Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Education minister slams union disruption of learning

Associate Education Minister David Seymour is calling on the Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) to “put ideology to the side and focus on students’ learning” as the union holds paid teacher meetings across New Zealand about charter schools.    

“The PPTA is disrupting schools up and down the country over the next two weeks by holding 38 lengthy meetings with teachers so they can push out misinformation about charter schools,” said Mr Seymour.     

“At a time when we have a crisis in this country with school attendance and achievement, the PPTA has chosen to pull teachers away from their important work and has told its approximately 25,000 members that the meetings are to mobilise their membership and “send an important signal to the public and to government that a taniwha is stirring.”   

Mr Seymour said the Government was focussed on increasing student attendance, ensuring students get qualifications that will set them up for life, and providing choice to students, parents and educators.

“Meanwhile the PPTA is disrupting secondary students’ educations to oppose a policy which will improve educational outcomes and is funded to apply to about 2% of schools,” he said.

“It is estimated this distraction from the PPTA will cost around $4.8 million in lost education time alone, the equivalent of funding around 80 teacher aides for one year.  

“Schools are required to either be open for instruction or make up any half days later in the year, but with teachers heading to meetings we have already heard reports of students playing football all afternoon or having two hours of PE.”

All of this, and the PPTA’s opposition to the policy is completely incorrect, he said.

“They state that charter schools have failed overseas. The evidence shows the opposite. A 2023 study by the Centre for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University found charter schools produced positive learning outcomes for students when compared to public schools, and that students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds experience greater outcomes.     

“They also say that the Government will fund charter school students more than state school students. Wrong again, the Government is committed to funding charter schools at the same rate as state schools.      

“The PPTA should just be honest. Their opposition to charter schools is because of fear they will lose their membership fees and their grip on the sector. Charter schools will not be state schools and therefore will not be bound by current union contracts. I say to them it’s time they put the students at the heart of education.  

“Every student deserves an excellent education, and every parent should have the ability to move their child to a school that best fits their unique needs. Both are possible, and I encourage unions to do what’s right for students, forget worrying about their fees and get on board.”  

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