Where's the $40 million for Culturally Responsive Teachers?

Two new education initiatives have hit our Inboxes this week.

On Wednesday, the Education Minister announced a major change to shift education into a "digitally oriented system," advising that the Government will spend $40 million on raising teachers' skills to deliver the new curriculum, which will involve all pupils from years one to 10 taking part in digital technologies education. I think that was news to most teachers and principals!

Yesterday, we received notice from the Education Council of the final version of the new Code of Professional Responsibility and Standards for the Teaching Profession to be implemented by 1 January 2018. The title, “Our Code Our Standards” implies a collective ownership, and Educanz talks of “more than a year of consultation with people from across the profession.” Let’s not forget however, that the Council is made up of members appointed exclusively by the Government, and not elected democratically by teachers, so “our” anything is a moot point!

The Code promises commitment to tangata whenuatanga and Te Tiriti o Waitangi partnership, affirming Māori learners as tangata whenua and supporting their educational aspirations, and respecting the diversity of the heritage, language, identity and culture of all learners.  Unpacking the six Standards reveals expectations that teachers will practise and develop the use of te reo and tikanga Māori, critically examine their own assumptions and beliefs, including cultural beliefs, and specifically support the educational aspirations for Māori learners.

So, what would shift these aspirational goals from the rhetoric of previous initiatives to reality in our classrooms? Oh yes, resourcing and professional development of course! So, I looked for at least $40 million worth of professional support—because surely it is significantly more important to develop this cultural competence in teachers than it is to raise our skills in "computational thinking" and "designing and developing digital outcomes”?  Not so, it seems.  Our Code Our Standards will be supported by “a suite of digital materials and resources” to be published later in the year. In other words, schools will be doing it by themselves.

Why am I, sadly, unsurprised?

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