Matthew Hooton’s extraordinary attack on teachers in today’s National Business Review sits behind a pay wall but here’s a taste:

First, he creates a fairy tale, saying about the profession that:

  •  it’s not possible to “ease out Miss Jones and Mrs Smith, who have been teaching the new entrants for 30 years, to replace with three younger teachers”.
  • there are no “real performance reviews”
  • “few professions are more conservative than teaching”

The he adds a bogeyman:

  • “global funding” would “weaken the hold of ‘union bosses’ over schools”
  • “union bosses” … “have a history of being prepared to go to any lengths to retain the status quo”

Education and children are too important for this kind of bombast but it shows where the government might like the bulk-funding debate to go. (Hooton has worked for National in Parliament.)

But first, a return to the world of reason. NZEI Te Riu Roa is its members. It was formed in 1887 by educators to represent their voice in public debate and to promote quality education for all children. That’s what it does.

Hooton is clearly out of touch with what is happening in schools and centres – funding that falls behind education inflation, huge unmet need for special education, the daily heart-break of child poverty, the increasing casualisation of the teaching workforce (yes, there is already a great deal of flexibility in the system).

Then there are the government’s own reports for the Education Funding Review that state there is no, or very little, evidence to indicate that changes to a funding system will do anything to improve achievement for students.

One report by an economist states New Zealand already has one of the most decentralised systems in the developed world, comparing it to high-performing Finland, which has a more centralised system – including centralised staffing.

The logical conclusion is that if the New Zealand government pushes ahead with bulk-funding it will be hugely disruptive to educators, who are already at breaking point with workload, and will at best do nothing for children and their learning (if only because educators protect them from the disruption).

The only good news from Hooton is that he suggests government backs away from bulk-funding because of the “union bosses”. Whatever. The government just needs to work out which way is up.