1 September 2005
National should come clean on bulk funding
The National Party should disclose exactly which formula it would use to bulk fund teacher salaries and how much it would cost to implement it, PPTA president Debbie Te Whaiti said today.
Te Whaiti said Bill English’s refusal to reveal the cost of National’s proposal to introduce compulsory bulk funding for schools suggested either that the party hadn’t calculated it or hadn’t decided at which level it would fund schools: average teacher salary, actual teacher salary or the top of the scale rate.
“His refusal to come clean leaves us doubtful that he would bulk fund salaries at the top of the salary rate. We are also unsure what he really means by his oft-repeated mantra ‘no loser schools in the move to bulk funding’?
“If there were no loser schools, would this only be at the time of the change-over to bulk funding, or for the long term?
“What happens when teachers have to be replaced, or teacher numbers increased to reduce class sizes, and actual cost becomes a real issue for the board appointing staff? Where is the extra flexibility for schools when boards are forced to employ teachers based on cost, not suitability?
“Will National guarantee that bulk-funding money will keep pace with promised salary increases and teachers’ movements up the salary scale? Otherwise all schools will certainly lose over a very short time. “Will the party give extra money to schools to do the administration work of looking after teacher pay? This is handled far more cheaply on a large scale by Ministry contracted pay units now. “And will National fund schools to operate all the other services that will no longer be centrally funded?
Te Whaiti said PPTA opposed bulk funding because it was inequitable and did nothing to enhance educational achievement. “In the long run it’s a mechanism for governments to reduce funding of schools while washing their hands of responsibility.
“We need only look to tertiary education: high student fees, declining rates of per student funding and low quality courses to get bums on seats to make up the funding shortfall – as evidence of bulk funding’s disastrous impact.