Wednesday, September 22, 2010

National Twists the Knife...

Pre-budget briefing papers released today show that the NACT Government is not intending to pass on wage increases won by Kindergarten teachers to other types of early childhood services.

How bizarre. Or not.

This amounts to a further $20 million cut on top of the $285 already cut from centres employing more than 80% qualified staff. NZEI's Judith Nowotarski says, “with no flow-on funding, early childhood services will struggle to pay teachers the same rates as their kindergarten colleagues. That represents a huge step backwards for early childhood teachers in their fight to have their professional status recognised.”

The sad reality is that the Kindergarten model as we know it is being gradually killed off as the cheaper (with less qualified staff) and more flexible private sector explodes in growth. Their business model is more acceptable to neo-liberalism and it's odd they've been dealt an underhand here. I just hope any anger is not directed at Kindergarten teachers...

There are so many overlapping discourses it's hard to know who to kick:

 -   Free-market capitalism for creating 'investment opportunities' and thus dumbing down educare;

-   The private sector destroying the hard-fought-for standard of professionalism by simply dragging it's arse in the pursuit of profit;

-   A neoliberal Government shedding community assets on the sly;

-  A piss-weak union...

Kick 'em all I guess.

Now we do know that the Government dropped any notion of cutting the 20hrs-free policy beacuse it's so popular hence the cutting off of every other limb. Are we seeing the softening of the population to accept rising childcare fees? If NACT make it back for a second round will they attempt to further shed the private sectors reliance on funding and firmly put the 'neo' back in neo-liberal?

These moves, and a dozen others in various areas, show a Government hung up on ideology rather than pragmatic thought-out strategies for lifting the standard of education and thus the health of the nation. Unequal societies crap out in every measurable way, from GDP, teen pregnancy, hospital admissions and suicide rates... you name it and we bomb. Aotearoa ranks third or fourth in the world for inequality. This is no paradise.

While this Government continues to systematically shift the wealth of the nation further into the hands of the rich by slashing funding at every opportunity, we're essentially stuffed as a country.

Our strength is in numbers, but it also lies in a critical analysis of knowing just what the fuck is going on in education today and at the present time while we have unionised numbers, we simply don't have this knowledge or ideological unity.

In the words of the old-school IWW union, or Wobblies, lets educate, organise and agitate for real change.