Misdirection can’t hide Nat attacks on education

Written By: - Date published: 12:18 pm, June 1st, 2010 - 19 comments
Categories: education - Tags: ,

You’ve got to hand it to John Key. He’s so good at distraction he could be a rodeo clown. Yesterday, a classic case in point. Asked about his government’s cuts to early childhood education, Key talked about getting the cruelest cut instead. The journos were so surprised they forgot their questions and gave him puff pieces. Mission accomplished.

Well, we can still look at what National is up to:

Early childhood education
We have the ridiculous spectacle of Anne Tolley arguing that forcing early childhood education centres to replace qualified teachers with unqualified staff is a good thing. This comment on a Stuff article is worth noting:

“Amber #10 8:59am I have just completed an early childhood qualification, at a cost of approx $6000. I have spoken with managers at two early childhood centres who have said that due to the change in policy, they’re now looking to hire unqualified staff rather than qualified”

Ah, National. Encouraging a high wage, high skill economy by driving down wages and skills.

Tolley also refuses to acknowledge the obvious truth – that most ECE centres will refuse to lower the quality of service they provide and will ask the parents to pay instead, destroying 20Free ECE, which National promised to keep.

After promising not to, National has introduced bulk funding by stealth. School will now be allowed to divert up to 10% of capital funding and 10% of teachers salary funding from the minima set by the ministry, and use that money for whatever purpose they like. That’s bulk funding without the name. It puts pressure on school managers to reduce salary costs by hiring fewer and more junior staff to free up the money for other projects to the long-term detriment of the teacher workforce and kids’ education.

There’s a big fight brewing over teacher’s pay too. Secondary teachers want 4%, a perfectly reasonable amount. Inflation (minus GST being offset by income tax) will be about 3% this year. So in real terms, we’re talking just a 1% pay rise. Primary teachers are, strangely, even talking about taking an after-inflation pay cut with a 2% rise. The government is trying to rip them off with zero percent. The war of op-eds and government-source articles is heating up and the teachers are already putting strike action on the table.

I think it will come to strikes but who knows how long it will take the government to buckle. They don’t care about children missing out on education or underpaid teachers – they just care about keeping spending down so they can pay for tax cuts.

For the first time in generations, would be students who have attained University Entrance are being denied access to university. The Nats have failed to increase the number of funded university places and the universities simply can’t afford to pay for any more out of other sources. National’s only response to the funding crisis at universities has been to raise the fee maxima.

That useless Steven Joyce needs to get on top of his portfolio and realise that for the sake of a few thousand dollars per student now he is undermining the future workforce. We are still feeling the effects from the cuts the last time National was in power in the form of a missing generation of skilled professionals.

At all levels, National is attacking education. It is a terrifyingly shortsighted program of cuts. We will suffer from a worse educated population for decades to come. All this shows that National does not believe in a high skill, high wage economy. What they believe in is cuts and underinvestment while awarding massive tax cuts to themselves and their rich mates.

19 comments on “Misdirection can’t hide Nat attacks on education”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    “the universities simply can’t afford to pay for any more out of other sources.”

    Maybe if they were prohibited from spending all that money on advertising they could squeeze in a few more people. Similarly Primary and Secondary schools should not be allowed to advertise either, because there’s simply no need for it. There have been several billboards up around CHCH advertising schools (or publicly “congratulating” students for some extra-curricular activity).

    • Bright Red 1.1

      totally agree on stopping them advertising. it’s madness for state-owned assets to compete against each other.

      • Lanthanide 1.1.1

        It’s also ridiculous if they can’t fit any more students in. Why advertise to go study at a particular university if they don’t even have space for you?

        Clearly informational advertising in various media (open/tour days, term dates etc), and perhaps also some billboards put up on university property would be ok. But newspaper ads, TV ads and commercial billboards are a waste of money.

  2. Bunji 2

    “He’s so good at distraction he could be a rodeo clown.” – love it! It’s just so true…

    You forgot to mention the complete destruction of ACE – it’s not new, but it’s still this government’s destructive consequences.
    Tolley’s folly knows no bounds.

