SOSNZ acknowledges that our school system is a good one that is very well-regarded by most parents.
We also acknowledge that the system is not perfect, and we support discussion and analysis of issues and the implementation of sound policies and programmes to foster improvements. Clearly, it is in everyone’s interest to ensure changes are well thought through and have sound evidential backing.
We are disappointed that Government has created and promoted the idea of a crisis in New Zealand education. Our world-class reputation and good standing in international tests is played down, with weaknesses routinely exaggerated and facts misrepresented. This is not productive.
Issues such as child poverty, inequity, inadequate special educational needs services and resources, and decimated professional development are not given the very serious attention needed.
Instead, the focus is on reforms such as increased testing, standardisation, league tables, performance pay, and privatisation. These types of reform are collectively known as GERM, as they are all part of the Global Educational Reform Movement seen worldwide.
GERM is already evident in the New Zealand education system, with National Standards, league tables, and charter schools. More is on the horizon, with the hovering spectres of national tests for year 9/10s, further data-driven projects such as PaCT, performance pay, and moves to weaken teachers’ voices through changes to the Teachers Council.
Across the world, parents, teachers and communities are fighting the GERM. Protests, petitions, strikes and court cases are taking place in England, Chile, the USA, Sweden, Canada, and elsewhere. Countries with these reforms have dropped in the international PISA rankings, sometimes dramatically. Academics in all of these countries are speaking out against the reforms as flawed. These are not policies to take on board without an open and thorough discussion.
SOSNZ is disappointed that recent Education Bill select committee hearings have seen sound points and concerns raised by thousands of New Zealanders almost universally ignored. We believes that when looking at issues and proposing changes, open and honest cross party/cross sector consultation with all relevant stakeholders including parents and the wider community is essential.
“When you wage war on the public schools, you’re attacking the mortar that holds the community together.
You’re not a conservative, you’re a vandal.”