Thousands of teachers may lose right to use title
Dance, art and music teachers may have to call themselves something else – or cough up $2000.
Up to 20,000 people could be fined under a proposal to legally restrict the use of the title ‘‘teacher’’ to suitably qualified professionals.
NZ First MP Jenny Marcroft said her bill ‘‘aims to enforce that teaching is a profession and, like many professions, you cannot give yourself this title without doing the hard work and getting the qualification’’, specifically a bachelor of education or a graduate diploma of teaching.
Her critics – including National’s education spokeswoman Nikki Kaye and the Education Council, a body charged with lifting the status of the teaching profession – say the ‘‘superficial’’ bill will address problems that do not exist and create a bunch of new ones.
Teacher aides, special education teachers, English as a second language (ESOL) teachers, and private music and arts tutors would be barred from calling themselves ‘‘teachers’’ under the proposed law change.
They could instead call themselves educators, tutors or mentors, among other job titles, Marcroft said. Failure to adhere to the restriction would incur a $2000 fine.
The bill has passed its first reading and is before the education and workforce select committee.
Marcroft said the title of teacher ‘‘should be safeguarded in the same way as being a doctor or a judge or an engineer’’.
‘‘We’re not saying those who currently teach in schools with a background in a specific topic . . . are not effective educators. We are saying there should be differentiation between those who are trained in the practice of education and those subject matter experts.
‘‘It is becoming increasingly difficult for the public, particularly following the introduction of charter schools, to be confident that the title ‘teacher’ used by an individual means that person is adequately qualified.’’
But Kaye said charter schools, which the Labour-lead Government has disestablished, were a poor excuse for the ill-considered and ‘‘superficial’’ bill.
‘‘This is not about stopping people from being confused as there is no evidence of this occurring,’’ she said, noting there were already legal penalties for people who misrepresented their qualifications.
‘‘We don’t believe in putting up legislation when there isn’t a problem.’’
Taken as read, Marcroft’s proposed amendment to the Education Act would also impact about 30 New Zealand businesses that used the word ‘‘teacher’’ in their company names, Kaye said.
The Education Council has also refused to support the bill, saying it could not back a law change ‘‘that would negatively affect registered teachers’’.