Friday, July 02, 2010

Tolley to Principals: STFU

Anne Tolley went to the annual Principals Federation Conference today. But instead of listening to their concerns about her imposition of national standards, she simply told them to shut up and stop complaining:

Education Minister Anne Tolley has told principals they should stop talking to the media and focus on implementing the controversial national standards.


The Minister then went a step further, saying "and while we're on that subject, you are pretty unique among public servants who can speak freely in the media. May I remind you that I made representations to make sure that continues."

"However, no public servants have ever been granted the privilege of picking and choosing which Government laws they choose to administer. Lawyers, accountants and all the other professionals working in Ministries can offer opinions, but it's the Government that makes policy decisions."

The Minister is mistaken. While principals and teachers nominally work for the government and are paid by the Ministry of Education, they are not public servants. The SSC code of conduct has never applied to them, or to school boards. They are free to speak, and advocate in the interests of their students, and of education generally. By trying to silence them, Tolley is merely showing yet again that she is an authoritarian bully, uninterested in the views of anyone who disagrees with her, regardless of their validity. Which is par for the course for the National Party.

Primary school principals seem to have some pretty strong views that Tolley's national standards will be bad for schools and bad for kids. They're the experts in this area, and a smart government would listen to them, rather than trying to steamroller through contentious changes. Otherwise, they may just find themselves having to mind their own kids all day for a while.