19 December 2012
Secretary for education Lesley Longstone’s resignation is a symptom of the toxic political agenda she was imported to promote, PPTA president Robin Duff says.
Once it became apparent that New Zealanders were going to fight the ill-conceived policies being foisted on them, Longstone’s resignation was inevitable, he said.
“She presided over a series of unpopular blunders – the proposed introduction of charter schools, class size increases, the Christchurch schooling fiasco and a payroll nightmare that does not seem to be getting any better.”
The fact Longstone had been hand-picked to advance a political agenda at the expense of strong New Zealand candidates raised questions about the competency of the state services commissioner who made the appointment, Duff said.
“It was a toxic job because the policies that underpinned it would never have worked in a New Zealand context, and never will.”
Duff felt that, coming from the UK, Longstone would not have been aware of the opposition that was likely to come from professional and parental groups.
“New Zealanders do not appreciate their first class education system being systematically undermined and damaged.”
He believed Longstone had been set up by a government that needed to take a serious look at the policy it was forcing on the public.
“She was the fall guy for Hekia Parata, Craig Foss and John Banks, who are ultimately responsible in this area. She has been left high and dry – wedged between a rock and the proverbial hard place.”
Duff said the government needed to go back to the drawing board with its education policy.
“Meaningful dialogue with the sector is a critical first step towards repairing the disastrous moves of the last 12 months. The government needs to start focussing on students rather than ideology.”
Contact: PPTA president Robin Duff – 04 913 4227 or 021 636 108