Peachey on Education

Adam Bennett at NZ Herald reports:

Departing Tamaki MP ’s ambition of transforming the sector was frustrated by his struggle with cancer and his party’s reluctance to go to war with teachers unions early in their term of government, he says.

And I think that was a strategic mistake by the Government, as it then resulted in the primary teacher unions going to war against the Government, on their terms, over a relatively minor issue.

However he indicated his National Party colleagues were reluctant to depart significantly from the direction set by Labour because that would mean the new Government buying into messy battles with teachers’ unions and sector interest groups.

“I think one of the problems with my vision was that it would have meant going back and
fighting a whole pile of battles that had been won in the 90s that had been very hurtful to a lot of people.”

Mr Peachey said he had the energy and mind to fight those battles but the opportunity never arose.

The introduction of national standards is a minor yet worthy reform. The amount of hysteria generated by the NZEI and NZPF against it has been staggering. For me that represents a lesson. You’re going to have a war regardless (unless you surrender policy control to the unions) so you might as well make the war be over something worthwhile.

I’d love a second term National-led Government to introduce performance pay for teachers, full decentralised funding of school budgets, an end to zoning except as a temporary measure while popular schools expand, and of course school choice. Oh yes, and a database of school performance such as Julia Gillard introduced in Australia.

Yes the unions will go to war against the Government, but again they did this anyway with a minor issue such as national standards, so just accept there will be a war, and make sure the cost of the war is worth it.

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