments’ flagship partnership schools, the Green Party said today.

The new Education Amendment Bill explicitly excludes unqualified partnership school teachers from any oversight and checks by the new Education Council, exposing pupils at the schools to a much lower standard of teaching and care than at other schools.

protecting_handsUnder the Bill, untrained partnership school teachers are not required to meet the standards in the code of conduct for all other teachers, nor are they required to notify the council of any criminal convictions within three months, as other teachers are.

“The changes in this bill will create a lower standard of education and care for the kids who end up enrolled at partnership schools and puts those kids at much greater risk,” Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.

“Kids who attend these schools will not only be subjected to unqualified teachers but those teachers will be held to much lower standards than their
qualified colleagues. That is unacceptable.

“In addition, the parents of partnership school students, and other teachers, will have no oversight body to complain to if they have any concerns about any unqualified teachers.

“Underprivileged kids targeted by these schools should be given the best quality teaching in the safest possible environment. But this Government wants an even lower standard of care for these kids than we previously thought.

“Parents of partnership school students have already been excluded from representation on their school board. They should be very concerned about the latest efforts to remove their ability to have any say in their kids’ education.

“Police vetting alone is not considered good enough for pupils taught by other teachers, who will be expected to abide by the code of conduct and meet regular competence and safety checks.

“If the National Government thinks the Education Council is the appropriate body to ensure that teachers are meeting the grade, it should make all teachers accountable for meeting those standards.

“The Green Party also has concerns about other aspects of the Bill, including the corporatisation of tertiary councils. We share teachers’ concern that the Education Council, be for teachers by teachers, which is not clearly a goal of this Bill, Ms Delahunty said.

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