Teachers want ‘crisis’ resolved – then exacerbate it with their intransigence

The political “kindness and empathy” which the  Ardern coalition government  has  patented as  its trademark  doesn’t  seem to be  making  much headway  with the  teachers’ union.  Which is  ironic  in  many  ways.

Latest  reports say  primary  and intermediate teachers and  principals  have  “overwhelmingly”  rejected  the government’s  latest  pay offer , on the grounds, it’s said, it will not fix  the industry’s  staffing “crisis”.

About 30,000 New Zealand Educational Institute Te Riu Roa (NZIE) union members voted on what was the third round of offers, in a secret online ballot.  NZIE president Lynda Stuart said the message from members was that the offers did not do enough to fix the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention.

“The big concern for members was that the offers had nothing that would give teachers more time to teach or principals time to lead.” Continue reading “Teachers want ‘crisis’ resolved – then exacerbate it with their intransigence”

After expelling the charter schools, Hipkins is pressed to do better on teachers’ pay

So who  do you feel  sorry for:  primary school  teachers  who  say they are  undervalued, underpaid  and  overworked?

Or Education Minister  Chris Hipkins, who is  “disappointed”  teachers are  going  on  strike, despite the government’s “strong new offer”.

Political aficionados might find some irony  in the  whole  affair. Teachers   were   desperate  for  the Labour  Party to win the  Treasury benches,   knowing it    would be a relatively  soft touch  after  nine years  of  a flinty-faced  National government.

And  Hipkins  early  in  his term  sought to cosy   up  to the teachers’ union  by  bending to  their   demand  that charter  schools  be abolished.

Continue reading “After expelling the charter schools, Hipkins is pressed to do better on teachers’ pay”

$5bn surplus divided among 17,000 teachers – it’s not so simple when Robertson becomes involved

The looming teachers’ strike poses a real headache for the Ardern government. In throwing down the gauntlet to Education Minister Chris Hipkins, the teachers’ union has talked of a “crisis” in the schools, a desperate shortage of teachers, and of principals “in tears” with the stress of trying to ensure there is a teacher in every classroom.

Hipkins says he is disappointed, but not surprised, that primary teachers will strike again.

The government has raised its initial bid of an increased 2.2% to 2.6% a year to 3% a year over the next three years but the the gap between this and what the teachers are demanding remains wide. Continue reading “$5bn surplus divided among 17,000 teachers – it’s not so simple when Robertson becomes involved”

The de-Claring of more openness – Govt to release Cabinet papers (but with some exceptions)

The most open thing done by Clare Curran, the former Minister for Open Government, was resign, commentator Kate Hawkesby wryly observed in a newspaper column.

Indeed, Curran’s apparent fondness for clandestine meetings and her struggle to explain the extent of her use of a private email account for public business did bring her grasp of the open government portfolio into serious question.

The government’s understandable concern to show it does believe in transparency was reflected today in a decision announced by State Services Minister Chris Hipkins. Continue reading “The de-Claring of more openness – Govt to release Cabinet papers (but with some exceptions)”

So how did the politicians dish out our money this week? Let’s check the troughs …

Point of Order has been keeping an eye on how taxpayers’ money has been spent – or given away – by the Ardern Government over the past week.

Ministers typically get a warm glow from announcing spending decisions, grants or the establishment of new troughs within the authority of their portfolios.

If we add up the figures they injected into their press statements in the past week, they dished out $290.6 million (much of this accounted for in one grand announcement for scientific research from Megan Woods).

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones had a quiet week in terms of fresh announcements of handouts (or investments) but he did get the opportunity to answer a patsy Parliamentary question about the dispensation of Provincial Growth Fund largesse for the Gisborne region.

Continue reading “So how did the politicians dish out our money this week? Let’s check the troughs …”

How the Govt’s IT girl and her email secrets left Chris Hipkins floundering

The  government  is  sinking deeper  into the hole  left behind by Clare Curran   over the  appointment of a  Chief Technology  Officer.

Questioned  in Parliament,   State Services  Minister  Chris Hipkins sounded far from confident  when he  stuttered  about issues of  “natural  justice”.

He  was  floundering  not   just because of the  secret  emails  Curran  had  sent  Derek Handley,  whom she  favoured  – it seems – as  the CTO,  but because it turns  out  Handley  is a friend of   PM  Jacinda  Ardern.

Not  surprisingly,  National  thinks  the whole  process   has been  “tainted”. Continue reading “How the Govt’s IT girl and her email secrets left Chris Hipkins floundering”

More fallout from the Curran affair could follow inspection of her G-mail account

The  Curran  affair has  ended  with the  Dunedin South MP  confessing she could not stand the  “intolerable pressure”  she  had been  placed under.  Voters  may not  care  much  about either her  departure from the Ardern  ministry, nor the  causes  which lay behind it.

But her resignation has  altered the  dynamics  within  the  current  government.  Some of the gloss  has  washed  off  the coalition and – more particularly – has washed off PM  Jacinda Ardern (although she  can claim the  choice  of Clare Curran as a  minister  was made by the Labour caucus,  not by herself).

There  may  be  a  degree of  sympathy  for  Curran  who  – some say – had good instincts  for  the issues within  her  portfolios.  But then there’s  the  old  saying,  if you can’t stand the heat…. Continue reading “More fallout from the Curran affair could follow inspection of her G-mail account”

Ontario has a lesson for NZ on how to deal with universities which constrain freedom of speech

Education Minister Chris Hipkins perhaps has been too busy to notice, but the Ontario government has determined it should force post-secondary schools to discipline students who interfere with “free speech.”

If this be so, we recommend the Minister ask someone to brief him on overseas government responses to publicly funded universities which constrain freedom of speech and academic freedom.

Come to think of it, he might also get a staffer to advise him on how to answer questions we put to him last month about the apparent breach of the legislation which governs New Zealand universities when  Don Brash was banned from speaking at Massey University.

In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford’s office is dealing with this sort of campus carry-on by requiring all colleges and universities that receive government funding to publish a “free speech policy” by January 1. Continue reading “Ontario has a lesson for NZ on how to deal with universities which constrain freedom of speech”

Among the questions about Curran – can she make a Cabinet comeback?

Why would a PM want to retain as a minister someone who has committed a cardinal  mistake not once but twice? It’s a question with no immediately transparent answers.

Losing a seat in Cabinet and some portfolios may seem a severe setback, if not a mortal blow, to a political career — but if you keep the two portfolios you really covet it’s not too much of a hardship.

The financial penalty isn’t too severe either – a Cabinet minister’s annual salary is $296,007.  This drops to $249,839 for ministers outside cabinet. Continue reading “Among the questions about Curran – can she make a Cabinet comeback?”

Unitec is the immediate challenge – but Lincoln University poses problems too

Unitec,  the  country’s  largest industry  training  provider,  is giving the government   a $50 million headache as it struggles to resolve a host of issues.  But it is not the  only  problem in  the tertiary education sector:  ministers   are wrestling   with  similar  issues  at    Lincoln  University.

Lincoln’s student numbers are down and  James McWha, ex Massey, has been appointed to manage the place while a long-term solution is found.  Several universities, including Otago and Massey, are contemplating a take-over.

A cheaper, faster solution might be to restore it as Lincoln College, a constituent college of Canterbury University, returning  Lincoln to its roots as a high-end agri-business, food and plant technology institution.  But that’s all too obvious and Lincoln may slip through Canterbury’s hands without a sustained effort from Christchurch itself, led by Mayor Lianne Dalziel. Continue reading “Unitec is the immediate challenge – but Lincoln University poses problems too”