Chris Hipkins called out on a whopper of a lie


There is an interesting editorial in The Herald that paints the PPTA in an unfavourable light. It is rare to read an education article that isn’t blaming the government for all of education’s woes and even rarer to find one that contradicts the head of a union.?Even more startling is that the journalist points out that a statement made by Chris Hipkins is a lie. It is not a small lie either, it is a whopper.

It is sad but possibly not surprising that the first tranche of funding for the Government’s “communities of learning” scheme has been taken up mainly by schools that were already better off. Sad, because the purpose was to spread the benefits of the best leadership and teaching and in this way reduce the gap between top performing schools and those at the bottom. But perhaps not surprising because, like every education initiative of a National Government, the scheme was greeted with suspicion and derision by the profession and the poorest schools may be the easiest to discourage from participating.

The fact that 36 per cent of the first round of extra funding has gone to decile 10 schools and only 11 per cent to decile 1 schools, “makes a mockery of National’s claim they are targeting educational achievement”, says Labour’s education spokesman, Chris Hipkins. “It is also a slap in the face to the many outstanding teachers flogging their guts out in our poorest communities.”

It is nothing of the kind; the scheme was, and is, open to all.

The journalist couldn’t be any clearer. He or she is calling Chris Hipkins a liar.

Angela Roberts, PPTA President -EPMU #FairnessAtWork rally Wellington August 20, 2013

Angela Roberts, PPTA President -EPMU #FairnessAtWork rally Wellington August 20, 2013

The Post-Primary Teachers’ Association president, Angela Roberts, blamed “some concern about the ways some of the communities are being allowed to form … ”

There was a danger, she said, that clusters could “reinforce the competitive model and you turn from the bully to the gang“.

What an extraordinary view of a proposal to cross-fertilise schools by sharing leadership and teachers of recognised quality. This is not “the competitive model”; it is the antithesis.

The writer does it again; this time he or she is calling into question the validity of Angela Roberts’ conclusions about the scheme. ?Both Roberts and Hipkins have not been allowed to get away with making statements that are either clearly untrue or that do not make any sense.

Rather than letting sought-after schools attract pupils and staff from those that are struggling and leave those schools to perish, the hope was that the schools could get together, share their strengths and even out the education system’s performance overall. How the leading school could be seen as a “bully” and the cluster its “gang” in this arrangement is a mystery.

The PPTA clearly feels it is the victim of these “gangs”, and that may be true in the sense that the scheme challenges the union’s nostrum that there is no difference in quality among teachers and no basis for paying some more than others for their performance.

This is not true in any field of work but quality may be harder to define in poorer schools where some pupils require more than teaching. As an unnamed principal of one such school told our reporter, “In a high-decile community you don’t have kids coming to school who have witnessed violence in the home, or have not been fed, or have slept in the car … ”

-A newspaper