The School Journal - Demise of an Icon?
Contributors to the Journal have included New Zealand's most highly regarded writers, poets, playwrights, artists and scientists. Primary School children have enjoyed poems by James K Baxter, plays by Roger Hall and illustrations by many of our most recognised artists such as Dick Frizzell. The School Journal has been able to celebrate the cultural diversity within New Zealand so that most children can read a story that will reflect their own experiences and also allow them to understand the lives of others. The School Journal has also supported all the learning areas including science, technology and the arts with well presented articles accessible to a range of age levels.
Learning Media has an international reputation as a publisher of quality educational material with a catalogue that extends beyond the journal. It has also provided professional development support for educators and consultancy services.
Quality always comes with a cost and Learning Media has struggled to be profitable. In justifying the closure of the 79 year old state owned company the Government has suggested that the incomes of the six senior managers were excessive ($160,000 to $270,000) and travel and accommodation costs for staff were an issue. Considering what the Government is prepared to pay private consultants in other areas it is likely that they just do not see publishing educational resources as a priority. I guess we could also compare the value Learning Media has provided to education to that of ex Secretary of Education, Lesley Longstone, who received $425,000 in severance pay (which was the equivalent of an extra $1,640 for each day she was in the job).
It may indeed be cheaper buy resources from other New Zealand Publishers and import material from overseas but it concerns me that the reason for disestablishing the company is purely economic and there has been no evaluation of the quality of their material and services. Despite vague assurances that the School Journal will continue under another publisher, I wonder if the same level of expertise will be applied and the same quality achieved. We appear to be losing more and more of what made our education system unique and also what made it great.