What if PPTA does boycott EDUCANZ?

With legislation passed, it is now full steam ahead for EDUCANZ to replace the New Zealand Teachers Council. In response to this, the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) is proposing a boycott of EDUCANZ and has asked all branches to run a ballot on this idea.

Why boycott? It is a flawed legislation. Teachers can no longer vote for representation on their own professional body, the aspirational code of ethics is being replaced with a patronising code of conduct and has a major focus on auditing teacher appraisal processes. Although, to be honest, I do see the positive side of auditing appraisal processes as well – how many of these are actually being done as a tick box affair as compared to operating in a way that helps us improve as professionals? Still a boycott would aim to build public pressure to force changes to the legislation.

We will still, however, all have to pay EDUCANZ to renew our teacher registration (and early signs are that fees will rise quite a bit) as it is illegal for us to be in the classroom without this. So effectively, if we boycott EDUCANZ we will give them money to complete their aims but remove any possibility of our voice having an influence in what that aim looks like in practice.

What is the aim of EDUCANZ?

And more succinctly:

So with clearly stated aims of strengthening teaching and investing in leadership and quality teaching, they will be doing this based upon the membership money paid to them by teachers. When the Ministry of Education review of Professional Learning and Development is completed, there is the possibility that EDUCANZ will also take over the direction of PLD for NZ teachers.

This is where I see the boycott not only being a worthless exercise but actually being completely nonsensical. EDUCANZ would have our money and be able to go about their business without any chance of us being on the Board or even being able to add our voice into the consultation processes that the Board would run.

As Claire Amos pointed out in her exceptional blog post last night there is every possibility that even if PPTA boycotts engagement with EDUCANZ, it could still survive and we will be left with no chance of having a voice.

I have no current aspiration to be on the Board of EDUCANZ as I have enough on my plate at the present time. I do, however, strongly wish to have the chance to be represented by people who share similar views to me on education (sure Parata may not select anyone that I agree with but we certainly have more chance than if we don’t make any nominations). And I definitely want to be able to take part in consultation processes that could have an impact on how my money is used, my profession represented and direction set for what professional learning is funded in NZ.

p.s. Disclaimer: I have always belonged to PPTA as a teacher and am currently a Branch Chair

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10 thoughts on “What if PPTA does boycott EDUCANZ?

  1. Hi Steve.
    Super (& not surprising!) to see you HPSS types engaging so thoughtfully with this. While I appreciate the desire to ‘stay in the tent’ on this – I’m afraid that this is a tent that’s about to catch fire and we’re going to be much better off outside it!
    Let’s look at those aims of Educanz again.

    “The purpose of Educanz will be to ensure safe and high quality leadership, teaching and learning…through raising the status of the profession.”

    This statement, which leads the legislation setting up the new body, shows the muddied thinking and lack of clarity around what Educanz is supposed to do. Yes, ‘ensure safe and high quality teaching and leadership’ (‘learning’, well, that’s another story – what happens in the heads of learners seems to be a bit beyond the remit… but that’s another story – viz Nuthall!) But how ‘raising the status of the profession’ will accomplish this is not explained, and doesn’t make sense at all. In fact, it would make a lot more sense if ‘ensure safe and high quality’ was the purpose, and ‘raise the status’ was the outcome – reversing the sentiment altogether. More importantly – this begs the question “How could/ can EDUCANZ raise the status of teaching?” Is it reasonable to expect a board which has no influence at all on fundamental things like teacher working conditions (class sizes, technology, plant), pay, or what the Minister of the day says about teachers to be able to ‘raise its status’? Raising the status of teaching will take a helluva lot more than advertising campaigns (paid for by teachers), award ceremonies or nice websites.

    This is simply one demonstration (from the first section no less) of what a complete dog this legislation is. The Teachers Council’s own submission on the bill went through it in the sort of detail that only they could – and identified dozens more fundamental weaknesses. They were not addressed at all by the amendments made in Select Committee- indeed the MoE unit writing and overseeing the legislation’s progress didn’t even bother meeting with them. The risk of challenge via regulations review committee or legal avenues to some of the basic functions is very high with this new body.

