PPTA against $1b for schools

November 4th, 2011 at 10:43 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The secondary teachers’ union has rejected National’s $1 billion school improvement plan, saying it is an “irresponsible bribe”.

This reinforces my views that most unions are more focused on helping Labour and fighting National, than actually doing what is best for their members or sector.

It would be quite legitimate if the had said “We don’t believe that there is any need to tie the funding to the mixed ownership model which we oppose, but we welcome the pledge of an extra one billion dollars for modernising schools”.

But instead the PPTA says:

New Zealand needed politicians who were prepared to follow their own advice and manage the schools in a “rational and fiscally responsible way,” he said.

I suspect if Labour had announced one billion dollars (an effective 50% increase) in capital spending on schools, the PPTA would have all but fellated them.

We saw the same in 2009 with NZUSA. National implemented a policy that students who repay their loans early would get a 10% rebate. NZUSA incredibly came out and opposed it, saying it was unfair to those who could not make early repayments! Again I can guarantee you the same announcement from a Labour Government would have been treated as the best thing since sliced bread.

It really comes down to does an organisation operate in good faith or bad faith? I’ll give some credit to the CTU here – they will sometimes give praise to National, for those (rare) policies they agree with.

But the PPTA leadership confirms its position as far more focused on politics than education.

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32 Responses to “PPTA against $1b for schools”

  1. leftyliberal (598 comments) says:

    The link for those that want to read all that Robin Duff said, rather than only DPF’s selection:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/policies/5903997/Teachers-reject-National-education-bribe

    [DPF: Whoops, that was meant to be there. Added now. If I quote a story I always link to it if online. The odd time I don't is through oversight]

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  2. Peter (1,468 comments) says:

    I suspect if Labour had announced one billion dollars (an effective 50% increase) in capital spending on schools, the PPTA would have all but fellated them.

    Or even if they made no announcement at all.

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  3. Fisiani (851 comments) says:

    PPTA leaders are activist members of the Labour Party. They have the interests of the Labour party first and foremost.
    They will oppose any initiative from National because they are true to Labour and believe that what is good for National is bad for labour and thus miust always be opposed.
    Critising National proposing to spend $1,000,000,000 on schools beggars credulity.
    Every comment from the PPTA is just a Labour comment.
    The PPTA has to be crushed and a real voice for education emerge.

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  4. wreck1080 (3,522 comments) says:

    My sons primary school has no money, they are continually pleading for parents to do repairs and to pay/build new facilities around the playgrounds.

    I’d hope the ppta are not rejecting desperately needed funding.

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  5. burt (7,085 comments) says:

    The union care more about the Labour party than their memebers or the best interests of education – who would have seen that coming.

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  6. Lance (2,309 comments) says:

    Great message to parents that the PPTA doesn’t give a flying crap about your kids

    So how low can Labour get in the polls after this sort of nonsense?

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  7. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    First off if the socialists could find a billion extra to spend on schools you could bet the farm an announcement of spending would only amount to 800 million. The extra 200 mill would go into the thieving bastards slush fund and keep the rats in electoral spotlight.

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  8. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    Great to see you giving credit to CTU credit where credit is due.

    I can see the value in unions I really can, but all too often the reality doesn’t live up to the promise.

    They are often a magnet for people with a political ambitions rather than a genuine interest in serving their memberships.

    I went to a public debate a year or two ago with a panel including Andrew Little and Peter Conway on the one side and another panel including Don Brash and Roger Douglas.

    Brash and Douglas were predictable and performed just fine if you like the ideology/policy prescription they are selling.

    Andrew Little arrived late, went well over time with his speaking. His speech was rhetoric laden, highly political attacked the opposition and was disengagingly negative.

    Peter Conway was outstanding, his arguments were lucid and well supported, he balanced economic rationality with a healthy dose of social compassion and really laid out a positive vision.

    Both of these guys are career unionists. It speaks poorly of Labour and goes a long way to explaining their current poll standings that it is folks like Little and not folks like Conway who they have in contention for future party leadership.

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  9. ben (2,385 comments) says:

    Unions make the evils of monopoly real.

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  10. mpledger (428 comments) says:

    It’s got to be the greatest stupidity alive to sell a productive asset to pay for a non-productive asset.

