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School Trustees Question Treasury's Motives

12 February 2013

School Trustees Question Treasury's Motives

Wellington Wairarapa School Trustees Association have concerns that, as was the case with last year’s class size debacle, Treasury are calling the shots over public education, says Chris Toa, Chairperson, WWSTA.

Despite no mandate to do so, and a clear message from the people of the 1990s, Treasury have indicated a preference for bulk funding in schools. It was revealed last week, in documents released under the Official Information Act, that it was Treasury’s plan to prioritise radical workplace reform in education, including bulk funding of teachers' salaries.

Bulk funding risks yet another nail in the coffin of public schooling in New Zealand., warns Mr Toa. School Boards of Trustees under financial pressure would find themselves considering the cost of employing a teacher over the quality or experience of that teacher. It would be a case of the poor getting poorer while the rich got richer. Salaries funded in the present system mean that even the schools facing the most challenges amongst their student body can attract, and pay for, the very best of the teaching community. It creates a degree of equity that bulk funding would destroy.

“The bulk funding move follows the debacle over class sizes, also driven by Treasury. You would have to wonder if they have had a hand in Novopay too” asks Mr Toa. A clear picture is emerging of unjustified attack on the public school system, at the same time propping up certain financially unviable private schools by manipulating their status to allow public funding. The Education Amendment Bill, currently being considered, would take the next step of taxpayers funding Charter Schools who may act without the constraints, measures and legislation present in the public system.

It may suit a National government (and their close associates in the business world) to destabilize public schooling in New Zealand to the point that any parent able to, will opt to pay for private schooling, thus reduce the total number of students, schools and teachers funded in the public system, but it is unlikely to suit the most vulnerable in our society and the fair-minded of us, states Mr Toa. “Trustees believe in a publicly funded education system and every child in New Zealand having the ability to access that quality education. That’s why they stand to be on school boards.”


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