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Minister Buying a Cheaper Future with Class-Size Increases

Minister Buying a Cheaper Future with Class-Size Increases

Young Labour, 17 May 2012


Following Education Minister Hekia Parata's pre-budget announcement yesterday, Young Labour is echoing calls from the education profession to abandon an ideological experiment with New Zealand's kids.

Young Labour spokesperson Benjamin Ross argues the Minister’s goal of "improving quality teaching" is admirable, but should focus on expertise, skills and experience, not National Standards, performance pay and charter schools. "Hekia Parata has pledged to lift achievement for Maori and Pasifika children, but in blindly pushing through Treasury's changes she's shown exactly what she's here to do. The Minister isn't in search of a better education system for New Zealanders, she's in search of a cheaper one."

Young Labour Pacific Island representative Kieran Meredith believes the announcement lacks economic, educational and moral sense. “News that as many as 600 teaching positions could be cut was devastating when I thought about what Hekia Parata promised for the Pasifika community."

No country trialling experiments to use kids' standardised testing results to determine Teacher salaries has been successful. Many, like the US, UK and Sweden are doing worse. "Why, when we have an education system that consistently shows up near the top of OECD rankings despite spending less than any of the countries above us, would we move toward a system used by countries tens of places below us?" Ross said today.

Mr Meredith says Parata has gotten her priorities wrong in failing to address Pasifika unemployment, low university entrance rates and low educational outcomes. “At a time when unemployment among Pasifika is at an all-time high, Hekia Parata decides to take the attention away from some of our most vulnerable and educationally disadvantaged children and instead increase student ratio numbers.” Meredith was quoted as saying.

Ironically, research commissioned by Treasury not all that long ago 'found statistically and economically significant effects of children being assigned to persistently smaller classes on both childhood test score growth as well as on early adult outcomes such as completed education and unemployment experiences.' "To trial an ideological approach when dealing with our kids, our future leaders and thinkers, is reckless to say the least." Said Meredith.

"Increasing class sizes will affect 90% of schools. It's not something the profession wants, it's not something parents want, and it's not something we want. How any struggling child will be able to connect effectively with the teacher if they are competing against 26 other children is beyond me."


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