Leave school to teach­ers

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By DANIELLE STREET

THE pub­lic is be­ing asked to lend its col­lec­tive voice to frus­trated teach­ers dur­ing a street march next week­end.

Con­cerns over the fu­ture of the pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem has lead educators to pre­pare for marches na­tion­wide on April 13 – with the Auck­land pro­ces­sion set to stop traf­fic on busy Queen St.

NZEI Auck­land branch pres­i­dent Amavi Mey says the de­ci­sion arose from paid union meet­ings last month that at­tracted around 5000 teach­ers to three gath­er­ings across the re­gion.

Ms Mey says while the Novo­pay de­ba­cle has been in the spot­light other is­sues are slip­ping by un­no­ticed that are deeply con­cern­ing to teach­ers.

‘‘Novo­pay is a huge dis­trac­tion. I think peo­ple, es­pe­cially the me­dia, have fo­cused on Novo­pay. It is a headache but it is not the only is­sue that is af­fect­ing ed­u­ca­tion and it is cer­tainly not the main con­cern that we have.’’

Ms Mey says the qual­ity of pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion is in dan­ger of be­ing eroded by the in­tro­duc­tion of char­ter schools, Na­tional Stan­dards and GERM – the global ed­u­ca­tion re­form move­ment.

Ms Mey says the marches are in­tended to cap­ture the at­ten­tion of the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.

‘‘We want to send a mess- age to the Government that we are stand­ing up for kids and pro­tect­ing our schools. We are not happy with the re­forms and we are here, we are vis­i­ble and we are mak­ing noise,’’ she says.

Also wor­ry­ing ed­u­ca­tion work­ers is the stalling of con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions and the propo­si­tion of per­for­mance-based pay, which is what pushed them into paid union meet­ings.

Next week­end’s march will be­gin in Queen Elizabeth Square at Brit­o­mart and pro­ceed up the main street to rally at Aotea Square.

Ms Mey is en­cour­ag­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic to join in and ex­press their con­cerns about the fu­ture of ed­u­ca­tion.

‘‘It’s not just educators who have th­ese con­cerns, par­ents are wor­ried about things like how Na­tional Stan­dards and char­ter schools are af­fect­ing their chil­dren.

‘‘With Na­tional Stan­dards it’s lead­ing to a nar­row­ing of the cur­ricu­lum.’’

May Road Pri­mary School prin­ci­pal Lynda Stu­art says a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion is that the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is fail­ing but that it is not the re­al­ity.

‘‘We have a good pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and we need to re­claim it,’’ Ms Stu­art says.

‘‘We have a ten­dency in New Zealand to fol­low failed poli­cies from overseas. Let’s not do that, let’s stand strong with what we’ve got and what’s good about it.’’

Ms Stu­art says teach­ers should be shap­ing the coun­try’s pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem for the fu­ture.

‘‘A good start­ing point for change would be if our politi­cians lis­tened to our educators, ac­tu­ally if politi­cians got out of ed­u­ca­tion al­to­gether that would be won­der­ful,’’ she says.

The Stand Up For Kids – Pro­tect Our Schools march is on April 13 from 11am, de­part­ing from QEII Square.

Pho­tos: KATASHA MCCUL­LOUGH

Re­claim­ing ed­u­ca­tion: Teach­ers held an im­promptu march fol­low­ing last month’s union meet­ings and have an­other march planned for next week.

Pip­ing mad: Teach­ers con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions have been over­shad­owed by the Novo­pay de­ba­cle.

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