Fri, May 17, 2024 10:00 AM

High school teachers sound charter school alarm


William Woodworth

The return of charter schools and the Government’s position on Te Tiriti will be the focus of paid union meetings attended by more than 21,000 secondary and area school teachers next month. William Woodworth talks to PPTA Marlborough chair, Dr Michael Harvey.

Teachers are concerned by the Government’s proposed charter schools, which they say undermines public education’s integrity and aims of equity for all students.

The Post-Primary Teachers Association are having a union meeting on the proposed return of partnership schools to New Zealand’s educational system this month.

Micheal says the process of becoming a teacher is not one to be short-circuited, and now is a time for the Government to invest in existing systems and staff, not divest funding for education to the private sector.

“Teaching is a skilled profession –you wouldn’t want an unregistered, untrained person to design and build your house, so why allow unregistered, untrained educators make education ‘for tender’.”

“The present education system already has the opportunity for private schools or Schools of Special Character and can bring in external Limited Ability to Teach assistants for speciality subjects”.

“Charter schools end up with taxpayers paying for private school governance under no set national curriculum, and no requirements on transparency or accountability”.

“This is an ideological decision for cost cutting and free-market education, not an evidence-based decision encouraging better outcomes for students”.

The re-introduction of partnership schools includes new roll growth incentives for partnership schools unavailable to public schools.

Allowing public schools to become partnership schools and replace qualified teachers with cheaper unqualified teachers is also of concern to Michael, for student’s learning, teacher’s job security, and costs to schools.

“For schools the size of Marlborough Boys’ or Girls’ College making the change, this could lead to approximately $5 million in redundancy pay to teachers who lose their jobs alone to make the switch over let alone rehiring staff and licensing education materials”.

“It is ironic that the current government, which often emphasises the importance of measuring outcomes and controlling costs, is now overlooking these very principles by bringing back a system that failed to provide transparent and accountable results”.

This comes alongside cuts to the Ministry of Education and stated aims to refocus the Ministry’s by creating ‘an app store for curricula’ where schools choose teaching resources with suppliers paid for material usage.

“They are reducing costs through job cuts and creating an education marketplace focused on profit, whereas the target should be on having every student being able to access a high-quality education at any school in New Zealand to give equal opportunities”, says Michael.

“The upcoming paid union meeting will be a platform for teachers to voice our concerns and advocate for an education system that remains true to the values of equity, quality, and accessibility.

“The future of our country depends on the decisions we make today, and it is crucial that we stand united in support of a public education system that serves the best interests of all New Zealanders”.

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