Hekia Parata - Asshole of the Week | The Jackal

8 Jun 2012

Hekia Parata - Asshole of the Week

The last couple of weeks have been an unmitigated disaster for Education Minister Hekia Parata. Not only was she unable to provide accuracy concerning a reduction in teacher student ratios, she entrenched herself deeply with rhetoric in the face of overwhelming opposition.

Nobody but the most ideologically blinded Nact supporter believed reducing the amount of teachers would equate to better learning outcomes, and teachers, parents and the wider community were entirely against the idea.

The policy change was a hard sell, and Parata bumbled and flip-flopped her way through interview after interview, which only served to annoy those who actually care about our children. The opposition had a field day, with mounting ammunition and public support at their backs, this turned into a lose lose scenario for National, who had no option but to back down.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

No more compromises; just capitulation - complete and utter. Hekia Parata yesterday surrendered to the inevitable less than two days after saying she was not going to budge any further on the vexed question of teacher-pupil ratios.

Further compromise was never an option, however. It would not have silenced the education lobby groups. Those representatives of teachers, principals and boards of trustees would have continued to press for full reversal of the policy which would have seen many schools lose one or two teacher positions.

The Dominion Post reported:

A range of new cuts within the education spend will be sought, but some of the hole will almost certainly be filled by passing the cost on to the new spending allowance of next year's Budget.

That is sure to annoy Ms Parata's Cabinet colleagues and seriously undermine her stocks as a minister.

"I'm the minister and the buck stops with me – I'm accountable for these decisions," she said.

A shortfall of $174 million will still need to be found from cuts, which will mainly be made in the education sector. Parata has said this could come from teacher training, which would also have a negative effect on educational outcomes for students.

It's worth keeping in mind that National is spending $14 billion on new highways instead of improving teacher quality, which goes to show exactly where their priorities lie.

National's changes to teacher student ratios was a badly researched, poorly thought out and terribly executed policy that threatened to kick education in the guts. Their failure to spin enough propaganda and humiliating backdown will have lost them support.

As the Minister of Education, the buck stops with Hekia Parata... She should resign.