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It’s an epic wage rise windfall! (Spoiler – not for teachers or those on minimum wage)

With teacher pay bargaining just around the corner and politicians’ wage rises announced today, I thought I would compare the wage increases of primary school teachers and politicians over the past few years:

Very experienced primary school teacher – wages (rounded)

2006 – $56k

2015 – $66k

= increase over 9 years of $10k

Any Backbencher Politician – wages (rounded)

2007 – $126k

2015 – $156k  (plus $28k accommodation allowance)

= increase over 8 years of $30k

Slap me with a kipper and call me Arnold, but that doesn’t seem exactly fair.

Money-BagsI won’t even go into the debacle that is Novopay or the fact that some are still being paid wrongly and some are still waiting on wages owed for over a year… No, we won’t open that can of worms. Except to say that Stephen Joyce and Hekia Parata’s $268,500 a year will be rising to about $283,300 and will be paid on time.

David Seymour, parliamentary-under-secretary-for-promoting-charter-schools-at-any-cost, will get a nice 5.5% pay rise on his $175,600 a year, bringing it nearer $185,000 per year. (Mr Seymour’s wages could pay for around three teachers.)

John Key pocketed an additional $23,800 and today said of MP’s pay rises:

“The money turns up in your account. You could say, ‘Well, you could write a cheque or donate it or give it back’, but it’s just not that practical across 121 MPs.”

“What do you do when you get to the next year, and they give you another pay increase? Do we take that one and not the other one?”

Such a difficult decision, Prime Minister – how you must suffer with that one.

empty purseMeanwhile, those lucky devils like our teacher aides who are on the minimum wage were given a mind-blowing raise of 50c per hour, meaning they will not even earn $23,800 in a year….

Jeepers, people on minimum wage must be planning right now whether to spend that windfall of about $15 per week on a car or a yacht, don’t you think?

And if they can’t decide, then perhaps Hekia Parata can offer some suggestions, as I’m sure she’s been planning how best to spend her extra $283 a week. After all, it must have been a struggle getting by on just $21k a month this past year…

Where’s that kipper again?

~ Dianne

Sources and further reading:

$10k payrise tipped for Backbench MPs – Stuff

MPs get pay rise of at least $8200 – NZ Herald

Political heavyweights go head to head on children’s issues

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:

  • Jacinda Ardern (Labour)
  • Denise Roche (Greens)
  • Miriam Pierard (Internet Mana)
  • Tracey Martin (New Zealand First Deputy)
  • John Thompson (ACT President)

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

See event information.

.

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For more information:

http://tick4kids.org.nz/

https://www.facebook.com/tickforkids

 

Education: First be clear on your goals…

It’s great to see so many people from all walks of life discussing education and how we can best make improvements.  Even better that so much of the discussion is calm and reasoned.

Not everyone agrees with each other – that’s impossible – but it is brilliant that we are talking about it.

discuss talk share listenIt is so important people share their ideas, thoughts and concerns, and be honest about them so that a true and honest dialogue begins with parents and teachers at the heart of it, alongside academics, politicians, iwi, and in fact everyone in the country.

Every voice matters.

I’m serious.  Not one of us knows it all.  I don’t have the answers – neither do you.  But together we can share what we know, synthesise the ideas, and begin to unpick what might work best to further improve our schools.

It’s important, though, that we are clear on the goals we wish to achieve.  My own would be to improve public education for all children and to keep education free and equitable.  (Equitable doesn’t mean same for everyone, it just means fair for everyone).

I realise my goals may not be your goals.  This is why any discussion must focus on our goals first, to gain clarity, consensus and direction.

Half the problems come when the parties involved either haven’t thought in any detail about what they truly are aiming for.

Some of the issues occur when they have thought about it choose not to be honest about what they want or why.

That’s not good enough.  

To get anywhere, we all must be honest and then stand by what we believe, whilst listening to and considering fairly the other points of view.  

It is totally fine to disagree.  It is fine to debate and challenge and reconsider things – in fact, not much of any value happens without doing that. But we must be prepared to take on new evidence and reconsider our stance.

And we absolutely must be honest. Saying one thing while believing another will help no-one.

Worse still is saying one thing while doing another.

It all starts with openness and honesty and listening.

Only then can we get an truly inclusive, wide-ranging dialogue going.

