In the spirit of Christmas the New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association / Te Wehengarua (PPTA) is continuing its commitment to help John Key with his holiday reading and has carefully selected themes he can use to reflect on the past year and the year to come.
Our latest book to John Key is the history of the PPTA. It is a reminder that secondary teachers have a powerful and long-term commitment to a fair and equal public education system.
Dear Prime Minister - teachers are committed to a fair and equal public education system
21 December 2011
Dear Prime Minister
The book I am sending you today is the history of PPTA. I am certain you will not have read it.
I hope this book is a reminder that secondary teachers have a powerful commitment to a fair and equal public education system in which they are professional partners with parents and the government.
I noted you were quick to dismiss our concerns about the negative educational impact of charter schools by resorting to the cliché "vested interests". Our history shows that we have always fought to ensure students in poorer areas or in rural parts of the country have access to the same educational opportunities as other students. If that constitutes "vested interests" then it is a badge we wear with pride.
The history shows, disappointingly, that successive governments have not had the same commitment to meeting the educational needs of all students as we have. Instead, they have been inclined to follow policies that protect the "vested interests" of their constituents in the leafy suburbs, all the while feigning concern for students at low-decile schools. Your own government, through the mechanism of quarterly funding, has ripped millions off mostly low-decile schools over the last two years. So to now claim that education in South Auckland is in such a parlous state that only the intervention of profiteering American multi-national companies will save us is little short of hypocrisy.
The unleashing of a charter school experiment on an unfortunate and unsuspecting public in Christchurch where effective school communities already exist also seems opportunistic and hypocritical.
We suspect this experiment is simply an extension of what the writer, Jeffrey Sachs, calls "the corporatocracy". These are consultants and corporations who wield undue influence with politicians and are rewarded with taxpayer money. There is no way that a weakened, under-resourced and politically-pressured public service will be able to properly manage charter school contracts.
The public will be watching with more than vested interest (especially in South Auckland and East Christchurch) for evidence of the political and business cronyism that is certain to characterise the awarding of these contracts.