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Bulk funding pledges don’t stack up

Media Release

31 August 2005

Bulk funding pledges don’t stack up

National’s promise to bulk fund teacher salaries at the top pay rate by redirecting funds from an ‘exploding’ bureaucracy doesn’t stack up, PPTA president Debbie Te Whaiti said today.

She said the party had already promised to save $400 million per year by cutting public expenditure by 2 per cent to help fund its $9.4 billion worth of tax cuts.

“Where is it going to get the $350 million per annum to implement bulk funding at the top of the salary scale rate? Even cutting so-called education bureaucracy would save National only a fraction of the cost of bulk funding schools if they were not actually planning to have substantial numbers of loser schools.

“What’s more, making bulk funding of schools compulsory would merely shift that bureaucracy onto schools, whether they liked it or not.”

Te Whaiti said despite National’s promises that there would be no loser schools in 2006 what would happen after next year was anybody’s guess.

“There is no guarantee that the real rate of funding wouldn’t decline over time, particularly given National’s tax cut promises, the projected economic outlook for New Zealand and National’s earlier statements that it would fund schools on average teacher salaries – meaning schools with more experienced teachers would be losers.

“Schools toying with bulk funding need to look at the long-term sustainability of National’s approach. State Services documents from the 1990s make it clear that bulk funding of teacher salaries was seen as an investment – for long-term savings in teacher salaries and school costs.”

Te Whaiti also disputed comments by Auckland Boys Grammar principal John Morris that bulk funding wouldn’t cost much because most teachers were at the top of the scale.

“Only about half of secondary teachers and a third of primary teachers are at the top of the salary scale and with more teachers entering the system that percentage will decline, making bulk funding at the top of the scale even more expensive.”

Te Whaiti said research into bulk funding in the 1990s showed it didn’t increase flexibility for schools and had no proven educational benefits. “So if it isn’t about saving money or moving to site bargaining for teachers, why would any party promote it?

“Bulk funding may be attractive to the Education Forum and the Business Roundtable but it has no appeal to those committed to a high quality and equitable public education system.”

ENDS

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