Student achievement should come first

Last updated 06:00 19/03/2014

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I read with interest Judy Johannessen's report suggesting that politics stay out of education.

I trained as a primary teacher 30 years ago. I am currently a school trustee and have been so for 10 years at two different schools. I am also married to a teacher and have many teacher friends. I own a business that employs school leavers and see the end results of our education system.

I believe that the biggest issue is not keeping politics out of education, but actually getting educators to have a clear understanding of what parents expect, and ensuring that they have some real world experience with which to educate the future of New Zealand.

National as a government was clearly elected with National Standards as its education platform. We, the parents, asked for it. They, the teachers, need to get on with it,

Just a week ago I had a highly regarded principal admit to me that the good thing about the implementation of national standards is that at principal association meetings, discussion nowadays is centered on improving student achievement and ensuring consistency of assessment across schools.

Historically, those same meetings had been more focused around operational issues that faced schools.

Certainly parent teacher interviews I have been in are now focused on achievement in curriculum areas and guiding students to improve rather than fluffy meetings on what a great child I have.

What do we want our educators focused on? I am convinced even Judy would say student achievement should come first.

In my role as a trustee I am fortunate that the principals I work with have always been very much data driven. This meant the implementation of National Standards assessments was relatively easy, and many of the methods were already in place.

There are several reasons why it hasn't been easy elsewhere, among them the lack of resource during the implementation, and poor leadership, but also the politically negative noise made by teachers and principals resisting change.

When Judy Johannessen suggests keeping politics out she can't have it both ways.

Perhaps the green environmental teachings in our schools should be removed for the same reasons? I wonder how many parents have been bombarded by newsletters reminding parents who imposed National Standards, is it right that teachers should try to influence our children and their parents on how they should vote?

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If TVNZ employees are not allowed a political opinion in the work place why should our teachers be able to promote their opinions on a future generation?

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