Before National allows ACT to determine a radical direction of change in education, they should listen to teachers and parents about what is needed for tamariki, New Zealand’s largest education union, NZEI Te Riu Roa says.
The union says that it looks like National has adopted ACT’s radical aims to privatise the public education system with failed ideas that will not serve tamariki or their whānau.
The union is looking forward to having a frank conversation with the incoming Minister of Education, Erica Stanford, about the real priorities for tamariki and say they would invite her to listen to educators before implementing policy that would impact badly on a system that is already under stress.
Mark Potter, president of NZEI Te Riu Roa, says the union is clear about what the new government will need to address.
“Just as you wouldn’t want a politician dictating what professional advice your doctor or lawyer might give you, you don’t want a politician in the classroom telling you how to teach. All we want is for politicians to address the critical needs we have in this country around poverty and inequity and leave teaching and learning to the experts.
“What we do not need is charter schools, bulk funding, more private school funding, mandated curricula or a return to standardised testing. To adopt such policies would be to go backwards and to punish tamariki.”
Potter says the union is deeply concerned about any attacks on Te Tiriti when the evidence shows that an historically racist, one-size-fits-all education system has disproportionately failed tamariki Māori.
“The huge appetite for learning te reo Māori by both teachers and students shows that communities across the motu see Te Tiriti as more relevant than ever.”
Potter says that what is needed is better investment in education and a tax structure that supports it.
“What our tamariki need to thrive in the early childhood education and primary years are lower teacher: child ratios. We need quality teachers who are paid properly, which means fully funded pay parity in ECE. And in primary we need more teacher aides and specialist support so that teachers are supported to deliver the curriculum.
Globally our per child funding level for education in New Zealand is low – 27.8% lower than Canada, 22.4% lower than Australia and 24.9% lower than the OECD average.