More on NZEI protecting Burrett

March 15th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A teachers union has been accused of “protecting” teacher Robert Burrett before he went on to molest and rape 12 Christchurch schoolgirls, missing a chance to remove him from the profession in the early 2000s.

Pukenui School in Te Kuiti tried to get rid of Burrett, its deputy principal, in 2001 because he was drunk, dishevelled and disorganised.

But according to board chair at the time Steve Parry, the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) made the process extremely difficult.

“They were quite evasive and defensive of the guy, and it frustrated us to a high level,” Parry said. “Of course a person has rights and has to be protected, but they were really trying to make things confusing and difficult, they weren’t really engaging in the problems we had.”

It is important to understand that the union’s number one concern is protecting its members – not protecting the school, protecting students, improving education. So their behaviour in this regard is not remarkable.  The lesson is you need to understand this is what drives all their advocacy – what is best for their members, as opposed to best for others.

Child rapist Robert Burrett

March 11th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Child rapist Robert Burrett was warned and placed under supervision because of complaints about his behaviour around children more than three decades ago.

Burrett was described as a hopeless teacher, but went on to hold several senior positions at schools across the upper North Island before surfacing in Christchurch as a caretaker and bus driver, where he lured young girls into an underground shed and raped and abused them.

Burrett was able to move from one school to another without any alarm bells being sounded over his past.

Appalling that he got away with it for so long.

John Sandison, whose children were taught by Burrett at Lake Rotoma, said parents were so concerned about his behaviour when he was principal there in the early 90s they began a petition to get rid of him. It was signed by about 60 people.

Sandison said Burrett had been taking girls out of school on trips to Rotorua, supposedly to get them netball uniforms.

“There was a shopping centre with a pub on the way back and he would call in there and have a beer and put a bit of money on the TAB – he left [the girls] sitting in the van outside.”

Sandison said that although he did not believe Burrett had molested any children, in hindsight it seemed he may have been grooming them.

“You look back and you think, maybe he was testing the waters just to see what he thought he could get away with. You think, oh Jesus, how bloody close were our kids [to being victims].”

Sandison said Burrett was not accounting for the school’s money and was a poor teacher.

“The Olympic or Commonwealth Games were on and he just carried his big TV over from the house and put it in the classroom and the kids just watched that all day – they didn’t do any bloody schoolwork.”

Steve Parry, former chairman of the board of trustees of Pukenui School, where Burrett became deputy principal in the late 90s, said the school had tried for some time to get rid of him but ran into stiff opposition from the teachers’ union NZEI.

“They were quite evasive and defensive of the guy – it frustrated us to a high level,” Parry said.

A union has to stick up for its members, but not in all cases and at all costs. This is one of the challenges in NZ – that both bad and good teachers get defended.

I think it is important that people can join unions, and have them defend them. But when the unions also claim to be professional associations dedicated to the highest standards, you get a conflict of interest.

NZEI sees sense

July 24th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Radio NZ reports:

A teachers union is dropping its opposition to the Government’s $155 million a year plan to pay teachers more to improve schools after negotiating changes to the scheme.

Yep they were campaigning against a policy to pay their members more money!!

The deal agreed with the Education Ministry opens the way for more schools to join a revised version of the programme known as Investing in Educational Success.

The Educational Institute (NZEI) said the changes include allowing early childhood services to join the scheme, which was originally just for schools.

In addition, the number of new roles for teachers and principals to lead improvements in each group of schools will be based on schools’ needs, rather than on a formula.

The NZEI has been fiercely critical of the Government’s scheme, especially its extra pay for some teachers and principals, and wanted to negotiate an alternative.

Today it said there would be one scheme, with changes.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said the agreement followed one by the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) last year.

She said, under the agreement, the communities of schools set up by the scheme would become communities of learning that could include the pathway from early childhood to tertiary education.

The changes from the current scheme seem pretty minor – really it is about the NZEI saving face as they basically let their hatred of National get in the way of supporting good policy. But good to see that they have finally shown sense, and have come on board.

NZEI backs down

December 11th, 2014 at 7:13 am by David Farrar

The NZEI announced:

NZEI Te Riu Roa and the Ministry of Education have agreed to work together on a new initiative that will support children’s education at every level of their learning.

The agreement was reached yesterday and follows the overwhelming rejection by primary principals and teachers of the government’s $359m Investing in Educational Success scheme.

“This new initiative is a great win for children and for good education policy,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President Judith Nowotarski.

“It represents a positive way forward and has come about because teachers and principals kept true to our values of quality public education for all children.

“The agreement means we will now work with the Ministry in a genuine, collaborative way to identify and support locally-driven initiatives that put children at the centre of teaching and learning.

“Instead of a top down, one-size-fits-all initiative which is the IES, we will be going out to schools and early childhood education centres and actively finding out what works.

A member of the public could read the above and actually believe the spin about a new initiative and rejecting the IES. In reality this is window dressing, and the NZEI has done a not very graceful u-turn as scores of primary schools were signing up to the IES without their endorsement, and they were getting angry calls from members about not only missing out on the new positions, but also realising that they were unlikely to get any pay increases in the foreeseable future having rejected a $359 million package of extra funding for (mainly) salaries.

