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Posts Tagged ‘teachers’

The Shining Path according to Dear Leader (Part Rua)

11 June 2012 2 comments

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Upon Dear Leader’s return to New Zealand, he has waded into the debacle of classroom sizes and teacher numbers by insisting that National’s policies were sound – and it was only us plebs who didn’t understand the wisdom of their policies.

Dear Leader pronounced, from atop the Mount  as he received instruction from Heavenly Father,

”  It’s the right policy, but if you don’t have parent support and you can’t get some reasonable buy-in from the sector, then you run the risk of industrial action which undermines the rest of your education system and I think, in the context of a $10 billion spend for what was a $40 million policy, it just wasn’t worth it. “

See:  Key: We were right, despite U-turn

Then he added,

But, you know, governments from time to time adjust policies . . . if we never listen to people and never take on board what they’re saying then there is an argument for that as well – and that’s called arrogance.

And I think we’re a lot of things as a government, but we’re not arrogant.”

*splutter*cough*cough*splutter*

Does anyone check Key’s gormless utterance before he releases them to the public?!?!

Honestly – “ but we’re not arrogant.”

Oh reallly?!?!

Not arrogrant?

Pray tell, Dear Leader; if governments from time to time adjust policies and you’re willing to take on board what they’re saying – will you be abandoning state asset sales?

Because as sure as most of the public was opposed to increased classroom sizes and cutting teacher-numbers – a similar number are opposed to asset sales as well.

Or, Dear Leader, will you be arrogant ?

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Citizen A – 31 May 2012 – Online now!

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Citizen A

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– 31 May 2012 –

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– Matthew Hooton & Phoebe Fletcher

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Issue 1 – Key senses danger and backs down on classroom sizes. Keen political instincts or self inflicted mutilation?

Issue 2 – Raising retirement. Economic sense or more baby boomer intergenerational theft?

Issue 3 – Tame Iti get’s two and a half years, Rena captain gets seven months . What have we learned from the Urewera terrorism trials?

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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

Tumeke

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National prescribes bad medicine for the poor

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

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National’s tax cuts are coming back to bite us firmly on our collective arses.

In April 2009 and October 2010,  National cut income tax and raised gst from 12.5% to 15%.  Key and English insisted that the tax cuts/gst rise were “fiscally neutral”.

Like so many of National’s statements, that “fiscal neutrality” turned out to be a fiction,

The Green Party has today revealed that the National Government has so far had to borrow an additional $2 billion dollars to fund their 2010 tax cut package for upper income earners.

New information prepared for the Green Party by the Parliamentary Library show that the estimated lost tax revenues from National’s 2010 tax cut package are between $1.6-$2.2 billion. The lost revenue calculation includes company and personal income tax revenues offset by increases in GST.

“The National Government said that their signature 2010 income tax cut package would be ‘fiscally neutral’ – paid for increased revenues from raising GST. That hasn’t happened. The net cost for tax cuts has been about $2 billion,” Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today. “

See:   Govt’s 2010 tax cuts ‘costing $2 billion and counting’

As taxation revenue dropped,  National’s deficit has risen alarmingly,

The government took in $1.57 billion less tax than expected in the first nine months of the fiscal year, reflecting a tepid economy, Treasury figures show – reflecting what the Finance Minister says has been a ‘difficult year’.

The Crown took in $39.8 billion in tax in the nine months ended March 31, against a forecast in the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update estimate of $41.3 billion, according to the government’s financial statements. “

See:  Govt tax take down by $1.57 billion

Massive borrowings over the last three years has not staunched the bleeding of government revenue. Soon after the April 2009 taxcuts, government revenue had begun to drop,

The Crown accounts for the year to June, released yesterday, showed an all-up deficit of $10.5 billion, compared with a surplus of $2.4 billion the previous year.

The state’s core operations – such as health, education and defence – recorded a deficit of $4.5 billion as tax revenues fell while spending grew. “

See:  $250 million: What our Govt borrows a week

After the October 2010 tax cuts, that borrowing had risen, and by mid-2011 stood at around $380 million a week,

”  The Government is borrowing $380 million a week and next week’s budget will carry a record deficit of about $16 billion, Parliament was told today.

