More confusion from National over bulk funding

Written By: - Date published: 5:02 pm, November 7th, 2007 - 39 comments
Categories: education, national - Tags: ,

Some people just never learn. After National’s conflicting statements on bulk funding the other day you’d have thought they’d get their messages in order, if not their policies. But take a look at these comments from Alan Peachey in Parliament yesterday:

Hon Marian Hobbs: Has the Minister seen any reports on alternative approaches to supporting our 21st century education system?

Hon Chris Carter: Indeed I have. I have seen two reports in the last week advocating conflicting approaches to education policy. One report pledges a solid commitment to the reintroduction of bulk funding of teachers’ salaries, and the other states that bulk funding is “not currently in our thinking”. Amazingly, both these statements were made by National’s education spokespeople, Allan Peachey and Katherine Rich, last week. Someone should give Mr Peachey another copy of The Hollow Men, because he appears to have missed the caucus strategy on how to hide the party’s true agenda of privatisation, cuts, and old, failed policies like bulk funding.

Allan Peachey: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I was the principal of a bulk-funded school for a long period of time, and I take personal exception to the comments the Minister just made about the policy. I ask that he apologise and withdraw.

Madam Speaker: That is not a point of order.

So National’s associate education spokesman is still promoting bulk funding. It’s time for National to get its act together and give us a clear answer: is bulk funding National Party policy or not?

39 comments on “More confusion from National over bulk funding”

  1. Benodic 1

    These clowns are a laughing stock. They can’t even get their house in order and yet they expect us to let them run the country?

  2. I love it how the Standard blithely links to its own previous post on an issue, as if it has some kind of authority, when the standard’s own bloggers get the shit-kicked out of them in the argument.

    And Benodic has the gall to call US the laughing stock.

    Really, Tane, you shouldn’t link to your own posts where your arguments get thoroughly trashed. It’s just a further reminder of how unsustainable your opinions are.

  3. Tane 3

    Which of The Standard’s bloggers got the “shit kicked out of them” over at the other post? I can see an argument between you and another commenter about Alan Peachey’s credentials as an educator, but there’s nothing to contradict National’s confusion on bulk funding.

    When your two education spokespersons can’t even agree on bulk funding you deserve to be called a laughing stock.

  4. Tamaki resident 4

    IP – what point are you trying to make about the post? Is it that Allan Peachey is right in saying that bulk funding is National Party policy?

  5. You’ve got it the wrong way around, Tane. Bulk funding of all schools is current National Party policy. Katharine Rich has reservations about the policy, but as yet the policy hasn’t changed. Peachey is in favour of the current policy, and he points to the stunning success of Rangitoto College under his leadership under bulk-funding.

    Will Katharine Rich win the argument against bulk-funding? I bloody well hope not. Schools need to have far more flexibility over the employment of teachers. For far too long the PPTA have had far too much influence in schools.

    Peachey is merely expressing current National Party policy, and his success under that policy.

  6. Benodic 6

    Nice try IP, but bulk funding was National’s 2005 election policy. You can’t say their 2005 policy is their 2008 policy – they’ve claimed that themselves many a time when trying to defend the policies of the Brash era. National don’t have an education policy, that’s why Rich said it’s not currently in their thinking. Peachey’s just off-message and out of control. At least that’s what I hope it is. You’re sounding pretty desperate, eh?

  7. gobsmacked 7

    The leader of the National party is John Key. The education spokeswoman is Katherine Rich. If they aren’t speaking for the party, who is? Some guy on a blog?

    The Press, Sept 29:

    Key said yesterday the party was likely to dump bulk funding as a policy at the next election. …

    Key said education spokeswoman Katherine Rich was not in favour of bulk funding and the party was considering her position. No formal decision had been made and the matter had yet to go before caucus. Rich said yesterday that bulk funding was “not currently in our thinking” and was “unlikely to form part of the party’s 2008 manifesto”.

    Peachey can cling to “no formal decision” if he wants, but it’s a pretty leaky life raft.

  8. milo 8

    Could you rein in your brownshirts over at Kiwiblog? They are engaging in pretty systematic and inhumane personal abuse. I don’t mind a bit of political argy-bargy, but this is purely personal, not political, and looks like a deliberate policy to try to drive D4J off the deep end.

    I didn’t think those were the sort of values Labour stood for.

  9. r0b 9

    “Could you rein in your brownshirts over at Kiwiblog?”

    Who are you addressing Milo? As far as I know this blog is just a loose affiliation of individuals – there is no “your”, and certainly no control of random commenters like me.

    I don’t know what’s happening at Kiwibog and I’m not going to look. But if Milo is right then can I add my voice to his. Let’s not provoke people with obvious and serious issues. Hard politics, fine, but please can we try not to stoop to their level of personal attacks.