The IES which was agreed to by the PPTA, is significantly different from the original proposal in January. The Government and the PPTA negotiated in good faith on changes, and there were many (but not around the core principle). This so called new initiative will be close to a clone of the IES which they claim they rejected.

Labour of course campaigned against the IES, and are also trying to pretend this is not a backdown by the NZEI, but by the Government. Chris Hipkins said:

News that the Government has backed down and returned to the drawing board on its flagship ‘expert teacher’ policy will come as a welcome Christmas present to schools and teachers, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

“Teachers throughout New Zealand will be pleased to hear the Ministry of Education is engaging with the profession on issues like increasing collaboration, improving student transitions and developing better career pathways.

“If the Government had taken this approach in the first place, there probably wouldn’t have been such strong opposition to their Investing in Educational Success (IES) plan.

“The NZEI should be congratulated for holding out for a better deal.

This is so amusing, it could be in a George Orwell book, alongside the declaration we have always been at war with Eurasia.

I’m glad the NZEI have seen sense. If they need to pretend that what they have agreed is something different to the IES so they don’t look silly, then that’s fine. The important thing is that great teachers and principals will have an opportunity to share their skills beyond their classrooms and schools, and be able to earn more money for doing so.

Herald on Educational Success initiative

December 9th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

It lies in a sharp drop in this country’s 15-year-old pupils’ position in mathematics, reading and science in the 2013 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) rankings. This led the Government to seek the insights of the highly influential OECD survey’s designer, Andreas Schleicher.

His key finding is that top-performing countries ensure their most talented school leaders and staff are in the most needy schools. The Government’s means of achieving this involves spending $359 million over four years, some of which will pay the best principals and teachers more to spend time in other schools, and some of which will be used by struggling schools to attract these mentors.

The use of Dr Schleicher’s ideas presented a difficulty for the teacher unions. How could they oppose the prescription of such an acknowledged educational expert? Sensibly, the secondary teachers’ union, the Post Primary Teachers Association, decided to support the programme. So, too, did the Secondary Principals Association. While some PPTA members may have had qualms about this being performance pay in another guise, most clearly saw that it offered a strong incentive for good candidates to enter the teaching profession and remain there.

Regrettably, however, the primary teachers’ union, the NZEI, has remained opposed to the programme. Unconvincingly, it maintains the Government’s money would be better spent helping struggling schools cope with children impaired by poverty and neglect. That overlooks the increasing awareness of the importance of excellent teaching and school leadership.

The NZEI are passionately fighting against their own members being able to earn more money.

More money for secondary teachers

August 22nd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Primary school teachers and principals have voted overwhelmingly to reject the Government’s flagship education policy.

The NZEI union has announced that it will not engage in collective negotiations in an attempt to shape how the reform will take shape.

If Labour was offering to pay the best principals and teachers up to $50,000 a year more, you can bet the NZEI would have called it the best reforms ever.

Quite hilarious to have a union reject massive pay increases for their best teachers and principals.

But that’s fine. The Government should just work with the more rational secondary sector, and use the entire $360 million on higher pay levels for new secondary positions.

That could mean either twice as many positions can be created in the secondary sector, or they could double the extra salary allowances!

Labour against paying the top teachers more

June 12th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Government’s $359 million expert teachers policy has proved to be the latest in a series of “epic failures” in the education sector due to a lack of consultation with teachers and Labour will soon announce a better model it says.

The Government policy which would see “expert” and “lead” teachers identified and paid extra to act as role models across several schools was slammed by primary teachers union the NZEI and the NZ Principals Federation after they met to discuss it this week.

What the story doesn’t mention is that the PPTA has said:

The government’s $359 million Investing in Educational Success (IES) program has been a positive example of sector collaboration, says PPTA president Angela Roberts.

Roberts welcomes today’s release of the working group report on the initiative which will see schools across the country collaborating rather than competing.

From PPTA’s point of view the consultation over IES was comprehensive, robust and genuine, Roberts said.

“We stepped up to the challenge and engaged as fully as it is possible to do.”

The sector had worked hard together to find pragmatic answers and there had been significant movement from the originally unacceptable cabinet paper, Roberts said.

“You know it’s collaboration when it’s hard work – and this was really hard work.”

“We feel cabinet has heard us,” she said.

Now the PPTA is not exactly a friend of the Government’s. It opposes the Government on many other issues. It would not be saying that there has been genuine consultation and changes – unless there had been.

NZEI National President Judith Nowotarski said leaders from national and regional principal and teacher groups had sent a clear message that the policy, as it currently stood, was “unacceptable and unworkable” and “identified the lack of direct benefit for children in this policy”.

School leaders were concerned the policy would remove highly rated teachers and principals from their schools for two days a week, which would impact on children’s learning.

The PPTA actually deals with this in a blog post:

4. The evidence is lacking

There is plenty of evidence on the professional benefits of mentoring and the positive results that focusing on collaboration rather than competition will bring.

5. There is growing disquiet and concern in the sector…

Only in a small part of the beltway in Wellington.  Elsewhere schools are thinking about what clusters they are already in and what they need to do to be ready to pick up the extra staffing and funding that will come in next year.  Listen carefully – that is the sound of professionals collaborating.