Finance Minister Bill English said the Government’s financial position had deteriorated “significantly” since late 2008.

“The pre-election update in 2008 forecast that the deficit for this year would be $2.4 billion,” he said.

“It’s much more likely to be around $15b or $16b.”

That level of deficit, as NZPA has previously reported, will be the highest in New Zealand’s history and Mr English confirmed that today.  “

See:  Govt borrowing $380m a week

See:  Government debt rises to $71.6 billion

History lesson over.

Test: what can we deduce from tax-cuts – especially made during a recession?

  1. Government revenue will fall.
  2. Government will have to borrow to make up the short-fall.
  3. Goverment will have to either increase taxes or cut services and/or increase User Pays charges for the public.
  4. All of the above.
  5. We don’t have to do anything, because National is a fabulous fiscal manager;  John Key waves his hands; and money magically falls from the sky.

If you, the reader picked anything except Option 4 – feel free to re-read the above and go do some further research on Basic Economics 101.

If you picked Option 5, then you are a  hopelessly committed National supporter.  Seek professional help – stat.

The fact of the matter is that none of the tax-cuts were ever affordable.

Common sense will tell even the most die-hard National groupie that if you reduce revenue, then one  has to cut expenditure and services; borrow to make up the shortfall; raise  user-charges; or all three. There ain’t no other way.

National has borrowed billions – that much is crystal clear from media reporting using  Treasury data.

What the New Zealand public also need to understand is that National will also be cutting expenditure and services and raising user-charges.

National has begun a programme of increasing user-pays charge for,

  • Prescription Charges

Prescription charges will increase from $3 an item to $5 an item in next week’s Budget, as the Government moves to offset the cost of extra health spending in the “zero Budget”.

The new charge will cover up to a maximum of 20 items from January 1 next year, raising $20m in the first year and $40m after that. “

See:  Prescription cost to rise to help pay for Budget

  • Raising the compulsory student loan repayment rate and cutting student allowances,

Up to 5000 students will be affected by the National-led Government’s cut to student allowances, Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce revealed this afternoon.  The Government announced a raft of changes to student loan and allowance schemes last week, including a stop to allowances after 200 weeks. “

See: Allowance cuts to affect up to 5000 students

”  The changes would see more than 500,000 people forced to pay back their student loans more quickly and people studying for more than four years would no longer be able to claim an allowance…

… The repayment rate for loans will be increased to 12 per cent from 10 per cent for any earnings over $19,084.

See:  Outrage at student loan changes

  • Government has cut back on the state sector, sacking 2,500 employees, including  60 frontline bio-security border staff.

The cost to our economy, should the Queensland fruit fly take hold, would be in the hundreds of millions. And if foot and mouth ever took hold, the cost to our economy could be in the order of  $10 billion over a two year period!  National is gambling with our economy, simply for the sake of a few million dollars.

Pests such as the Varroa mite and the Psa virus have already taken hold in our environment. The latter, the Psa virus, could impact on our $1.5 billion kiwifruit export industry.

See:  Kiwifruit disease Psa explained

See:  2500 jobs cut, but only $20m saved

See:  Risks involved in cutting MAF Biosecurity jobs

  • Teachers numbers “capped” and class numbers increased.

The ratio of teachers to students in New Zealand schools is set to be changed, Education Minister Hekia Parata announced today.

For year one the ration will remain at one teacher for every 15 pupils while the ratio for those preparing for NCEA exams in years 11-13 will be standardised to one teacher for every 17.3 pupils…

…  The Government is also putting a cap on the number of teachers by keeping it at the present level.

Parata says the Government is not reducing teacher numbers, but claims $43 million can be saved by not hiring any extra teachers. “

See:  Teachers ‘pushed out the door’ in Budget shake up – Greens

The implications of this cost-cutting exercise are mind boggling. Not only will be see class sizes increase, but there is the strong possibility that students with special needs will miss out. Larger class sizes will put extra pressure on teachers and students; make one-on-one teaching harder; and will possibly force many teaching staff to quit or move to Australia.

