Sunday, 30 October 2016

The Waikato #betterfunding Bus Tour and World Educators' Day

Last week the #betterfunding bus came to the Waikato for three days.  This was part of a joint campaign run by NZEI, PPTA and E Tu to encourage Education Minister Hekia Parata to truly engage with the education sector over funding to the early childhood, primary and secondary sectors.  After all, the joint Paid Union Meetings attended by secondary, primary and early childhood teachers and principals, as well as support staff and cleaning and caretaking staff from all sectors resoundedly rejected the Global Funding (aka Bulk Funding) model put forward earlier this year.  And for good reasons, which you can read about in Global Funding - Bulk Funding in fancy dress - why it's a bloody bad idea.

I was asked by a parent on Friday in Cambridge what was NZEI and PPTA suggesting as an alternative model.  I replied with this wee spiel:

Earlier this year Hekia Parata set up the Funding Review Panel with about 19 representatives from all over the education sector, including NZEI and PPTA.  The participants were excited, expecting they would be starting from the ground up, brainstorming and throwing about suggestions for how education should be funded in each area.
However, their hopes on the first day were dashed.  They met together in a room and then the MOE representative came in, put a pile of papers on the table and said, "These are the funding models we will discuss."
There was no innovation to be had.
This was typical Hekia Parata style of consultation - or as Rebecca from NZEI Head Office and I coined it: nonsultation.
What we really want is proper consultation and collaboration to come up with an equitable model that will adequately fund all ECE centres, kindergartens, primary, intermediate, secondary and area schools.  We need to go back to the beginning.  Let's do this right and not rush it.

Of course, with the announcement by Hekia Parata of her intention not to stand for Parliament at the 2017 election on 19 October (Education minister Hekia Parata will not contest next general election, NZ Herald), you can see why Ms Parata is in such a hurry to push through the changes she wants to implement.

NZEI and PPTA know that waiting until Minister Parata reports back to Cabinet with her recommendations and for Cabinet to make a decision is too late for making the sector's opinions, and the opinions of parents (aka voters), known.  That would be reactive. 

Therefore they made the proactive decision to launch the #betterfunding campaign.  This has involved three buses in #betterfunding livery (based in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch), a postcard campaign addressed to the Minister, and two petitions for special education funding and for support staff funding.

The buses have been in action for three weeks.  Last week the bus was in Hamilton for Tuesday, Friday and Saturday's march down Victoria Street to the rally in Garden Place.  I was on the bus for Tuesday and Friday to support the field staff from NZEI and PPTA as we visited a variety of schools and centres.

Our first stop was Hamilton West School, where the message was warmly received by parents and caregivers.  A number of staff from Hamilton West came out to help with the postcard campaign.

We dropped resources into the kindergarten on Massey Street and into Frankton and St Columbas Schools, before heading over to Fairfield Intermediate to catch them and Fairfield Primary (across the road) during their morning tea breaks.

Fairfield Primary staff brave the rain during their morning tea.

Some Fairfield Intermediate staff brave the rain during their morning tea.
We then dropped in resources to Hukanui School and left the bus on Hukanui Road to advertise the #betterfunding message during our lunch, before heading around to Woodstock Primary School to catch the staff before their lunch break ended.

Some of the Woodstock Primary School staff during their lunch break.
The bus then went to Fairfield College for their lunch break.

Fairfield College staff and students.
Fairfield College staff.
After that we went down the road to Bankwood School to drop in resources, just missing the end of their lunch break.  But we did make it to Insoll Ave School just in time for the end of school at 2:30pm to encourage parents to participate in the postcard campaign.  We then made it to Hamilton East School for their end of day at 3:00pm, where Prof Martin Thrupp from the University of Waikato also joined our postcard signature collecting team along with a number of Hamilton East staff members.

Hamilton East staff supporting #betterfunding
Sue Moroney, Labour List MP came to see us at the end to give her support to #betterfunding too.

Myself, Sue Moroney, Patrick from NZEI, Prof Martin Thrup and Shane from NZEI.
On Wednesday and Thursday the bus went to Tauranga, Te Puke, Whakatane and Rotorua, before starting Friday morning at Cambridge Primary School, in Cambridge.  After collecting lots of parent support for the #betterfunding postcard campaign, we dropped resources into Cambridge East Primary and Cambridge High School before heading out to see the admin staff at Goodwood School.

We had been challenged by Auckland NZEI staff to get a jump shot.  Denise and her fellow Goodwood administrator along with NZEI field staff Shane, Jackie and Maxine as well as I complied with the challenge.
Tamahere Model Country School, just outside of Hamilton, was our next stop.  The whole school was assembled on their courts to celebrate their Book Character Dress Up Day, so all the teachers and student teachers were dressed up as well as the children.  So the Tamahere School photo looks awesome - spot the principal wearing a pot on her head!

