The Absolute Disgrace of the PPTA Strikes

Education is in genuine crisis in New Zealand and the are now widely known. Jan Tinetti, the latest Minister of Education, is currently flapping around trying to say that she did not manipulate attendance data releases to coincide with a policy announcement.

The data remains appalling in any case and, it is clear that schools have lost the room in terms of credibility with /families across all deciles.

As I wrote in the NZ Herald earlier this week: “A very significant amount of faith has been lost in the system. The term 4 2022 full attendance statistics did creep above 50 per cent across all deciles but only because students on study leave all get marked present whether they were previously attending or not. These statistics are, of course, accentuated for low-decile students (30 per cent), Māori (38 per cent) and Pasifika (34 per cent) students.

It is striking that Asian students – stereotypically seen as diligent – fully attended at only 58 per cent. As one Asian student from a very expensive private school said to me, “With all of the disruptions in the last three years we went searching and found superior teachers online and worked out that we can actually do better academically by grouping together and working on our own.”

The trend around the world is for parents/students to withdraw from the “system” and seek better alternatives.

Concerns have been twofold – both the quality of the education provided and the content being taught.

I see some merit in pivot and helped provide an opportunity for some through assisting with starting Mt Hobson Academy Connected (though not now involved) – an online school with significant interaction. While the Ministry of Education is coy about numbers here, Stanford research in the US shows 1.2 million children have left the public school system.”

The PPTA and Ministry of Education have been in negotiations since May 2022 on a new collective contract. This week teachers/schools have started rolling strikes. The impact of these are huge – and completely unjustified.

Here is an example. I co-founded a school called South Auckland Middle School. It was a Partnership School and is now a Designated Character (State) School. They serve 180 students/families in Manurewa South Auckland. They are on strike tomorrow – the second time this year. They are imposing on parents or putting the children on the street in South Auckland. Add to that Teacher Only Days, days lost through the storms, and a range of illnesses for students. SAMS people – I am ashamed.

There is a cost of living crisis and teachers are trying to sound tremendously hard done by. They know very little of the needs of a family truly struggling. Grand-parents looking after a number of children. Parents in prison and/or absent. Long term benefit dependance. The influence of gangs. Fruit and vegetable prices up 20% in a year. Etc.

The Ministry have offered (among other things)

  • a new teacher starting on this step will start on $63,187 – an increase of 12.9%. Teachers who start on the first step without a specialist qualification will start on $58,505 in December 2024, an increase of 13.92% on today's starting rate.
  • New teachers who started in 2022 on the third step of the scale will be receiving $73,307 in , including annual salary progression. This is an increase of $17,359, or 31% to their base pay over three years.
  • moving the top of the teacher scale from the current $90,000 to $94,000 backdated to 1 December 2022, then $96,820 at the end of this year, and $100,000 at the end of 2024 – an overall 11.11% increase.
  • approximately 66% of secondary teachers are on the top step of the scale and the average remuneration, including allowances and units, is around $93a,000 ($92,713), so with this offer, a large proportion of the workforce would to be earning $100,000 or more by the end of next year.

With massive issues with attendance, teacher quality, and results – some teachers have tried to say that every day matters – re attendance. But young people see teachers taking a day off to line their pockets. The strikes and, all of the whining and moaning about conditions and the nature of students will create an even greater aversion to teaching as a career. Schools like South Auckland Middle School – and all others striking – are both harming the future prospects of children and bringing the sector into disrepute. Parents and students will increasing disengage and the home-schooling, private and integrated sector is already exploding.

Teachers have 12 weeks holiday a year (and enough of the nonsense of working right through them). They are giving families with 3 – 4 weeks leave a year (and much lower incomes) a choice between taking a day's leave, paying a babysitter, or letting their kids run wild.

Another plan of action is needed. Here is a clue, given NZ's education results and standing, DO A BETTER JOB!

alwyn.poole@gmail.com

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