Tuesday, May 29, 2012

This government does not like teachers. Time to fight back!

Schools are now beginning to realize that the government has no time for caring what teachers believe , think or feel. As John Key said during one of his speeches - 'teachers have let our students down'.

Ever since the introduction of the self managing competitive ideology  of Tomorrows Schools the 'voice' of teachers, of respected local  and international educators, have been ignored. Instead the government's tame Ministry technocrats have 'cherry picked 'research' that backs up their own agenda; an agenda that opens the door to increasing privatisation, or corporatisation, of our school system.

A month or so ago their high paid Secretary of the Treasury introduced the idea of reducing class sizes to save money and now this 'expert's'  advice has come to pass. Embarrassingly for the government, this advice has resulted in placing the technical staff of intermediate schools at risk.

One good thing is that the government's latest policy has angered Intermediate School Principals and caused them to speak out. It is not in the nature of schools to openly criticize governments but the time has come to speak out or simply fade into meek compliance.

Wayne Codrye, of Ross Intermediate, has done just this with a powerful newsletter sent out to his parent community. On National Radio Wayne was joined by Iain Taylor of Manurewa Intermediate to express their obvious anger during an interview. Other principals have featured on TV current event programmes.

Lets hope other individual principals continue to speak out. In our local paper one intermediate principal was doing just that but the real answer lies with groups of principals getting together to state their positions in the current debate and the purpose of education generally. If this is not done then biased populist commentators , with their ideology hardly hidden, will control the debate.

One such commentator, Michael Laws, sums up this right wing ideology. He writes that education is too important to be left to teachers - now while there is some truth in this  teacher's 'voices' are important and need to be as valued as much as the politicians and their rich and powerful  'free market' backers. These are the same people that created the financial crisis that had to be saved by government (our) money!

MrsTolley introduced National Standards to improve the education of the 1 in 5 students who currently fail - the so called 'achievement tail'. Tolley, and her fellow politicians, happily ignore that the current poverty was created by their own 'market forces' policies. The majority of these 'failing' students are to be found in the low socio economic areas that resulted from government policies. Poverty issues are  happily ignored by ideologues - the real problem is 'bad' teachers.

Even the depressing socio economic effects on students will be solved by 'good teachers'!

It is obvious that National Standards will eventually lead to 'league tables' and 'winner and loser' schools, as well as teaching to the tests , a narrowing of the curriculum and, as a result, demeaning of school creativity and innovation.

To the government it is all about teacher accountability and so performance appraisal and merit pay are on the horizon even though these have not produced the results in countries where they have been introduced. The government has  a blind spot for the law of unintended consequences.

All will be solved with more 'good teachers' even if all teachers will have to have few more students in their rooms.  All the government has to do is train up these 'supermen ' teachers and all will be well forgetting the power of school culture as the vital element that supports and develops all teachers.

Laying blame on teachers is like blaming bank tellers for the financial crisis.

Individual commentators tap into the popular belief , spread by politicians, that the education is failing and what is needed is some 'tough love' remedy - measure up or leave. Such commentators ignore the reality that New Zealand stands amongst the top countries in the International Test league tables. And, ironically, the approach that  the politicians believe will improve our 'failing' education system follows the corporate ideology of two countries that are well back on international testing - the US and the UK! Anybody who dares suggest other alternatives are simply written off as 'troublemakers'!

Well it is time for more 'trouble makers'.

I am hoping that the government will push teachers to a 'tippng point' and that all the past subservience will be overthrown as teachers see that what they are being asked to do goes against what made them teachers in the first place - to help all their students to the best of their ability.

This is not to say that education cannot be improved  but the current answers are wrong. Current answers look back to a past standardized age. What is needed to produce students who will thrive in an uncertain and unpredictable world is a personalised approach to learning. An education that taps into ,and amplifies, the gifts and talents of all students.

What schools are being forced to comply with is the very wrong thing if schools are to ensure all students as 'seekers, users and creators of their own knowledge ' as is suggested in the now sidelined 2007 New Zealand Curriculum.

Stop press from Kelvin Smythe


Anonymous said...

This issue has the potential to wake up schools which so far have been far too compliant - it has forced principals to come out of the woodwork and find their 'collective voice'.

Bruce said...

Agree - the drama has just begun!

Allan Alach said...

Yes, Bruce, it is time for the mice to come out of their holes. The day had to come when the masses realised that this nightmare wasn't going to go away. In fact, its got worse, as was predicted a couple of years ago. The upside is that the headlines of 'teachers losing jobs' has the emotive punch we've been looking for as far as the community and parents are concerned. Parents want small classes, regardless of St John Hattie's 'research' that suggest class sizes make no difference, and this gives us the power that we've lacked up until now. We now need to keep rattling the cage.

Anonymous said...

As a retired teacher I was appalled at the lack of protest from teachers when national standards were implemented. Where were the voices of teachers who know late bloomers can blossom given time. Why did we have to start labelling them at an early age as failures? We permit our young children to talk and walk at different stages but suddenly after one year at school they should all have accomplished a particular level.
Please please become reallly involved this time round, for the sake of the children.We cannot allow people who have never been in a classroom to dictate to us what they believe is the correct way to move forward. We know that this is putting our educational outcomes at risk because we will lose the time for individuals to discuss and set their next learning goals.

Sandie Reihana said...

I find the governance is setting up, and creating a future for criminals. Touching any funding to educate our tamariki is a crime itself. Te Tiriti o waitangi was there in place to protect our given rights as maori to educate, resource Maori in there ventures in life as benificiaries. This is a crime itself, rasism remarks, inividualizing ethnic groups you cant do that.
Raisism itself created war in the past, why on earth would you all catergarize people in there different cultural identities.
Most policies and procedures Government put in place is a crim itself, is a way of controlling everyones life yousing there culture identities against them. How dear you all.
Why dont you slash your governance fundig and live a salery like a benificery. We will save Millions to billions. Stepping into the shoes of someone else is a lesson itself. Try it, we could save and everyone would see a difference.
Selling Assets that are Maori owned cant be sold without all partys, all maori sharehold owners. Just because the Government thinks they have control to sell, they dont. The Te Tiriti O Waitangi protects our lands, protects whats maori stays maori. I think the Goverence entrance in becoming Governers should learn about Te Tiriti O Waitangi and Acknowledge that our Tipuna put in place for us as Maori stays Maori.
Government would not have Governance if it wasnt for our Rangatira.
Stop putting aside our rights as Maori and step up. If you are not good for the job and cant find solutions with out selling Maori Assets you dont belong there. Find a new position and let leaders in whom are willing to save our country, nurture our contry, make employment and business in our country. Not waste money, kill resources, kill environment and things living in it.
People need leaders who have the passion, drive, ideas, and connected in being Kaitiaki of our people, land, sea, and rivers.
Environmentalist, not money spenders. Land is more important to people than money.
Governance at present are criminals. Like john key quoted, "Stand strong on crime" yes its a set up for future criminals, and activity. We know crime brings in big money but its not cheap. Its criminal.

I have studyed at Te Wananga O Aotearoa all my life and have created powerpoint presentations i have put in place through studying all my life with knowledge from Wananga, Kohanga, Kura and Kaumatua and Kuia. Especially about the Te Riti O Watangi, Goverance, and lots more.
Researched and know what i am talking about.
Passionate and driven to make a great future for my tamariki and mokopuna. The future is it our responsibility.
Aotearoa - clean, protected, future
with Maori utilizing Maori sharehold land.

Sandie Reihana
Kia Kaha, Kia Maia, Kia Manawanui