Battle ahead for Taranaki teacher
"For me, it's high-stake stuff."ISOBEL EWING
A Taranaki teacher says the introduction of charter schools is the biggest threat to New Zealand's education system.
Angela Roberts is planning a big year fighting the Government in her new role as president of the Post-Primary Teachers Association, representing intermediate and high school teachers.
She says charter schools, professional development for teachers and education funding are issues high on the agenda.
Ms Roberts was elected to the position in early November and moves with her family to Wellington next week.
She was previously junior vice-president and has been an executive member for Taranaki for more than 10 years.
Ms Roberts said the career change was exciting but carried huge responsibility.
"To have the trust of 18,000 members is pretty big. For me, it's high-stake stuff."
She said she hoped to save the education system from the dangerous path it was heading down.
"We're in a fairly big battle with the current Government. They're doing their best to bring in policies which have the potential to destroy the system we have."
These policies are enclosed in the Education Amendment Bill, for which submissions close on January 24.
Ms Roberts opposes charter schools because they would not be subject to the Official Information Act or Auditor General's office, would not have to deliver New Zealand curriculum, would be able to spend taxpayers' money in ways state schools cannot and would allow for the de-professionalisation of teachers.
She said all benefits offered by charter schools, including increasing community involvement, were available in the current education system and the ministry should be putting its energy into making innovations in the system as a whole.
The aim should be to create an education system that worked systemically rather than creating pockets of success, she said.
She said it would be great if the aim was to make progress rather than try to save the system, but she was ready for the challenge.
"The reality is we have to roll up our sleeves and convince the public things aren't what they seem.
"There's a public fight to be had this year."
Ms Roberts said her 12 years as a teacher equipped her well for the role.
"One of the things I take into any meeting is that I'm a teacher. I bring a view from the classroom.
"I've had access to a great education system and I want that for my kids and my neighbour's kids."
Ms Roberts said she would miss the kids she taught at Stratford High School but planned to be back in Taranaki after her two-year stint.
Another Taranaki teacher gained a high position in the education system in October last year.
Hawera kindergarten head teacher Judith Nowotarski was elected the new national president of New Zealand Education Institute Te Riu Roa, leading and advocating for quality public education.
Ms Nowotarski is the first person from the Early Childhood sector to hold the role of president of NZEI.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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