    If selling the asset is all about paying off debt then friggin pay off debt.

    If selling the asset is to spend more then I would rather keep the asset and spend the profit.

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  11. Positan (376 comments) says:

    Even though I detest the self-serving, directionally applied negativity of Labour and the appallingly partisan outlooks of those who “serve” it, you have to feel really sorry for a party whose best hopes are encapsulated in such obvious, electorate-denying terms. If any policy, no matter what, is good for “the people” – it should be acknowledged and accepted as “good” – no matter which party came up with it.

    Labour’s corpuscle-deep failing seems to be that holding the reins of power is its sole political objective. So very often, Labour people, and union associates like the PPTA, emphatically convey that the actual provision of sound government is one of those annoying “extras” that have to be accepted in the taking on of the job. Unfortunately.

    The PPTA should be far more interested in seeing to the educational welfare of our teenagers than posturing politically at complete cost to its credibility.

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  12. tvb (3,938 comments) says:

    The PPTA is allowing its message to get caught up with the political problems of the Labour Party. Even if the Union opposes the CAPX spending the parents will not. The Labour Party cannot match this promise because they have spent the money elsewhere including some poorly designed tax policy. Of course it is being used to sweeten the asset sales policy. But so what, and anyhow what are asset sales got to do with a Teachers’ Union.

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  13. Ed Snack (1,535 comments) says:

    Positan, it is a mistake to even imagine that the PPTA has ever had the slightest concern for the quality of education. The PPTA, like almost every single union today, is solely focused on what is good for the union executive and its senior employees. As a sop, they may also on occasions consider their members’ interests in passing.

    And since the union executives career path consists of ultimately moving “up” to parliament with its near zero work requirements plus significant power plus gold-plated superannuation and benefits, then all significant actions by the union are focused on pushing the Labour party barrow.

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  14. Weihana (4,475 comments) says:

    I think there is no doubt that the PPTA is biased towards Labour. Common sense really. But I disagree with this criticism of them. It was John Key who linked the funding to asset sales so it is quite legitimate for the PPTA to have an opinion about the source of funding and to criticize the government. I see no reason why such criticism should not be in the form of calling it an “irresponsible bribe”. I don’t see how this translates to “bad faith” just because it’s mean words used against National. Is there some rule where if you criticize National you have to be nice about it?

    I also do not see how it goes against the interests of its members or sector. Nowhere has the PPTA rejected the need for funding, they have rejected the conditional nature of that funding in terms of being tied to controversial (and unpopular) asset sales.

    Indeed if they had used David Farrar’s suggested wording then it would not have had the same media impact and would lessen their ability to get the message accross that the funding should not be tied to asset sales. Seems like this is just a right-wing whinge because it makes controversy for National. It’s one thing if you believe the PPTA are wrong and that asset sales for school funding is a good idea, but it seems as though the criticism here is that they have an opinion at all and how dare they rock the boat and make controversy.

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  15. Phil (117 comments) says:

    It’s got to be the greatest stupidity alive to sell a productive asset to pay for a non-productive asset.

    mpledger, what you’re really saing is: “Our schools are unproductive”

    What… the… fuck… is… wrong… with… you…?

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  16. Weihana (4,475 comments) says:

    tvb (2,110) Says:
    November 4th, 2011 at 12:01 pm


    But so what, and anyhow what are asset sales got to do with a Teachers’ Union.

    It shouldn’t have anything to do with it, that’s their point. It is not they who have tied the funding to asset sales. But why should they not be concerned about where the money comes from? If someone gives you a shiny new television for $10 do you not stop to ask yourself “Hey, where did this TV come from?”. Is it none of your concern? Of course it is.

    Seems to me it is legitimate for them to argue that the funding is necessary and should not be conditional upon a controversial and unpopular asset sales policy.

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  17. Weihana (4,475 comments) says:

    “Funds tagged to be spent on schools’ infrastructure and the broadband network for learning needed to happen anyway, but are being used as the scapegoat to sweeten asset sales.” – PPTA President Robin Duff

    How does that translate to:

    “PPTA against $1b for schools” – DPF

    ??

