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A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part rua

24 January 2014 9 comments

Continued from:  A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part tahi

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new-zealand-national-party_3382 adapted 2014

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An incoming Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?*) coalition government will have much work to do – especially in it’s first three years.

In the six years that National has been in power, they have passed many odious and often repressive pieces of legislation. Labour and the Greens have already committed to repealing some of these laws and policies.

As a Labour-led coalition government addresses growing problems of child poverty; income inequality; a shortage of decent, affordable housing; and chronic unemployment (currently at 7.1% according to the 2013 Census), a legislative programme will demand a long list of progressive reforms.

In no particular order;

Welfare “reforms”

Drug testing welfare recipients – the sign of a National government desperate to deflect attention away from it’s lack of credible job creation policies, and stigmatise the victims of the Global Financial Crisis by insinuating that they are lazy, shiftless, drug-numbed layabouts.

Or, as the Salon website wrote  last year about this very same issue in the United States,

The logic behind extant drug testing laws goes something like this: Taxpayer money shouldn’t be used to buy illegal drugs. People collecting welfare receive taxpayer money. Some of these people use illegal drugs. Therefore, we should test them in order to stop giving taxpayer money to those who use illegal drugs.

It’s true, people on welfare use drugs. But so do people from every socioeconomic level. People on welfare also receive taxpayer money. But so do people from every socioeconomic level. If the goal is to stop people from potentially using taxpayer money to purchase illegal substances then we should apply these programs to every person receiving government funds. That means testing students who receive government scholarships, laboratories receiving government research grants, and farmers receiving farm subsidies. It means testing veterans, police officers and firefighters. It means testing the employees of the companies that administer the tests. And it most certainly means testing politicians, from the governor all the way down to city council members.

But you won’t see any governors calling for extensive testing. This is because none of these other groups have the stigma of poverty attached to them — a stigma that leads many to turn a blind eye to harmful policies that affect only the poor, but would never be tolerated if done to other groups.

Welfare-based drug testing is only a symptom of a larger societal ill that sees the poor as inherently parasitic and viceful (e.g., “They take advantage of government programs, not us.” “They do drugs, not us.”). As a result, legislators heap unfair, ineffective policies on those in poverty simply to court public favor by playing to their prejudices. The welfare queen, cashing government checks, smoking drugs and living the life of luxury, continues to be a useful myth when it comes to winning votes. And as more of these policies, whose support is borne by an unfounded disdain for the poor, are enacted, the humanity of those living in poverty is further eroded as the chasm between the haves and the have-nots grows even wider.

The same Salon article reported,

In 2009, Arizona was the first state to adopt a program that drug-tested recipients of welfare whom officials had “reasonable cause” to believe were using drugs. Besides stigmatizing recipients of government assistance, implying that they’re a group of no-good drug fiends, the bill was implemented to try rand resuscitate a failing budget, and Arizona officials believed that testing could save the state $1.7 million a year.

But in 2012, three years and 87,000 screenings later, only one person had failed a drug test. Total savings from denying that one person benefits? $560. Total benefits paid out in that time? $200 million. Even if we include the savings from cutting benefits to the 1,633 people who didn’t return the pre-test survey, it brings the total to only 0.1 percent of the amount distributed over that period.

Similar results were found for Oklahoma and Florida,

Similarly lackluster results have dogged Oklahoma’s drug testing program in which only 29 people failed. When contacted, Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services said it didn’t keep track of the amount the state saved by denying benefits to those who tested positive, but testing fees are estimated to have totaled $74,000.

Florida had a testing program in 2011 that was halted by the courts not long after it was started. During its brief lifespan it had similarly poor results. Only 2.6 percent of those tested turned up positive for illicit substances. And since Florida reimbursed those who were clean for the cost of their tests, the state actually lost $45,780 because of the program.

So what were the results here in New Zealand? As the NZ Herald reported on 11 January, this year;

Of the 8,001 beneficiaries sent for jobs requiring drug testing, only 22 tested positive to drug use or refused to take tests.

Twentytwo people. Out of 8,001. That’s a “fail” rate of – wait fer it – 0.27% !!

When asked how much this exercise in futility has cost the taxpayer, deputy chief executive of Work and Income, Debbie Power, replied that “there was no information available showing how much the drug testing scheme cost.  There was also no information showing actual or estimated savings”.

Which, intriguingly, mirrors the United States situation, where they also could not provide financial details when requested.

Similar policies in both the USA and New Zealand, and a similar lack of available information surrounding costs.

Coincidence? Or is this right-wing strategy emanating from the same (or inter-connected) right-wing think tank/s?

