Wednesday, 30 April 2014

My Submission for the Education Amendment Bill No.2

Below is my submission to the Education and Science Select Committee on Education Amendment Bill No.2. 

I can't say I'm specifically hopeful on our submissions carrying much sway, after all, Hekia Parata's style of consultation is on public record and leaves a lot to be desired.  But being the crazy Sagittarian optimist that I am, I believe our voices have to be heard.

After all, if we do not stand up and let our voices be heard, tell the world our opposition to these ideas and our reasoning behind our opposition, then can we really call ourselves informed educators, people who understand how learning works and what our students need to fuel them as they embark and travel down the road of learning?

As teachers, we should be setting the standard.  By trying to gag teachers, devalue teaching qualifications and not giving teachers their democratic rights to determine the direction and standards of their own profession, Hekia Parata and her Tory mates have failed the standard.

To: Parliament's Education and Science Select Committee

I am submitting to oppose the changes in the Education Amendment Bill No. 2 establishing EDUCANZ to replace the Teachers Council.

Specifically, I submit that:

1. The Bill undermines quality teaching by giving teachers substantially less control over our own profession (Section 380 and Schedule 22)

I do not believe that it is in the best interests of students or teachers or the wider education profession for the proposed EDUCANZ to be a group that is totally appointed by the Minister of Education.  Each sector group in the teaching profession should be given the opportunity to elect true representatives.  This would ensure that EDUCANZ has a true understanding of how the different education sectors work, an understanding of the roles in each sector, and will ensure that teachers will "own" and respect EDUCANZ.  After all, if teachers will be funding 90% of its operation costs, the body should also be accountable to teachers for how they use that money, and the best way to do this is to make the body accountable through a democratic voting process.

2. The Bill undermines quality teaching by making it easier for non-qualified and registered people to work as teachers (New Part 31)

I am greatly concerned at the prospect of people who do not hold teaching qualifications and who have been employed as 'teachers' at charter schools being allowed to become "registered teachers" under the EDUCANZ body.  I am also concerned that people will be able to get a LAT (Limited Authority to Teach) easier and that these people may even be accepted despite previous criminal convictions.  Research demonstrates that children in all sectors will have greater success in their learning if they are taught by teachers with sound teaching qualifications.  Our New Zealand parents expect to have a qualified and registered teacher as a minimum benchmark to ensure quality teaching and learning for their children.

3. The Bill could gag the freedom of teachers and principals to be voices for children and their learning

The Bill (Section 382) replaces teachers' current aspirational Code of Ethics with a more prescriptive Code of Conduct. The Bill could gag the freedom of teachers and principals to be advocates for what is best for children by not allowing them to criticise Government policy: the new code must “take account” of the State Services Code which prevents public servants in core state services from publicly criticising Government policy. This provision might have been used, for example, to prevent principals and teachers voicing their concerns about the National Standards policy.  This "gagging" mechanism is a violation of our democratic rights as voters and citizens of New Zealand.  How can teachers develop our students' skills in critical thinking and understanding and participating in our country when one of the most vital aspects of this, freedom to express their opinion, is suppressed?

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