Now why not do some thinking and sharing of your own, by joining in the discussions here:

Our education system ain’t broke, yet, by Brigid McCaffery (Stuff Nation)

Stop Playing Politics With Education, by Stephen McCartney (Stuff Nation)

Trust teachers to teach your children, by Mike Boon (Stuff Nation)

Education No Political Football, by Tracy Livingstone (Stuff Nation)

Get politics out of our schools, by Judy Johannessen (Stuff Nation)
 

Warning: Tea and Biscuits Required Before Reading

In my meanderings through the interweb this week, I had the misfortune to discover the worst education article I’ve read in a long time.  It began:

“Across much of the English-speaking world, a struggle is raging over control of education. The good news is that politicians, the people we elect to make decisions on our behalf, seem to be winning.

The pattern is remarkably consistent. Governments, both of the Left and the Right, are wresting control back from teachers’ organisations. They have realised that education is too important to be left in the hands of teachers.”

EH!  Are you serious!  I had to pause there and go make a chamomile tea and get a TimTam – I figured I would need calming and comfort food for this one, and I was right.

As I read on I truly – not being facetious here – TRULY thought that maybe the article was ironic and a big joke. With comments like “Politicians, the representatives of the people, are quite properly reclaiming the right to decide how schools should be run“, surely it had to be?

Nope.  Not a joke.

He went on to tell us what a grand job Australia, the USA and the UK are doing in introducing merit based pay, opening charter schools, breaking the unions, employing unqualified and untrained ‘teachers’, and relishing the thought that New Zealand would soon follow.

Crimminy, I thought!  This warranted more biscuits and a whole pot of tea.

He trumpeted towards his grand finale by telling readers that “The common theme across all these countries is that governments, dissatisfied not only with performance in the education sector but also the lack of transparency and accountability, are forcing through changes in the face of determined opposition from teachers’ organisations which are understandably reluctant to relinquish their power”  ending with a flourish gleefully jumping up and down at the wonderful prospect  ” of how things might be in an education sector where schools are no longer, in Ms Parata’s words, “a secret society”.

After a short rest to bring down my blood pressure, I penned a reply and waited to see what other people would have to say…

What did I find?

A day and a half later the responses disagreed with the article.  All of them.  And they were well reasoned.  And calm.  With facts.

And it gave me hope.

So I asked one respondent if I could share his response here, which he kindly agreed to…

Dylan Braithwaite responded:

“The problem I have with the article is that it positions teachers as essentially hostile to change in education requiring a winner-takes-all approach to policy making. Teachers and teacher unions are so caricatured in the article as to barely resemble normal people. That’s the problem of how the article is constructed.

The second problem with the article is with evidence. As in, there isn’t any evidence to support the argument that the reforms the writer is arguing for make any positive difference to underachievement as an issue in the education systems mentioned in the article. Indeed, all the evidence points in the opposite direction.

Since establishing a charter schools system, performance pay systems and league tables, achievement statistics in the USA has declined.  Since instituting academies, achievement statistics in the UK have declined.  Since instituting free schools in Sweden, achievement statistics have declined.

There’s no doubt in my mind that once the reforms Gillard has introduced in Australia take hold that a similar pattern will emerge.

You see, the real problem that the politicians are responding to is not an achievement issue. Were that the case then they would look at the policies of leading countries such as Finland and institute reforms undertaken there – which are polar opposite to the kinds of reforms discussed above.

No, the real problem that the politicians are responding to is an economic crisis, one in which more areas of previously protected public markets need to be made readily available for capital exploitation. All the evidence, most especially US evidence, points to the fact that charter schools are more expensive to run, with less spent per-pupil despite state agencies delivering higher per-pupil funding.

You can guess where the difference goes – that’s right, it lines the pockets of private providers in the form of profit.

I’d like to finish by saying, as a teacher, how scared I am of where the kinds of politics Du Fresne is espousing, could take us.  I’m reminded of the old adage that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.  It should not be lost on anyone that unions were at the forefront of the democratization of our society. And that just as workers won the right to vote, so too that went hand-in-hand with the right to collectivize and bargain terms and conditions of employment on their own behalf. Rights that workers hitherto did not have, and are quickly losing in our de-unionised economy. In other words, I find DuFresne’s approach anti-democratic.

I will speak up against these reforms for as long as this country remains a democracy – and beyond if it comes to that.”

If you want to read the original article and maybe even respond, you will find it here.

But I totally recommend getting the tea and biscuits first.

Groucho Knows Best

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