Again why would the PPTA say this, if they did not think the policy was beneficial?

Labour’s education spokesman Chris Hipkins said the fact that teachers and principals were willing to turn down pay rises of up to $40,000 a year “reflects how bad they believe this policy is”.

It’s more a reflection that the NZEI just wants a Labour-led Government so National Standards can be abolished.

Mr Hipkins said Ms Parata had learned nothing about working with teachers.

“She has overseen epic failures including the class size debacle, the Christchurch schools mergers, charter schools and National Standards. And let’s not forget Novopay.”

Again I quote the PPTA blog:

1. There has been no consultation.

This might be true if these changes had been legislated in place but that’s not what happened. The $359 million was an employer offer made to unions for them to bargain and amend with the aim of eventually putting it into their collective agreements.   If using the democratic structures of unions to made changes for teachers isn’t consultation what is?

Strange that this article quotes the NZEI and Labour at length, and doesn’t even mention the views of the PPTA.

But I welcome the (almost) clear sign from Labour they they oppose this policy (they pretended to support it when first announced). This gives people another reasons to vote National.

Why is the NZEI against extra money for teachers?

June 5th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Rose Patterson writes at Stuff:

This week the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, released a report on the details of the government’s $359 million policy to create a new career structure for teachers (Investing in Educational Success) following consultation with the education sector.

The Beehive media release makes it sound as if everybody is happy as a result of the consultation, and most are, including the secondary teachers’ union, the PPTA.

But the primary teacher’s union is far from happy. The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) say they have a better plan for how they would spend the funds.

I think the NZEI would just like the $359 million paid directly to them, to spend as they see fit.

This is all symptomatic of a broader issue in New Zealand education: the NZEI wants to have their cake and eat it too. They want to ensure that the allocation of education funding is controlled centrally, and they want to have control over education policy. Yet, they are not the ones accountable for education funding, so they shouldn’t be expected to make those hard decisions.

This is pretty dead right. The NZEI doesn’t think parents, taxpayers or the Government have a significant role in education policy. They seem to think our job is to just pay money to them.

NZEI spokesman Ian Leckie says that the policy “is a one-size-fits-all plan and totally ignores the particular circumstances of each school.”

But if you want to get away from the bureaucracy of centralised policy making, and give teachers the power to make their own policies and to allocate funding in the way that’s best for the children in their schools, then by definition, you cannot also have a centralised model.

You would have to give schools full funding and allow them to negotiate their individual employment agreements at the local school level, and they would need to be fully accountable for that funding.

That’s what I would do. Fully fund each school for salaries, properties and operation and let them decide locally how to divide it up.

The problem with NZEI wanting decision-making power in education policy is that it’s not the group accountable to the person footing the bill, AKA the taxpayer.

Policy making is an exercise in trade-offs between having your cake and eating it too, and the accountable party has to make those difficult decisions. The buck stops with government.

Teachers have a wonderful opportunity to work constructively with government on the execution of this policy. Let’s hope the NZEI realise this instead of going into automatic resistance mode, because the $359m for teachers is icing on the cake.

The only union in NZ fighting bitterly against a Government wanting to give payrises of between $10,000 and $50,000 to some of its own members!

Investing in Educational Success initiative moves forward

June 4th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Hekia Parata announced:

Education Minister Hekia Parata has welcomed advice from sector leaders on the Government’s $359 million initiative to raise student achievement, saying it maintains momentum and strengthens the path forward.

Ms Parata has released a Working Group report that provides support and advice on the Investing in Educational Success initiative announced by the Prime Minister in January.

“Raising student achievement is one of our Government’s top priorities. This investment strongly supports that by building quality and consistency of teaching and leadership across the system,” Ms Parata says.

“Like us, parents will be very pleased we’re making such good progress on something that will make a real difference in our schools and classrooms.

“Unions and groups representing teachers, principals, boards of trustees, and others in the sector have worked closely with the Ministry of Education to produce a report that demonstrates very practical thinking.

“I want to acknowledge the expertise and experience Working Group members brought to the table to advance this work. I know they’re as committed as we are to raising achievement so five out of five kids succeed.”

This has been a good example of how Government can work with stakeholders. The Government announced the policy and funding, but said they’ll work with unions and others on exact details. And they have accepted some of the changes proposed by teachers and unions such as making sure teachers have both relief and inquiry time built into their week, so they can participate in the sharing of skills.

The full report is here. The key details are:

  • Communities of schools would form to encourage collaboration. Participation is voluntary.
  • There would be:
    • Community of Schools Leadership Role (for Executive Principal)
    • Community of Schools Teacher (across community) Role (for Expert Teacher)
    • Community of Schools Teacher (within school) Role (for Lead Teacher)
    • Principal Recruitment Allowance (for Change Principal Allowance).
  • Selection to the roles would be subject to meeting agreed professional standards or criteria, which are to be developed by an expert writing group
  • Release time would be provided to schools for across-community roles to fulfil their functions
  • A payment should be established to support boards of trustees of the most high need schools to broaden their recruitment pool and assist them to recruit a high quality principal. 
  • The provision of Inquiry Time would allow other teachers across a Community of Schools to access the expertise that the new roles would make available. 
  • A Teacher-led Innovation Fund (TLIF) would be established with a budget of $10 million over the coming four years. 