At a time when our society desperately needs more educated and trained young people, this is a counter-productive step that beggars belief.  Only a bean-counter (unmarried, no children of his/her own) could devise such a crazy proposal.

Ian Leckie, the New Zealand Educational Institute national president, said,

Essentially every child gets less attention, and if we’re ever going to be concerned about what happens for our children, we want them to get the best of service, put more children in the class, it makes it harder for the teacher, harder for children to succeed.”

New Zealand’s youth unemployment currently stands at 83,000 – up from  58,000 last year. How many believe that National’s plan will improve on that dire situation?

See previous blogpost:  Bennett confirms: there are not enough jobs!

How many believe that is not a desperate cost-cutting exercise?

And how many suspect that the “cap” will quickly become staffing cuts – as happened with state sector workers?

  • Government closes down Gateway Scheme – where those on low incomes were assisted to buy there own homes,

Prime Minister John Key says a scheme to provide up to 100 affordable homes at Auckland to people on low incomes is not needed because low interest rates mean there is greater capacity for people to buy their own homes.

Mr Key has been explaining the Government decision to scrap its Gateway scheme to help those on lower incomes buy homes in its flagship Hobsonville Point development, in Auckland.

It would have provided affordable homes in a flagship Auckland housing development but has been wound up with just 17 houses built. “

See:    Low interest cuts need for cheaper houses – Key

See:    Key backs cut-off for cheap homes plan

There will be other cuts to social services and/or rises in User Pays charges.

The net effect is that those who received tax cuts under $40,000 will find that the cuts have been swallowed up. Low and middle income earners may find that they are now not only no better off – but are having to put up with higher government charges and  less services.

Those on $100,000+ p.a.  have done very well.

Those earning $70-$80,000+ p.a. may escape  relatively unscathed.

Low income earners, on minimum wage ($13.50 p/h) or just above,  facing higher prescription charges,  will effectively  be paying for tax cuts for the high-income earners, wealthy, and asset-rich.

If the tax cuts were designed to reduce government expenditure; increase user-pays; and raise incomes for the top 10% – then National has achieved it’s goal.

National is continuing it’s 1990s agenda, albeit more slowly, and stealthily.

I wonder – is this what 1,058,638 New Zealanders voted for, when they cast their ballot for National. More user pays?

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Information

Tax Cuts April 2009

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking  tax cuts april 2009

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Tax Cuts October 2010

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking tax cuts 2010

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By contrast,

Health Minister Tony Ryall said the $5 cost would be applied to the first 20 items of medicine per family each year, so no family would pay more than $100 a year for their prescription costs.

The current maximum for prescription costs was $60 a year. “

See:  Meds price hike: ‘Children will die’

The last word goes to Mana MP, Hone Harawira,

”  Doctors are saying right now that children’s health is being threatened by the price of medicine now. You have to assume that if Government raises that price then children will die as a result of that measure.

I don’t believe that any Government could be so callous.

Absolutely I think that these measures, although it is going to be difficult to prove, will lead to children dying, through the inability of their parents to afford the charges for medicine that are being proposed by this National/Maori Party Government.

Every price rise impacts poor people in a far greater way than it does people on the kinds of levels of income that him and his mates are on. So yes it is going to hurt every poor person in this country – Maori, Pacific and Pakeha”.

See: Ibid

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Additional

Government delivers April 1 2009 tax cuts, SME changes

Budget 2010: What the tax cuts mean for you

Prescription cost to rise to help pay for Budget

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Performance Pay? Why not!

25 March 2012 4 comments

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"Well, it's important to our country, and I am the minister of education, and I am committed to raising achievement..."

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Education Minister, Hekia Parata, has indicated that performance pay is back on National’s agenda for teachers in this country,

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Full Story

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In the Fairfax report, Parata states quite candidly,

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Whether it’s promotion, pay, opportunities to attend conferences or representative roles, or whatever – there are a mix of rewards that I think would be reasonably easy to settle on

The precursor to being able to reward monetarily or in leadership opportunities is to have a really reliable evaluation system and one that has real integrity and regard for it.

