ACT: Turf out bad teachers by offering early retirement or retraining

bad teacher

Free Press writes

Teacher Unions’ Odd Position
Teachers will strike this week, forcing parents all over the country to make alternative arrangements.  Their concern?  That principals and boards of trustees will be given more flexibility in how they use their funding.  They believe this will lead to fewer teachers being employed, but why would that be?
How it Plays out in Partnership Schools
ACT’s Partnership Schools have total flexibility in their funding.  They have generally used this flexibility to economise on material things and employ more teachers.  It is not clear why the teacher unions believe state schools would use flexibility to employ fewer teachers, unless…
Not All Teachers Are Created Equal
The unions’ job (not the teachers’) is to ensure all teachers get the same rigid pay scale regardless of performance.  Free Press visited a top New Zealand firm that uses sophisticated 360 degree feedback on staff behaviour and performance to set remuneration but this is not possible under collective agreements.
The Realpolitik of Teachers’ Unions
The unions’ real concern about flexibility is that it will affect their core business: making sure the best teacher in New Zealand is paid the same as the worst.  A more flexible funding model (like what’s used in Partnership Schools) could allow greater pay for good teachers, at the expense of those who aren’t producing solid results for their students.
Time to TERF
We have had it suggested by several former state school principals that while most teachers are wonderful, children are held back by those who aren’t (we can all remember one or two).  The police used to have a scheme called PERF (Police Employment Rehabilitation Fund) that would pay out those who could no longer perform for various reasons.  Perhaps it is time to consider a dignified exit for underperforming teachers who are just waiting to collect their Superannuation – TERF?

The only roles teachers unions perform is to ensure they protect mediocrity.  Any statement that they are trying to do it for the kids is as empty as it is a lie.  And fair enough, unions should be about patch protection.  But similarly, when schools and parents want a better outcome, the unions are in the way.

Charter schools have shown there isn’t a one-solutions-fits-all answer to education.  And to think that poor teachers are paid as much as good ones should turn any normal person’s stomach.

It does mine.


  • Graeme Edgeler

    Teachers aren’t striking. It’s a paid union meeting. Union members are entitled to two paid union meeting a year. The Government could amend section 27 of the Employment Relations Act, but has not.

    • peterwn

      And these should be pre-programmed by schools and teacher unions at the beginning of the school year as ‘teacher only’ days, and not invoked unilaterally and with short notice by teaching unions. Surely this is a fundamental ‘good faith’ requirement.

      • symgardiner

        Even better… book them in during the 2 days each holidays they are meant to be available for work.

        • BigDes

          It’s 6 call back days I believe.

      • Graeme Edgeler

        The requirements are pretty clearly set out in the Employment Relations Act. 14 days notice is needed, and there is a good faith requirement for the union to arrange enough staff to properly run a skeleton operation if needed, etc.

    • Nebman

      You are correct. But it’s apparent and obvious that if they don’t get their way, they are going to.

      If they could show that their passion for their cause by giving up their own time (say Saturday morning), then I’d be prepared to concede their argument and their position warranted more attention.

      As a parent, I’m continuously dismayed by the recalcitrant and petulant approach to change the education unions take. As a voter, I’m hoping the country gets the education system it deserves – whatever that might look like – but if the unions are not prepared to even entertain change that they’re not personally responsible for then they are in fact the problem here, not what is being proposed.

    • oldmanNZ

      Is this called a “teachers day”, ?

      Where the kids tell me there no school because its a teachers day?
      And i wonder, what the heck is a teachers day, something like father day, they deserve a break from students ?

      • Wheninrome

        You forgot the present as well, not least of which would be breakfast in bed followed by a days fishing or similar.

      • Aucky

        A teachers day does not affect in any way the minimum number of half days that are required by legislation to be taught during the school year.

    • Positan

      Why can’t the meetings be held outside of working hours? Far fewer people would be inconvenienced.

  • R&BAvenger

    Awesome, ACT should campaign on this as a flagship policy for education. If funding flexibility works for Charter Schools, why not State. Union member can’t do it ’cause they’re not good enough? Please…..

  • Wheninrome

    I am with Act on this, retrain those not up to scratch teachers, get them out of the classroom get them doing a job they are capable of, if not capable paying them the dole is the best option rather than have them spread their inferior model of work ethics to the young and impressionable. Pay for excellence in teaching the only way for real steps forward in education. Advancement in career paid accordingly, just like the real world, keep the best and make teaching an actual career with real prospects, not just 40 years in the classroom, cause it seemed an option with my BA.

    • Nebman

      I’d like to see the same “pay for excellence” ethos applied to our MP’s….

      If only!

