Friday, May 2, 2014

Managing Potential Conflicts of Interest



Today I announced my resignation as a National Executive Member of the New Zealand Educational Institute Te Riu Roa. I have come to realize that my candidacy for the Green Party in Invercargill was compromising my governance role in the organisation and, in the current political culture, it could have a negative impact on NZEI during the election campaign.

I have been involved with NZEI Te Riu Roa for most of my teaching career and it is almost in my blood. As a third generation teacher my father was a member and my Grandfather was once the President of the Southland Branch. NZEI began as a purely professional organisation in 1883 and only took on industrial advocacy and contract negotiations because no other body existed to do this. NZEI has only gone on strike about two or three times in its 141 year history. Evidence and research supports our claims, and industrial action is generally considered an option only when all else fails.

I have enjoyed being part of our executive team. After an organisational review our numbers were reduced from 24 members to 14 and those of us who remain have a broad range of experiences and backgrounds. We have members who teach in Early Childhood, work as support staff and we have principals and classroom teachers. We also have those representing kaupapa Maori, special education and relievers. We are a broad church but respect each other and have a whole of union, cross sector approach to our work. Quality public education is a core part of what we stand for and the needs of children is paramount in all we do.

I have enjoyed my part in helping write an element of our National Curriculum and reviewing the Ministry's IEP document. We have had a frustrating time, however, over the last five years, in trying to establish a working relationship with a Government that refuses to collaborate properly and openly lays the blame of under achievement on the profession and not on poverty and inequality. The attacks on our public education system have been substantial, as I have listed in this widely viewed post.

I stood as a candidate in 2011 and although I stepped down from my teaching position, as all state employees are expected to do, I was able to continue in my NZEI executive role. This has not been the case this time round, I have been subjected to accusations of serial child abuse on right wing blogs because of my union involvement and the Green Party has been under constant attack by the National led Government. We are even referred to as the Green Taliban by some.

It is clear that this election will be nastier than most and I know many will attempt to muddy NZEI's motives if I remain on the executive. NZEI makes it very clear that it is an apolitical organisation that wants to work with any government on progressing what is best for our kids and our members, we give no donations to political parties for that reason also.

I will miss my colleagues and friends and the work we shared but am looking forward to the challenges of my election campaign ahead.


2 comments:

Sanctuary said...

Well done. Never fear for the future, because for people of principle the path through is always somehow revealed. Good luck at the hustings!

bsprout said...

Thanks, Sanctuary.