The NZEI has been participating, but has a general policy of disagreeing with anything National proposes, regardless of its merits. The PPTA, according to my sources, has been much more constructive, and are responsible for many of the changes proposed in the working group report. It’s a good example of the difference between constructive engagement and mindless opposition. At the end of the day the NZEI will have to decide whether they wish to campaign against thousands of their own members being able to get paid $10,000 to $50,000 a year more!

To be fair to NZEI they have been participating in the working group. They are just unable to publicly ever state that something National does could possibly be beneficial because they’re still sulking over national standards.

The PPTA response is worth quoting, and is here:

The government’s $359 million Investing in Educational Success (IES) program has been a positive example of sector collaboration, says PPTA president Angela Roberts.

Roberts welcomes today’s release of the working group report on the initiative which will see schools across the country collaborating rather than competing.

From PPTA’s point of view the consultation over IES was comprehensive, robust and genuine, Roberts said.

“We stepped up to the challenge and engaged as fully as it is possible to do.”

The sector had worked hard together to find pragmatic answers and there had been significant movement from the originally unacceptable cabinet paper, Roberts said.

“You know it’s collaboration when it’s hard work – and this was really hard work.”

“We feel cabinet has heard us,” she said.

In stark contrast to the NZEI position. If I was a primary teacher I’d be asking my union why they are constantly badmouthing a plan to allow the best teachers and principals to earn up to $50,000 a year more.

Maori schools lash NZEI

March 29th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The country’s largest teachers’ union will march on Parliament today protesting against growing inequity in schools at the same time as the education minister is hosting an international summit.

NZEI has organised rallies in Wellington and Auckland timed to coincide with the hosting of OECD education ministers and union leaders, who are discussing best practices for lifting student achievement.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said she was disappointed with the protest timing, especially given NZEI’s involvement in the organisation of the summit and being part of previous delegations to New York and Amsterdam.

She would continue to have a relationship with the union, which was one of the objectives of the cross-sector forum that was set up following the first summit.

“We will continue to try to work together but it does take two.”

Nga Kura-a-Iwi, a federation representing Maori schools, has also spoken out against the NZEI and the “disrespect” it has shown the summit.

Co-chairwoman Arihia Stirling said it was an “inappropriate time to be airing dirty linen”.

“It’s wrong to do this now, we don’t have people dying in the street, we don’t have people bleeding at the hands of the education sector . . . it’s poor judgment of the leadership of the union to do this at this time.

“Why would you air your dirty linen in front of the world when it’s imperative we get the rest of the world down here to learn and strengthen our education system?”

The NZEI was welcoming summit guests with one hand and slapping them in the face with the other, she said.

The organisation is calling for Maori union members to withdraw their membership immediately.

NZEI seems to have given up any pretence of being constructive. Other teacher unions can work with Government when they agree, and criticise them when they disagree. But NZEI seems to go out of its way to do nothing but protest and attack. They’ve got so bad, that finally some schools are saying enough is enough.

Espiner on charter schools

September 23rd, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Colin Espiner writes:

I’d thought that centrally-controlled, one-size-fits-all approach to education policy had disappeared with the introduction of Tomorrow’s Schools more than 20 years ago. But I reckoned without the teacher unions.

The vitriol spouted by the Post-Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) and the Educational Institute (NZEI) at the Government’s announcement last week that it would fund five privately-run Partnership Schools took me back in a flash to my early days as a reporter covering teacher union rallies and marches.

Back then, it was bulk funding and the devolution of central control to community boards of trustees the teacher unions didn’t like. Oh, and Lockwood Smith.

They went on to oppose NCEA, National Testing, religious schools integration, private school funding . . . in fact pretty much anything that threatened the status quo and the teacher unions’ privileged position within it.

NZEI specially seem incredibly reactionary. They have fought a four year campaign against simply having an extra page in a kid’s report cards that states where they are at compared to a national standard for their age in literacy and numeracy. Incredible.

What’s so wrong with trying something a little different? With offering students failing in the mainstream education system an alternative? A little military training wouldn’t go amiss with some of them. And is a spot of faith-based teaching and some Maori immersion learning really going to do any great harm?

Apparently. According to the PPTA, these schools are so evil the union is considering asking its members to boycott all cultural, sporting, and professional events involving Partnership Schools. Marvellous – that’ll help those kids already alienated from the mainstream feel like they’re wanted.

Matthew Hooton describes how the planned boycotts will work:

In practice, it means that if students from one of the five schools enter a netball team in their local competition, the PPTA will order its members to stop their students from playing against them.

If partnership-school students qualify for the regional swimming sports, the PPTA will prevent other students from entering the pool for fear of political pollution.

The same goes for the local debating, kapa haka or Mathex competition.

Who would have thought that unions would be pushing for effective segregation of students, like the US had in the 1960s.

Espiner concludes:

No one is suggesting the state education system should be dismantled. It provides a mostly adequate, sometimes excellent, service. But even the bureaucrats in Wellington admit they don’t have a monopoly on good ideas. So what are the unions so afraid of?

