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Ryall’s plan to gag teachers is out of order

4 December 2009 Media Statement

Ryall’s plan to gag teachers is out of order

An attempt by the State Services Commission to silence criticism of the Government by teachers and principals should be stopped in its tracks, Labour’s State Services spokesperson Grant Robertson said today.

“It is the absolute right of teachers and principals to speak out on issues of the day, which ever party may be in power, if they disagree with policy direction,” Grant Robertson said.

“It’s a major concern to hear the SSC wants teachers and principals to be controlled by the public service code of conduct.

“The code is for members of the core public service, not hardworking teachers, principals and Boards of Trustees. BOT members are private citizens who provide most of their time voluntarily. Placing restrictions on them is ridiculous.

“The SSC would only take this kind of unprecedented action by order of the State Services Minister so Tony Ryall needs to front up and tell us what he’s up to.

“Who is he trying to protect? By trying to enforce a gag, Tony Ryall is showing his contempt for teachers. He needs to show them more respect.”

Labour’s Education spokesperson Trevor Mallard says this could also have implications in the classroom.

“Taken to its logical conclusion this could see teachers restricted in what they could say or teach if topics in the public eye pop up in the classroom,” Trevor Mallard said.

“National is heading down a dangerous path if it thinks it can silence teachers.

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“Many of them are disgusted at the way Anne Tolley is hastily ramming through her National Standards and this attempt to gag them is adding fuel to the fire.”

While the SSC claims there is “quite a lot of work to be done” before details are finalised, Grant Robertson says it shouldn’t bother.

“This ill-conceived idea should go no further and an apology is in order. Tony Ryall has no right to muzzle teachers and he will soon find out that he can’t.”

ENDS

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