Posted by: PPTAweb on 23, Nov, 2011
I have just read your party education policy. This letter is written in disappointment that National Party education policy can so blithely ignore the best evidence in education research and policy, and dismay that you appear not to have heard the education hopes, dreams and aspirations that teachers have for their students.
National takes credit for all improvements in the education sector over the past three years; some achievements - such as retention rates in school, are unlikely to have been influenced by National education policy, others are simply manipulations such as 'employed 1600 more teachers"; shuffling funding from one education area to another doesn't double it; league tables encourage some particularly unpleasant uncooperative competitive behaviours so how on earth can your policy blithely state "ensure schools make the most of their facilities and resources and they collaborate rather than compete with each other" or does this only apply to Canterbury?
We'd like you to know that all actual improvements in the secondary education sector can be attributed to school communities, the hard work of parents, boards, students, teachers and, most importantly, quality teaching.
Note I write quality teaching - quality teaching requires an investment in teaching, that is ... an investment in schools, teachers and students. Students should be able to access 'wrap around' or holistic care that supports their learning needs in school. Resources should include equitable access to good teaching and learning tools in learning environments that are conducive to teaching and learning. Teachers should be able to equitably and easily access ongoing professional development and support.
New Zealand hasn't got that environment in every school but despite that our teachers and students are, for the most part, doing OK while striving to do better. The wellbeing of children is fundamental teacher business and we work hard within our communities to ensure the wellbeing of our kids. We want government support for this role - not, as this policy infers, to be blamed for all the ills of society - a society we see reflected in all it's glorious and not so glorious qualities in our classrooms.
Support for teaching is not what I read in your education policy. It is a policy that does what so many political policies do, picks and chooses from bits and pieces of educational experiments, finds scapegoats, cries blame,accountability and punishment, and in pandering to the quick fix, the political electioneering and messianic complex, completely and utterly misses the point. In so doing National's policy, like so many political parties before, misses an opportunity to move education forward based on best evidence and based on working in a collaborative respectful way with teachers and school communities.
PPTA want thoughtful and coherent change in the education sector. We believe teaching should be a first choice career for graduates. We want a government that sees a high quality well resourced education for all as an economic necessity.
We want education policy that recognises investment in teachers is an investment in quality teaching and is essential to the learning of our students. It's not too late - you wrote that you wouldn't be implementing national standards in years 9 and 10 and you have clearly resiled from that. So how about a promise this time - that you will turn away from the politics of blame and work with school communities and teachers to find a better future for all our children.