Possibly more flexible working hours, fewer holidays, a greater range of pay rates, and non-unionised workers. A system outside state control, where commercial success is actually encouraged. A bit like the world the rest of us live in.

At worst, these schools will not live up to their potential and will be shut down, probably by Labour. But what if they succeed? It won’t just be the students who stand to benefit. It’ll be all of us.

And unlike state schools, not one student or parent will be forced to attend a charter school. There are no zones for charter schools. Every pupil who attends will be there because they and/or their parents have decided they think they will do better at that school. That choice, is what the unions are trying to prevent.

NZEI misrepresents report

July 8th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

3 News reported:

A US study, which a New Zealand teachers’ union has used to back up its claims that charter schools are failing, says they are actually helping struggling students.

A study by Stanford University’s Centre for Research on Educational Outcomes was referenced by the NZEI in its argument against charter schools being introduced in New Zealand.

A statement from the union says the 2013 study, which looked at charter schools in 26 states, found that the taxpayer-funded privately run schools do not justify their existence.

“It backs what educationalists in New Zealand have been saying all along – that charter schools are not the answer to improving educational outcomes for children,” said national president Judith Nowotarski.

But 3 News spoke to Stanford University:

It found charter school students had greater learning gains in reading than their peers in traditional public schools while there were equivalent learning gains in mathematics.

“The results reveal that the charter school sector is getting better on average and that charter schools are benefiting low-income, disadvantaged, and special education students,” said Dr Margaret Raymond, director of the centre.

According to the research, students in poverty, black students and those learning English gain most in both reading and maths compared to their traditional public school peers.

This is what Labour and Greens are fighting tooth and nail against!

Dom Post on National Standards

June 20th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

The time has come for teacher unions to accept that national standards in reading, writing and mathematics are here to stay.

Parents clearly want plain-English reports about how their children are progressing in the three most important building blocks for a sound education, and the policy has been overwhelmingly endorsed at the last two elections.

It is therefore in teachers’ interests to work with the Ministry of Education to ensure a sound system of assessment and data collection. Sadly, the signs this week are that teacher unions and representatives will continue cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

One of the strongest arguments teachers have advanced against the standards is that there is a lack of consistency in the way they are applied and insufficient moderation at a national level. It is therefore difficult to judge, on the raw data, how well one school, or even pupils within the same school but with different teachers, are performing compared to others.

That is a valid concern, and one that the ministry has always acknowledged would need to be addressed as national standards were bedded in. Its solution is an online tool designed to assist teachers to make more reliable and consistent assessments, thereby giving more confidence in the integrity of results. Known as the Progress and Consistency Tool, or PaCT, it is being trialled this year and will be compulsory from 2015.

Given the fears teachers hold about the inconsistency of national standards results and the lack of moderation, the public could be forgiven for thinking they would fully support the introduction of the tool. Instead, the primary teachers union NZEI, the Principals’ Federation, the Association of Intermediate and Middle Schools and the Catholic Principals’ Association have called on school boards and teachers to boycott PaCT.

It’s the solution to the very thing they have been complaining about – and their response is to boycott it. It’s appalling.

They say because the system requires them to judge national standards by working through tick boxes of achievements to generate a result, it will undermine their professionalism and reduce quality teaching.

The claims are ridiculous. Ensuring consistent assessment in reading, writing and mathematics across schools will have no impact on how individual teachers seek to inspire, guide and educate their charges. All it will mean is that when an 8-year-old boy at a decile 1 Auckland school and an 8-year-old girl at a decile 10 Wellington school are assessed as being above the standard for reading, there is a much greater degree of confidence that the results are accurate.

If I was a primary school teacher I’d be embarrassed by having a union that is so hostile to consistent assessment.

Maybe the Government should play the same game as the NZEI, and remove it from every working group on educational policy in the country? They’ll get to represent their members on pay negotiations, but why should they be treated as a professional body on other issues when they so clearly are not?

If teachers fear the information being released is inaccurate, then the answer is to work with the Government to make sure the system in place is as robust, reliable and fair as possible

Most teachers are doing that. But the union activists are doing everything possible to stop this.

On NZEI’s side on this one

June 16th, 2013 at 8:46 am by David Farrar

The HoS reports:

Teachers at a state school have called in the union to protest about being asked to lead pupils in daily karakia.

The NZEI union has been asked to address concerns held by some staff at Auckland’s Kelston Intermediate School over reciting a Maori prayer before lessons start each day.

The school recites a karakia at the start of its weekly assembly and in classrooms before lessons begin.

Staff deliver the prayer, which asks for the day to be blessed, help with work and to have a good week.

An NZEI spokeswoman confirmed the union was intervening at the school.

“NZEI is helping facilitate further discussion at the school on the issue and the school is welcoming of this.” Kelston Intermediate principal Phil Gordon said he had no idea some staff were unhappy with karakia in the classroom until contacted by the union representative.

A Ministry of Education official said state primary schools were required to be secular – but this didn’t preclude teaching about religion.

There is a difference between teaching about religion, and compulsory prayer sessions led by a teacher.

NZEI is right to intervene and stand up for the rights of their members not to have to partake in a religious ceremony.

