I didn't actually want to read those policies at all. Originally, I was looking for the quarterly newsletter that the Federation publishes - it turns out it is only available in hard copy. I wanted to link to it because I flicked through it recently, and found that it was the greatest grab-bag of leftist pap that I have seen in a long time.
By the way, I ended up looking for that this morning because of escorts and union funds. I'm not kidding. I started with the story on Craig Thomson and his alleged misuse of union credit cards to fund his election campaign. What can I say - if the card is issued in your name, you are responsible for every transaction made with that card. You have to provide documentary evidence of how you spent that money, via receipts and so on. That's par for the course when an organisation issues you with a card.
From that story, I went fishing for information on Thomson's pet group, Dads in Education. Apparently he set this group up to raise his profile, and used his union credit card to donate $10,000 to the group.
Health Services Union members might be asking why they are having their pay packets docked with union fees when the money is being spent on things that has nothing to do with the direct welfare of the HSU members. I looked up Dads in Education on ASIC and a NSW register of charities, and found that it is listed as a company but not a charity. So at least it is not a fake charity.
I noticed that one of the Board members of Dads in Education is Vicki Scott, and she is a member of the P&C Federation. She is also a Labor Councillor in Gosford. When I saw the P&C bit, I went trawling through the P&C site looking for that newsletter.
Anyhoo, some of the policies are absolute crackers - the right to this, the right to that, blah blah blah. Given that sacking useless teachers is a pet cause of mine, I was taken by this policy clause:
The key to the continuing development of our public system of education is well educated, highly motivated, professional teaching staff, supported by a sympathetic education authority and working in close co-operation with the community. Teachers should be endowed with the following personal attributes: the ability to communicate a high level of knowledge and skill; imagination, enthusiasm, tolerance, judgment, sensitivity, perception and individuality; and an awareness of people, of nature and of the dignity of those whom they teach. It is self-evident, therefore, that teachers should be qualified for the work they do and sufficient in number to allow for effective school organisation, including remedial teaching, student welfare programs, career advice and appropriate programs for students with special needs. The selection of potential teachers and their training and development are of the utmost importance since the quality of schools is positively and significantly related to the quality of their teachers.
Yes, all good motherhood statements. A teacher should be this and that and something else. I agree with most of it.
But what do you do if a teacher fails to meet these lofty expectations? What do you do with someone that commences well, and then starts sliding downhill after a few years? You counsel them, you retrain them, you give them some opportunities to develop, and they continue the downward trend into sloth, indiscipline, and unprofessionalism?
I wish groups like the P&C Federation would have the balls to confront issues like this. Clearly, in any given group of people, whether they be doctors, lawyers, police, nurses, teachers, what have you, there are going to be stars and there are going to be utter duds. In some organisations, you can shuffle the duds off to some insignificant backwater where they can do no harm, and you leave them there, gathering dust until they leave.
However, I don't think the education system has the resources to do that, so dud teachers end up standing at the front of classrooms, where they help to destroy a generation of kids.
Can I pick a dud? No, not with enough certainty to have them fired. But I expect that Principals would have been around long enough to be able to pick them, and we all know from our own experiences in many different walks of life that duds exist everywhere. I can't weed them out, but I expect Principals to be doing it as part of their job.
Why isn't the P&C Federation standing up and saying, "These are our kids that you are teaching. We will support the good teachers to the best of our ability, but the flipside is that if someone is not suited to teaching, they should be booted at the earliest opportunity and told to try their luck in another field of endeavour. We will not accept run-down, poorly maintained buildings and schools, and we will not accept run-down, unmotivated teachers either".