    I’ll give one more example. Someone closely involved in the legislative process who has been intimately involved in regulation of many professions told me that she has never seen an instance of an ‘independent statutory body’ created in which there is no mechanism for that body to be accountable to the profession it regulates. This is a uniquely bad law.

    In regards to the issue of fees – I absolutely see your concerns . I think the solution that the Executive has come up with to this (which you’ll be hearing about very soon – next few weeks at the latest) is a very good one.

    Sitting out on Educanz is not the same as saying we don’t think that teachers need a regulatory body. To me, if members decide to boycott Educanz, it presents an opportunity for us to develop a really high quality alternative with the full buy in of the profession -and get it drafted up and ready to go when the government sees sense (or, more likely, changes!)

    • Thanks for the thorough comment, Tom!

      I truly do agree that EDUCANZ is a dog’s breakfast of legislation and the loss of democracy is utterly ridiculous. I just felt that the other side needed to be pointed out so that people could have informed discussions before voting in their branch ballots (not that I expect this post to get read by all PPTA members!).

      I really do think people need to think about what it might mean for us to not get involved in consultation opportunities on the strategic direction of EDUCANZ and the Code of Conduct – I emailed EDUCANZ asking what consultation there would be during transition and these are the 2 areas with planned consultation apparently.

      Once again, thanks for the discussion on this, it is important that people do discuss their ideas and not just sit by apathetically.

  2. It’s good that we are having a discussion because it’s worth thinking about but I have to sum up your view, Steve, as a triumph of hope over experience. We can go back to 2010 when Educanz was first mooted in the form of the “Vision for the Profession” – there was no consultation with the profession, and the concerns raised in the submissions were ignored. The bulldozer rolled on and teachers were ignored once again this time throughout the Select Committee process. Now the minister has the legislation in place and the power to put her favorites on the Council and we are to believe that the new Council will magically become democratic and consultative. That’s simply not on the agenda and imagining that a single person hand-picked by the minister to nominally “represent” secondary teachers will influence that agenda is not credible. As the PPTA President has said – it doesn’t matter how wise and principled the members of the Council are, they will be tightly bound by two things: flawed legislation and the political control over appointments. There is absolutely no accountability to the profession.

    Huge fee increases are inevitable once Educanz starts trying to deliver on its extensive range of functions and the council members will be charged with justifying and rationalising those increases to teachers. There will be nowhere to hide once that news hits the staff room.

    There only two acceptable models of a Teaching Council:
    1. A lean, mean machine that does only the functions associated with entry registration, competence and discipline for which teachers pay but have no elected representation, or
    2 A broader body that has, as well as the entry/exit functions, a range of professional leadership functions – teachers pay for it but the body has to be genuinely teacher-led.

    Educanz is neither fish nor foul and that contradiction will be what destroys it.

    PS. There are members wanting a fee ban.and while that is not out of the question it is very, very tricky legally so there is no proposal to go there at the moment. PPTA executive is, however, working on a plan to rein in the Educanz cost explosion. There will be information about this sent out next week.

    • Thanks for the comment Bronwyn, really appreciate Head Office taking notice of my post!

      I am really interested in how some members are saying online that they are not going to pay any $ to EDUCANZ without considering the legal ramifications of this. I think it is imperative that your extra information gets out to branches asap.

      Yes, I do err on the side of hope – there are plenty of other posts on this blog that prove my optimistic mindset – but I truly think we need to be strategic and put up some high quality candidates that meet the stated requirements. This way we have a leg to stand on if none are appointed. It would enable us to show the public that high quality educators were ignored and that would be evidence of biased selection processes. How can we prove bias if no quality candidates are allowed to put their names forward?

