Coddington on Teacher Unions

Deborah Coddington has had a blinder so far this year…once again she is right on the money, this time about the teacher unions bleating over Charter Schools:

Why the fuss over charter schools? Given the hysterical ranting from teacher unions, you’d think we were returning to caning on the backside.

It won’t be compulsory for students to attend what are, essentially, alternative choices for parents to state or private schools. A bit like kura kaupapa.

But unions don’t like parental choice. They like telling parents what to do. Robin Duff, head of the PPTA, published an opinion piece comparing these evil charter schools with epic failures such as the Pike River mining disaster, the Global Financial Crisis and the grounding of the container ship Rena.

The commonality is that none are accountable. But charter schools are accountable to parents, something that many state schools are not.

I’m pretty sure we are about to see a paper from Waikato “university” about charter schools leading to increased child poverty and hand gun slayings.

Charter Schools promise to deliver what Tomorrow’s Schools was supposed to, parental control. The teacher unions have managed ti nullify boards, largely through indifference but mostly through intimidation. The teachers know though that they will be at the school long after the children have left and so will just wait out stroppy parents agitating for excellence.

Yes, there is evidence some overseas charter schools have proved to be failures, but that doesn’t mean they’re all a disaster. Many are the opposite.

In New Zealand, some state schools, too, are monumental failures, but I won’t hold my breath for an article from Duff castigating the state schooling system as an ideological disaster.

The whole reason that Charter Schools are even a proposition is the abject failure of many schools in low decile areas, despite the billions in extra funding.

At present the education system (state and private) is failing 20 per cent of our children, who leave unable to read and write, yet the unions will not accept that changes need to be made.

Yet when you think of it, a school is just bricks, wood, lawns, equipment. Isn’t what really matters the leadership, plus the ability to recruit and inspire great teachers?

The Government spends more than $4 billion on this country’s 7000 teachers, but how do parents sort out the good from the bad? By swapping stories in the carpark?

The answer is comprehensive league tables for as start, the performance pay for teachers, which of course needs quality measurement systems.

So how are we doing in New Zealand? We have many excellent teachers -nobody disputes that – but we don’t know what we don’t know because we’re not allowed to know. Few teachers referred to the Teachers Council for incompetency are deregistered, and of the ones who slip through, parents are never allowed to know their names, which school they are at, or which subjects they teach.

John Hattie, professor of education at Auckland University, believes excellent teachers can be identified, and emphasis should be put on education policy that develops teacher excellence. But it’s easier said than done, because “as teachers, we don’t acknowledge excellence ourselves.

“We have allowed the de-professionalising of our profession by allowing the ‘anything goes’ mentality.”

While the PPTA and NZEI remain firmly wedded to collective agreements, it will be difficult to introduce incentives to keep brilliant teachers in the classrooms when they must move into management for higher salaries. In union land, excellent teachers shouldn’t get more pay than incompetent colleagues on the same level because that’s not fair.

But it’s never the teachers’ fault when students fail – it’s families, lazy kids, the Government, dogs eating homework – and now the unions have got another excuse: charter schools.

The teacher unions have a choice, they can either be part of the solution or they will become part of the problem. The solution to that problem i they get in the way is a couple of steps involving changes to the way they organise. Like preventing them having a national award system, instead putting them on the same footing as every other worker in the private sector and bring in workplace location bargaining with no ability to go on strike because the teachers at one school scored a better deal they the teachers in another. Individual contracts would be a good start rather than collective agreements.

Finally if they don’t play ball there is always de-registration.


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  • I like the idea of charter schools but Labour does not. 

    I imagine that what will happen will be this:

    1) We get four or five very good charter schools opportating 

    2) John Key loses the next election.

    3) Labour shares out the booty of victor and shuts down the charter schools to reward the teacing unions (or at least does not open any more)

    This policy will be like private prisons or privatised ACC very good ideas but unable to survive a change of government. 

    • jay cee

      of couse ms coddington is right – extreme right.

      • Anonymous

        “Extreme right”.  Really? 
        That must explain why it was that **Labour** introduced charter schools (“academies”) in the U.K. They must be “extreme right”. 

  • Pingback: Deborah Coddington on Charter Schools | Kiwi Musings()

  • jay cee

    just having fun with old saying.lighten up

  • Kosh103

    Yes, I read her little rant and thought what an ill informed take on the teachers union by someone on the right.

    Silly woman should actually look into things before spouting off such garbage.

    • Dion

      That kind of sanctimony is exactly why parents want National Standards. 

      • Kosh103

        LMAO, no parnts did not want NS’s. National did. You as well should find out about things before commenting.

      • Dion

        A reply like that just proves my point.

      • Kosh103

        And you prove that the right have swallowed the lies for National.

    • The unions are not offering any other solution to the problem the country is faced with. They want to entrench the status quo. Their solutions are the same as always. Paying teachers more will not make them any better. The current system works well for some, but others need something different.

      I went to Palmerston North Boys’ High School, a public school which has among the lowest union membership rates in the country – it never closed during last year’s strikes. 

      Its rector, Tim O’Connor, speaks out against the Ministry and ERO’s politically-correct ambitions. It almost looks a little bit like a charter school. It tries to set its own agenda. It also has NCEA and Scholarship results that significantly exceed national and local averages. It publishes these results for anyone who’s interested. It is the school of choice for many parents of boys in the Manawatu.

      I’d argue that this shows a handful of things. The recipe for a successful school is not something the Union has. It is a strong leader, some transparency and accountability, and minimal inteference from the government. 

      • Kosh103

        Wrong. The NZEI often puts up a variety of ideas etc backed by research. However when the National govt is asked  to provied proof of how they developed NS, or to look at educational research (almost every single bit in the western world) that goes against their idiolgical position they refuse.

        If you want to point fingers at people who will not listen to reason, I suggest you get your facts right.

      • Greg M

        Kosh, we all know that the NZEI does come up with some good alternatives backed up by research. Problem is , they only seem to use the research that backs up their case. Research from others, including treasury, has never supported any of their suggestions.Correct me if I’m wrong dude.
        P.S. I took Miss ex navy Greg to the “big gay out” for a learning experience, we both had a bloody good day. She has decided I must be a lesbian because I only like women, heh !!

  • fact/reality-check:..

    ..this is all about the  rightwing/corporate/neo-lib wet-dream/fantasy of privatising education..

    ..all that yummy public-money..that could instead be going into the corporate/elites-tummy…

    (and coddington..’on’..anything..?…snigger/snort..!…)

    [email protected]

    •  was she an mp once..?

      ..if so..she came and went without trace… of those small flicks/tics in the political

      ..close yr eyes…

      ..and you miss it..

      [email protected]

      • She was an MP for the Act Party between 2002 and 2005, so what? A backbencher in a minor opposition party who opted out of politics after one term. At least she didn’t stick around at the trough, riding the taxpayer’s gravy train.

        Lots of MPs come and go without a trace. Lots of them are in Labour. I know most of their crusty old caucus now has been in cabinet at some point, but what about Sepuloni? What “trace” did she leave? What has Chris Hipkins done? Raymond Huo? Clare Curran (not Red Alert – I mean something useful)?

  • My issue with charter schools is their failure in countries where they already been introduced to produce what they were intended to produce. But they certainly have provided an excellent tax assisted money stream for financiers and, with both State and Central Government money to play with as well, a bit of the good old double dip in the money trough as a bonus.