We’re at the very early stages of developing that kind of system. But that would be essential to be able to get to a point where you could make discriminatory choices.” – Ibid

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However, she was less than candid on TVNZ’s Q+A on 25 March, where she had this exchange with interviewer, Shane Taurima,

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SHANE Let’s go back to teaching quality, because you’ve been quoted this weekend saying that pay performance is back on the table. Is that correct?

MS PARATA Look, I think the first thing that has to be on the table is having a robust and reliable appraisal system that allows us to make those kinds of differentiations. If we want to raise teacher quality, we have to identify who is delivering successful practice and make that common practice. We have to identify where we need to improve the professional learning and development so that teachers can engage with students successfully and our students’ achievement is raised.

SHANE So is that back on the table, pay performance? Is that part of your thinking, I suppose?

MS PARATA Look, I think it’s really important that we don’t think there’s one kind of silver bullet, and I think that the mix of rewards that we might want to have available are second-order to having an appraisal system that we can all rely on. And the point of an appraisal system is not to punish or blame but to identify where the best practice is occurring, how we get that happening across all schools and where improvement needs to occur and how we get support in.

SHANE Former education minister Anne Tolley, she told the NZEI annual meeting last year, and I quote, “I’ve made it very clear that this government has no intention of pursuing performance pay.” Has that changed?

MS PARATA Again, I think we need to focus on what our purpose is, which is raising achievement of all New Zealand students.

SHANE So you’re not absolutely ruling it out?

MS PARATA No, I’m not ruling it out or ruling it in. I’m saying that the purpose of the education system is to send kids out into the world with a qualification that’s meaningful. In order to do that, we need to have quality teaching in the classrooms, all the way from year one through to year 13.”

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Ms Parata seemed somewhat reticent during  the interview to come straight out and let the public know what National’s agenda was on the issue of performance pay for teachers.

It seems fairly clear, from the leaked documents that performance pay for teachers is very much on National’s agenda. I suspect that with so much going wrong recently, the party hierarchy have decided not to make public this little detail just yet. There are too many ‘fish hooks’ in such a policy and the last thing the Nats need right now is yet more industrial action – this time from teachers unwilling to cop any reduction in their wages and conditions. They’ve seen what’s been happening throughout the country, with one industry after another experiencing strikes, lock-outs, and reductions on pay and conditions.

Key, Parata, and others in the  National hierarchy understand full well that if push-comes-to-shove, teachers will strike.

So it’s “softly,softly” at the moment with performance pay.

However…

Shane Taurima then asked a very interesting and very clever question of Ms Parata,

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SHANE You’ve made the commitment to lift the number of 18-year-olds with level 2 NCEA from 68% to 85% over five years. Is that an absolute must-achieve for you or is it an aspiration?

MS PARATA Well, look, it’s both. I mean, I aspire to that, but the fact is our country needs well-qualified young people.

SHANE I suppose my point in asking the question…

MS PARATA I’m committed to achieving 85%. That means we need to collaborate across the sector and indeed the country. We need, outside of schools, for parents to be committed to their children doing well, to have high expectations of them and to go into schools and demand those expectations.

SHANE The point of my question, I suppose, is that if you don’t meet the target, is this when you put your career on the line today and you say, “If I don’t meet the target, this is what happens”?

MS PARATA Look, of course we must have ambitious goals as a government, and I am ambitious for students in the New Zealand education system. We cannot have more of the same. It means we have to do something different. So if…

SHANE So does that mean putting your career on the line and saying, “I will achieve it”?

MS PARATA I don’t think we need to get quite that dramatic.”

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Interesting. Ms Parata plans to put teachers on performance-related pay – but is not prepared to do likewise herself. Parata states that she is committed “to lifting the number of 18-year-olds with level 2 NCEA from 68% to 85% over five years” – but is not willing to put her performance to the test.

Performance-related pay for teachers:  Must Have.

Performance-related pay for politicians: Too dramatic.

Ok, I think we can see how this works.

In this respect, she reminds me of another current Minister, Paula Bennett.

When much younger, and on the DPB, Ms Bennett used the Training Incentive Allowance to fund her way through  University  and to buy a house – and then  immediatly scrapped the TIA when she became Minister.

The odour in the air is called rank hypocrisy.