Tamahere Country Model School staff in full Book Character Dress Up Day mode supporting #betterfunding.
Knighton Normal School was next on the agenda.  We got there in time for morning tea before we headed around to Tóku Mápihi Maurea Kura Kaupapa Máori to meet some teachers and children from the Kohanga.

Knighton Normal staff show their support for #betterfunding during their morning tea.
After we had lunch we headed to Hamilton Girls' High School to coincide with their lunch.  Sadly the staff were very distracted dealing with the Year 13 boys from Hamilton Boys' High School doing a body paint in undies run around the Girls' High field, but some staff and students came over.

Two Girls' High staff with Bill from PPTA and Maxine from NZEI.
Two of the students who were curious enough to come and ask about the #betterfunding bus.  They agreed schools needed better funding too.
We ended the day parked outside of Peachgrove Intermediate in Hamilton, across the road from Hamilton Boys' High School.

Some of the Peachgrove Intermediate staff who came out to help us with the #betterfunding postcard campaign.
On Saturday, it was our day to celebrate World Educators' Day (which was officially during our October term break).  It was changed to Edcucators' Day to encompass the other school staff that are not teachers like support staff, admin staff, sports co-ordinators, lab techs, caretaking staff, etc.

In Hamilton we held a march from the Ferrybank Band Rotunda on Grantham Street, up Victoria Street to Garden Place.  For safety a police car led the parade and the #betterfunding bus backed up the rear.  To create some drama we had a drum band at the lead of the parade and lots of banners and #betterfunding discs flapping about.

Coming up Victoria Street.

A 360o view of the rally in Garden Place.
Professor Martin Thrupp spoke first at our rally talking about how teachers get the blame, upcoming PISA results and Poverty Action Waikato.  Martin also called us to be the coalition of the unwilling.  You can read Martin's speech in full at Save Our Schools NZ blog in this post: A coalition of the unwilling.

Waikato NZEI AC Chair Karen Morrison introducing Prof Martin Thrupp as the first speaker.

Sam Speedy from Hamilton Girls' High School explaining the PPTA view on CoOLs.
Sue Moroney spoke to the rally about the need to #ChangetheGovt in order to change the current direction of education policy, otherwise we will continue to get more of the same.  Sue Moroney also talked about the need to put the New Zealand Curriculum back in front and centre.

Sue Moroney, Labour List MP, talking about Labour's commitment to a free quality public education system.
Jan Tinetti, NZEI National Executive and principal of Merivale School in Tauranga, speaks about Hekia Parata's legacy: bringing NZEI and PPTA together in unison to fight for #betterfunding for our quality public education system.

Jan Tinetti from NZEI National Executive.
Primary Teachers Network Leader for Waikato, Michelle Ryan, explains her passion for our quality public education system.

Michelle, the Waikato Primary Teachers Network Leader.
Karen, from Anglican Action, explains the impacts of the current government's social policies on families.  She talked about how her organisation supplies food to schools for children without lunches and is now being asked for food to send home with children at the weekend so their families can eat.

Karen from Anglican Action Waikato.
Anglican Action Waikato manning the BBQ for the free sausage sizzle.
MPs from all the parties were invited as well as representatives from parties without Waikato based MPs.  David Bennett, National's MP for Hamilton East was out of the country.  Tim MacIndoe, National's Hamilton West MP, declined the invitation, but he did send a message to be read out.  This fell to Carol Webb, the Waikato Support Staff Network Leader, who said, as support staff, she was used to doing the dirty work.  Sadly, Mr MacIndoe's message showed a distinct lack of understanding of the current issues in the education sector and basically stuck to National's mantra.

Carol Webb reading out a message from Hamilton West MP Tim MacIndoe.
Green's List MP and Education spokesperson, Catherine Delahunty, said it was World Educators' Day, not Global Funding Bullshit Day.  Her message of no Charter Schools, National Standards gone by lunch time and schools as community hubs when we #ChangetheGovt was well received.

Catherine Delahunty speaking about how she was tired of listening to the rubbish National say in Parliament.
We wrapped up with a waiata, Te Aroha, and poroporoaki thanks to Bill Anderson from PPTA's Hamilton office.

Bill Anderson does the poroporoaki.
You can read the tweets I sent out on the day here:

It was a great day to celebrate teachers, principals, support staff and the like in our schools and ECE centres.  I got a cheeky selfie with Catherine before I went with some of my NZEI friends to have another jump shot with the #betterfunding bus to end the day.

It wouldn't surprise you that tweeting events like this encourages discussion on Twitter.  I can't find the original tweet that @Chrisholden24 sent me to initiate this this conversation.  Maybe he has deleted it.  But this is where I school him on the realities of Global Funding/Bulk Funding.  Enjoy.

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