May 29th is a significant day for those involved in education within New Zealand. It is the first time in our educational history where primary and secondary teachers in the compulsory schooling sector will unite as one to strike. This planned day of action will send a very powerful message to the New Zealand Government. As a classroom teacher, someone that is involved in leadership of a school and most importantly a mum, I am in full support of this Wednesday’s strike.
Whenever I make a decision I often reflect on the ‘why’ and when considering whether to vote to strike, this is exactly what I did. What it finally came down to, was that I want my children and all students within New Zealand to have a first class education and if this is to happen, then change is needed.
Up until this point the government appears to ‘hear’ what the majority of teachers are saying, however there has been very little movement at the bargaining table that would support this thinking. The small changes that the government are proposing will do very little to address New Zealand’s education crisis.
So what do we need? The New Zealand Government needs to show how important they believe teachers are, by paying teachers a salary that is indicative of the high level of expertise that they possess. The current teaching salary scale does not reflect this. The New Zealand Government also needs to ensure that the working conditions that teachers face on a daily basis are conducive to developing excellent student outcomes as at this point in time they are not. The current working conditions particularly around workload and classroom pressures are pushing teachers to constantly ask themselves ‘is this really worth it?’ with many teachers considering alternative career options. If these two significant factors are not addressed, New Zealand will continue to face the growing crisis of attracting and retaining quality educators and New Zealand’s student population will feel the detrimental effects of this.
I know that by striking, I am inconveniencing New Zealand families, with childcare for families being very problematic on this day. I also know that by striking, I will lose a day’s salary which is very much needed within my own household. However, my “why” factor still leads me to strike, as the current education landscape within New Zealand is unsustainable.
A very loud and clear message needs to be sent to the New Zealand Government that significant changes are needed. The time is now.