    How does “[it] needed to happen anyway” equal “we don’t want $1b for schools”?

    hmmmm :)

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  18. Ed Snack (1,535 comments) says:

    Weihana, I for one have no problem with the PPTA criticizing the proposed funding. What I do have a problem with is any suggestion that the PPTA is doing so because it cares about education. It is quite clear that the PPTA objects because the proposal is BAD FOR LABOUR, and its criticism must be seen in that light.

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  19. CJPhoto (182 comments) says:

    Simple solution. Take the 1st years money off them and give it to hospitals.

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  20. minto57 (197 comments) says:

    If the National Party wanted a absolute majority all they have to do is drop the the dumb assets selloff.
    Was it not National that was talking about PPP arrangements for schools.
    The exempler Air NZ was brought back by the goverment after ending in foreign hands is 75 % owned (which helps to prevent private directors getting too much say)
    Contact Energy was a farce especially the dam which was forced upon the locals only to be sold from under them

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  21. Weihana (4,475 comments) says:

    Ed Snack,

    What if public pressure over asset sales prevents it from going ahead? What does this mean for their funding? Clearly it is in their interests to oppose the government linking the funding to asset sales which is hugely controversial and unpopular. Any natural bias they have towards Labour would seem largely irrelevant in this case.

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  22. Paulus (2,291 comments) says:

    minto57

    What is wrong with the Air New Zealand model ?

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  23. RRM (8,988 comments) says:

    I suspect if Labour had announced one billion dollars (an effective 50% increase) in capital spending on schools, the PPTA would have all but fellated them.

    PMSL! But quite true.

    I really wish the union movement would just f off and die, just goons and they poison the political left IMO…

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  24. david (2,482 comments) says:

    I’m sure the PPTA would be ecstatic if Key were to say that he has changed his mind and will use the Futures Fund to build hospitals but will still borrow a billion for school upgrades with no net effect on the Government’s borrowing. Leaving a couple of days between announcing the first part and the second part would make foer some interesting reactions.

    The whole “where does the asset selldown money go” thing has been turned into a total farce by those who would mislead the public anyway. “Reduce debt” say some, “borrow against the assets” say others. Whatever anyone says there are two fundamental truths to bear in mind.

    1. Any revenue received by the Gummint means that we borrow less unless you add to your spend.

    2. Every banker on the planet will tell you that the best investment you can make is to pay off your mortgage (as opposed to saving for your retirement or consuming) Borrowing to invest is for the feeble and dumb. Now we know why BCG got shot of David Cunnliffe.

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  25. BeaB (1,945 comments) says:

    The PPTA doesn’t have any need to comment on asset sales at all. That is a political policy that does not directly affect teachers or schools.
    From Duff’s comments, PPTA is clearly backing Labour over National and it is disappointing that their political affiliation (do they still fund Labour campaigns like NZEI?) overrides the chance for schools to improve infrastructure.

    My mum would have called this cutting off your nose to spite your face.

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  26. Scott Chris (5,675 comments) says:

    Farrar says:- “This reinforces my views that most unions are more focused on helping Labour and fighting National, than actually doing what is best for their members or sector.”

    Crikey, just as well I looked up the PPTA’s constitution. I was about to have a crack at Farrar for misrepresenting the aims philosophy of the PPTA, but it turns out that he is bang on the money:

    PPTA activity is guided by a constitution with the following objectives:

    1) To advance the cause of education generally and of all phases of secondary and technical education in particular.
    2) To uphold and maintain the just claims of its members individually and collectively.
    3) 要肯定和推進特TiritiØ懷唐伊。

    http://www.ppta.org.nz/index.php/about-ppta

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  27. Batman (97 comments) says:

    To be honest, the PPTA should not give a fuck about partial asset selldowns. They should advocate for teachers on teaching related subjects. It’s the government’s business how it obtains money for education. the only time they have a legitimate concern about partial asset selldowns is if the govt wanted to turn schools into PPPs.

    if teachers and the PPTA want to oppose asset selldowns, they should do it on their own time, AFTER they advocate for education and the kids.

    fucking flunkies

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  28. Positan (376 comments) says:

    Ed Snack (in respect of your comment to mine.)

    I agree with your points.

