Teachers take on Government
Fight the GERM. That was the message from thousands of South Auckland teachers when they packed the Pacific Events Centre last Wednesday.
The meeting was one of a series held nationwide by the New Zealand Educational Institute - the union representing primary and area school teachers - to discuss the Government's latest contract offer.
Organisers also called on the capacity crowd to fight back against the global education reform movement, or GERM, aspects of which they say the Government is trying to introduce in New Zealand schools.
The teachers - representing schools from Otahuhu to Pukekohe - roundly rejected the contract offer, which union negotiating team leader Frances Guy says would allow for performance-based pay to be introduced.
That pay system is an "insult" to all in the profession and would "pit teachers against other teachers", she says.
The offer would also give the Secretary for Education the power to set new criteria for pay progression, which could see teachers penalised if their students don't reach the new National Standards, Ms Guy says.
And that's a problem for South Auckland, where other factors such as poverty can affect student achievement, union national president Ian Leckie says.
The Government's policies - which would see more competition and standardisation in New Zealand schools - are an attack not just on teachers but on "the whole of our education system as we know it", he says.
"As a profession we are facing the biggest challenges we have faced for a long time.
"What's at stake here is our world-renowned public education system based on equity and providing good education for all children."
Ms Guy says she expects teachers throughout New Zealand will reject the Government's latest offer.