So many submissions, so little time
The Education and Science Select Committee are putting in long days (and nights) travelling the country to hear, mostly, from teachers counting the ways they are opposed to this legislation. The committee is in a race against time because they need to hear the submissions, agree a report and get it back to the House by the 21st of July. Parliament dissolves for the election on July 31st.
What’s the rush?
So the whole thing is being rushed - always unwise with legislation but particularly injudicious when the legislation lacks widespread public support and the very profession for whom it is supposedly designed, is actively opposed to it.
It’s hard to see the consultation process as anything other than perfunctory, considering the EDUCANZ Transition Board was set up in December 2013 but the legislation did not appear until March the following year. And it will probably be followed by minor changes then rushed through under urgency; disrespectful to teachers, the public and democracy.
President Angela Roberts presented the PPTA submission on Wednesday 7th of May. She left the Committee in no doubt that the bill in its present form would not be acceptable to teachers.
"What it does is it tells the world, it tells parents, it tells employers and it tells my colleagues that we cannot be trusted to do the one thing that is fundamental to every profession, and that is hold each other to account," she said."That is so offensive to my colleagues and to myself."
She also said that teachers would have to pay for the council and did not want to if they were not going to be represented. "We're happy to take responsibility for it and continue to pay for it," she said. "The taxation on the profession - nearly $7 million a year - we're comfortable with that to pay for its core business, but there is no taxation without representation."
She also questions why anyone would pay the premium it costs to become a qualified and registered teachers if the it was possible to just walk into the profession through the proposed new door labelled “personalised LAT”.
Secondary Principals’ Council Submission
Rosey Mabin Principal of Inglewood High School presented the SPC submission. As well as reiterating that there must be representation – including of secondary principals, she objected to the range of functions and the suggestion that the code of ethics could be reduced to a code of conduct.
She explained to the committee how professional learning had to come from action research inquiry and respectful discussion and couldn't be demanded by diktat as seems to be planned in this legislation. She expressed some concern that the new functions given to the Council will eventually lead to it interfering in curriculum.
Were they listening?
Yes they were! Well at least the opposition parties were. Catherine Delahuntey, Tracey Martin, Megan Woods and Chris Hipkins asked thoughtful questions and showed they had really understood what teachers’ concerns were. Like teachers, they were bemused that the government has, on the one hand, loosed the requirements for registration in charter schools while stropping up everyone else.
The National Party MPs were not so engaged.
Maggie Barry looked positively bored and left the room at one point and returned clutching a banana. (I don’t think that was symbolic but it might have been).
Tim Macindoe seemed more interested but created a distraction by getting under the table to fiddle with the power cords causing Tracey Martin to remark “We seem to have brought the government to its knees.”
Cam Calder was charming as ever - he is very good at helping submitters feel at ease and Colin King asked a good question about LATs. But even those two got up and swapped roles in the middle of a presentation.
Is it just teachers who expect people to sit still and listen when someone is talking?
Did they understand the Harry Potter reference?
The cleverest submission came from the NZ Students’ Association who wittily and wickedly compared the legislation to an incident in Harry Potter when the ruthless, cruel, brutal and corrupt dictator Dolores Umbridge posted an Educational Decree at Hogwarts that disbanded all student organisations and forbade any unauthorised student meetings.
Peter Lind (the CEO of the Teachers Council) and Alison McAlpine the chair, made a fantastic submission.
As well as challenging the silly name for a teaching body,EDUCANZ, they questioned how a council could deliver on vague functions like “raise the status of the profession.”
Best of all they went through the sections line by line pointing out where the changes would create logjams and inconsistencies in the practical operation of the competence and discipline functions.
Clearly in the haste to get the Bill drawn up and in its determination not to risk the dreaded “capture” by consulting with people who knew stuff, the Ministry has drafted a bill that is dangerously unworkable and will need extensive reworking.
The Council kindly offered to work with the ministry to clean up the mess – which is more than the ministry deserves.
The Bill should be scrapped and the people in the ministry who helped prepare it and advised on it should be moved to sections in the ministry where they can do less harm.
There was never any need for such “root and branch” changes anyway – changes could have been made to the competence and discipline functions without the creation of this ugly new body and without freighting it with a load a functions that it is never going to be able to deliver on.