While their leaders crossed swords in Christchurch, Labour’s Hamish McDouall and National MP Chester Borrows fought for the hearts and minds of South Taranaki teachers.
The two Whanganui electorate candidates faced a crowd of 20 voters led by a four-member panel at an event convened by the New Zealand Educational Institute.
The candidates could rely only on their wits as they were not told what the questions would be before the Ramanui School Hall forum last Wednesday night.
The panel probed the candidates on the introduction of national standards, cuts to early childhood care and help for support staff.
Mr McDouall came out firing, attacking national standards and pushing for an all-encompassing approach from birth onwards.
“I want to say Labour will have national standards gone by playtime, but we are giving schools the option of keeping it if they want.
“When a child is labelled a failure, in whatever discipline, it affects their self-esteem.”
He said a focus on reading, writing and arithmetic stunted creativity.
Mr Borrows held his own, defending his party’s polices.
He said the Government coffers were not bottomless and that national standards worked if teachers got on board.
“Who is the customer here? If this is public education, the customer is the children and the parents,” he said.
From Taranaki Daily News.