  10. Benodic 10

    Isn’t it funny how the right-wingers think every leftie is somehow affiliated to and controlled by the standard? Grow up guys.

  11. Camryn 11

    Benodic – Tane and other lefties are similarly prone to silly things like suggesting DPF is running off official talking points, or claiming Poster X and Poster Y are the same person. Unfounded assertions are equally ridiculous from both sides.

    N.B. A suitable rebuttal of this post will not consist of “but they arrrrree”.

  12. Camryn 12

    Let’s wrap this one up…

    Lefties: It’s healthy for a party to have debate on policy, and to change policy at times. All parties clearly do both of these things. It’s even healthy for a single party to maintain a diversity of opinion within its MPs, espcially National and Labour. Both are large camps that bring together multiple opinions around an approximate political slant.

    Righties: Is is, however, idiotic to conduct policy discussions in the media. The party should have a single clear policy, and the message should either be “We’re working on it, no further detail at this time” or “The policy is [blah blah]”. If a member absolutely must comment in the media, perhaps to appeal to his/her particular constituents, the format should be “Party policy is [blah blah / under discussion], but my personal opinion is [blah blah]. I believe this view represents my constituents and I’ll be promoting the position in our internal policy discussions”.


    P.S. I actually prefer my politicians to be slightly gaff prone, since those that really know how to play the political game tend to get away with more scams and corruption. Helen Clark really knows how to play the political game.

  13. r0b 13

    Oh Camryn – you were doing quite well right up until your “PS”.

    Post Hollow Men, I really don’t know how the right can accuse Labour of “scams and corruption” with a straight face, I really don’t. Have you no shame at all? National will not be free of the stench of corruption until it has totally renewed its front bench.

  14. Robinsod (moderator) 14

    But National’s policy is bulk funding. They just don’t ant to say so yet. Naughty Peachy.

  15. Pablo 15

    Milo, you’re confusing your insults. Brownshirts are from the other side of the political tracks. Your correct historical parallel for the left should have been something like “rein in your Red Guards over at Kiwiblog”

  16. Camryn 16

    rOb – I couldn’t help myself.

    We’ve reached a point where it boils down to opinion re: Hollow Men. I’m aware that Don Brash screwed up by not admitting he met the EB. There were also apparent plans to lie about other things in the stolen emails. Still, I don’t agree that anything in that incident was corruption. I won’t be convinced otherwise and I won’t be so presumptuous as to try to convince you that you’re wrong either.

    Still, the reason we know that Brash is now gone is that he was gaff prone, thus strengthening my assertion that it’s a good trait in politicians. If they’re going to lie (and they will) then they’d best be bad at it. Taito too. DBP too.

    My dig at Helen is just opinion too. She’s so damn politically sharp that she can get away with all kinds of things. I will admit that “scams and corruption” was an inflammatory choice. I’ll rephrase: she subverts and changes rules, tears away at traditions, applies double standards and generally abuses her intelligence and political talent to be a horrible horrible person.

  17. Robinsod (moderator) 17

    Cam – Helen is a lovely person – you should meet her some day. I’m interested you say “stolen” emails again (it’s the stock misdirective response to Hollow Men). I got another sweet tip about these just a few days ago. It seems three boxes of emails, memos etc were sent out to interested parties by that staffer Brash had an affair with after she found out about his other affair with Foreman. One of those boxes was sent to Winston. I’m not telling about the other two but I know who passed them on to Hager. What’s happened to that investigation anyway? Are the Nats still not cooperating?

  18. Benodic 18

    Camryn you obviously haven’t read the Hollow Men if you think it’s just about the Brethren. That’s just one chapter of an entire book about National’s attempts to sell NZ’s interests out to its business mates while lying and dogwhistling the public to cover their tracks. As r0b says, the stench of corruption will follow National so long as the current lot are in charge.

  19. r0b 19

    “rOb – I couldn’t help myself.”

    Camryn, you seem like a reasonable person. We may not agree, but I get the feeling we can at least have a rational conversation! Welcome to The Standard, I hope you choose to stay a while.

  20. insider 20

    What exactly is the problem with bulk funding that it gets people all aquiver? If a school believes it will be better off managing its own funding, isn;t that a good thing to encourage?

  21. Tane 21

    insider, the PPTA has a pretty good retrospective on bulk funding here:

    (word doc, 150k)

  22. The anti-bulk funding argument is a highly sophisticated one. Universities and tertiary institutes–many of the latter being smaller than some of the largest schools–are bulk funded. Government departments are bulk funded. Schools’ operations are bulk funded.

    But heaven forbid that schools are bulk funded for teachers’ salaries. Boards of Trustees just can’t be trusted to pay more to attract particular skill sets of teachers.

