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Nats’ shortsighted penny-pinching will cost us big in the end

Written By: - Date published: 12:28 pm, September 28th, 2010 - 51 comments
Categories: education, same old national, wages - Tags:

While the cat’s away the mice will play. And while the clown’s sunning himself in Hawaii (again) the ideologues in his Cabinet will launch vitriolic attacks on public service workers. As teachers are forced to endure another day of loading the news sites and seeing the country’s most powerful figures attack them, we should consider the consequences of underinvesting in teaching, medicine, and other vital public services.

The surest way to lower the quality of your workforce is to play less. Add to that insults from arseholes like Tolley who do next to nothing for her quarter of a million dollar salary and anyone with talent who hasn’t already rejected the profession because of the low pay and poor conditions will have even more reason to leave. Down goes the depth of talent.

It’s the best teachers who are the most likely to leave. They’re the ones who can get better paying work elsewhere. You’re losing the experience, the role-models, the leadership. And who are you going to replace them with?

Well, last time National caused a crisis in teaching by underpaying and cutting places at teachers’ colleges, they ‘solved’ the problem by allowing people who weren’t registered teachers to teach. The problems that resulted were entirely predictable. Try replacing the cream of your teaching profession with non-teachers and education suffers.

This is not, by any means, limited to teaching. Across the whole public service, the government is giving the best people a big financial and emotional push to leave. I’m hearing stories from every type of public service worker all saying pretty much the same thing: ‘I can understand not getting big pay rises but they want me to take a pay cut and kiss their feet in thanks, why should I bother to give up my life working for these people?’.

By undervaluing them and telling them they ought to like it, the government may as well buy tickets to Sydney for our most talented and dedicated public servants.

It’s another manifestation of this cheapskate mentality that afflicts the Right in this country. They can see the cost of paying teachers (that’s my taxes!) but they can’t see the cost of undermining the quality of education in this country. Perhaps the cost is too far in the future for their minds to process. Perhaps they say ‘well, my kids go to good (private) schools, who cares about the poor’, which is just an example of the ‘man is an island’ fallacy that underpins so much right-wing ideology.

Whatever, National will try to save pennies today on payrises but we’ll all pay the big bucks in years to come as the consequences inevitably come back to bite us with worse health, less effiicent public services, and an undereducated workforce.

51 comments on “Nats’ shortsighted penny-pinching will cost us big in the end”

  1. Bill 1

    “….as the consequences inevitably come back to bite us with worse health, less effiicent public services, and an undereducated workforce.”

    And as social indicators drop due to poorer public services and as we (citizens) become less able to make sense of what is happening in our society due to a number of reasons including poorer education, then the solutions will be found in identifying the culprits (public service workers) and ‘letting them have it’.

    And as social indicators drop due to poorer public services and as we (citizens) become……

  2. Brett 2

    Being one of the many who pays teachers salaries, I say sorry no pay rise.

  3. Bunji 3

    He’s on holiday again? Frickin’ heck. That man cannot cope with a bit of hard work. We need to do some more holiday tallying up. And why doesn’t he support New Zealand and holiday here – he’s meant to be the Minister of Tourism for Pete’s sake.

    Also: in the UK under their last Labour govt they massively increased teachers’ salaries. Guess what? They got a whole load of new talent in – experienced people from a wide variety of professions went back and became teachers, greatly increasing quality. Finland pays a mint for teachers, gets PhDs teaching and has the best education system in the world. So, if National do the reverse… well they can watch our education system reverse…

    National: Penny-wise, Pound foolish

    • insider 3.1

      Teachers don’t need to strike, they just need to stop doing school plays, sports, music, camps etc, refuse to be involved in the running of exams and only mark within allotted hours. Politicians will soon get the message via parents.

    • Anne 3.2

      “He’s on holiday again? Frickin’ heck. That man cannot cope with a bit of hard work.”

      Now come on Bunji. Give the man a break!
      All that to-ing and fro-ing to CHCH for TV film and photo shoots with the little children must have been exhausting. I mean it lasted for two weeks on end.

  4. HitchensFan 4

    Bunji@1.24 pm

    Yep. Exactly. I have four degrees, including two Masters and would LOVE to make the switch to teaching. From volunteer work I do I’m told I’d be good at it too 🙂
    But with a husband on less than me and two young children, I couldn’t afford the drop in salary.

