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Gerry In The House: Excellence in education

Gerry In The House: Excellence in education

Regular readers, as well as those who keep up with the news, we all know that the education system has become a mess under Labour - what with NCEA, scholarships and the ballooning centralised bureaucracy in Wellington.

Labour has for too long been far too politically correct and complacent about the failures in our schools and education system.

And this week, National came up with the solution to get our kids back on the path to success.

Improving basic literacy and numeracy skills needs to become a national priority once again, and we will ensure that no child is left behind. That is why the next National Government will issue maths and reading vouchers to all children that aren’t meeting age-related standards at age seven to ensure that they can get the help they need.

We will fundamentally overhaul the NCEA and reintroduce demanding scholarship exams where students are given meaningful grades. The meaningless tinkering around the edges that Labour is planning will not do – dramatic changes are what’s needed. If you look at your kids’ results you should be able to see how they are doing, and indeed how the school is doing. NCEA currently doesn’t do that.

We will increase parental choice by removing zoning, lifting the state’s contribution to independent schools, and supporting the expansion of integrated schools where there is a demand.

Zoning has been one issue that many of you have contacted me about. A recent study in the Ilam electorate showed that home buyers paid a premium of $20,000 to own a home in the Burnside High School zone, $70,000 in the Christchurch Boys’ High School zone and over $130,000 in the Christchurch Girls’ High School zone. This is happening up and down the country, and it needs to stop.

We must empower good schools, good principals and good teachers to use their professional skills to provide our children with an outstanding education. We will not stop the outstanding state schools – of which there are many – expanding to meet the demand by parents, and to meet their potential for education excellence.

We will return schools to the communities that they belong to, rather than a centralised decision-making apparatus in Wellington. Under a National Government, schools will be able to make their own decisions about how to run things.

Under Labour, the number of education bureaucrats has increased at almost three times the rate of growth in teacher numbers. That’s an increase of more than 1200 new education bureaucrats since Labour took office. National will slash the education bureaucracy and use the freed up funds to improve the funding of schools. Principals and school boards will make the decisions about how best to use this funding, not bureaucrats.

You can read Dr Brash’s full education policy speech at www.national.org.nz

What National will do for our senior citizens

All the major political parties trooped along to the Grey Power AGM this week to make their case for the vote of older New Zealanders. They all made promises that look good on the surface, but when you look a little deeper it’s apparent that it is just not going to happen.

The only party that didn’t attempt to buy votes with promises that they can’t, or won’t keep, was National.

This is an issue of great importance to all New Zealanders, not just for the obvious reasons. New Zealand’s population is growing older, right now one in eight of us are over 65, by 2040 this number will be one in four.

It is National’s commitment that there will be extra help to address the current crisis in aged care, which has seen 37 facilities close down in the past three years. This crisis is completely unacceptable and will be National’s major focus for our senior citizens.

It is our immediate priority upon reaching the Beehive to ensure that the industry has adequate funding for those in care through the disability services budget. It’s obvious that when there is a squeeze on the finances, as many elder care facilities are facing, there is a drop in the quality of care that residents receive. This is also unacceptable, and I know, from many of you who write to me and meet with me, that this is an abhorrent situation.

Dr Don Brash also announced last year that we have committed ourselves to retaining the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. That is, we have confirmed our support for the current levels of entitlement – 65% of the average wage at age 65 for a married couple, and we will continue the Fund in its current form and at the current level of entitlement.

That the best way for us to have security in our retirement is to have a comprehensive plan to secure New Zealand's future for us all.

To do this, we must deal with the critical issues that face our country as a whole – welfare dependency, education, Treaty grievances, law and order and taxation. If we deal with these issues then we will have a strong nation that can adequately look after the increasing elderly population.

Gerry Brownlee

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