"I'm sick of National's teacher bashing" - Mallard
He said Prime Minister Jenny Shipley hooned in on the issue last night with her opening statement on a leaders' television debate saying that there was too much focus on teachers and not enough on children.
"That kind of ignorant populism conveniently ignores the view that the most crucial factor determining how well our children learn is how good their teacher is.
"When a child is happy at school, learning a lot, and striving to reach their potential, it almost always comes down to having a good teacher.
"Labour's policy has a huge focus on teacher education - ensuring that would-be teachers get a top notch qualification when they train and that professional development is on-going throughout their teaching career. We see it as so important that we will link professional development to the teacher registration policy. It is too important to float as something which some teachers and schools do and others ignore.
"By contrast, National is determined to make professional development contestable and therefore unavailable in a reasonable amount to some teachers - particularly in small rural schools.
"We won't be telling individuals the exact nature of the professional development they undertake. But we will be sending the message that developing skills to help children learn better is essential.
"We also have plans to encourage top teachers into hard to staff areas so that children from the most disadvantaged communities are not disadvantaged when they are at school.
"The reality is that most teachers are skilled, hard-working, and caring individuals who have a much greater interest in New Zealand children achieving than any National Party politician that I know. It is about time that Jenny Shipley and her Ministers recognised that," Trevor Mallard said.