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NZEI national president looks forward to new era

Support each other and be proactive in the new millennium, National President Darrell Ward told about 400 representatives at the opening of Annual Meeting 1999 today at the Plaza International Hotel.

Praising the efforts and successes of members over the past century, he stressed collective support as NZEI enters the new millennium.

“This year that has meant supporting our early childhood members as they press for pay parity with school teachers,” he said. “It has also meant defending our support staff members as they contend with the threat of losing their jobs because of the community wage scheme.”

“As professionals in education we need to pay heed to the general well-being of our profession,” Darrell Ward said. “Making our workplace a slightly modified replica of the workplace of the 19th century is totally unacceptable.”

Darrell pledged continued opposition to compulsory national testing and the Employment Contracts Act. He reserved his harshest criticism for the current schools funding scheme.

“Bulk funding does not help build communities, it undermines them,” he said. “Bulk funding does not democratise communities, it casts them adrift to sink or swim on their own. Bulk funding does not enhance education, it defiles it by threatening the jobs of qualified teachers.”

He also spoke of the need to heed the call of NZEI’s Maori strand for improvements in educational outcomes for Maori students. “If ever there was a need for education reform in the most constructive sense of that abused term, it is to end the disparities in educational outcomes for our Maori students.”

He challenged members to get involved in the coming election and urged parents to vote. “By not voting,” he said, “people forfeit the opportunity to improve education.”

In closing, he likened the NZEI relationship with politicians and education policy makers to a dance with the rug being occasionally pulled out from under NZEI. There may be improvements with a change of partners, but the rug will continue to shift.

“As we take that first step on to the dance floor of the new century, I believe that what ties NZEI members together and will give us undying strength is our professional and industrial solidarity.”
END

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