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Dear Minister…

John-Paul Powley

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Dear Anne Tolley, and John Key

I woke up this morning and read your education policy as summarised in the media. This whole article on your proposed education policy made me furious.  The article suggested that these were the key points:

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EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION:

Target of 98 per cent of new entrants in school having participated in early childhood education by 2015

New interactive website for parents to choose “the best” local ECE service

New funding model to be trialled in 2014

SCHOOLS:

Require publication of National Standards data in 2012

New assessment of “disposition to teach” for trainee teachers

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A long time ago when National Standards were introduced I predicted that they would creep to Secondary schools and that we would  see league tables.  It didn’t bother me that on both points you said this wouldn’t happen.  It was clearly a lie, and it is no comfort to me to see my predictions turn out to be correct.

It seem to me that there is simply no possibility of negotiating with your government in good faith and this makes me angry, because I am a reasonable person who believes that conflict is a dead end.

Here are some points that I would like to address to you:

  • How can you want 98% of kids in early childhood education, but cut the funding to these centres that make them affordable, and how can you want 98% of kids to go to centres where you do not believe that it is important that 100% of the staff there are fully qualified?
  • What does the term “best” ECE centres mean?  Doesn’t this just mean the centres with the wealthiest and best educated parents?  How does a competitive model in education work when some people can’t afford the best, and are you committed in terms of the massive amounts of money and time it will take to build up struggling centres, or is it a fail-and-close-them-down model?
  • You said that you would not create a situation of league tables two years ago.  This was clearly a lie.  Do you think it is a good model to our students to lie in order to get what you want, and then use double speak to try to pretend that you never said such things in the past?
  • League tables are good for comparing apples with apples, but after the first round of tables are printed there will no longer be apples and apples, there will be schools that are better than others when measured against one criteria.   My daughter started school yesterday, and I know the pressure to send your child to the “best” school and not the local school, but I believe in my local school and I was DELIGHTED to send her to the local school and see her running in and playing with the Somali kids, and the Pasifika kids, and the Indian kids, and the European kids all together, learning together, and being wonderful and curious together, and I can’t help but wonder what will happen to all the white kids when the school down the road does better on the league table, because it is a wealthier and more homogenous school.  Are we committed to a multi-cultural New Zealand or not?  Or is that just talk?  Past experience shows that Europeans like me abandon schools that are sinking faster than rats on a sinking ship because they can, and that parents who can’t afford to make the change don’t (even though they care just as much for their children).  I’m not proud of this fact, but I have to admit it is true.  Do you understand this?  I don’t think that you do, and I think that this is the weakness of a party that is made up of a homogenous and wealthy group and would prefer a voting system where they can just stop mucking about and govern alone.  You do not represent everyone, and you should never, ever be allowed to govern alone for that reason.  Not because I do not like you, but because NO ONE should govern alone.
  • Disposition to teach?  My first years teaching in a low decile school were hell.  I went home, lay down on the floor and cried.  If someone had offered me a job doing something else at the moment I would have taken it.  Now I am at the end of my sixth year teaching and I think I do a damn good job.  Teaching is a long hard road to success, and it is even more brutal and even more important at decile one schools.  My experience of a  decile ten school is that the students can almost teach themselves.  Is it not then true that student teachers in higher decile schools will appear to have a better disposition to teach than those toughing it out in low decile schools?  Where do you want good teachers to go?  Into the low decile schools where the results are low, and they will be judged on league tables, and their position will worsen as white flight takes place over the next few years?  I assume that you are also planning to let parents have “choice” about where they send their kids.  Which means abandoning zoning, and abandoning certain schools whose funding is tied to their roll.
  • Can I ask you this?  What was broken about our education system?  One of the best in the world for decade after decade with results we can be proud of in maths, and reading and writing?  Our identified area of concern was our long tail.  A characteristic that all multi-cultural societies face, and one that they are all battling with.  Why have you created a policy that will disadvantage the schools where the long tail is over represented?  I think that it is so parents who are educated and comparatively wealthy (compared to long-tail parents) can have a good reason to send their kids out of area.
  • Finally, I would like you to show me another country similar to our own where this model has worked over a long period of time.

