Editorials on National Standards

Three editorials on this topic today – all agreeing. First the NZ Herald:

Mrs Tolley is surely right to suggest the unions’ arguments are now purely philosophical. This has underpinned their resistance from the start. It has endured despite the Government concessions and despite the public support for . It is the only reasonable explanation for the dragging of feet and the increasingly radical demeanour.

The Schools Trustees Association has made clear its distaste for the letter from the unions trying to influence boards. It is, it says, irresponsible and unprofessional to incite boards to act as principals’ mouthpieces. Any that succumbed would have forgotten their duty to parents.

Similarly, teachers have a responsibility to heed the policy of a democratically elected government. That is a lesson they, and their unions, seem to have yet to learn.

The Herald also reminds us that the date for reporting to Government on performance has been delayed until 2012. There has been loads of compromise already.

The Dom Post says:

A government is entitled – nay, is obliged – to enact policy on which it went to the country and which voters tacitly endorsed when they chose it to take over the Treasury benches.

Yet school teachers and principals seem hellbent on undermining what Education Minister Anne Tolley, strongly backed by Prime Minister John Key and Finance Minister Bill English, told New Zealanders last year the Government wanted to enact – national standards at primary school. For months, the primary teachers’ union, the NZEI, and the Principals Federation have joined forces to try to derail Mrs Tolley’s plans. She refuses to budge.

Now the NZEI is preparing members to strike over the issue, though they can’t do so without penalty until their employment contracts expire in July. Such action would be outrageous. …

Agree with the Government’s education policy or not – and this newspaper happens to believe that parents should be able to get plain-English reports about their children’s progress, and that the wider community, which funds state schools, should be able to tell which among them are best equipping young citizens for life – Mrs Tolley must be allowed to enact the policy on which National campaigned.

Teachers obviously need reminding that it is a government’s prerogative – not a trade union’s – to determine education policy. Mrs Tolley – admirably – wants to stop one in five children who leave school poorly equipped for tomorrow. Teachers are behaving like the worst of their pupils who can’t get their own way. They should grow up.

As I have said, the NZEI could become the equivalent of Mrs Thatcher’s miners union. They will not have a lot of support for their actions.

Finally the ODT:

It is untenable that the democratically-elected Government of the country be held to ransom by elements in the education system intent of sabotaging a well-flagged national standards policy.

As Education Minister Anne Tolley has repeatedly pointed out – indeed it has become something of a mantra – the National Party campaigned conspicuously on addressing the distressing and unacceptably long “tail” of pupils failing to achieve even basic literacy and numeracy standards in our primary schools, and received the mandate to do something about it in the last election.

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