Patrick Gower: Pay good teachers more than bad ones

OPINION: The coming strike by teachers is a symbolic failure by both the Government and the unions to solve a crisis in our schools.

We don't have enough people to teach our kids.

We have turned our teachers into the working poor - and now we can't get good people into the job and we can't hang on to the good ones that are there.

It is a crisis for our kids: every minute of this teacher shortage is holding a kid back somewhere. Every class with a reliever, every room with too many kids, every school with revolving teachers term-by-term is creating downstream problems for our society.

Now the teachers union and the Government are at war - we haven't had a strike for 25 years.

I don't blame the teachers here. They are a taonga and every one of them deserves more.

But I do blame the teachers' unions and repetitive Governments for not having the courage or the imagination to introduce a teachers' pay system fit for New Zealand in 2018.

A modern New Zealand needs a much more modern way to incentivise teachers to come in and stay in the job.

"Performance pay" is a dirty word and people seem to want to make it some sort of alt-right assault.

That seems like a lazy argument to me. This is not about politics anymore - it is about attracting and keeping good teachers.

People just don't want to go into jobs where they get paid pretty much the same their entire lives and have to fight the Government every few years to get a halfway decent rise.

There are all sorts of ways of rewarding teachers that take more responsibility, that do more training, that take on more career development.

There can be bonuses for going into difficult schools or to difficult areas or to difficult classes.

The kind of system I am talking about here doesn't even have to be arbitrarily linked to the grades a teacher gets - that is just scaremongering.

There are so many ways to pay good teachers more than bad ones - but the Government and the Unions can't be bothered trying.

The teacher shortage is a crisis, but a strike isn't going to fix it.

The Government and the unions need to get on the side of teachers and kids and find a way to fix this long-term.

Patrick Gower is Newshub's national correspondent