17 August 2005
A BIG New Idea
The reception for National's education policy has turned increasingly positive in the sector since Jim Anderton launched his bid to be the next minister of education. Jim doesn't think business can do business so there is no way he is going to let parents and teachers run schools. Clearly Labour has reached the end of an era of educational thinking. Or as a teacher so elegantly expressed it's time for change, time to "flush the duck".
In the light of union inspired rumours and lies, here are the real National policy positions.
* National will honour all collective agreements in place. These are legally binding documents.
* Bulk funding will be done on a no loser formula - so it won't be average salaries.
* National will fix NCEA, not abolish it - more on this below.
* National will introduce national standards for literacy and numeracy within the current planning and reporting framework. We will not introduce national testing, so there will be no new tests.
* National will fund Professional Development. We will look at the quality of the $100m or so spent on it because I am told every day that some of it doesn't work.
* National will continue to increase education spending. In 2006/07 we will meet the current budget commitment of over $350m increased salaries.
* National will follow the Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Education. We continue to oppose the 20 Hours free policy.
NCEA Turns a Corner
Yours Truly and some others have copped a load of abuse from teachers and Ministers for criticising NCEA but the Martin report on NZQA vindicated that criticism. Finally someone has said the assessment is unfair and needs to be fixed. Finally someone has nailed the attitude problem in NZQA. But as usual NZQA say they are doing it all already - yeah right.
National will focus on fixing assessment and trimming the workload to fit current teaching time.
University Pay Round off the Rails.
You have to have some sympathy for university staff dragging into their 5th or 6th week of strikes. Last year Steve Maharey told them that if they went for a national collective, the Government would pay the bill. Then Steve was sacked from the tertiary portfolio and Trevor took over. He told them the Government wouldn't pay the bill, no matter what they did, because there was no money. Then suddenly Labour found $300 million and gave the lot to the students.
The strikes are a symptom of failed policy. A strategy everyone in the sector agreed with led to tertiary education spending running $1 billion per year higher than 5 years ago.
National is with Mallard - the universities have to deal with this one. After a major sort-out in tertiary spending and bureaucracy, there might be some money for quality.
Tax Cuts On The Horizon
National's tax package will be announced on Monday. Everyone in the staff room, and all working parents will benefit. National will not match Labour's promised new spending, but we can meet current commitments and increase spending. As the tertiary controversy has shown, the public believe 6 years of big spending leaves room for a look at value for money.