What really happened. Hekia Parata backs down.

For the benefit of other Kiwi parents I can provide a bit of insight to the recent stoush around teacher numbers using Housewife Logic.

For years Bill English has been running his eye over the more expensive line items to see where he can pare back spending. This isn’t a bad thing in itself, as anybody who notices how much tax they pay, will testify to. Yes we are the customers of this government’s services but we are also the financiers or at least depositors into a Co-op. The money needs to be spent wisely for the benefit of all the members.
My guess is that he totaled up the teacher numbers, divided buy the salary bill, thought, “well that’s too fucking expensive”. ¬†And:
“What the fuck can we do about that?”¬†
No M.P or for that matter Prime Minister that I have met has ever sworn in front of me. They have always been courteous and measured. But it must be a front. Surely. There are certain stressful occupations that engender expletive speak and housewiving and politics are two ‘dead certs’. ¬†¬†
So. How to reduce the wage bill? For obvious reasons, lopping pay rates is a no-goer. The workforce is the most strongly unionized in the country and I can recall that since the mid 90’s, there has been a biannual? ritual where the unions call for a pay increase. The Govt says, “no”, the unions threaten or roll out strike action and the govt says yes, “well okay”.¬†
Next obvious solution: 
Reduce the workforce. 
Like any business, if the numbers are unsustainable, redundancies have to be made. The wages bill is the highest cost for any business so again, this move isn’t unexpected.¬†
Bill English then does some fancy footwork to sell it to the customers; the populace at large and deploys Hekia Parata to staunch out the unions. Bill and John figure Hekia is hip, savvy, Maori and best of all, FEMALE. 
There is a lot of talk how females are given the hospital pass of education because it’s a girly portfolio. Don’t believe it for a minute. Education would have to be in the top five toughest portfolios. In management and politics, guys can sometimes be too soft.¬†Women can cut throats without blinking in the name of self-preservation. If they’re really good at it, you may never know you are witnessing one woman savaging another. Women also have a certain ability to enslave people to their cause with ‘love-bombing’, people that are useful to them. Marry the two techniques and you’ve got a great business or political leader. ¬†News International’s Rebekah Brooks is one that comes to mind.¬†
So when you really need to circumvent a shit-storm you send in your most savage bitch. 
Previous Minister of Education Anne Tolley was convincing but she was pulled back out to rest her image until closer to the election. Someone else was needed to finish out the innings. That someone was the largely untested Hekia Parata.
¬†It’s the womenfolk who are sent in to administer the killing blows but the elderly statesmen tend to be the ones with the real power; they direct policy. While not as deadly as individuals, they hunt in packs. That is the driving factor behind the mostly male front benches in politics and boards in business. ¬†
Hekia Parata had no reason to disbelieve Pack Leader Bill English’s take on teacher numbers.¬†
the premise seems simple and is quite salable. Most new entrant classes start at around 12 – 18 and increase exponentially throughout the year. This doesn’t detract from the quality of the classroom experience in my books. However the funding decrease would never have affected this basic classroom experience.¬†
Principals and boards start by staffing the classroom for business as usual. That is the bottom line. Then over the years education policy has changed and they have been given extra funding for special needs for both the learning impaired and the gifted and talented. 
This gets stretched to meet individual’s learning needs. The school environment has changed considerably over the last two decades ad parents have rightly come to expect these extras to turn out well rounded and talented students,¬†
This is the funding that was in effect being tampered with. Ms Parata obviously had no idea this would be the case. In hindsight she could have sat down with Principals to flesh out the effects but didn’t. ¬†She was forced into an about-turn after being inundated with actual accounts of what teaching programmes the schools were being forced to drop to keep staffing the basic classroom experience. This was in Primary schools as well as in Intermediates and once parents got wind the Electorate M.P’s started getting calls.
The mark of a good prime Minister is one who sees the writing on the wall. 
It probably only took two words for john Key to step in. “Reading Recovery”.
If this basic and widely lauded remedial reading programme was axed in any schools the Government would have left itself wide open over for renewed criticism over National Standards as well as the staffing cuts. The chickens would have most definitely come home to roost at the next elections.
With the backdown of Parata over increasing class sizes, you saw the power of parents as well as unions against a governments poorly researched policy. 
God loves a trier and we probably won’t be seeing the last of Hekia; but she’ll have learned a good lesson who to go to in the Ministry to give her the guts on the possible fallout over directives from above

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