Leave school to teachers
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.
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.