Gordon said he reassured the union representative the karakia was a cultural component of school life and an expression of beliefs that reflected the Kelston community.

“I guess what they might have been inquiring about is the presence of karakia, etc, within school so we talked about what we’re doing is not a religious thing but a cultural thing.”

It is both religious and cultural. They can do cultural stuff that is not religious, but prayers by their nature are religious.

More from NZEI

April 12th, 2013 at 4:36 pm by David Farrar

Teacher protest


Exactly what are we  standing up for!

So when you see the reports of teachers and kids out there tomorrow, feel sorry for them – heavied into protesting on a weekend, just to keep the union hierarchy happy.

UPDATE: Eileen Joy and Julie Fairey have both commented below that they are in fact parents and not teachers or NZEI members. Fairey does do some part-time work for NZEI and said:

Eileen Joy is not a teacher. Neither am I (I work two days a week for NZEI Te Riu Roa, amongst other hats I wear). Neither of us have ever been teachers. Eileen is an old university acquaintance of mine (in fact we were on different sides politically back then) who I have recently reconnected with through FB. So you see her query actually makes quite a bit of sense – she is not someone who has previously been involved in this campaign and wanted more information, which I then provided.

As Eileen is not a teacher the children she refers to bringing along (sans apostrophe – I share the laments at the loss of a really very useful piece of punctuation, but am more relaxed about it being used incorrectly in an informal setting) are her own. No attempt whatsoever to bring along children from her class (she doesn’t have one, as she isn’t a teacher, refer previous).

As has been indicated above by other readers, it really doesn’t read as if I’m heavying anyone into attending the march. I’m pretty sure Eileen was there, as was I (unpaid, with one of my children), but there were so many people there I didn’t see her.

I note that the overall national turnout was under 20% of all NZEI members so I think apathy was the big winner on the day 🙂

The NZEI campaign

April 12th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Had an e-mail from an Auckland parent appalled their primary school daughter had their teacher spent 10 – 15 minutes telling the kids why charter schools and performance pay are evil, and how the Government is trying to impose both (in fact they are not implementing performance pay – sadly). To add insult to injury the NZEI propaganda was repeated in the school newsletter (paid for by taxpayers).

The NZEI is also heavying teachers, telling them it is “expected” all teachers attend their protest marches on Saturday. One Brigid McCaffery posted on Facebook:

I’m concerned there is a high level of apathy among some teachers and in many schools (not including those on this page). Teacher NZEI members voted to support this Saturday’s action. The excuses as to why they can’t now march are flowing thick and fast. Staff Reps- think of some way to make it an expectation within your school that all teachers (at least) are going. Anyone with a genuine reason not to go has to put in their apologies.

Don’t you love the language – they must attend or they must put in their apologies. No exceptions!

Useful admission that most teachers are not fussed about charter schools. They will be turning up just because their union is forcing them to do so.

Also Christine McCartney said:

Apparently ChCh plans are for a march on gerry brownlee’s office I have done that march before, pathetic numbers showed up and office was closed I felt embarrissed that that was all we could muster.. We need to drum up support we need huge numbers and we need our protests/rallies to be in central locations in the city. I’m not carting my sign all over town on two buses and walking miles to meet up to 20 people to form a rag tag column to march to a closed office. Sorry.

Maybe the union could out on free taxis to help bolster the numbers?

Kids as political pawns

April 8th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Michael Laws writes in the SST:

This week, a schoolteacher at my children’s primary school decided to politicise every one of her charges. She did so without their informed consent (admittedly difficult to get from a 7 year old), or after any discussion with their parents.

In every schoolbag, she sent home NZEI propaganda inviting parents to join her teacher union colleagues in a protest against the government’s education policies. In specific, against National Standards, Novopay and the closure of schools in Christchurch.

If NZEI wants to communicate to parents, they should offer a facility on their website where parents can sign up to get their propoganda.

It is also untrue, as the NZEI claim, that New Zealand’s primary education is the best in the world. It isn’t, and it has been slipping for quite awhile. Primary teaching of mathematics is a national scandal, and has nothing to do with Novopay nor National Standards.

So too is the rampant sexism in the nation’s primary schools. That men only constitute 10% of the current teaching roll is wholly unacceptable. That an entire gender has been so alienated – over decades – is an appalling indictment upon both the education system and the teaching profession.

Little wonder that our boys are struggling when their adult counterparts have been so appallingly shunned.

There is a growing failure of boys in education.

It’s not as if primary teachers are poorly paid. With a good degree, and one year at Teacher’s College, I would start on a $55,000 salary with 12 weeks holiday a year. And just by being a year older, I get annual increments (quite apart from cost of living adjustments) that automatically progress me to $70,000 per annum.

On top of that there are $252 million of allowances, averaging $6,000 a teacher. Also 43% of teachers get units also, worth $4,000 each. You can get up to 17 units in addition to your salary.

What does this mean overall. The *average* pay for a secondary teacher is $74,000 and primary is $70,000.

The NZEI investigation

November 20th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Vyonne Tahana at NZ Herald reports:

What a teachers’ union knew about paedophile James Parker in 1999 is being investigated, as is an email that is critical of the woman who raised the issue. …

“The NZEI field officer received all her news from Jamie and from Jamie supporters,” Ms Lovatt Davis said.

