Why Are Kiwis Taking To The Streets?
By Dianne Kahn,
They are mighty pigged off, that’s why.
This Saturday, 13th April, thousands of teachers, parents, students and other supporters up and down New Zealand will march to protest some very disconcerting things that are afoot in GodZone.
What are we protesting? Well I’m glad you asked.
Charter schools: The government is hell bent on bringing in charter schools despite massive resistance and rafts of evidence that they just do not improve achievement, least of all for minority groups. They are pushing an ideology that will privatise public schools. No amount of questioning elicits from the government or Catherine Isaac any answers on just how charters will improve anything.
They have no answers – there are no answers. The evidence is very firmly against them.
Community involvement is not guaranteed in charter schools (goodbye BOT), teachers can be untrained, money paid to run the schools can be skimmed off as profit. That’s your tax $$$ going not to resources of trained staff or even to pay for the building – just taken out as profit by the business owner. Nice.
The largest study of charter schools, by CREDO, showed that 47% of children did worse in the charter than in the local public school. Only 17% did better. Is that worth the cost, both financially and to communities? I think not.
National Standards and Testing: Teachers test all the time – we have to, to know where kids are and where to take them next. Tests are best if acted on speedily by the teacher, to inform their practice. National standards do nothing to inform teachers – indeed they eat up time best spent teaching or doing more useful testing. National Standards do not look at the progress a child has (or has not) made, it merely pegs them against a standard that has been deemed to be about right for their age. This is of no use to the child, to the parents, or to the teacher. Each student is different – what matters most is not where they are in relation to their peers but how they are progressing.
Add to this the growing and very real concerns that the tests used to determine students’ levels are faulty and are giving inflated results, and we have a huge, huge problem.
Teachers’ Pay and Conditions: You might think this is about Novopay; it’s not. The Secretary of Education wants authority to change teachers’ pay and work conditions without consultation. Like you turning up to work and finding your contract had been rewritten and there’s nothing you can do about it. Nice eh? Why would the SoE want to do that, you ask? Most likely so that performance pay can be brought in.
Performance pay is an anathema to teaching. By its very nature, teaching is collaborative, it means working in a team to get the best for the students. The minute performance pay rears its head, that begins to change. Why share your resources with someone who just got a pay rise when you got none? Why agree to have more than your fair share of the trickier students if it might impact your wages? Where it has been implemented, abroad, it has lead to some desperate teachers exaggerating test scores, and so on. It’s human nature, and has been documented widely by many reliable researchers, including those at the OECD. We just don’t want that. We want to continue working together as a team within our school and with other schools in the wider community for the kids.
Christchurch school closures and mergers: The schools in Christchurch just did not get a fair hearing. Information was and still is being withheld by the authorities, preventing schools from being able to put up accurate arguments against the proposals. Dame Beverley Wakem has deemed the Christchurch schools closures and mergers consultation process to be questionable enough to warrant an investigation. No-one is arguing nothing needed to change post-quake. But even schools with growing roles and good quality buildings and sites have been earmarked to go. It makes no sense.
Christchurch has been bullied, there is no other term for it. And teachers do not like bullies.
It’s time to say NO.
It’s time to insist it remains about the children and not about ideology.
It’s time to demand that changes are research based and not done on the whim of a one-man political party.
It’s time to include community MORE in schools, not less.
Join us – come and show your support.