The Teachers Strike Back

On Saturday the 13th of April thousands of primary school teachers and supporters marched in Auckland and other towns and cities around the country. Right wing commentators dismissed the teachers as "not knowing what they were protesting", but, as usual this turned out to be false. I spoke to people on the demonstration and listened to the speeches given; everyone knew EXACTLY why they were protesting.

The buzz word of the day was GERM (Global Education Reform Movement), which refers to the neo-liberal reforms taking place around the globe in the education sector. This ‘infection’ that aims to use a business model on public schools, is already incredibly unpopular amongst academics, teachers, parents and students.

Standardisation, league tables, performance based pay and charter schools aim to take the power away from teachers and hand it over to government bureaucrats and business lackeys. The growing opposition to this is loud and clear. Teachers want to be in control of how they teach. They say that collaboration between students, teachers and schools is the best way to do things.

Not surprisingly, the statistics agree with the teachers, this model has worked well in the past and there is nothing to suggest that it won’t continue to perform. Whereas charter schools have been an epic failure in the US and many people are now saying that the entire model should be discarded. Go figure.

On the day, placards read “Class Wars – The Teachers Strike Back!”, “Fight the GERM” and “Stand Up for Kids”. Chants of “Education is a Right, Not a Privilege” and “When Education is under Attack, Stand Up, Fight Back!” echoed up Queen Street.

If I were National I would be concerned. Primary school teachers are educated, caring people with strong ties to the community. They can easily create a very embarrassing situation for the Government. All they need to do is go on strike.

The teachers say that personalised learning, equality of opportunities and trust-based professionalism are the values that really matter. Makes sense to me. After all children are individual human beings with diverse needs, talents and aspirations.

Anyway, no one really thinks that unqualified teachers, larger class sizes and charter schools are good things. Otherwise rich mofos like John Key and David Shearer wouldn’t send their kids to private schools, would they?

Help fight the GERM -

-Shane M, SA
Class Wars – The Teachers Strike Back!


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