While Education Minister Hekia Parata welcomed the passing of Education Amendment Bill (No 2), not everyone shared in her enthusiasm.
The Labour Party’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins described the new law as “the final nail in the coffin for teachers wanting representation on their own professional body”.
Primary teachers’ union NZEI Te Riu Roa has taken this view all along, maintaining EDUCANZ members should be directly elected out of the profession by the profession, instead of by Ministerial appointment as the new legislation outlines.
The Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) has today expressed its anger at the Bill’s progression.
“Six months ago more than a dozen credible teachers stood for and were elected by their peers to represent them on the teachers’ council. This is the last time that will happen,” said PPTA president Angela Roberts.
Roberts said it was time for “battle lines to be drawn”.
“We are still considering our options but I can assure you teachers will not be taking this lying down,” she said.
NZEI National President Louise Green said teachers also had concerns around the introduction of a Code of Conduct which could effectively gag their ability to speak out and advocate for children.
“This is not about improving education for children, this is about trying to remove the professional voice from teaching,” said Green.
The Bill also introduces changes to governance arrangements for universities and wānanga by reducing council size and removing the right of staff and students to have democratically elected representatives.
Tertiary Education Union national president Sandra Grey says the union intends to campaign at each local university and wānanga community for their council to set aside one-third of council seats for democratically elected staff and student representatives.
However, Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce denies the Bill will affect institutions’ autonomy.
“The changes will not affect institutional autonomy or academic freedom, which are guaranteed by section 161 of the Education Act 1989, nor will they lead to more Ministerial control over councils.”
The Bill also strengthens the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students and introduces an independent contract disputes resolution scheme for international students.
See also The Yellow Brick Road to EDUCANZ