  3. Pat 3

    Allowing childcare centres to employ some non-qualified staff provides good employment opportunties for mothers to earn a parttime income by working in the centre, without needing to spend the time and money required to get qualified. It also allows childcare centres to utilise a resource that has always been available to them in the past (parents) and still maintain a standard of education as set by the other qualified staff.

    Requiring 100% qualified staff in childcare centres was an overkill.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      It wasn’t required that they have 100%. A centre could very well choose to have just 60% staff qualified if they liked, and pass on the savings/employment opportunities to the parents.

      They were given extra money to help pay for the qualified staff if they were over 80% qualified. Likely some of this extra money went towards the facility itself, and not straight into the salaries for the staff, but I don’t see that there’s anything particularly wrong with that (especially as salary rises would eventually eat it up anyway).

    • snoozer 3.2

      “Requiring 100% qualified staff in childcare centres was an overkill”

      they weren’t required, there was just a higher govt subsidy for centres with over 80% qualified. Centres have always been permitted to hae fewer than 80% qualified..

      See, Pat, you don’t even understand the issue but you’ve got a firm opinion. It’s impressive.

    • Craig Glen Eden 3.3

      oh great idea Pat and while we are at it lets not feed the children and then we can get them working in small places that adults cant fit in, maybe cleaning chimneys or picking fruit with their little hands.

  4. Under National, the education sector be getting a vasectomy as well.
    All the parts look how they are supposed to, and apparently work, but the essence of their function is gone.

  5. RedFred 5


    As a parent of two preschoolers I find your comments disturbing.

    My three year just started Kindergarten; I want him and all the other small human beings in NZ the opportunity to learn at the optimum. They are at the age when they learn the most they will ever learn. All the teachers should be appropriately qualified to give our future citizens the best start not this poor excuse for an education policy and for that matter a Minister of Education.

  6. tc 6

    Once again the msm show how under the thumb of their management they are…..just show up and ask the question, no matter if he doesn’t answer it, job done don’t forget to highlight his awesome sense of humour now run along lackeys.

  7. I’ve read some stuff on line about the ‘need’ to cap or limit the number of graduates because there isn’t room in the job market to employ them in their chosen fields.

    …with the easiest way to do that being to drive the cost of education up so only the rich/ruling class can graduate and perpetuate/protect the high earning money cycle.

    BTW has the arse has fallen out of the law/accounting financial oriented degrees yet ?

  8. National Standards again – the Government is currently ‘mapping’ the assessments that schools use against the National Standards so that they can be used as a series of National Tests. Exactly what they say the National Standards are not!

  9. Fisiani 9

    So National is carefully taking steps to control the ongoing cost blowout of the last 5 years in early childhood education and not cutting a single child’s place. Excellent.
    National is increasing spending on education and new school construction continues. Excellent
    National is insisting on tertiary students working hard and getting results. Excellent
    National is forging ahead with National Standards to inform parents better about how their child is learning. Excellent
    Anne Tolley and Stephen Joyce are excellent.

    • A Nonny Moose 9.1

      Better check where those MoE staff are reading on their morning tea breaks.

  10. Bright Red 10

    Forcing ECE centres to reduce the quality of staff or pass on costs to parents: Not excellent
    Underfunding teachers: not excellent
    Cutting ACE: not excellent
    Not funding enough places at uni: not excellent
    Not understanding national standards and pushing them through when the international research shows they encourage teaching to the test: not excellent

    • Fisiani 10.1

      Typical left wing thinking (no, thinking actually involves intelligence). Spend more. Tax more. Borrow more. Impoverish more. Make dependant on a Labour government more.
      Centrist logic. Spend less. Tax less. Borrow less. Grow the economy. Give more freedom of choice.

      • Giarne 10.1.1

        So what have you to say Fisiani when we spend a lot less than other OECD countries on ECE. If we want to eventually pay less in incarceration, health, and other social spending areas then we will put a larger percentage into ECE and education generally. Yes, its the long view here, not short term gains on tax cuts.

        Do I want my stupid tax cut being paid for by gutting education? Hell NO, I’d rather it was going where it was needed and used to give us back the highest returns.

        $1 spent in ECE equals at least $10 back in increased productivity, increased earnings of parents who can return to work earlier and savings in other budget areas down the track. This doesn’t include some of the warm fuzzy social benefits that are difficult to put into dollar amounts. There is UK research to back this up and other research also.

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