The lack of information is made even more farcical when Welfare Minister Paula Bennett claimed that the policy was “driving beneficiaries away from using drugs“. Yet, her office admitted to having no data to support the claim. Nothing. Zilch. In other words, she made it up.

She probably also made up the original “costings” figures in August 2012, when she announced the policy,

She said estimates at the high end put the cost of enforcing the policy at $10 million. “We really think the real cost is around $3 million for those that will be known as dependent, once this testing comes in. The savings are estimated to be around $10.5 million.”

The crackdown would involve up to 13,000 beneficiaries a year getting treatment for drug dependency.

Ms Bennett said a Ministry of Health report from 2007/2008 said beneficiaries were three times more likely to be cannabis users. “That would put them at around 20 per cent of beneficiaries, if you went by that number. The UN says that New Zealand and Australia have the highest use of cannabis anywhere in the world,” she said.

Funny how Bennett had the figures available  in 2012 – but not readily available now, after the drug testing policy has been in force for a little over six months?

Nor did Bennett have “time to trawl through evidence” supposedly provided  “from face-to-face meetings with employers and others” who had supposedly complained “about beneficiaries failing drug tests“, when requested by Helen Kelly from the CTU.

Perhaps  everyone in this country should be drug-tested? No exceptions. John Key can lead the way. His wife and children next.

After all, as a civil servant, he himself is a beneficiary of the State. (A very highly paid one, at that.)

It is also worthwhile noting that Police Minister Anne Tolley categorically refused to consider drug-testing for New Zealand’s police,

Anne Tolley says the overwhelming majority of police staff are doing a fantastic job and they should not face workplace drug testing. She says police are quick to prosecute their own if there is any wrongdoing.

Considering that police officers have access to deadly weapons, one would have thought that mandatory drug testing would be done as a matter of course.  Only recently, a Police Prosecutor was convicted for possession and use of cannabis and methamphetamine.

Why are all New Zealanders not drug tested? Why the insistance by this government of focusing only on welfare recipients?

Because, as The Salon article above pointed out with crystal clarity, it serves the purpose of the National Party to deflect attention onto the unemployed; depict them as lazy drug-users; and thereby Key and his Ministers avoid  taking political responsibility for chronic levels of high  unemployment. As Bennett alluded to on 28 August 2012,

Welfare reforms are resetting expectations and obligations and recreational drug use is simply not an acceptable excuse for avoiding available work.

Illegal drug use should not get in the way of getting a job if you are on a benefit.

Too many beneficiaries are missing out on job opportunities because of recreational drug use and that’s just not acceptable.”

She used all the dog-whistle references in that speech. This is what is known as scape-goating, and if sufficient numbers of gullible, uninformed voters ‘buy’ into this strategy, then it serves National’s purpose as it seeks re-election this year.

As “Bomber” Bradbury pointed out on Tumeke in August 2012,

“…National don’t believe in creating jobs, they create ‘environments’ where jobs are created, likewise they won’t find the unemployed jobs, they’ll find ways to create an environment that disqualifies them from gaining a benefit in the first place.

Drug testing beneficiaries isn’t aimed at making them work ready in a 9.1% real unemployment labour market, it’s aimed at disqualifying them from recieving a benefit, thus removing them from the official 6.9% unemployment rate into the invisible world of poverty.”

Which Paula Bennett confirmed on TVNZ’s Q+A, on 29 April 2012, in a roundabout way,

There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do.”

Regardless of the obvious bullshit nature of this machiavellian policy, an incoming Labour-led coalition must repeal this odious policy forthwith. In doing so, Cunliffe and the new Minister of Social Welfare must explain clearly and concisely to the electorate the duplicitous nature of this policy and why it serves no purpose in creating jobs.

Labour and it’s allies must not only dump this policy – they should take the opportunity to educate the public so that National will find it impossible to ever reinstate it again.

National Standards

Another favourite of right-wing politicians, National Standards was introduced in 2010, and  has been steadily opposed by every education sector group, whether it was the NZ Principals’ Federation, NZEI, Boards of Trustees; PPTA; and many parents.

A year earlier, an open letter had been sent to then Minister of Education, Anne Tolley. The letter was signed by high-regarded professionals and experts in the education sector;  Prof. Martin Thrupp (University of Waikato); Prof. John Hattie (University of Auckland); Prof. Terry Crooks (University of Otago); and Lester Flockton (University of Otago), and stated in part,

Minister, in our view the flaws in the new system are so serious that full implementation of the intended National Standards system over the next three years is unlikely to be successful. It will not achieve intended goals and is likely to lead to dangerous side effects.

