20,000 may lose teacher ti­tle or could face $2k fine

The Southland Times - - NEWS - ADELE RED­MOND

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 – which in­clude 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 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. In Par­lia­ment this week, 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’’.

In its sub­mis­sion, the coun­cil said it did not be­lieve Mar­croft’s bill would raise the sta­tus of the teach­ing pro­fes­sion and could ‘‘ad­versely af­fect the sup­ply of over­seas teach­ers’’ to New Zealand.

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