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  29. reid (15,506 comments) says:

    I don’t understand why conservatives don’t simply pass a law making it illegal for unions to spend money on doing anything but directly support and advocate for their own members to their own places of employment. A law that forbids unions to donate money or resources of any kind, to any political party, under any circumstances.

    What’s wrong with doing that? Unions claim to support its members, and so having a law which makes them do that and nothing but, you’d think they would think that’s a good thing, since lefties seem to like lots of laws, don’t they.

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  30. Weihana (4,475 comments) says:

    # reid (8,918) Says:
    November 4th, 2011 at 6:06 pm


    I don’t understand why conservatives don’t simply pass a law making it illegal for unions to spend money on doing anything but directly support and advocate for their own members to their own places of employment. A law that forbids unions to donate money or resources of any kind, to any political party, under any circumstances.

    What’s wrong with doing that? Unions claim to support its members, and so having a law which makes them do that and nothing but, you’d think they would think that’s a good thing, since lefties seem to like lots of laws, don’t they.

    How are they supposed to advocate for their members if they cannot support political parties that will implement what they desire?

    In this case they haven’t even advocated or donated to any political party merely criticized the government for its policy. Does this mean you want to set up a committee that reviews what unions say to see if it’s acceptable?

    Pretty silly. I assume you jest.

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  31. Rightandleft (574 comments) says:

    The PPTA is not completely behind the Labour Party at all, nor does it contribute to their campaign financially or in any kind of endoresement. When Minister Tolley attended the PPTA Conference last month she recieved a warm welcome and five rounds of applause. The Labour and Greens education spokemen also spoke to the conference and the Greens got far more enthusiasm and support than Labour. We should remember that PPTA’s longest round of industrial action (18 months) was against the last Labour Government. It was also Labour that introduced the hated Tomorrow’s Schools programme in the 80s. And it was Trevor Mallard who pushed through legislation in Labour’s last term which made it easier for the government to dock teacher’s pay in future industrial disputes.

    In fact PPTAs main policy this election is getting all the parties to agree on a consensus policy for education. A high number of union member teachers do vote National, including some of the higher-ups. PPTA’s main concern is improving the educational outcomes of our students. They actually provide some of the best professional development courses for teachers, ones which have nothing to do with wages or politics. PPTA is a union, but it is ALSO a professional association. It should also be noted that PPTA represents only secondary teachers, not primary. The primary school union, NZEI, has been much more anti-National over the national standards they introduced.

    Now if the PPTA comes off as anti-National in the campaign that is likely because National is already treating PPTA as an enemy. In their official policy statement on education they list the teacher unions as a threat to education. The countries ranked highest for education in the OECD, such as Finland, have strong teachers’ unions. There is no reason for a centre-right party like National to be anti-union based on the idea that the union favours the left. Some of the most anti-teacher union governments today are the Labor Govt. in Australia and the Democrats in the US.

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  32. acrosstic (1 comment) says:

    It’s hard to know where to start with such a hopelessly partisan blog. PPTA does not support any politcal party. We support the policies that are best for secondary education. We are quite capable of falling out with Labour governments as National when they do dumb things – and the 1 billion is DUMB! Until politicians (of all parties) stop pumping taxpayer money into opening tiny uneconomic new schools, we will not have wise use of taxpayer money. Joyce and Sharples have just opened a secondary school for 125 students in Hamilton at an upfront cost of $3 million to the taxpayer (plus ongoing staffing and resourcing costs) when you need at least 400 to run a secondary school that isn’t entirely dependent on the correspondence school. Get this though – it’s not even in the growth area of Hamilton which will need a new secondary school eventually anyway. This isn’t just a National Party problem as the media release noted – one of the worst proponents of these policies was one Chris Carter – Labour I believe – amd we were similarly critical of him for doing it. Not that it makes any difference – when politicians are dependent on votes from marginal electorates, you can be certain they will make their decisions for local political reasons not educational ones. That’s why we are trying to get the pollies to work together on a strategic plan for education like they do in Finland. Thus this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3Z30CXVAjw&sns=em I know it’s hard for people who can’t think past false dualities (if you’re not with me – you must be against me) but you should really try. Watch the video – we are happy to supply further references if you genuinely want to understand the issue. We are always hopeful about the transforming powers of education!

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