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National Fiddles While Education Burns—Brash

National Fiddles While Education Burns—Brash

Education Minister Anne Tolley's speech to the annual conference of the country's largest teacher union, the NZEI, provided graphic vindication of the education policy I announced at the same time, says ACT New Zealand leader Dr Don Brash.

Ms. Tolley confirmed that:

• The gap between the top five percent of our pupils and our bottom five percent is the worst of the top-performing countries.
• The gap between our top 25 percent and our bottom 25 percent is also the worst of those top-performing countries.
• The reading achievements of our 15-year-olds have not increased over the last 10 years. Rather, they have shown a slight decrease.
• Maths achievement has remained unchanged for 6 years.
• One in five children leaves school unable to read, write, or do maths anywhere near the level needed to succeed, both as individuals and in employment.

"While I was outlining a programme that would truly address this sorry saga of sub-mediocrity, Ms. Tolley was complacently congratulating her government for throwing money at it," says Dr Brash.

"She cited the record $12.2 billion being spent on education this year, including $36 million on new programmes to help those who are behind in reading, writing and maths.

"The problem is, as I pointed out at the weekend, it's teachers themselves in many cases who are behind in reading, writing and maths—and the current system makes it impossible to remove them, or pay better teachers more.

"While Ms Tolley's government refuses to contemplate performance pay for teachers, or having funding follow the child, or any other of the measures I outlined at the weekend, many pupils will continue to receive a sub-standard education, no matter how much taxpayer money is spent on it.

"It's noteworthy that both the NZEI and the PPTA dismissed my speech, sight unseen, before they'd even read it.

"This was itself a vindication of my call for education to be freed from the stranglehold of the unions and the bureaucracy, and for the fresh winds of choice, competition and diversity to blow through the staid, state-school monolith," Dr Brash concludes.

ENDS

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