Many National Party members must be feeling like they have woken up in Canterbury today, because the statements and non-statements from their leaders are freezing them out.
A strange analogy you may say, but the last few months have shown us just how cold the National Party has become. We have seen a hypocritical nastiness that flies in the face of public opinion.
In New Zealand we have always prided ourselves in our belief that everyone should get a fair go. Way back in Peter Fraser’s time in the 1940’s we established an education system that had a basic tenant that every child should be able to reach his/her full potential and that it was the State was the guardian of this lofty belief. Over the years we built on this and achieved a result for our children that were the envy of most countries around the world.
Why is it that under National Governments, that our ‘pride’ is attacked? Why is it that national seeks to turn the clock back to the bad old days, where, how much education you received was more a factor of the wealth of your family?
Not only has the government eroded the potential for New Zealand children and young people, they are hiding behind unreleased reports and fudging the real issues; making statements claiming research to support their case that has been solidly rejected in most circles.
There is a growing groundswell in the community that strongly disagrees with the actions of Ms Parata and John Key. I would not like to be a back-bench National Parliamentarian, trying to defend my government’s latest actions. Their Saturday morning clinics will be rather stressful at the moment. It is over to these politicians to take the message back to their caucus and try to reverse the recent announcements.
I go back again to some of my previous arguments. Even if it was true that teacher quality was the main contributing factor to the success of our children, just where do these teachers come from? The ‘super-teacher tree’ does not exist.
I challenge of our politicians to gain a real understanding of what it is really like in many of our classrooms. The photo-shots we see on TV where Ms Pararata or John Key visit schools are managed and manipulated. Of course they are taken to the classrooms of so-called ‘great’ teachers. Perhaps they need to see what many teachers face, on a day to day basis. That would difficult to manage and may present some unexpected results. Any visit is going to be artificial and will not show what is happening at the grassroots level.
So what can we ask of Ms Parata and John Key? Simple--- just listen and take in what the teachers have been trying to tell politicians for many years. Our schools reflect society and schools alone cannot fix social inequalities. Instead of attacking teachers, work with them.
If there is no change, I feel for young teachers, entering the profession and I fear for the students who will fail in increasing numbers. Yes, we need to raise achievement levels. It is not good enough that many children leave school, unable to function in the wider world. The answer to this dilemma is not to be found in our schools alone.