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Where are National and Labour’s education policies

Why are we still waiting?

Where are National and Labour’s education policies?

Aside from Labour’s announcement today of a universal student allowance phased in over three years, little of substance has emerged from either party.

From Labour so far it’s largely been business as usual. The party has failed to answer questions on critical problems in education posed by QPEC several months back. These can be found here http://www.qpec.org.nz/Election-2008.html

From National so far there is a depressing list of ideologically-driven priorities which focus on more-market, vouchers and privatisation instead of focusing on improving teaching and learning. National so far has promised:

• Doubling state handouts to private schools (while pegging state school funding increases to the rate of inflation)

• Vouchers for 16 and 17 year olds for education to use at school, polytech or in private institutions

• More government funding for private education providers through the Tertiary Education Commission

• National testing whereby primary and intermediate schools will be publicly ranked according to success or failure in national tests. (“Schools will also have to report each year on the whole school's performance against national standards”)

It’s a tired list of policies supported by the Business Roundtable’s Education Forum. The close consultation between the Forum, the Maxim Institute and National Party at the time of the last election in 2005 was detailed in Nicky Hagar’s “The Hollow Men”

However neither Labour nor National have seriously addressed the big issues in education such as:

• the long tail of underachievement in our schools (aka the long tail of poverty)

• creeping privatisation through increased fees at all levels

We are still waiting…

John Minto

National Chairperson

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