Performance matters in the teaching profession

I am not sure what the problem is with incentivising performance based on outcomes in the classroom. I am currently involved in governance at a number of levels and in every case the emphasis is on performance. This performance is bench-marked against similar organisations, shareholder expectations or return on investment policy decisions.

It seems reasonably normal from an organisational perspective that the expectation is to produce outcomes that meet the objectives of the funder or the organisation itself.

I understand that the other end of the spectrum is that access to health, employment opportunities and education are a right that every citizen should enjoy and I also see the logic in that.

But what if that right is utterly imbalanced because of who wants to work where based on their own personal preferences? What if the really good nurses and teachers all want to work in the more affluent suburbs whilst others are forced to take work in the poorer areas?

So certain teachers are attracted by conditions but the ability to attract them into the socially and economically challenged is limited when all other conditions remain equal.

But the simple, individual challenge - come to my school, make a difference and help these kids to succeed - gets compromised unless we can reward the teachers that really achieve.

But should unencumbered access to basic services come at the cost of certain sectors of the community being dismally failed? Of course not. And this is where two ideologies have to coexist.

One is that all education should be available to all regardless of socio economic status, culture or creed. The other is that it should be a service that is fully accountable.

Not for the receipts for sports equipment and adherence to policy, but for delivering what it is that we expect as a society of committed parents - achievement and success for our kids.

Just being there with the best intentions is not enough. It is like having a community water pump but all it delivers is poisoned water.

We have had reading challenges with both of our school-age kids. The school has taken that seriously and provided reading recovery tuition with astounding results. We have had to persevere in terms of creating and maintaining the sort of relationship we want with the school but we also recognise that they have a hundred others to manage.

We recognise that their effort impacts upon the overall performance of the school and, ultimately, the outcomes for our kids. Why shouldn't they be rewarded for that?

I am not familiar with the rest of the detail of the deal and maybe it is intolerable to all teachers (or 90 per cent of the primary school ones) but, of course, it has been thrown into the election build-up and is now highly politicised beyond what it may normally have been.

What I have found interesting is, that in the wake of the Dirty Politics controversy, no one is discussing the role that the unions play.

Without the air of conspiracy surrounding Whale Oil it seems totally accepted that unions will back Labour. In fact the Labour Party have now allowed them to have a say in the nomination of the Labour leader.

It would be hard to believe that the unions are not in regular dialogue with opposition MPs and, honestly, I think all power to them.

It doesn't require much political analysis to identify that the general trade union position is anti-National and their publications, websites and spokespeople are openly opposed to the Right.

I do understand there are some more fundamental issues about the provision of sensitive information that need to be investigated but I would expect that such information sharing was reasonably commonplace, albeit not considered entirely legitimate. The unions are the machinery of the Left and that is always going to be the way.

The left will use them to speak out against Right-wing policy just as the Round Table has spoken out against Left- wing politics and, more than likely, in cahoots with the party members and MPs themselves. Although it is not so pronounced here, entire networks of media in the United States are dedicated to particular political persuasions and this is well understood. The myth of Fourth Estate independence is entirely dispelled in the American political theatre.

This does not excuse dirty politics but it is meant to point out that it is a ridiculous idea to believe that there is no connection between influential commentators, political parties and ideology. The reality is that the NZEI newsletter is being replaced by the more entertaining and accessible blog sites or even twitter messages.

Meanwhile, people like me will remain suspicious that there is little more behind an outright objection to something that seems good for us all than politicking during an election campaign.

The Press