ACT – Association for the Culling of Teachers

If you haven’t read the Herald on Sunday in the last few weeks then you’re not missing much. It’s the size of a tabloid and, although it tries not to look like it, appears to be New Zealand’s answer to the now defunked Murdoch rag News of the World.

But that’s just my opinion.

In the last two weeks the wonder that is Rodney Hide (claim to fame? Dancing with the “Stars”) has had a double crack at the teaching profession.

Last week it was the unions. I already referred to this column during my rant last week, but it is worthy of mentioning again. His main point? The teaching unions are holding the country / government / corporates who want a share of the education cake to ransom with their constant demands and/or whining about being a “professional body” and “putting the children first.”

He’s got a point. What do we know? In all my years of teaching not once have I taken on board any learning from professional development, colleagues, conferences, mistakes and the children I teach. I agree with Rodders. I’m not so much a sponge, more a block of wood floating in a waterless ocean.

Some people just don’t like unions and workers. They tend to get in the way of profit margins and earnings potential. If only we’d all become robots. Or better! Underpaid robots.

Anyway, that brings me to this week. Hide’s neoliberal gibberish is taking aim at the Teachers’ Council. He, and his paymasters the Herald on Sunday (don’t think he’s mouthing off for free my friends!), have been getting stuck in to the body responsible for registering teachers and overseeing teacher disciplinary hearings.

The first paragraph is a doozy:

In New Zealand, all teachers must be registered. If you are not registered, you can’t teach. Overseeing the registration is an outfit called the New Zealand Teachers Council.

The bold is my emphasis, but this got me thinking. Is he saying that because he believes that people who aren’t registered can’t teach OR is he saying this just as a statement of fact?

As we all know ACT – the Association for the Culling of Teachers – has had its eyes on the edu-billions for a while now. ACT is the political party, but all neoliberals, including John Key, Steven Joyce and the other Nats and Alan Gibbs and his Business Roundtable rich-lister mates have really been lining teachers up for a while.

Key himself said on The Nation last year something along this line: There are lots of fantastic teachers out there but there is a certain element of intransigence within the profession that is preventing progress. I am paraphrasing from memory but it was something fairly similar, and as my dad says, “everything before the ‘but’ is bullshit.” If you don’t believe me think about it the next time someone starts a sentence with, “I’m no racist but…” You know what’s coming after that. A brief summary of their core belief.

Are ACT using Rodders to attack teachers so the parliamentary party can offer ‘solutions’ to the ‘problem?’ In short, yes. If we listened to what he said last week at the ACT conference about hating the poor we should expect more of the real ACT spurting from his mouth over coming months.

Later in the article he talks about the teachers who were fully registered by the Teachers’ Council who’ve since gone on to commit, as he says, vile crimes. He goes on to say:

The Teachers Council’s failure is made worse by its closed disciplinary system, with all details subject to blanket suppression. It has every appearance of a protection racket. Any disciplinary action it takes is hidden well away from public gaze.

As we all know, since 9/11, the far right have got more and more annoyed with the one true ideal of modern western judicial systems – innocent until proven guilty. Bad people don’t deserve due process. Bad people are wrong and should be punished. M-kay.

I have two words for you Rodders: Peter Ellis.

This teacher was falsely accused of abuse, convicted and imprisoned because people thought the jerseys he wore looked a bit funny and he spoke with a slight lisp, oh and why would a man want to work in early childhood education unless he had an ulterior motive?

Well, his career tanked. Unlike Rodders who went from strength to strength in his career after dancing his way through TVNZ.

The Teachers’ Council hold their hearings in private because it’s a private employment matter between a regulatory body and employee and an employer. Plus, since the 1980s any hint of an allegation against a male teacher is interpreted by the media / Family First as actual fact.

As a male teacher this is what is constantly at the front of my mind, especially in unfamiliar settings like school trips to museums where I’m not surrounded by the school community. People tend to watch just to make sure you’re not doing anything wrong.

Impropriety can be a dangerous thing. However, gossip and rumour masquerading as fact can be far more dangerous.

Mind you, we should all trust Rodders and his point of view. After all, he did crusade against government waste for years and then got caught fiddling the expense account, so had to resign retire.

Towards the end he says this:

I already have three degrees, have taught science and economics at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, have worked in a successful merchant bank and have some knowledge of government and its operation. In some capacity I would have something to teach students.

What are you going to teach them? How to take a political party from 7% of the vote to 1%? Good luck. Plus, how much did you pay for your 3 degrees? My loan is still $20,000-ish.

Dear Rodders: Go back to merchant banking – it’s probably cockney rhyming slang anyway. Innit guvner?

Mr B.

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