Parata preparing for another backdown?
I – National Standards
Wearing a Joker-like grin on TVNZ’s Q+A (30 September 2012) , National’s Education minister, Hekia Parata was interviewed by Shane Taurima on ‘National Standards’ and planned closures and forced amalgamations of several Christchurch schools.
Her answers regarding ‘National Standards’ suggest that she is no long “owning” the policy and is attempting to shift “ownership” (or responsibility) on to schools and parents. Parata ducked questions and constantly pointed to schools and parents as if they were leading the charge for change,
SHANE Little Johnny’s off to school next year, so Mum and Dad are going to jump online to see how the schools in their area are performing. As things sit now, just how reliable and accurate is that [National Standards] information for Mum and Dad?
HEKIA So that’s one of the things Mum and Dad are going to do. It’s not going to replace Mum and Dad visiting the schools that they want to enroll their children in. What they’ll find on the website is not only the first year of National Standards data but the ERO report and the annual report that relate to the schools they’re thinking about.
HEKIA Schools have had faithfully reproduced the information that they have provided, so we’re relying on schools to tell us themselves what their valid and accurate data is…
HEKIA We are relying on schools to tell us that, and schools have. 2088 schools have produced their report on the 31st of May. It’s their data. We’re relying on their judgement.
HEKIA Well, it’s schools’ data…
HEKIA They can rely on what the schools have said about themselves…
Notice the constant reference back to schools? As if schools actually had choice in whether or not to participate in National’s programme?
But the most astounding comment came from Parata when she herself admitted that National Standards were every bit as ‘ropey’ as what Dear Leader Key had previously claimed.
SHANE What’s the point of the information, though, if the Prime Minister, for example, he calls it ropey; the head of your own ministry, she has described it as unreliable.
HEKIA Well, what I have said all along is that it is variable. For the purposes of comparing schools, it is not reliable…
Key and National have spent millions of taxpayers’ dollars on implementing ‘National Standards’; have threatened schools that do not comply with demands for data; and have turned our education system on it’s head for something that is “not reliable“?!?!
I just about spat my coffee when I heard Parata utter those words.
If New Zealanders needed further proof that National is implementing loopy policies based more on weird right wing ideology than common sense – then Parata has provided it.
I ask my fellow New Zealanders who last year cast their vote for National; do you think that a Party that implements a policy that has such far-ranging implications on our schools and children’s education; that spends millions of our taxes on these “reforms”; that has been discredited internationally by other countries; only to learn that “for the purposes of comparing schools, it is not reliable” – does this make any sense to you?
If you were a National supporter last year, you may wish to reconsider just what it was that you voted for?
II – National Standards Internationally
‘National Standards’ was all but put to the sword this morning (1 October) on Radio NZ’s ‘Check Point’, as visiting overseas Education professionals explained that the system was simplistic, unproven, and based more of ideological expectations rather than any realities we know about.
Pasi Sahlberg from Finland’s Ministry of Education rejected national standards, charter schools or league tables. Which is startling – as Finland is in the top four of the OECD ranking of developed nations’ education performance. The other three are Japan, Canada and South Korea.
Listen to Pasi Sahlberg here on Radio NZ’s Morning Report – International experts pan government education policies
Sahlberg knows what he is talking about. (Which is why Finland is outperforming New Zealand’s educational outcomes.)
As outlined in my previous blogpost of this issue – See: Finland, some thoughts – the Finns have rejected the simplistic policies of national standards, charter schools, and league tables. They see these as little more than a neo-liberalised view of education; an attempt to implement competition; notions of “success” and “failure”; and the illusion of “choice”.
In fact, those with a fairly good memory will recall that previous National Governments tried precisely the same policies with our health system, implementing the CHE model for our hospitals.
Essentially “CHEs” were expected to compete against each other; drive down costs; become more efficient through “competition”; and all with less ands less funding.
Not only did it not work, but people on waiting lists – like Southland farmer, Colin Morrison – died waiting for life-saving medical procedures.
The Minister of Health at the time was Bill English.
Instead of adopting dumbed-down Americanised systems – which are the desperate clutchings of a failed market-driven society – it is worth thinking about the success story shown by nations such as Finland,
” The flexible curriculum is set by the Ministry of Education and the Education Board. Education is compulsory between the ages of 7 and 16. After lower secondary school, graduates may either enter the workforce directly, or apply to trade schools or gymnasiums (upper secondary schools). Trade schools prepare for professions. Academically oriented gymnasiums have higher entrance requirements and specifically prepare for Abitur and tertiary education. Graduation from either formally qualifies for tertiary education.
In tertiary education, two mostly separate and non-interoperating sectors are found: the profession-oriented polytechnics and the research-oriented universities. Education is free and living expenses are to a large extent financed by the government through student benefits. There are 20 universities and 30 polytechnics in the country. Helsinki University is ranked 75th in the Top University Ranking of 2010.
The World Economic Forum ranks Finland’s tertiary education #2 in the world. Around 33% of residents have a tertiary degree, similar to Nordics and more than in most other OECD countries except Canada (44%), United States (38%) and Japan(37%). The proportion of foreign students is 3% of all tertiary enrolments, one of the lowest in OECD, while in advanced programs it is 7.3%, still below OECD average 16.5%.
More than 30% of tertiary graduates are in science-related fields. Forest improvement, materials research, environmental sciences, neural networks, low-temperature physics, brain research, biotechnology, genetic technology and communications showcase fields of study where Finnish researchers have had a significant impact.
