Thursday, 9 August 2018

Wanted: Teacher Union Free Schools

The Teachers' Unions Have To Go

"What an opportunity we lost."  These words were penned by Allan Peachey, former celebrated Principal of Rangitoto College.  Back in the eighties some mad cap educationalists did what bureaucrats do best: they penned a marketing slogan.  The government education system was to be given a new name: Tomorrow's Schools.  The bureaucrats and the educrats were grasping after their own deification.  It has always been an attribute of the Living God that He speaks reality into existence-even reality out of nothing.  The educrats thought they would give it a go: they, in magisterial arrogance, thought they could name a reality to come into existence out of very little, if not nothing.  

Tomorrow's Schools were gradually put together by a collection of Uncle Tom Cobblies in the 1980's and 90's.  It's governing religious precept was "the gummint knows best".  Few other fields of human endeavour have survived this statist hangover from the middle twentieth century.  But with Government Education, the "Force" was strong.

Peachey writes:
Perhaps most insulting of all was the patsy, middle-class patronising of the less well-off communities by those who call themselves liberal.  It is not difficult for me to hold the "Chardonnay socialists" in contempt.  I was stunned by the sheer arrogance of those who claimed that some communities were too poor, too unskilled, or too uneducated to know what was best for their children. 
I get sick of hearing schoolteachers, principals, trade unionists, capital-city bureaucrats, and left wing politicians using the socio-economic status of communities as an excuse to expect less of children within those communities than those children expect of themselves.  [Allan Peachey, What's Up With Our Schools? A New Zealand Principal Speaks Out (Auckland: Random House, 2005), p.86.f.]
The Chardonnay socialists had one bottom line: neither trust  nor empower  parents and local communities when it comes to Education.  Hence Tomorrow's Schools failed.
  The gummint could not deliver what Tomorrow's Schools required in order to be successful: namely, local autonomy for local parents and their communities to take control of schools.  It was Out Of The Question!

Peachey again:
The reform failed on two fronts.  Firstly, for genuine local governance of the school system and for truly effective self-management of schools, the power of the teacher unions(and their commitment to collectivisation at the expense of everything else) had to be broken.  Likewise, the stranglehold of teachers' collective employment contracts had to be broken.  This was necessary to provide much greater flexibility in employment and salary arrangements for teachers.   The drive for excellence in every school stumbled in the face of politically motivated union activity. 

The second basis on which Tomorrow's Schools failed was the re-emergence of the education bureaucracies.  They were not slow to expand and, eventually, seize back control of the education system from local communities.  Schools are, once again, strangled of initiative and ring fenced by centralised decision-making.  [Ibid. p.88.]
Surveying this very successful socialist fightback, amounting to the gutting of Tomorrow's Schools, Peachey concludes, "What an opportunity we lost."  Ironically, were Peachey alive today we suspect that he would be singing the same funeral lament with respect to Charter Schools--started by the previous government, albeit very gingerly so as not to upset the educrats and the Teacher Unions.  Now they have all been crushed by the socialist steam-roller.  What an opportunity has been lost!

But all has not been lost.  It is now abundantly clear that the Teacher Unions and the Educrats, along with their political wing, the NZ Labour Party will not compromise.  They are dyed-in-the-wool extremists.  They are now very firmly back in control.  Meanwhile the statist education system is even more broken down than ever before. 

It has become clear that the Teacher Unions themselves must be broken before any government will be able to reform the halting, lame government education system. 

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