Yours sincerely,

John-Paul Powley

http://manoferrors.wordpress.com

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The Power of National’s “Daddy Statism”

23 November 2011 7 comments

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A constant theme of National’s criticism of the previous Labour government was that Helen Clark’s government was engaging in “Nanny State” politics. The constant refrain was that Labour was controlling more and more of our lives and the repeal of Section 59 (commonly referred to as the “anti smacking law”) was held up as the prime example of state interference in our lives.

Yet, National voted in favour of that same Bill, passing it through the House with near unanimity.

National’s own penchant for state interference in our lives – referred to as “Daddy State”  by some – is actually more pronounced than Labour’s ever was.

The latest example of state interference in the lives of ordinary New Zealanders is this extraordinary story, which appeared in today’s NZ Herald,

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Full Story

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Anne Tolley has stated explicity,

The biggest influence on learning is the teaching, and we want to make sure we have world-class teachers across the board. Making changes to initial teacher training and setting ‘disposition to teach’ criteria is to make sure we get the right people going into teaching.” Source

‘Disposition to teach’ criteria?!

The government intends to determine who is/isn’t suited to teach?

Three points;

  1. If National wants to alienate our teachers and inspire them sufficiently to move to Australia – they are doing a fabulous job at it.  We will have lost our teachers in the next few years, if  National is returned to power.
  2. What will be the next profession where government sets “disposition criteria”? Doctors? Architects? Airline pilots? Ambulance drivers? Firefighters? All Blacks?
  3. Will National set “disposition criteria” for aspiring political candidates “to make sure we get the right people going into politics”?

National’s plan to test individuals for “disposition criteria” is one of the more chilling policies I’ve heard in a long time.

God knows what sort of society National politicians are envisaging – but I want no part of  it. This is downright quasi-fascism. With a huge dose of bizarro-creepiness thrown in for good measure.

If anyone votes for National after this, they need a “disposition criteria”-check carried out on them.

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Let’s destroy more jobs, Prime Minister!

26 September 2011 17 comments

You know that things in this country have turned to custard when ordinary citizens,  like Sandra Spekreijse, living in a quake-battered city have to make a public appeal to the Prime Minister, just to do the Decent Thing,

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Full Story

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Going back to a pre-election speech on 29 January 2008, John Key said,

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Well, I’ve got a challenge for the Prime Minister [to then Prime Minister, Helen Clark].  Before she asks for another three years, why doesn’t she answer the questions Kiwis are really asking, like:

… Why is one in five Kiwi kids leaving school with grossly inadequate literacy and numeracy skills?”  Source

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And then went on in the same speech to state,

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“The National Party has an economic plan that will build the foundations for a better future…

… We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates…

… We will concentrate on equipping young New Zealanders with the education they need for a 21st century global economy…

… And we will do all of this while improving the public services that Kiwis have a right to expect… “ Ibid

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One wonders how making 170 teachers redundant will help to  “equip young New Zealanders with the education they need for a 21st century global economy” ? Call me old fashioned – but I thought that teachers were a necessity in a class-room?

Or does this government expect our children to educate themselves?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (which we won’t have any more – not enough teachers to train them) to figure out that National’s crazy decision to axe 170 fulltime teacher jobs in Christchurch will not help that city re-build, and instead we may see those 170 teachers join the migration to Australia.

John Key asked, “Why is one in five Kiwi kids leaving school with grossly inadequate literacy and numeracy skills?

Well, Mr Prime Minister, it’s because of insane decisions like this that probably contributes to our under-skilled, low-achieving, and ultimately unemployed kids.

Mr Prime Minister – stop this ridiculous action. Save those jobs. We need teachers. Christchurch needs those teachers. Cutting 170 positions may save our balance sheet a few hundred thousand bucks – but it will not help Christchurch re-build. Nor will it help the morale of our Cantabrian cuzzies.

Australia does not need any more of our skilled professionals.

Do the decent thing, Mr Prime Minister. Do it now.

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Further reading

Hey! Key! Leave our teachers alone!

John Key’s email address

john.key@parliament.govt.nz

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