I’m over the teachers unions, The Teachers Council and teachers in general. They are against National Standards for no other reason that it is the national party proposing it, they want huge pay increases because they were silent for Labour for nine years, and they through the Teachers Council and the registration board keep allowing dodgy teachers to hide their names and continue teaching.
On the front page of the Sunday Star Time today it is there in all its glory, the protection of criminal teachers by the Teachers Council.
THIS IS the story the Teachers Council did not want told. The search for the information on criminals teaching our children ultimately needed the intervention of the ombudsman. Journalist Catherine Woulfe – now based at Sunday magazine – sought the facts but the council declined, on the ground it was not in the public interest. Official Information Act requests were made asking for a range of information on teachers self-reporting a conviction since January 2008. The council again refused, primarily on the grounds it “would require substantial collation and research”. It also said it wanted $3277.12 to cover costs. The Sunday Star-Times went to the ombudsman, who reduced the charge to $760, which we paid. After a year of persistence, the council has finally provided the information.
And while they were obstructing the Sunday Star Times and trying to protect dodgy teachers they were issuing press releases and letters explaining just exactly how they want teachers to vote in a “survey” of the members.
Now don’t get me wrong here, not all crimes are equal and people can certainly make mistakes in their life that shouldn’t necessarily impact their career, but life is tough and sometimes you just have to cop it on the chin. Not if you are a teacher though. You get a free ride, especially if your crimes are against children.
In the past two years, 58 teachers have dobbed themselves in for being convicted of offences punishable by more than three months jail.
That is the threshhold [sic] which requires them to be investigated by the New Zealand Teachers Council.
Despite the admissions, those who retained or were granted teachers registration included ones convicted of:
* Indecent assault against a teenage girl.
* Assault with a blunt instrument and male assaults female.
* Possession of an objectionable publication but is awaiting sentence.
* Threatening to kill, and assault on a woman.
* Grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard.
And a district court judge has also ordered the teachers council to reconsider a primary teacher it banned after she verbally threatened children in class.
I can handle drink driving offences, and fraud, anyone can make mistakes like that once and get over it and still not affect their ability to teach, but I’m afraid that possession of objectionable material, indecent assault, assault, threatening to kill and GBH do not a teacher make.
I remembered a quote in the NZ Herald by Trevor Mallard about this issue regarding the Teachers Council.
Labour education spokesman Trevor Mallard said the council should be moving towards more openness with the public and parents.
“In the end the presumption should be towards openness, and naming is part of the punishment. If you do something that is that serious that you are suspended or struck off, then that should be a matter that is public.”
Education law expert Patrick Walsh said parents had “a right to know”.
And those comments were about the news that:
Five teachers disciplined for offences ranging from sex with students to watching porn in a classroom have had their identities protected as calls to “name and shame” grow.
The details of the ruling against the teachers were published by the Teachers’ Council this week. Two teachers disciplined for misconduct could be back teaching next year. The cases include:
A married male teacher struck off for having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student for 18 months.
A male teacher struck off after being caught cruising a public toilet for sex;
A female teacher struck off after being caught claiming the DPB while working;
A female teacher suspended for a year for showing porn to a colleague in a class of 5-year-olds;
A female teacher warned for slapping and hitting 7-year-old students.
The rulings prompted fresh calls for an end to the secret nature of the Teachers’ Council.
I thought it would be timely to see what Mr Mallard had to say this time around and so I popped off an email and received a reply within about 15 minutes. His reply to my questions (and yes I checked if they could be on the record) leaves no room for doubt where he, a former teacher and Labour’s spokesperson on Education, stands on this issue of criminally convicted teachers remaining anonymously in the classroom.
I think that in some cases there is room for suppression. But I think there is a systemic breakdown between Police, the Teachers Council and Trustees/Principals.
I think there should be a system whereby each is obliged to inform the other and the Council keeps what might be described as an interim or grey list. That would mean problems couldn’t shift from school to school.
I wouldn’t rule out a teacher with a criminal conviction teaching but can’t think of a good reason for hiding it from parents.
One way of course of meeting that goal is to remove the automatic secrecy that applies in almost every case The Teachers Council deals with and remove also name suppression from our courts system in the case of the accused. Then there can be no doubt whatsoever as to who is teaching our children. By keeping secrets, name suppression and the Teachers Council create and perpetrate that there is something which must be hidden, so the presumption by parents, rightly, is that the crime must be bad. However the truth is that they aren’t. To my mind it matters not a bit that a teacher got caught with his hand in the till at the rugby club when he was secretary, or Mrs Art Teacher got pinged once for drink driving. It doesn’t affect their role as a teacher. But sex crimes and assault against children. No mercy, name and shame.
It is time we removed the keeping of secrets from our courts and from our classrooms. The sooner people accept that one of the consequences of breaking the law is getting named the sooner they will realise that they made a mistake.
Remember next time you hear teachers unions, The Teachers Council, The Principal’s Federation and the Auckland Primary Principals Association banging on against National Standards that they support the hiding of teachers details who are convicted of sex and violence crimes against children and that they want those same teachers to be teaching YOUR children.
I’ll start listening to all of them about national standards when they stop hiding criminals.
The PPTA, NZEI, The Teachers Council, The Principal’s Federation and the Auckland Primary Principals Association have all earned the Pedobear Seal of Approval for devious crim protecting behaviour.