Thursday, December 20, 2012

How to stay onside with teachers

As was to be expected, there was an almost deafening chorus on Morning Report this morning calling for Hekia Parata's head. But the comment that most interested me came from Massey University education academic Professor John O'Neill, who said Parata's biggest mistake from the outset was that she got offside with workers in the education sector - in other words, teachers.

Problem is, the only way to stay onside with the teachers' unions is to allow them to dictate policy - the easy option, but obviously untenable in a democracy. The price of their support is to avoid doing anything that might upset them. No other body of public sector workers behaves like this.

This is not to say that teacher unions don't sometimes have good and legitimate reasons to oppose government policies or lobby for public support. But ultimately we elect governments, not teacher unions, to determine policy. That may be why John Key feels it necessary to stand up for his beleaguered education minister, even when her record so far has been less than stellar.


Mark Hubbard said...

You might be interested, at least get a laugh, from the second paragraph of my blog byline. Although it's more of a blug :)

Have started reading your blog this year, Karl, and been enjoying it, though I don't comment much. Look forward to keeping up in the New Year.

Jigsaw said...

Of course the media all seem to assume that all teachers support the teacher unions. As a former member of both teacher unions I can say that this is not so and many teachers belong simply for pay reasons and in no way support the unions stance on other matters. the teacher unions are run by activists who in many cases do so to protect and enhance their own prospects.

Karl du Fresne said...

Thank you.
I don't for a moment doubt what you say. I know of teachers myself who want nothing to do with the unions. I should try harder to avoid giving the impression that the word "teachers" is synonymous with the PPTA and NZEI.