So, imagine you’re the Minister for Education. You’re meeting with the PPTA executive, and sometime soon you’re expecting to announce big teacher layoffs. How do you handle the situation?
How about reading the executive a children’s story book! This one should be good: “The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley”. It’s a sweet little homily: “Laying it on with a trowel, Thompson contrasts Riley, a rat who never wants more than he has and so leads a blissful existence, with people, who industriously pack their far longer lives with utter misery by craving massive quantities of food, goods and power…”. Read it to the assembled teachers. Show them the pictures. Good work – you’re done!
Sounds pretty stupid doesn’t it? But this is exactly what happened at the PPTA executive meeting last Thursday. Seriously, Tolley read them this story book about a rat who was happy with less. Exactly what kind of message was Tolley trying to convey to the union do you think?
The Press article linked above quotes some PPTA reactions: “It was stunned silence”, “We have had many ministers come to the executive table, and I don’t think we’ve ever had that”, “It doesn’t sit well with a group of adults”. My contact in the exec was rather blunter. Tolley is now regarded by them as the thickest Education minister ever. It seems unlikely that she can ever be taken seriously in this portfolio again.