EDUCANZ - between a rock and a hard place

I feel the need to begin this post with a few disclaimers:
  • I am a passionate and committed PPTA member. 
  • I am current a member of a NZ Teachers Council. 
  • I am feeling genuinely stuck...between a rock and hard place. 
 As many of you will have seen, EDUCANZ announced that nominations are now open.

Source: http://www.education.govt.nz/

This was followed (not unexpectedly) by an announcement from PPTA that a ballot would be held to determine whether they will be refusing to put up (or accept) nominations and whether they will be instructing members to do the same.

Source: Radio NZ

And of course I completely understand where PPTA is coming from. As one of the many who fought a number of the legislations that ended up in the Education Amendment Act 2015 I submitted a written submission and and presented an oral submission that clearly outline what I did and still do see as major flaws in this act.

There are several issues with the act in relation to EDUCANZ in particular. 

There is the issue that the process for forming the council is clearly undemocratic, with nominations being open to all, but final selection being made by the Minister of Education. This is of course even harder to accept when you consider that the council is actually funded by the teachers themselves.  

There is also the issue of changing the code of ethics (which are viewed as aspirational) to a code of conduct (which suggest a baseline for behaviour) which to be fair IS insulting, particularly in light of the claim that one of the aims of the new council forming is to elevate the status of teachers??

Add to this the concerns around the stated aim to "to ensure that appraisals made by professional leaders for the issue and renewal of practising certificates achieve a reasonable and consistent standard, by auditing and moderating the appraisals made for at least 10% of the practising certificates issued or renewed in each year " Source: Section 382 Education Amendment Act 2015 which I actually wouldn't have a huge issue with if it weren't for the implications this will have for council employee workloads and the potential practicing certificate fee increase this will undoubtedly lead to. 

A fee increase in and of itself don't actually cause me undue concern - the reality is that we have been paying comparatively low fees and even if we weren't about to change councils a fee increase of some sort would have to occur to sustain even business as usual.

Add to this the fact that I see real potential in the forming of EDUCANZ. I believe there are several functions that will be of benefit to our teaching profession such as those outlined below:

Source: Education Amendment Act 2015
There is also the small fact that a big part of me would love to be on EDUCANZ. I have loved my short stint on the NZTC and can already see huge potential for the way their work may be honoured, continued and built upon to develop and even stronger body for leading the education sector.

Add to this the fact that I have seen first hand the excellent work that the present staff do - remember EDUCANZ is not just a council it is a team of professionals that do the hard work of processing registrations, approving and reviewing ITE courses,  delivering PD and managing competence and disciplinary processes. If we turn our back on EDUCANZ are we also turning our back on them?

Consider also that "EDUCANZ will be independent of Government. Unlike NZTC, which is a crown entity, EDUCANZ will be an independent statutory body and will be able to make independent comment on education policy. This will enable EDUCANZ to lead the public debate on education.
The EDUCANZ Council will set its strategic direction in consultation with the sector." Source: EDCANZ Transition. Surely this is an excellent shift.

And then there is the million dollar question - will snubbing the nomination process and the council even make a difference? Will a vote of no confidence be enough to result in a change of legislation? Could we instead be presented with a situation where no left-leaning, future thinking folks stand and give Minister Parata absolutely no choice but to appoint conservative, status-quo protecting council members. Of course, she may well do this anyway, but there a part of me saying if I don't put my hat (or the hat of like-minded folk) in the ring there really is NO chance of having a voice for a good chunk of our sector. 

Yes, we could all disengage and stand shoulder to shoulder, resolute that nominating someone or nominating yourself is by it's very virtue acceptance of fundamentally flawed legislation - but I genuinely don't think it is as straight forward as that. 

As a active, passionate PPTA member I understand how unions operate and not engaging with EDUCANZ could work. 

I am however concerned that my freedom as an individual to make my own choice may (depending on the outcome of the ballot) paint me as a picket line crossing "scab" and may indeed make me vulnerable. Which is sort of ironic considering reducing one's vulnerability is the very reason many join PPTA in the first place. Or (again) maybe PPTA's strategy won't work and EDUCANZ will survive AND we will have missed a chance of at least nominating a genuinely diverse group of people to be considered for the council. 

As I said at the beginning I am conflicted and I am increasing feeling that I am stuck between a rock and a hard place.

At the end of the day, I still keep coming back to the voice in my head and the feeling in my gut that says if there is any chance that you can sit at the table - you should (at least bloody well try to) sit at the table! 

To be honest all of this just makes me appreciate what Ernest Hemingway's reportedly once said - 'Never sit a table when you can stand at the bar.'

Comments

  1. Thanks for your well-thought through and clearly argued post Claire. You're right that this is tricky, but I think that where you ended, standing at the bar rather is the place to be! It won't be long before we see clearly that the table's so rotten and borer ridden that it's about to collapse of its own accord. For a less flippant response - see mine and Bronwyn's comments to Steve on his post on the same topic - over here. https://stevemouldey.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/what-if-ppta-does-boycott-educanz/

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  2. Thanks for your thoughts Claire. I am pleased to see I'm not the only one conflicted. While I oppose the amendments completely and would like to see no engagement in EDUCANZ while it is not a democratic body and is at the whim of the minister in regards to people appointed, I am conflicted by which action the unions take to deal with the situation.

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