Thursday, 14 September 2017

Puppets and Strings

Deceptive and Misleading Teacher Unions 

How can we expect that students and graduates from our self-vaunting government education system will succeed when national teacher unions appear so dumb?  Or self-deceived.  Or both.  For our part we are not fans of New Zealand's monopolistic statist education system.  In the longer term we believe it is doomed to failure.  It is a hangover from the kind of education regimes in the USSR, and the Eastern Bloc.  For some strange reason, New Zealand persists with this model.

One of the major failings of the system is the continuing indirect control of the national education system by the teacher unions.  As with all unions, the fundamental reason for existence is to protect the interests of the union members.  It is a carry over from the more ancient system of guild socialism that was tossed out centuries ago.

When it comes to schools, there are several groups with vested interests.  Firstly, the parents and students.  Then comes the State which has set up a state owned and run monopolistic education system.  The third substantial vested interest are the teacher unions.
 The teacher unions are politically aligned to the left-wing Labour Party; they control the Labour Party's education and school policies which are substantially designed to protect the interests of teachers, not the interests of parents nor their children.  In fact for many years the teacher unions have used students and parents as pawns to be moved and manipulated to pressure, if not force, the government to adopt the kinds of policies which serve the interests of teachers, not students.

The present National led government has tried to break some of this stranglehold by introducing new roles.  Gifted and effective teachers have had the opportunity to apply for roles carrying additional duties and responsibilities for higher pay.  The unions have resisted at every turn.  Why?  Because, if one size does not fit all, the implication is that some teachers are better than others which flies against the egalitarian ethos of a union, where all guild members are equal.

As an approaching election looms, one teacher union has conducted a "survey" of its members to determine how much support there is for these changes (which actually amount to little more than tweaks).  Lo and behold, this survey of high school teachers has found widespread resentment about bonuses being paid to "expert" teachers in new groupings of schools.
The survey by the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) has also found that only 44 per cent of high school principals who have joined "communities of learning" - groups of usually five to 10 local schools - believe their groups have adopted realistic goals.  And only 12 per cent of high school classroom teachers "feel ownership" of those goals, which some say have been dictated to them by the Education Ministry.  The communities of learning (CoLs) are the main element in a $359 million government plan to raise student achievement through more effective teaching.  [NZ Herald]
All of this sounds like a colossal failure on the part of the (Orwellian) Ministry of Education.  But read on:
The PPTA survey is the first major survey of ordinary classroom teachers since the first communities were approved in 2015. It was sent in April and May to 8576 teachers and principals in 180 communities and received replies from 16 per cent of teachers and 21 per cent of principals.  It has found that only 36 per cent of classroom teachers felt there was "a fair and open process" of appointing the expert teachers working within schools.
So, let's just be clear.  The union survey got a massive response to its survey of just 16% of the 8576 addressees.  Of those who responded, two thirds did not approve of the way the innovations were working.  In other words, around just ten percent of secondary school teachers were critical of the changes.  But the article (and press release) implies overwhelming opposition to the government's reforms.  The word charlatan comes to mind.

The teacher unions are overflowing with cant.  They are purblind.  They have little credibility.  But their influence and control over the government education system is something to behold.  The government education system is (unsurprisingly) controlled by the government, which in turn means it is indirectly controlled by political parties.  The Labour Party is, for its part, is controlled by the unions.  The teacher unions run a consistent strategy by which they control the nation's schools.  When Labour does not form the government, the teacher unions oppose anything and everything put forward by the Ministry of Education--and the set of the gib is always into the opposing wind.  When Labour is in government, the unions push through as many of their policies, rules, and regulations as time and strength permit.  The upshot is that the teacher unions have a grossly disproportionate influence over what your child is taught and how they are taught in your local state school.

The unions continue to insist that they represent all teachers in New Zealand and presume to speak for them.  This amounts to deceptive and misleading behaviour on a grand scale.  

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