Radical rejig for schools
adele.red[email protected] chance for all New Zealanders to have their say on a schooling system that meets the needs of all students, educators, and parents, and that is fit for purpose for the 21st century,’’ Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.
The report laid bare the shortcomings of the school system: ‘‘The gap between our best and worst performing students has widened.’’ Under the Tomorrow’s Schools model, ‘‘schools have been encouraged to compete for students’’, increasing ethnic and socio-economic segregation and making the decile system a proxy for school quality.
‘‘There is no evidence to suggest the current self-governing schools model has been successful in raising student achievement or improving equity as was intended.
‘‘Children from disadvantaged homes, too many Ma¯ ori and Pacific families, and those with significant additional learning needs remain those most poorly served by the system.’’ Students with disabilities ‘‘should have the same access to schooling as other students and it is clear that they currently do not’’, the report says.
Support could be so fragmented that it was almost non-existent and families of disabled students were often made to feel ‘‘unwelcome’’. ● ‘‘Education Hubs’’ replace regional Ministry of Education offices, assuming many of the responsibilities of school boards of trustees. ● Limit out-of-zone enrolments to decrease competition between schools. ● Replace the decile funding system with a proposed equity index, prioritising the most disadvantaged schools. ● Limit how much schools can ask for in donations. ● A learning support co-ordinator for every school to streamline access to services for disabled students. ● Disestablish the Education Review Office and New Zealand Qualifications Authority. ● Establish a new Education Evaluation Office reporting directly to Parliament on the performance of the Education Hubs and the Ministry of Education.
Principals’ roles are ‘‘extremely demanding’’, and boards of trustees did not always appoint the best person. The report also recommended the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and Education Review Office be scrapped, saying such agencies had lost the ability to ‘‘deeply influence’’ self-governing schools. The optics of the Air New Zealand strike could hardly be worse, for anyone involved.
Chief executive Christopher Luxon is not only head of the prime minister’s business council – whenever he talks about issues like sustainability or company culture, it sounds like a cross between a sermon and a lecture.
‘‘I believe all New Zealanders, regardless of our backgrounds, are united in wanting to see a more prosperous economy, a more cohesive society, and an enhanced environment,’’ Luxon said when his place on the council was announced.
‘‘At the end of the day we will all get the country we deserve.’’
Now the unions representing Air New Zealand’s engineers say they plan to strike days before Christmas (brace yourself for notices three, two and one days before Christmas).
Air New Zealand responded to the notice with an extraordinary power play.
Instead of calmly promising to try to resolve the situation, Air New Zealand fanned the flames.
‘‘Thousands of holiday plans are at risk after the unions representing Air New Zealand’s aircraft maintenance engineers, aircraft logistics and related staff served notice of a planned strike just four days out from Christmas – on the airline’s busiest travel day of the year,’’ Air New Zealand’s statement announcing the action boomed.
It then went on to point out how highly paid the engineers are, and other points of negotiations.
Forget the tactics being used by the unions for a moment, this is not good faith bargaining. Quite the opposite.
It is no surprise the union fired back, accusing Air New Zealand of misleading information, accusing it of an ‘‘unnecessarily aggressive approach’’.
While the two sides are headed to mediation early next week, they do so with tensions high.
For Jacinda Ardern’s Government, this strike has considerable political risk.
Her opponents warned a Labour-led Government would lead to more strikes.
During 2018, we have already seen bureaucrats marching in Wellington, as well as nationwide action by nurses and teachers, the latter expected to take action again in 2019.
But as disruptive as the strikes by the teachers were, if the airline engineers really do go on strike, the public’s patience will be severely tested.
Travelling at Christmas is painful enough already. It is busy, expensive and the holiday is stressful for many.
The prospect of spending holidays stuck at the airport threatens to turn into actual anger. The unions must take this seriously. It appears that there is currently a degree of public sympathy for workers wanting to use whatever power they have to win better conditions after years of low wage gains. But that sympathy could quickly be exhausted by strikes which look to be deliberately designed to cause distress for families who are using up precious holiday time.
Air New Zealand also need to take this situation very seriously, hopefully much more seriously than its safety videos, which are consistent only in that they appear to be created to annoy us, its owners.
Ardern must wonder why she appointed Luxon to her business council.
The appointment of a chief executive of a state controlled company which has near monopoly powers looked weird when it was announced.
Not only was Luxon in no position to explain the concerns of everyday New Zealand businesses, surely Air New Zealand already had good access to the Government to raise whatever concerns it has.
The prime minister has gushed at Air New Zealand’s approach to doing business, marking its chief executive as something of a favourite.
But if his company cannot avoid a Christmas strike, Luxon’s credibility as an adviser to Ardern will be gone.