14 September 2005
A promise made to be broken
The National Party’s pledge to bulk-fund teacher salaries at the top of the salary scale is destined to be its first broken promise if it is elected government, PPTA president Debbie Te Whaiti said today.
She said the party’s bulk funding policy was full of contradictions and holes.
“National hasn’t come clean on which mechanism it will use to fund schools, nor how much money it will cost.
“On one hand Bill English is promising no loser schools under bulk funding, without declaring how much that would cost.
“On the other hand finance spokesman John Key is saying it would cost $80 million next year and then $120 million in subsequent years to introduce bulk funding.
“Then, in yesterday’s Dominion Post, he was reported as saying his party would “absolutely” bulk fund schools at the top rate.
“That would cost $350 million, not $80 million, so where is the extra $270 million coming from?
“Even in the long term, $120 million per year is still less than half of what would be needed to ensure there were no loser schools in the primary and secondary sectors.”
Te Whaiti said National’s plans to cull the so-called education bureaucracy to find the money for bulk funding were pure fantasy. “Even if the education bureaucracy was completely disestablished, National would not save enough money to implement bulk funding at the top of the scale.
“In doing so, it would completely destroy the capacity of the Ministry to support schools and develop coherent policy advice and only shift the bureaucracy onto schools, which should be concentrating on teaching kids.”
Te Whaiti said the NZCER study released earlier this year showed schools were already making tradeoffs in curriculum areas because the operations grant was insufficient. If teacher salaries were also bulk funded, schools would eventually have to make trade offs between delivering the curriculum and employing the most suitable trained and qualified teachers.
“That’s a trade off that no school should have to make.”