The government is proud of their surplus, which at 0.7% of GDP isn’t quite as dramatic as the 9% of GDP deficit they had in 2011. But as soon as we have a surplus, National starts salivating over tax cuts. Continuing where I left off, here’s some other priorities.
Today – something vital to the future of our society, education.
Here you can start by signing the petition against the freezing of school operational grants, which is resulting in 1300 schools losing out. This is of particular threat to small secondary schools.
You wouldn’t start by doing a John Key and mainly visiting high decile schools to assess the education system.
The government has started on a school building program after realising that their easy GDP growth through immigration is resulting in nowhere to put children. But even with that in many parts of Auckland (certainly around where I live), schools are teaching in small music rooms, libraries or even (large) cupboards as they have nowhere else to put the children turning up at their gates. We could in fact do with more schools, rather than having multi-storey primary schools of close to 1000 kids in places. So more money needed there.
One could also look at investing in our teachers rather than deriding them, with a return of the professional education funding the government has removed. Paying teachers well might solve our chronic science teacher shortage, and listening to high-standard teachers (instead of constantly testing students) might lead us to an education system closer to Finland’s. We may also need to bring in an “Auckland-weighting” for teachers and other essential public servants to combat the house prices – it’s very hard to find teachers who can afford to live in many suburbs…
And we still really need to bring back Adult Education, a relatively small investment that PWC found had 21-fold return, but hastily shut down by this government when it came in.
Special schools for those with disabilities have also faced severe pressure as Parata tried to ‘mainstream’ as many as possible – without providing the support required. This is probably somewhat tied to the idea of ‘kiwi suspensions’ for difficult pupils, as schools try not to have their other pupils disrupted, and don’t have the resources to cope with certain students.
* Shortly after my last post on Child Poverty vs Tax-cuts CPAG put out a media release pointing out that $700 million of the $1.8 billion in tax cuts was as a result of changes to Working For Families putting more working families and their children into poverty. It goes on to show how even cutting the bottom tax-rate will not give as much benefit as restoring the pre-2011 WFF benefit levels.