Teachers to march in the streets?

The recent Fiscal Budget by Grant Robertson is one that many consider to have played to the rules set down prior to the election to show Labour is capable of fiscal responsibility. It was even dubbed “National-lite” by one commentator despite the raft of announcements made over the past few months allocating vast sums of money:

  • $28 billion to fix Auckland transport
  • $3 billion for regional development
  • $1 billion for foreign aid and diplomatic relations

And yet one of the major sectors, traditionally aligned with Labour, has dipped out significantly. Teachers, who in their own words had had a gutsful of National in the last nine years were expecting something significant in the Budget handed down last week and were understandably surprised and disappointed when no major sweetener materialized.

I think significant changes need to be made in the New Zealand education system, including:

  • Support for men wanting to teach in Early Childhood Education – the Christchurch creche case that saw David Ellis clock up decades in prison for indecent assault and other sexual abuse of young children in a creche where he worked has caused a prolonged chilling effect on men working in this sector
  • A review of teaching practices – teachers should be teaching and not filing huge wads of paperwork, and being impromptu social workers; parents and so forth
  • An overhaul of disciplinary processes – much of the abuse that happens now is because individual responsibility has failed and the idea that one should own their actions is foreign to some
  • Going back to basics – how many children can read, write and count on paper, because this is something that they should be able to do before they can use electronic media

This is not an exhaustive list and nor is it meant to be. It is only supposed to be an indicator of things that could be improved. These changes and others that I have not thought of are internal practices that, when combined with the overhaul I support of the assessment regimes will hopefully lead to a more stable, productive and happier teaching/learning environment for both teachers and their students.

As a result of the poor treatment they got in the Budget, teachers have signalled that they might consider industrial action in the future. The concerns stem from lack of significant pay rises in the last few years, meaning that teachers are struggling to keep up with the rate of inflation.

This is shown in examples coming out of Auckland where some teachers are paying such high rent that much of their after tax wages simply disappear in rent. This is causing a shortage of teachers to exist in some schools because they cannot find teachers who can afford their living costs.

It just might be as one said, that the time will come soon when teachers simply don’t come to classes that they are supposed because the stress is simply too much to ignore.


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