It’s hard to fathom why the New Zealand School Trustees Association would write a submission opposing a bill that would extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks.

Not even business lobby groups are opposing the bill (although the government is).

It’s well accepted in the education sector that many new parents are being rushed back to work far sooner than they would like, through a combination of low wages and high housing costs – and that this has detrimental effects for families. This has led to the very effective 26 for Babies campaign, which pressured the government to increase paid parental leave to 18 weeks.

Why would STA, which operates in the education sector, oppose a bill that stands to improve outcomes for children, including their long-term learning outcomes?

Ostensibly an independent non-profit, charitable organisation that supports school boards of trustees, STA receives $5m+ a year in government funding, and assiduously enables government policy.

It appears to have recently restructured its operations to match the ministry’s new regional structure.

Even so, it seems a step too far to take the time to lobby against a bill that would benefit children and families. What does this submission say about STA itself as an employer?

It’s not as if increased paid parental leave will cost schools (or STA) more – this would be taxpayer funded, and benefit employers both in the short term and long term (happier employees now, and a generation of future employees who also benefited).

Who is STA representing here? Has it surveyed all its board of trustee members to see if this is a position they support?

Or has it crossed a line and is it simply representing the government? Are taxpayer dollars being used to promote a party political agenda?

But wait there’s more. Here’s STA on charter schools in a way that this is most definitely not representative of its members.