Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Same shit, different name

Back in the 90's, the last National government tried to introduce bulk-funding for schools. It was a scam-policy, designed to allow funding cuts while dumping the responsibility for them in the laps of powerless school boards (see also: DHB's). Fortunately, teachers resisted, and the policy was overturned.

But twenty years later, National is trying it again:

In consultation documents published on the Ministry of Education's website, the department proposes a new funding system with "the potential to increase flexibility in schools' use of funding while simplifying funding arrangements".

The change would set a "global budget" for each school, delivered as cash instalments for school expenses, and a credit system for salaries.

They say its different, but its the same thing: schools would be able to decide how much to spend on teacher salaries (rather than having staffing levels and therefore student ratios set centrally), and would be able to spend any excess from their salary portion on other things (such as, say, a new office for the principal). It therefore creates direct incentives for understaffing and over-working staff. Adding an extra layer also allows the government to pretend it has nothing to do with the decisions it has incentivised, freeing them from responsibility when they cut or cap funding and run down the state education system to allow for tax cuts for their rich mates (oh, and create a competitive advantage for the private snob-schools they all send their kids to). Its the same old shit, just with a different name.

Fortunately, teachers aren't going to take this lying down. Bulk funding was defeated in the 90's by protests, strikes, and blacklisting. I have no doubt that any attempt at reintroduction will result in similar action.