Sunday, May 8, 2011
Tolley Trashes New Zealand's Reputation in Education.
The International Summit of the Teaching Profession included the top performing countries, educationally, in the world. The invitation to join this select group to share examples of good practice was an honour and recognition of our standing internationally. You can imagine the feeling of embarrassment for our practitioner representatives when our Education Minister refused to attend, thus diminishing the status of our delegation to a non speaking one. The Minister cited pressing commitments related to the Christchurch earthquake and when it transpired that the Japanese Minister was in attendance this added to the discomfort of our delegation. Christchurch teachers have continually informed the New Zealand's Educational Institute that they don't want the difficulties in Christchurch to cause any change or delay in any useful education initiative and had difficulty understanding what pressing decisions needed to be addressed during the two day conference.
The international education community has been watching New Zealand with bemused interest as we appear to be welcoming systems that have largely failed in other countries and dismantling aspects that have been admired and replicated. In implementing National Standards without a research base or trial period flies against good practice and diminishing the importance of qualified teachers in our Early Childhood Sector to save money is also a retrograde step.
As Minister of Education, Anne Tolley continually refuses to properly engage with educational experts or take advice from the profession. She struggles to demonstrate an understanding of professional issues yet dictates education policy and personally signs off on major initiatives. With costs soaring for Early Childhood participation and qualified teachers losing jobs, National Standards causing disarray and disillusionment in the Primary Sector and Support Staff in schools suffering amongst the worst working conditions and pay of any work force, a downward spiral is in evidence.
The fact that is continually overlooked in most of this government's pronouncements is that in most international assessments New Zealand is ranked in the top five. Our education system is not in crises. When you compare our country with like nations (that also have inequalities of income and multiple cultures) we are probably the best. This doesn't mean that we can't do better, but there there is no need for widespread reform.
I have difficulty sleeping at night when I imagine the consequences of National achieving another term in office.