    • Roger 4.1

      Speaking of salary, I personally know two people who have teaching qualifications and are not teaching, one works for another government department and the other one orders Coke drinks for stores. Both are paid better than teachers. Too many good people are willing to do something else other than teaching.

  5. Craig Glen Eden 5

    Yes let’s get rid of all the back room muppet’s because they are not needed we all know that, lets move the back room to the front desk. First place to start the Prime Minister’s office. Lets see him practice what he preaches. Then we could get rid of all the muppet’s in treasury because they never get anything right, fire those bastards forthwith. Lets not put up GST because thats just cost my company $500 for nothing. Sack English for this fire his arse I am sick of paying his rent he can pay for his own rent, theirs no f—-n free lunches you know Bill.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      Yeah I second the sacking of English. Looking forwards to making that happen ASAP hehehehe.

  6. Bored 6

    I just posted on Open Mike concern about youth unemployment…it sort of tracks the teacher salary issue. There are no meaningful jobs for most school leavers, only “student loan servitude”, and this government has done nothinng to improve this. I contend that their actions mean they really dont care.

    If then teachers are turning out pupils into the job market who despite any qualifications they get at school wont find meaningful work why would the government give a damn about the quality of teachers, or their salary level? They too are as unimportant to this government as their students.

  7. tsmithfield 7

    Teachers might be better advised to focus on teaching children core subjects such as maths and english rather than proselytizing them into being little mini-me’s for the teacher’s union.

    • Maynard J 7.1

      Isn’t letter writing a core component of English? Or are you merely suggesting they were out of date and should be learning to write emails?

      Although I must say in the environment the nats seem intent on fostering (vis. one sans employment opportunity), writing speculative cover letters is probably the best skill:

      “Attn Human Resources, Mcdonalds New Zealand.

      I am writing because I live in your area and have experience at….”

      • tsmithfield 7.1.1

        But it doesn’t even qualify as “writing” does it, considering the article says that the letters were scripted and following the same template.

        So, you actually think its OK for teachers to be imposing their political views on their students?

        • Pascal's bookie

          Neither you nor Tolley has any evidence they are doing that. Read the article. It’s all Tolley reckons teachers are behind it and she reckons it’s being done in class time.

          Given she is an idiot, I don’t give her reckonings much credence.

          • tsmithfield

            You obviously didn’t read the article too well. How do you explain a lot of the correspondence coming on PPTA stationary?

            From the article: “Curiously though, the letters have been turning up on PPTA-branded stationery.”

            How much more proof do you need?

            • Pascal's bookie

              More than that, because that’s ‘none’.

              Go ahead and explain how that ‘proves’ it was written at a teachers direction during class time?

              • factchecker

                Give it up – you could provide video evidence and he would refute it – welcome to partisan politics NZ 101

              • tsmithfield

                You’re quite right. It doesn’t “prove” it.

                The explanation I came up with to explain the facts was that someone from the teachers’ union had given the students PPTA stationary so that the students could write to Tolley. But of course their could be other explanations for how the students got the stationary.

                Perhaps the students mounted a clandestine operation to steal stationary from the PPTA. Perhaps aliens transported it to them. I’m am sure there must be other “plausible” explanations as well.

                Whether it was done in school time or not is small potatoes in the scheme of things.

                • Pascal's bookie

                  “The explanation I came up with to explain the facts was that someone from the teachers’ union had given the students PPTA stationary so that the students could write to Tolley. “

                  That’s one “explanation”, true. What would be wrong with that though? Your complaint is that teachers are “imposing their views”. You’ve yet to provide any evidence for that, and this explanation doesn’t support it at all.

                  Another explanation is that the material was sent home with the students as part of the PPTA communicating with parents. It doesn’t have the exciting alien angle but you know, it has the benefit of being exactly the sort of thing that goes on all the time which is why I prefer it.

                  That sort of thing happens with my kindie aged kid, so I suspect it happens at older levels as well. We get stuff from the ministry, stuff from the dreaded and obviously evil unions, and press clippings with the minister’s views. All very politibureau I’m sure. The unions are smart enough to include form letters I can can fill out and send if I so desire, the mindwashing bastards.

                  Or you could just claim to proven that the teachers are ‘imposing their views’ by using the ‘fact’ that they are doing so as a premiss. That might fool the obviously partisan factcheckers of this world, but in terms of argument I understand that it is formally known as ‘a signifier of fucking idiocy’.

