If you were a rightwinger, who believed the route to a prosperous society (for the elite, at least) was through private endeavor, wouldn’t the way to help that along be to invest heavily in education? Then, people would be equipped to work out the rest themselves, without the State. So, why is National attacking education at every level? Do they see education as a threat?
Check it out.
In early childhood education, they first got rid of the ‘free’ in 20 Hours’ Free ECE, and the cost of ECE jumped 20% as a result. Then, they removed the funding for fully-qualified staff, so if all the educators are qualified, you pay extra. Because, you know, why would we want people with qualifications delivering education? Now, they’ve frozen the funding rates, so that all inflation will have to be picked up by the portion funded by parents and wages will probably be forced even lower by cash-strapped ECE centres, driving more good people from the sector.
In primary and secondary education, teachers report they have less and less time to teach because they’re constantly having to assess whether their pupils can jump over arbitrary bars for the national standards. They’re a useless, binary measure of knowledge that tells us nothing that existing assessment didn’t already. But, they produce metrics that can be used for performance pay, which is their entire purpose. Now, class sizes are being increased. Hekia Parata – who likes to claim that a class of 42 when she was at primary school did her no harm, despite the evidence to the contrary – admitted last week that the increased teacher ratios would mean 1,000 fewer teachers. And that was without including the surprise wiping out of special additional funding for technology teachers, which will cost intermediate schools a further 1,000 teachers and mean class sizes in the mid-30s if technology courses are preserved.
In the last year, New Zealand went from being a net importer of teachers to a net exporter – 2,351 teachers left for overseas. And it’s not hard to see why. National’s practically forcing them out the door.
It’s no better in tertiary. Frozen or near frozen funding is forcing up staff to student ratios and causing universities to slide on the international rankings. Restrictions on student loans, student allowances, and a loan faster repayment rate will make it harder to get an advanced education. Preventing post-grads from getting an allowance at all is a particularly galling and nonsensical move. This government is always saying they want more bright, innovative people, and here they are saying ‘if you want to do a masters or doctorate, fuck off to Australia and don’t come back’.
While education is under attack at every level tax cuts for the rich, the pension for 66 year olds, subsidies for greenhouse polluters, and highways to nowhere are held sacrosanct. Those are some warped priorities.
This is the anti-education government. And I can’t, for the life of me, work it out. Even if you view yourself as the boss and everyone else as just part of your workforce, you’re going to be richer with a better educated, more productive workforce. Or, perhaps the problem is that a workforce that can think starts to question the fairness of the status quo.
Are they really so afraid that well-educated people don’t vote National?