Finland had a long tradition of adult education, and by the 1980s nearly one million Finns were receiving some kind of instruction each year. Forty percent of them did so for professional reasons. Adult education appeared in a number of forms, such as secondary evening schools, civic and workers’ institutes, study centers, vocational course centers, and folk high schools. Study centers allowed groups to follow study plans of their own making, with educational and financial assistance provided by the state. Folk high schools are a distinctly Nordic institution. Originating in Denmark in the nineteenth century, folk high schools became common throughout the region. Adults of all ages could stay at them for several weeks and take courses in subjects that ranged from handicrafts to economics.
Finland is highly productive in scientific research. In 2005, Finland had the fourth most scientific publications per capita of the OECD countries. In 2007, 1,801 patents were filed in Finland. ”
Here’s a novel idea; why not chase Finland’s example rather than America, which is way down on the OECD education performance listing?
Why? Because Finland invests heavily in education. National’s screwy policies are about market-driven competition and cost-cutting.
Didn’t that work out well for CHEs and Colin Morrison?
III – Christchurch School Closures – Back-down imminent?
Hekia Parata’s statements, on Q+A (30 September), regarding school closures and amalgamations in quake-ravaged Christchurch, were not as hard-line as previously reported in the media.
In fact, Parata was at pains to insist that,
“We are following the process that is set out in the Education Act. We’re being very clear what the proposal is, and I and the Ministry of Education will listen to everything that is said by the community. There is no pre-determined outcome. We are listening.”
Up till this point, his blogger found it hard to work out National’s understanding of this crisis,
… that National was totally oblivious to the shock, trauma, and suffering of Christchurch residents after two major earthquakes that shattered their city, killing 185 people, and is foisting their brutish policies without considering their impact,
… or, that National understood the trauma felt by Christchurch residents – but was pushing ahead anyway.
Pressed by Taurima, Parata made this jaw-dropping confession,
” Well, look. School closures around the country under any administration around the country are always difficult. Here in Christchurch is a community that’s been under intolerable stress for a very long time. “
Christchurch “is a community that’s been under intolerable stress for a very long time“?!?!
So National – being a Party brimming over with humanitarian compassion – compounds the intolerable stress by adding to it?!
Now, I’ve no doubt that there is a sizeable faction of any society that has psycopathic tendencies and finds it hard to empathise with the misery of people who’ve survived a traumatic, destructive disaster.
But most New Zealanders are not cold-hearted, bean-counting, self-centered, quasi-psychopaths to whom the destruction of communities can be easily brushed aside in the pursuit of efficiencies. New Zealanders will view events unfolding in Christchurch with growing dismay.
Their thoughts will probably run along lines something like this,
” Bugger me! What if the Big One hit my town? Is this what National has in store for me, my family, and my community?”
This is when the Middle Classes start to feel… uneasy.
Expect opposition to grow in Christchurch.
Expect to see distraught families and crying children on our TV screens.
Expect to see National drop in the polls.
Expect to see Hekia Parata back down on this loathsome, inhuman issue.
IV – Proposed School Closures & Electorates
Banks Avenue School – Christchurch Central – Nicky Wager (N) – Majority: 47
Branston Intermediate – Wigram – Megan Woods (L) – Majority: 1,500
Burnham School – Selwyn – Amy Adams (N) – Majority: 19,451
Burnside Primary School – Ilam – Gerry Brownlee (N) – Majority: 13,312
Duvauchelle School (becomes a hub of Akaroa Area School) – Selwyn – Amy Adams (N) – Majority: 19,451
Glenmoor School – Christchurch Central – Nicky Wager (N) – Majority: 47
Greenpark School – Wigram – Megan Woods (L) – Majority: 1,500
Hammersley Park School – Christchurch Central – Nicky Wager (N) – Majority: 47
Kendal School- Ilam – Gerry Brownlee (N) – Majority: 13,312
Le Bons Bay School – Selwyn – Amy Adams (N) – Majority: 19,451
Linwood Intermediate – Christchurch Central – Nicky Wager (N) – Majority: 47
Manning Intermediate – Wigram – Megan Woods (L) – Majority: 1,500
Okains Bay School (becomes a hub of Akaroa Area School) – Selwyn – Amy Adams (N) – Majority: 19,451
Ouruhia Model School – Christchurch East – Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334
Richmond School – Christchurch Central – Nicky Wager (N) – Majority: 47
Schools to close and merge
Schools to become Year 1 to 13:
Aranui High School – Christchurch East – Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334
Aranui School – Christchurch East – Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334
Avondale School – Christchurch East – Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334
Chisnallwood Intermediate – Christchurch East – Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334
Wainoni Primary School – Christchurch East – Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334
Burwood School and Windsor School on Windsor School site – Christchurch East – Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334
Discovery One School and Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti as Year 1 to 13 school – Christchurch Central – Nicky Wager (N) – Majority: 47
Freeville and New Brighton North School – Christchurch East – Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334
Linwood Avenue School and Bromley School on Bromley School site – Port Hills – Ruth Dyson (L) – Majority: 3,097
Lyttleton Main School and Lyttleton West School – Port Hills – Ruth Dyson (L) – Majority: 3,097
Philipstown School and Woolston School (moving to new site) – Christchurch Central – Nicky Wager (N) – Majority: 47 — Port Hills – Ruth Dyson (L) – Majority: 3,097
South New Brighton School and Central New Brighton School – Christchurch East – Lianne Dalziel (L) – Majority: 5,334
Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o te Whanau and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Waitaha – Wigram – Megan Woods (L) – Majority: 1,500 — Port Hills – Ruth Dyson (L) – Majority: 3,097
Schools in Labour-held electorates: 22
Schools in National-held electorates: 14
Wikipedia: New Zealand general election, 2011
Previous related blogpost
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For a better New Zealand…
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