  23. Policy Parrot 23

    Bulk funding would be a huge disaster like it was last time.

    BOT members tear up the appropriations budget, and have the option to spend money on non-educational and “pet projects” that benefit their own children rather than the school.

    Case in point: A BOT member at one school’s rugby team was bought jerseys, boots and gear out of the school budget. Half of transport was paid for (and this was considerable as it was a rural school).

    This is the kind of abuse that should not be allowed, but it will be under bulk-funding. Education will be farmed out to the ‘lowest-bidder’ as teachers are asked to ‘name their price’ and BOT parents will employ the lowest bidder rather than the most qualified teacher.

  24. Robinsod (moderator) 24

    It’s also worth noting that bulk funding could be used to reduce teacher’s bargaining power. In the past bulk funded schools have found their funding becomes static (which means falling in real terms). Often the first place they looked to save money was in support staff salaries (teachers were not paid from bulk funds). The result was a decline of skilled support staff and a corresponding decline in the quality of administration and special needs support. There was also massive managerial rorting at bulk funded schools including three members of the Principal’s Association who went on a tax-payer funded bike tour of Europe. Guess who one of them was…

  25. I agree, Policy Parrot. Bulk funding works in every government department, every CRI, every tertiary institute, every early childhood institute, but there’s no way it can work in primary and secondary schools, because they are completely different organisms. Just because private schools are bulk funded is no reason to think state schools should get away with it.

    Robinsod, don’t tell lies. Bulk-funded schools out-performed non-bulk funded schools during the 1990s by wide margins. There were no incidents of schools receiving less under the bulk-funded system than centralised funding. You are confusing this with scare-mongering by the PPTA: the PPTA claimed it was the Government’s intention to gradually lower the teacher salary grant. That never happened.

    Parrot, why don’t you just be up front with what you mean, rather than coming up with bullshit excuses. You don’t want bulk funding of teacher salaries because that would undermine the power of the PPTA. You don’t care about the lot of teachers. There is a major shortage of quality teachers in New Zealand schools. The PPTA has done nothing to address quality teaching issues. They are perfectly comfortable running a monopoly union that has nothing to do with teaching children or improving educational quality. The Labour Party benefits enormously from the cushioned position the PPTA is in.

    The real reason you oppose bulk funding, Parrot, is because of the massive electoral and financial advantage the PPTA gives to the Labour Party. As soon as bulk funding of teacher salaries comes in, schools can actually pay teachers on performance.

  26. insider 26

    Seems the real issue for PPTA is, does funding reflect/protect real wage costs. That;s a legitimate argument for a union to make but not a deal breaker I would have thought if the funding formula was adequate.

    Budgets can be easily isolated. Businesses don;t allow money to slush around between sectors so why would schools. Bad budget management or financial abuse is not an argument against bulk funding.

    Can’t agree on the lowest bidder argument – what parent is really going to accept that approach (unless you are arguing for removal of zoning…). Schools are already restricted in who they can employ because of budget limits so first year teachers are often attractive. Bulk funding seems to offer the ability to provide greater flexibility.

    I have seen that you don’t need excellent teachers in every role – life is not like that – but leadership in key positions can be critical. If you have the flexibility to beef up those positions and improve a school by being able to offer more attractive terms, wouldn;t that be a good thing. It may be as simple as paying the principal more.

    What the system relies on though is well informed and skilled administration by boards and heads, and of course that is not always guaranteed. That is why I favour caution as for small schools or in low decile areas they just may not be up to doing the job, despite best intentions.

  27. dancer 27

    i missed this post until now – but what i’m really interested in is that bulk-funding is still National party policy. They’ve done so much “re-positioning” that i’m having trouble telling what they currently stand for. so can someone direct me to a National mp/ policy paper that actually says they will do it?

  28. Sam Dixon 28

    dancer – ‘but then Labour will just steal it!’

    No, wait, that was last year’s excuse.

    Um, edcuation policy, um,… tax cuts?

  29. Ah, Dancer. As opposed to the repositioning Labour has done over carbon credit trading, the “core benefit” it’s been working on for the last EIGHT years, the fart tax, Closing the Gaps, amendments to the RMA, Helen Clark’s reversal of position on smacking law, Labour’s vehement u-turn on anonymous donations to political parties–the so-called big issue of electoral finance that it oh-so-conveniently ignored–and now the colossal reversal of Labour’s proud, eight-year long tradition of ignoring any opportunity to cut taxes?

    So, Sam, when is Labour going to announce its tax policy? You’ve become a rather hollow man calling for National to announce its own tax regime, given that Cullen has said he’s not making any announcements until the 2008 budget.