      • Wheninrome

        Less MPs pay more hopefully get people with some nous.

  • Nebman

    When an organisation’s sole reason for existence is about maintaining minimum standards to the exclusion of everything else, invariably that is all it will focus on.

  • oldmanNZ

    The union treats the dimwits hopeless as same as the smart ones, because they all pay the same union fee i guess.

    Now someone may realise, a smart teacher could do the same job as 2 dummies..
    So a school can see the cost savings..

    Union see a reduction in fee.

    Thats why its no good… Fot the unions.

  • Allyson

    Just dropped kids off at school. Word at the schoolgate from parents is definately not supportive of the Unions position. In fact thoughts of anger and mistrust were dominant.

  • Aucky

    No comments yet on the multitude of schools that did not close yesterday. Don’t tar all teachers with the same brush. Whilst the unions keep their numbers under wraps its well known that membership is falling as older teachers retire. Give the young teachers a break.

  • Larry

    I’m sure that the teaching “profession” is missing out on talented young people because of the brick wall that the union puts up to keep them in line. The only opportunity to progress your career is waiting for others to get old and eventually leave. If you are from a blue background it would make your stomach churn and you’d choose another career path.

    • Allyson

      Dead right Larry. I think of the lack of quality men in teaching profession. Somehow the prospect of a strictly unionised, middle-aged female dominated workplace does not appeal. This needs to change.

      • Aucky

        I think the prospect of being the next Peter Ellis is the main factor that keeps men out of primary teaching.

        • LovetoTeach

          And the fact that most men think they can ( and probably can!) make more money in the private sector

  • spanishbride

    I always thought it unfair that teachers who took on lots of extra curricular activities for the benefit of their students like coaching, drama, debating, etc were paid the same as those that only did teaching.Those things meant working on weekends and evenings but we did it for love. In a corporate environment there would be recognition for going the extra mile.

  • TeKinga

    After watching tv ones coverage of the issue last night on the news, where the teacher unions are fighting the good fight against an evil government bent on destroying the education of nz kids, I was sold….the govt were clearly in the wrong…..then I had second thoughts.
    Why are the teacher unions given such total credibility by the press? Do the wharfies unions run the ports and get headlines and media coverage totally endorsing their stance? Do the seamanship unions operate the cook strait ferries without questions? Do freezing worker unions totally run the meat works, with no modernisations or other management options able to be explored by the plant owners?
    Hell no! Maybe fifty years ago, when the unions were solidly led by communists and state funded by enforced membership of all employees, but productivity, economy and efficiency was woeful under their watch, and would still be so if they had their way.
    So why the heck do we get fed this line constantly that teachers unions must be the sole arbiters of what is to be done in our schools? Every other Union-bound industry has changed as people have realised that running operation solely for the benefit of the unions was a losing strategy. Yet the teachers union? It gets a totally free pass. Unbelievable.

    • Positan

      Unbelievable? You missed out several appropriate adverbs – utterly, absolutely, incredibly, insanely, totally UNBELIEVABLE !!!

  • NZ_Stormer

    In this new Model the expectation is that the Principal (and BoT) decides how the money is spent. This almost equates the Principal to a business manager, some of whom will not be up to the task. The key here is to have an actual Manager who looks after the efficient use of the money, freeing up the principal to look after the education side of things(Charter Schools?). For larger schools this will work but for smaller schools the extra cost might not be justified and you are again relying on the business skills of the Principal.

  • BigNose

    “The only roles teachers unions perform is to ensure they protect mediocrity.” – I think the word “teachers” is superfluous.

  • Mick Ie

    Angela Roberts made some generic Union blah, blah, blah comment on the news last night about students missing out on education. If her concerns for them are genuine, why isn’t she supporting Charter Schools as an alternative?

  • Keanne Lawrence

    The real problem starts when the eventual eager new teacher is themselves in the classroom as they get their indoctrination in the higher halls of leaning on their chosen career path. The most likely result is ending up a unionised follow of fantasy. Being good or bad at their task then becomes a bit of turkey shoot and eventually some of them will be turkeys.
    The move to global funding is another move by the Government to further improve results with better levels on attainment for the children that are the true motivators of this process. It might also lead to a new industry of financial advisors to assist the schools get the most out of the funding while leaving staff Head Master to get the most out of their staff.
    There are already some people doing this and they know how much a dollar is worth as well as how to get the most bank for each and every buck.
    Naturally the unions will resist it but most of us are aware know there are some very capable teachers out there who are absolutely chomping at the leash to not only do more but do it better.

  • Disinfectant

    Retraining is nonsense, costly and ineffectual.

    If they haven’t come up to scratch in their initial training then they need to be told to seek another vocation.