All resistance must be crushed

There is a small group of activist principals who are driving this campaign against national standards. We’ve already seen how they refer to the Minister. Leaked e-mails now reveal what they plan for another of their targets – the School Trustees Association. They literally want principals to take it over. Yep, that is right – how dare there be an independent voice for parents in the sector that doesn’t always agree with the unions – so it must be taken over.

And who is at the heart of the plot? The aspiring Labour candidate for Whangarei and their future education minister.

John Hartevelt in the Dominion Post reports:

A group of rebel principals plotted to “quietly take over” an association representing 90 per cent of school boards in an effort to overwhelm the national standards debate, leaked emails suggest.

An email exchange shows principals involved in a boycott of the standards discussed “dealing with” the New Zealand School Trustees Association.

“The easiest way is for us to quietly take over regional organisations of NZSTA … Just imagine NZSTA run by principals!” an email written by Hora Hora School principal Pat Newman states.

Newman, the aspiring Labour candidate, is also one of those union activists who bullied a principal who dared to go on television and say she thought national standards were good. There is a pattern of behaviour here.

What Newman and others planned to do with NZSTA, is to effectively turn it into their mouthpiece.

His email was sent to, among others, Denise Torrey, president of the Canterbury Primary Principals Association; Frances Nelson, president of the national primary teachers’ union; Iain Taylor, president of the Auckland Primary Principals Association, and Perry Rush, Island Bay School principal.

Marlene Campbell, principal of Invercargill’s Salford School and a member of the Southland Primary Principals Association executive, which this week called Education Minister Anne Tolley “Minister Hitler”, was also a recipient. All have been vocal critics of the national standards.

Readers will know most of these names. It would be interesting to file OIAs asking for all their e-mail correspondence, to see what other schemes they have plotted.

Mr Taylor responded to Mr Newman’s August 20 email with: “Oh that the go!! Great thinking … loved ya email to her too … man she awful!!” Mr Taylor was referring to NZSTA president Lorraine Kerr, who has refused to criticise or fully endorse the standards.

How dare she refuse to join the campaign against national standards. Dissent from the union line can not be tolerated.

Mr Newman said his email was private. “The email in question was an irreverent one sent by me as a result of the frustration and disquiet I was feeling, around the fact that NZSTA had, and still does, refuse to consult with boards of trustees in any meaningful way on the national standards issue.”

A private one? Did he send it from his work computer? Mr Newman seems to have forgotten that he is employed by the taxpayer, and his school is subject to the OIA.

It was a personal comment and the recipients did not automatically agree with what the email said. “To be realistic, instead of trying to read a conspiracy theory around it, any normal reader would realise that what was suggested was done tongue-in- cheek, and is neither a feasible nor practical suggestion.”

The first line of Mr Newman’s email states: “Seriously folks, [Nelson Park principal] Nevan [Bridge] has hit a good point. At some stage we as principals need to deal with NZSTA.”

The email suggests principals could turn out at regional meetings of the NZSTA and outnumber everyone else as a voting bloc.

Doesn’t sound tongue-in-cheek does it?

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