A few of my friends are school teachers and I suspect they’ll have mixed feelings when they read this:
The School Trustees Association, which represents most of the 2700 school boards, wants a national debate on whether schools should open well before 9am and shut much later each day to better cater for pupils’ changing needs.
Education Minister Anne Tolley has welcomed the suggestion, saying there is an “appetite” for fresh ideas to benefit pupils, teachers and principals.
Association general manager Ray Newport said any such changes would require a law change.
He conceded that extending the school day had huge implications for staffing levels, teachers’ hours and the effects on pupils and working parents.
The modern school day is an historical artifact from way back in the distant past when Mum’s stayed at home to look after their little cherubs before 9 and after 3 and drank gin while watching Days of Our Lives in between times. Sadly we have moved on as a nation and those stay at home Mums all have jobs as National Party Cabinet Ministers so it seems very sensible for schools to reflect these social changes.
In fact it seems like such an obvious, socially progressive thing to do you have to wonder why the hell Labour didn’t get around to it during the last nine years? I guess passing the EFA and giving tens of millions of dollars away to the racing industry were just higher priorities (how you liking it there in opposition guys?)
Clearly the hard part is getting the teachers unions on board. If a ~50% increase in school hours (say, an 8-4 shift and a 10-6 shift) was accompanied by a 50% increase in staff then I think the teachers union would be pretty sweet. If the answer is to just have the teachers work a lot longer in the classrooms and then do all of their lesson planning and marking in their own time then I think that most of the teachers in the country will just quit their jobs and move overseas.
I think its obvious which of these is preferable and I also think its obvious which one the Nats will opt for – but we are looking at a surge in unemployment over the next few years, and while there seems to be some sort of fantasy in which the jobless retrain themselves as network engineers and work on the broadband roll-out it seems to me that encouraging people to retrain as teachers seems like a more realistic option.