  30. Robinsod 30

    IP – I worked in a bulk-funded school in the late 90’s. I know what I saw. I’ve noticed every time I tell you a fact you don’t like you call me a liar. Is your sense of self-importance so fragile you can’t face simple truths? You should go back to doing whatever you do as a day job and forget about your political analysis fantasies. Your “insights” might impress folk around the water cooler at work but here you’re just a punter embarrassing himself.

  31. You’re a fantasist, Robinsod. You haven’t produced any evidence for any of your so-called “factual” claims. You put up wpurious arguments–such as the outrageous lie that Allan Peachey led a school into near financial collapse on the one hand, and that he was responsible for Selwyn College’s many failures on the other–and then when you’re shot down with ACTUAL evidence, such as ERO reports, you go running for cover.

    Robinsod, you’re just cranky that you can’t sustain any argument. Instead of reality, you peddle lies.

  32. Robinsod 32

    IP – I never said anything about Peachy. That was another commenter. Your doing the lying boy..

  33. You’re quite right, Robinsod. I stand corrected. That was not you, but another faceless pinko named Sprout who made the spurious claims about Peachey.

    I do apologise for confusing the two of you.

  34. Robinsod 34

    Yeah you got it wrong and now you’re throwing insults about to try and cover it up. Does calling me a “faceless pinko” make you feel better about being wrong? And I noticed you used “spurious” again. I assume you did so to mask your shame at mistyping it the first time? You’re an amateur Prick. Go home before you embarrass yourself any more.

  35. Perhaps, Robinsod, you are so unaccustomed to people apologising to you that you can’t take the apology graciously. That’s sad.

  36. Robinsod 36

    You describe me as “Another faceless pinko”? And you really expect me to take that apology sincerely? I mean let’s be frank here pal, I’ve done you a favour by biting at your backhanded apology ‘cos I’ve given you the chance to feel you have the moral high-ground (and you’ve milked it in a snide and ugly way by replying with a slightly higher register than is usual for a blog comment).

    But sure, I’ve slighted you, I’m a liar, you’re intellectually and morally superior to me blah, blah, blah. Whatever gets you through the night bro – you have some transparent self-esteem issues prick. I can see them and I’m pretty sure others can too.

  37. Camryn 37

    Benodic – It’s true, I haven’t read it. I’ve been in the US since before it was released. I will attempt to get my hands on it at some point.

    Robinsod – I am actually open to the possibility they were ‘leaked’ not stolen. Still, I’m also open to the possibility that Hager’s book is more fiction and fantasy than fact. Like I said to Benodic, I’ll have to read it. It all may boil down to views on privatization. I think it increases efficiency for users too, so long as it’s done well (e.g. not creating a monopoly like Telecom, although that was probably rushed for a reason) and as long as the government plays it’s part (i.e. regulates well, drops taxes a little to reflect services no longer provided, provides safety net for those in strife paying for things). In that sense, I don’t care if Brash planned some privatizations as long as he was going to follow due process. It is an issue over which National can easily be beaten with a big PR stick though… privatization is a bit like ripping a plaster off. It needs to happen but no-one wants to be told about it first. Brash chose to be deceitful and ended up paying the price. The problem is, if National is honest and can’t overcome public disdain then they’ll stay in Opposition until the shit hits the fan again (a la 1984) and then they have to come and fix it in a more drastic way and be hated for how painful it is like the various Rogernomics-era Labour politicans are. The fact that it’s better to take some painful moves in good times rather than when it gets bad is a hard political message to sell, but we’d all be better off in the long run.

    rOb – Thanks. I’m quite happy to post on here. It seems more civil over here than on Kiwiblog, although it’s often all the same people on both sides so I don’t understand why that’s so.

  38. Robinsod 38

    Camryn – I just don’t see the need for privitisation because I think there are accountability issues when the public interest diverges from the shareholder’s interests. I just don’t trust business to put the national interest and the interests of the public ahead of their own profits. The experience of the privatisation of rail, power and other critical infrastructure in the 80’s and 90’s does nothing to assuage my distrust. Neither does the liberalisation of South American economies. Or 90’s Russia. In fact I can’t see where it’s worked for the people of any nation.

  39. r0b 39

    Camryn – “The problem is, if National is honest and can’t overcome public disdain then they’ll stay in Opposition until the shit hits the fan again (a la 1984) and then they have to come and fix it”

    That’s interesting. 1984 was an extraordinary year coming out of the extraordinarily perverse Muldoon government. What makes you think that something like that is ever going to happen again? What is going to go wrong that National (heaven help us) are going to be needed to fix it?

    “It seems more civil over here than on Kiwiblog, although it’s often all the same people on both sides so I don’t understand why that’s so.”

    There is some overlap in the two groups, and also some differences. That seems to be enough to raise the tone here at The Standard. Long may it continue.

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