Saturday, 20 August 2016

Pavlov's Dogs

Education Unions Have No Confidence In Their Members

Unionised teachers in New Zealand hate "bulk funding" with a vengeance.  It's tribal, it's visceral.  It is without rhyme nor reason.  The idea behind bulk funding is that the government hands over a lump sum of taxpayer's money (less the bureaucratic costs of collecting, administering, calculating, budgeting, etc.) and school management decides how this is spent.  

Bulk funding has been used in other areas, with great success.  It is a way of devolving decisions to those responsible to carry them out.  It minimises the risk of "one size for all" head-office control and planning.  It also reduces the control of teacher unions over school operations and for that reason unions hate bulk funding in schools.

The government is once again giving bulk funding in the education sector a crack--at least in concept.  Consultations are being held.  Unions have already jumped, going public to declare emphatically that there is no way they are going to agree.  Never, no Never, no Never! is the line.

This self-interested position has led to all kinds of rather strange outcomes.  The one that has caused us to laugh loudest into our corn flakes bowl is the sight of the President of the Principals Federation implying that his members (that is, school principals) are a bunch of incompetent, ignorant dodos, desperately in need of the education they are supposedly giving to students.
Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) and New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) came out against the proposal last week saying it was a form of bulk funding, a controversial funding system used by many schools in the 1990s.  Principals Federation president Iain Taylor, who is one of those advising the government on the review, said the federation opposed the global budget proposal because it removed guarantees around the minimum number of teachers each school would have.

"The global budget is removing the guaranteed staffing and that's the biggest bugbear from our perspective, so where are those principles of equity when a school has no guarantee of any set staffing. That's a real massive concern."  [Radio NZ]
State mandates for minimum numbers of teachers each school is to have would be replaced by the ability of principals to make those decisions together with their management teams.  Iain Taylor thinks that this is a massive concern.  Sub text: "my members cannot be trusted to do a professional job".

Here is another union stooge talking the party line:
Another advisory group member, Association of Intermediate and Middle Schooling president Doug McLean, said his organisation could not see the point of the global budget because schools already had a lot of flexibility over their staffing.  "The best resource for teaching and learning is the teacher, and I wouldn't like to see teacher time traded off for other things - I think education is too important for that and global budgets could dilute the quality of teaching and learning." 
Clearly Mr McLean agrees with Mr Taylor.  His members are not to be trusted.  They could make decisions which dilute the quality of teaching and learning, so incompetent and unprofessional his fellow middle school principals apparently are.   The idea that they may, just may, make decisions which improve the quality of teaching and learning is apparently impossible.  Were we principals, we would sue Mr McLean for defamation.

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