“The report from his girlfriend was not an allegation of sexual abuse. It was a story she told that seemed to need an investigation and a reminder to Jamie to guard his professionalism. I believe he used our discipline meeting [with the NZEI field officer] to accuse me of taking an embittered girlfriend’s vicious story too seriously. Once they had reunited, she saw no need to pursue the story.

“I would suggest that NZEI field officers are not drawn directly from the wider community. The field officer should be an impartial person, free from the town gossip. In Kaitaia the gossip ran against me and pro Jamie. She bought it all and dressed me down in that meeting. Both of them did. It was very unpleasant.”

Yesterday a spokeswoman for the NZEI said an investigation was under way. Asked whether it would look at what the union knew about the allegation surrounding Parker in 1999, she said: “NZEI is conducting an internal investigation into the comments made by Ms Lovatt Davis.”

Not sure how rigorous their investigation will be, considering the comments made by their legal services director:

It is also conducting a separate investigation after the union’s legal services director, John Robson, accidentally emailed the Herald about who Ms Lovatt Davis might have dealt with.

“Field officers don’t have schools so it may be that Ms L-D was in fact not referring to an NZEI staffer, and maybe a principal with some kind of profile as an NZEI activist. I’ll keep you posted.” Regarding Ms Lovatt Davis, he also said: “She was the bane of [lawyer] david [sic] Martin’s life and in our joint view, one or two sandwiches short of the proverbial.”

In response Ms Lovatt Davis said: “If their chat is about me you can see how easy it is for a paedophile to present himself as having the full complement of sandwiches for the proverbial. They can enjoy the knowledge that together they chose not to believe a creative teacher and to favour a child molester. So even now NZEI fails.”

So Lovatt Davis was one of the few to raise concerns about Parker being a pedophile, and the NZEI response is to denigrate her as being “one or two sandwiches short of the proverbial”.

Nice to see they take this issue so seriously.

Decile ratings on ERO reports

August 21st, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:

The decile rating of schools has been scrapped from Education Review Office reports.

ERO chief review officer Dr Graham Stoop made the surprise announcement yesterday in an effort to “correct the stereotype that a school’s decile equals performance”.

I’ve got no problem with this. The decile rating is still public information for parents who want it – but it is not part of an ERO report as it is not a factor in school quality.

Teacher union the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) said clear information about the social and economic context of schools should be published in place of the decile ratings, which were “crude”.

It suggested including data on student transience, the number of children with special needs or English as a second language and the number of children attending breakfast clubs.

Excellent. As I often say the answer to bad data is good data. Don’t ban or suppress data, but focus on presenting the most meaningful data.

NZEI still trying to supress data

January 30th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Victoria Robinson at Stuff reports:

Schools might withhold student achievement statistics if the government does not prevent national standards information being used to create league tables, the New Zealand Education Institute says.

All schools must submit their student achievement data based on national standards to the Education Ministry by May 31.

But the NZEI said yesterday some schools might refuse to do so if the government did not prevent the information being used for league tables comparing each schools’ academic achievement.

The Government can not prevent media from seeking school assessment data and reporting it. It’s called living in a free society. The only way this could be prevented was to amend the Official Information Act to exclude school assessment data.

Anyway I have a solution for any school that refuses to submit their student achievement data. No parent should be forced to attend a school which won’t tell parents how well the school is doing, so I’d remove all zoning protection for any school that with-holds assessment data.

This would allow parents to vote with their feet. Any child at that school would automatically be guaranteed entrance into any neighbouring school, if the parents wish to have their children at a school that doesn’t suppress achievement data.

Compare and contrast

December 12th, 2011 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Kudos to the NZEI for a classy release:

The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa is hoping there will be opportunities to forge a strong and constructive working relationship with the new Education Minister. …

“Charter schools, fundamental problems with National Standards, raising Māori student achievement, the government’s failure to commit to 100% qualified early childhood teachers, the future of education in Christchurch, more support for special needs students and recognising the professional work and value of school support staff are all issues which deserve full and open discussion,” says Mr Leckie.

NZEI hopes the new minister will take on these challenges with an inclusive and constructive approach which values the voice of teachers, principals and communities.

It also wishes Anne Tolley well in her newly-appointed roles.

Nice. Now compare that to the PPTA release:

Shakespeare warns John key against duplicity and ambition

“We’ve gifted the prime minister a copy of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, trusting he will reflect on this tale of a popular and respected general’s ambition for power leading to ruin for his country and his own downfall,” says PPTA president Robin Duff. …

“The Bard’s cautionary tale of political morality is the third in our series of literary gifts to Mr Key,” he said.

“The first was a New Zealand Oxford Dictionary as we were concerned that the prime minister was using some words ambiguously. The second book was Niccolo Machiavelli’s influential 16th century treatise on power and politics, The Prince, that serves as a useful resource for discussions about principle and probity in political life.”

Robin Duff said the fourth book will look at what lessons literature provides about the growing gap between rich and poor.

How patronising can you get? The PPTA have obviously decided that constructive engagement is for others.