  3. If I were the minister I would put the person with the PPTA links on first, confident in the knowledge that they would be powerless to change anything but would add credibility to an organisation that doesn’t otherwise have any.

    • Hi Brownyn,

      I am intrigued by two comments – “powerless to change anything” – not even sure what that means??? and “would add credibility to an organization that doesn’t have any” – not sure that’s true beyond PPTA. Have had a range a discussions wide range of highly regarded educational leaders and whilst they agree with issues present in legislation and are aware of the challenges they don’t have that opinion at all. Am looking forward to an opportunity for open robust debate about this issue. Are we going to get a chance to discuss? Or just ballot?

      Cheers Claire

      • We talked about this (amongst other things) at the Auckland Regional AGM / BBQ held at Springs the other week. It was a good evening with heaps of opportunities to discuss issues with members from a range of Auckland schools, and our visitors from National Office.

        Looking forward to having a ward meeting up at yours next term … I’ll flick you an email so we can try and sort a date. Would be good to get it out well in advance so people can plan around it. You should already have all the dates for the regional meetings.

        I think it’s really important that we have opportunities to get together and discuss stuff face to face old schools styles. I’m pretty clear in my head that participating will be perceived as co operating / endorsing, and I’m not ok with that, no way, no how. Have you ever read Iain Pears’ ‘The Dream of Scipio’? Your argument reminds me of this.

  4. I certainly believe there will be a number of well-intentioned, professionally-motivated people who put their names forward but this is not a professional exercise. No other professional body, in NZ or overseas, deliberately excludes the elected reps from that profession. I don’t see how that can be read as anything other than low trust and denigration of teachers. Moreover, what about the grammatically senseless and illogical purpose statement that the Select Committee refused to change: ” safe and high quality leadership, teaching and learning… through raising the status of teaching.” There is no direct causation link between these two things ( though they may be connected) and there it stands as a wonderful example of the simplistic misunderstandings about teaching and learning that hasve characterised this whole shabby exercise. And EDUCANZ ! What a terrible name – it sounds like a multi-national textbook corporation; they refused to change it. When they won’t change what are pretty much cosmetic things, what confidence can we have that they will change they things that are substantively wrong, like the Code of Conduct. And there’s another terrible 19th century phrase – Code of Ethics is professionally respectful and empowering; Code of Conduct is controlling and demeaning.
    We had a similar debate in 2012 over charter schools and many people – including members at annual conference said we need to work with them – well they are not saying that now.

    • While your previous comment seemed quite thought out, this one doesn’t really answer the questions posed by Claire. Saying the same points over again with a slight ranty tone isn’t exactly a way to persuade people to your side of a discussion.

      • Well, the questions from Claire seems to be more as rhetorical than genuinely after an answer. And if you think that’s ranting you’re in a far too rarefied environment out in Hobsonville 😉 Anyway, in regards to the second q. – I’ve been interested to note the lack of support for the new body from anyone in, or even on the margins of the sector. And don’t think I only talk to like minded types! Even the NZ Initiative’s Rose Patterson is unimpressed with it. Where were the subs in favour? Not that I think we should judge the merits or otherwise on the basis of “authoritative” judgements – but of course it’s interesting to know. In regards to the principles and facts we should be making the judgement on- it’s pretty clear to me that what we have with Educanz is the culmination of 2010s deeply flawed Workforce Advisory Group (WAG) report. That report, done in the early days of the new govt’s term clearly demonstrates the desire to discipline and undermine the teaching profession. My impression is that in many ways the govt has moved on since this report (and improved its processes of consultation and understanding of teaching) but educanz is the expression of the WAG agenda. While that report is couched in the usual bland and inoffensive jargon that we’ve come to expect in education policy- the desire to use a professional body to drive a competitive performance pay agenda, undermine the independent voice of teachers through their unions and insert a high stakes accountability regime is clear. While educanz is unlikely to be able to do these things, this is a plant that is growing from toxic soil.

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