Education minister misses mark in attack on kindergarten pay parity study
It is disappointing that Education Minister Nick Smith attaches no priority to kindergarten teachers having pay parity
with school teachers despite an employer-endorsed independent study released yesterday that justifies it.
The minister says pay parity is not “the most effective investment”, yet he argues for “better funding for centres and
higher qualified staff”. This requires government involvement and the recruitment and retention of trained and qualified
teachers, something kindergarten employers agree would be a benefit of pay parity.
He says the government’s priority is getting more children into early childhood education. NZEI agrees, but only if it
is high quality. The single most important determinant of quality is the teacher. Refusing to recognise that importance
in teachers’ pay packets is a denial of their key role in the education system.
The minister’s claims that parity “would unfairly discriminate against other early childhood teachers” is preposterous.
NZEI welcomes parity for all trained and registered teachers in early childhood education.
His cheap shot that NZEI is “only interested in their members”, reveals an ignorance of the fact that NZEI represents
teachers throughout the early childhood sector, including private and community-based centres as well as kindergartens.
His suggestion that pay parity has been taken to its “illogical extreme” is irrelevant. NZEI is not claiming that
everyone should be “on the same salary”. The study makes a well-researched case for pay parity between kindergarten and
school teachers and reinforces the logic of remuneration based on job size and qualifications, not student age.
NZEI would welcome an opportunity to review the study with the minister to dispel any further misunderstandings he may
have as to its scope and intent.