Labour = spammers

June 21st, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

NZPA report:

Thousands of people who signed an early childhood education petition have had their email addresses added to a Labour Party database, with leader Phil Goff saying it was solely to let people know the outcome of the campaign.

The email addresses, taken from a New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) postcard campaign against cuts to early childhood education, were added to a database of about 18,000 people that could be freely downloaded from Labour’s website until the problem was fixed last weekend.

Right-wing blogger Cameron Slater, who obtained a copy of the database, said on his website that NZEI national secretary Paul Goulter had written to petition signatories to explain why their addresses had been added to the database.

The letter said the postcards were given last year to Labour early childhood education spokeswoman Sue Moroney, who had agreed to present them to Prime Minister John Key because no Government MPs would do so.

Mr Key has not yet accepted the postcards.

Mr Goff today said people who signed the postcards wanted to know outcome of the petition and Ms Moroney had written back to a number of people.

It’s purely about early childhood education, there’s a letter that’s gone out to some of those people,” he said.

The NZEI in its letter said only some campaign signatories had received Ms Moroney’s letter.

NZEI had made it clear to the Labour Party that it was “very concerned” about the database breach and had asked for the addresses to be deleted.

This is blatant spam. If the petition was a Labour Party petition then you could argue there is inferred consent. But it was an NZEI petition and no reasonable person could infer that signing an NZEI petition would land you on the Labour Party e-mail database.

Sadly Labour can not be prosecuted for spamming, as only commercial spam is an offence under the law. The Privacy Commissioner should be concerned though about Labour’s attitude towards privacy.

NZEI says Tolley should have attended US conference, not dealt with earthquake

May 23rd, 2011 at 4:17 pm by David Farrar

NZEI’s hatred of Anne Tolley is clouding all their judgement. Their latest bizarre rant is that they are unhappy Tolley did not fly to New York for some talk fest conference, and instead stayed in New Zealand to concentrate on getting Christchurch schools re-opened.

Jo McKenzie-McLean writes in The Press:

Unions have criticised Education Minister Anne Tolley for not attending an international summit in New York because of the Christchurch earthquake.

Tolley was to lead a delegation in mid-March to the International Summit on the Teaching Profession at the invitation of United States Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) president Ian Leckie and the Post-Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) president Kate Gainsford attended the summit, held at the New York Hilton.

The Hilton sounds cheap.

However, Tolley said there was “no way” she was going to leave New Zealand after the earthquake to attend a conference.

She also questioned why the union leaders had attended the summit.

“It is up to these union leaders to justify to their members why they believe their job was to fly to New York for a conference while thousands of their members were affected by the Christchurch earthquake,” Tolley said.

“With all Christchurch schools still closed, many of them seriously damaged, and students displaced and out of school, there was no way I was going to leave.

“It was my job to be in Christchurch and Wellington leading ministry officials and supporting schools to reopen, and I was hugely impressed by the determination and hard work from principals, trustees and teachers during such a distressing time.

“I’ve personally told the NZEI union leaders, in no uncertain terms, my feelings on this matter.”

Imagine if Tolley had gone. She would have been attacked for abandoning New Zealand. NZEI seem determined to have an confrontational relationship.


March 30th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald editorial:

Video images of a 15-year-old Wanganui schoolgirl being kicked to unconsciousness by another girl in her class, have moved the Prime Minister to have all schools review their attitude to bullying.

“I worry about bullying,” he said, “I worry about youngsters going to school and being intimidated …” His concern sounds genuine, not driven by an opinion poll. If schools find it a little galling that he thinks they need this reminder, they should make the best of it.

They may have given a great deal of attention to bullying in its various forms, and devised carefully considered policies to guide their response to it, but this is their opportunity to assess whether the policy is working and give further thought to alternatives.

I thought the PM wrote to all schools was a good idea. It isn’t about finger pointing, but it would ensure that at the next board meeting there is a discussion about the current anti-bullying and activities, and whether they can be improved.

But sadly the NZEI gets all defensive, and puts out a PR saying:

Schools don’t need to be bullied into action

The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa says the Prime Minister is misguided to think that schools alone can stop bullying, as the root cause often lies well beyond the classroom.

John Key is instructing the Education Minister to write to all schools reminding them of their responsibilities and demanding they review their anti-bullying policies.

“Schools take bullying very seriously and encourage a zero-tolerance approach. They don’t need to be bullied into action,” says NZEI President Ian Leckie.

You know this really pisses me off. How dare Mr Leckie compare a letter from the Prime Minister to bullying, such as we saw with the 15 year old being beaten up. That just screams to me that the NZEI does in fact not give a fuck about bullying, if they just see it as a term to bash the Prime Minister with.

Leckie should be ashamed of that press release. It trivialises the issue.


December 7th, 2010 at 1:55 pm by David Farrar

We have our own version of the Iran/Iraq war occurring in New Zealand. The PPTA has launched a jihad against the NZEI for the terrible sin of settling their pay negotiations.

In the Dom Post this morning, secondary school teacher Jo Mells says it is time for the NZEI to stop free-loading and attacks their pay settlement.

But even more extraordinary is this video of the PPTA President, Kate Gainsford. At 6:40 she talks of betrayal by the NZEI Executive and at 7:05 calls on primary teachers to reject the settlement their Executive has recommended.