                  Whether it was done in school time or not is small potatoes in the scheme of things.

                  It’s the substance of Tolley’s complaint ts. Without that, there is no real complaint

                  • tsmithfield

                    And the fact the letters were written to a template?

                    Come on, Pascal.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      The unions are smart enough to include form letters I can can fill out and send if I so desire

                      Come on, ts.

                  • insider

                    I’m surprised the union or the ministry is communicating with you via the kindy, or that the kindy is facilitating such things. It’s not been my experience and I think it is wrong.

                    If the ministry wants to talk to me as a parent or taxpayer, they shouldn’t be doing it through the school. If they want to talk to the school they go to the board and prinicpal. The union have no business talking to me as I am not a member. They can use public channels for advocacy work, as with recent newpaper adverts.

            • insider

              If they are form letters then the PPTA should be embarassed on many fronts, most importantly that they have very poor English. They read like the work of someone who has English as a second language.

              “The value and respect for teachers has faded.

              “If pay isn’t increased, teachers will intentionally leave without hesitation and the youth will gradually fail.”

              Say wha? reads like a poor translation of an electronic device’s instructions

    • Marty G 7.2


      “teachers’ union”


  8. Shona 8

    Drivel and spin tsmithfield . How many children have you raised and put through the education system??? None I’ll bet
    Tolley is talking out her bum as usual.
    Teachers do focus on the effing curriculum, you shit stirring ignoramus. They do not discuss union activities with students, they teach.
    That’s how students pass core subjects at NCEA levels 1,2 and 3 in the state system and then go on to university . DUH! Who’d have thunk it! Parents by and large support teachers because they know the importance of sound teaching on their children’s future job opportunities.
    I’d just love to be a fly on the wall when one of your offspring has to join the military to have a career and pay that fucking student loan because there are no jobs for young people at the moment. Especially if they are tertiary educated and not prepared to teach straight away.

    • tsmithfield 8.1

      Shona ” How many children have you raised and put through the education system??? None I’ll bet”

      Actually, the answer is four.

      Your answer leads me to believe you may well be a teacher yourself. If that is the case, and you are reflective of the state of our teachers, then God help our children.

      • Colonial Viper 8.1.1

        TS: meh.

      • insider 8.1.2

        Seconded! But in my experience she’s not reflective, and I know a lot them.

        With that kind of chip on your shoulder Shona you might want consider a career change.

        • prism

          Shona sounds like a good teacher with devotion to her job and who is fired up over the education system being experimented with by a polly who is trying to look like a bold, ground-breaking leader. Tolley is prepared to mess up our education system to dramatise herself, thinking that will assist her public profile. Most cabinet members will be after that delusional goal no matter how damaging to the fabric of the country.

          • tsmithfield

            She sounds like someone who can’t control their temper. Do you want someone like that working with children?

  9. Kevin Welsh 9

    I’m still trying to understand why the Minister of Tourism, has his holidays in Hawaii.

  10. I thought it might be handy to know that the destruction of public funded education is not only happening in New Zealand. Like a lot of the policies heaped on the hapless NZ population who does not understand that our masters do not want an educated great unwashed (not that they would conspire of course) this policy is just an extension the destructive policies of what the ruling elite in the Western world is perpetrating on all of us.

    As for John Key holidaying again he is just doing the same thing as Obama (With Bush the most holidaying president ever). Hanging with the rich boys in Hawaii waiting for the next batch of orders.

    Captcha: progress. I guess it depends on how much you are an insider of the ruling elite. Rich means less tax, less educated rabble to content with and more help from the MSM in getting your propaganda across. If you are like everyone else it means more tax, more tax and more tax and less of everything else.

  11. IrishBill 11

    This is exactly the agenda the Nat’s ran in the 1990’s and back then it created a vicious cycle of recession. Funnily enough English was in the thick of that government too. You’d think he’d have learned.

  12. aj 12

    The Nat’s mantra is that the public sector is losing jobs as ‘back office workers go to the front line’

    If this were true the overall number’s wouldn’t be dropping. Time this was called for what it is – BS.

  13. Malcolm 13


    Please consult a dictionary.

    Stationary – (adj.) not moving: a line of stationary traffic.

    Back to school!

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