PPTA gifts books to John Key in the spirit of Christmas
8 December 2011
In the spirit of Christmas PPTA is committing itself to help John Key build up his supply of holiday reading.
“In the 12 working days remaining before Christmas we are undertaking to send Mr Key a different item of instructive literature each day,” said PPTA president Robin Duff.
“Being educationists, we’d like to start from the beginning with book one being a New Zealand Oxford Dictionary. We have concerns that the prime minister has been using some words ambiguously.”
(NB: Letter Robin sent with the first gift to John Key below.)
Ref: ER 6/9; SO 1/22/2
8 December 2011
Hon John Key
Private Bag 18 888
Dear Prime Minister
To say I am disappointed with the announcement of the charter school experiment would be an understatement. It is a complete mystery to me why schools are required to provide credible evidence to justify every educational decision they make, and are judged and audited accordingly, yet politicians announce significant and costly changes with nary a nod to the evidence.
I am not convinced in the slightest that this policy derives from the coalition agreement with the ACT party. The appointment of a person recruited from overseas (who happened to have extensive experience with the UK equivalent of charter schools) to the position of secretary for education was just too convenient to be credible. And the very late release of the very vaguely-worded National Party education manifesto inevitably inclines one to think that ACT's role here is one of camouflage and distraction.
PPTA has made considerable effort to publicise the possibilities of a coherent, collaborative plan for New Zealand education, one that draws on the best ideas from educationally successful countries. At our last meeting with the minister of education, we even discussed the Ontario "kitchen table" approach to managing educational change. Yet, it seems the lure of the one-off, simplistic, fragmented quick-fix, blindly copied from other countries that don't even operate in the same education context as us, remains irresistible to New Zealand politicians. We note too, that in spite of advocating for the new policy, your coalition partner, John Banks is under the delusion that New Zealand already has charter schools. If the main proponent and associate education minister is so ignorant about New Zealand schools, what prospect is there that the policy will be anything other than a taxpayer-funded lolly scramble?
In the light of this, I am particularly disappointed with the use of words such as "strong" and "principled" to describe your leadership in the recent election advertising. It isn't "strong" to allow ACT to toy with our children's education and it isn't "principled" to deliver a policy after the election that you were conspicuously silent on prior to that. And surely the word leadership includes a moral and ethical dimension that is not discernible in the cynical and hypocritical decision to subject our most at-risk children to an experiment that does not have evidential backing.
As we are an education union and believe powerfully in the capacity for education to transform lives and minds, we are committing to sending you twelve books over the next twelve days before Christmas and are hopeful that you will find these instructive.
The first book we are sending is The New Zealand Oxford Paperback Dictionary because we believe you have used words in a way that may be easily misconstrued. We are hopeful that the dictionary will eliminate future ambiguity.
The other eleven books are to follow.