I have been very preoccupied (is that the right word??) for the last week because of the government's announcement to play with teacher:student ratios as part of their newly announced budget. While a few extra students per class don't sound that bad, the politicians [read bastards] in their wisdom [read stupidity] have decided to cut the funding for Technology teachers. So what does that mean?
In New Zealand, most kids go to Primary School from New Entrants - Year 6, then to Intermediate School for Years 7 & 8, followed by High School Years 9 - 13. At Primary School they are with their classroom teacher all the time, with 2h release time per week so someone else takes the class, sometimes for something special, sometimes just whatever is in the timetable for the day. At Intermediate School the system is similar, except that for some time every week or every fortnight the kids go to Technology - a specialist teacher in a specialist room teaching Art, Music, ICT, Woodwork, Cooking etc. This keeps some of them engaged with school, especially if they are not so academic, it provides a transition from the security of their classroom to the High School system where they change class rooms and teachers every period. It might even create a life long interest.
At Intermediate School, where I am employed as Technology Teacher, the government has kindly lowered the ratio from 1:29 to 1:27.5 - great at first sight. Except they neglected to mention that the current funding of 1:120 for Technology disappears. Nil. Zilch. Nada. So a school the size of ours (170 students, 7 classrooms, 2 technology teachers, 1 PE teacher) will have to decide if they want to have 27.5 kids in a class and their classroom teacher teaches them all subjects and to the level required at that age (it's called Curriculum Level 4). OR the school can raise the number of kids per class, cut one classroom out and employ a technology teacher instead. Average class size would be maybe 31. That is 31 tweenies with all their needs and quirks. If you want two tech teachers, so that you can actually follow your OSH guidelines that restrict your woodwork room to say 15 students (the other half goes with the second teacher and might cook for example), you will have to cut out another classroom, spread those kids over the remaining classes and maybe get to 35 students.
Lovely, aye? And all this in the name of improving education for the underachievers. So you can see why I have been slightly sidetracked lately? I have spent way too much time on Facebook et. al. I might need a second blogger identity to follow all those interesting blogs I have come across in my education system despair.
If they go through with this I am most likely out of a job. Together with hundreds of other teachers and new graduates I will be competing in a smaller job market (because jobs are being cut), teacher numbers will be capped at 2011 numbers for the next five years btw, so if you know anyone planning to get into teaching in NZ, tell them DON'T! If I have no position by the start of term 4 (mid October?), I'll have to give notice to pull oldest DS out of the private school he attends. The mortgage will get paid until end of January, but what after that?
But more importantly, the current government is wrecking an education system that has achieved fantastic results in international comparison. Your children and my younger boys will suffer.
If you feel as strongly as I about this, please contact your local MP, the Education Minister Hekia Parata or Prime Minister John Key and tell them what you think!!!
Got this off my chest - pheww!
I have been screen printing for Lesley's Handprinted Fabric Swap - and then realised that it's not due for a few weeks yet, glad to be ahead for once lol. But the ATC Swap due date is looking, so I'll get cracking on this on the long weekend - hurray (for the long weekend and for the ATCs!). I'll try to post some pics before the rat race starts again on Tuesday...