We are very concerned that the intended National Standards system wrongly assumes that children are failing if they do not meet the standard for their age. This will lead to the repeated labelling of many young children as failures and will be self-fulfilling because it will damage children’s self-esteem and turn them off learning and achieving in literacy and numeracy and other curricula areas. There are many successful New Zealanders with unexceptional school records who would not have succeeded had they been constantly labelled as failures during their childhood. A better form of assessment and reporting would focus on the progress that children are making and we believe this is the approach that should be being used.

Minister, you are aware the international record on the effects of national testing is damning. We recognise the intended National Standards are not national tests, but our understanding of why national testing has such adverse effects convinces us that the intended National Standards system will suffer most of the same problems. We are concerned about the damage that will occur if the performance of children against the Standards is reported publicly, as has happened internationally. We stress that such reporting of results at each year level will distort and impoverish the  culture of teaching and learning and assessment within schools. It will undermine the new curriculum and lead to a narrower, less interesting form of primary education for New Zealand children. It will also result in inappropriate judgements about the quality of schools and teachers.

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In our view the intended  National Standards system has little chance of engaging the hearts and minds of New Zealand primary teachers. Our primary teachers have a strong ethic of care for children. We believe they are opposing National Standards not because they are reluctant to be accountable but because of genuine concerns about the effects of the national standards system on children and their learning. “

Part of the problem of National Standards – aside from the bizarre notion of attempting to “standardise” all children’s learning – was the likelihood of National Standards results being turned in to League Tables. Such a move would pit school against school and introduce competition into a system that was better served by collegial, co-operative action.

In other words, this was a thinly-veiled neo-liberal policy being implemented. The ultimate goal? Further commercialisation of schools? Privatisation?

As a sop to mounting criticism, in October 2009, then Education Minister, Anne Tolley, pledged not to facilitate National Standards,

After months of disputes, Education Minister Anne Tolley has struck a deal with primary school unions that will see them work together on its controversial national standards policy.

Under the agreement, the Government has confirmed it will make it as difficult as possible for the media to produce league tables that rank schools.

Mrs Tolley told The Dominion Post the deal was a “a momentous occasion”.

She said she told the groups she was prepared to work with them to stop the use of league tables. “We want to make it as difficult for you [media] as possible. It will be too hard and too much work and not worth it in the end. There are a few ideas we will discuss as to how we can do that.”

By 2011, that pledge had changed,

National leader John Key this afternoon announced the party’s full education policy, including early childhood, schools and the tertiary sector.

He said National’s “next steps” on the controversial National Standards scheme would include using performance information to “strengthen the accountability of schools”.

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Education spokeswoman Anne Tolley said a National-led Government would not roll out any league tables of its own but primary schools would, from next year, be required to publish their results against the National Standards. There were be no steps to stop media or anyone else from constructing league tables out of the information.

“We want the system to be far more accountable to parents and communities,” Tolley said.

(Hat-tip: Dim Post blog)

Unsurprising really. Experience has shown that trusting National politicians to keep their word is a wholly futile exercise.

On 11 June 2013, Labour’s education spokesperson, Chris Hipkins pledged that an incoming Labour-led government would scrap National Standards. He made no bones about Labour’s view on the policy,

It’s now abundantly clear that National Standard results are neither national nor standard. There is no proper process in place to ensure that a student judged as meeting a standard wouldn’t get a different outcome if assessed by a different teacher at a different school. The data released today is therefore is completely useless.”

Useless indeed. This is another of National’s ideologically-motivated policies that deserves to be “filed” here,

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(* At this point in time, NZ First’s leader, Winston Peters,  has not indicated which bloc – Labour or National – he intends to coalesce with. As such, any involvement by NZ First in a progressive government cannot be counted upon.)

To be continued at:  A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part toru

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 January 2014.

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References

Salon: An inane, money-eating sham: Drug tests for welfare a huge failure

NZ Herald: Drug testing of beneficiaries set to come into force from July

NZ Herald: Minister claims low drug result as victory

Radio NZ: Bennett defends drug-testing of beneficiaries

Dominion Post: PM gets $9200 pay rise

Radio NZ:  Police minister says no to drug tests at work

Related blogpost: Letter to the Editor: Was Paula Bennett ever drug tested?

Radio NZ: Prosecutor sentenced over drug charges

Beehive: Pre-employment drug testing for jobseekers

TVNZ:  Q+A – Transcript of Paula Bennett interview

Tumeke: What the real aim of drug testing beneficiaries is

Roy Morgan: unemployment statistics

Open Letter to the Minister of Education, Hon Anne Tolley

Fairfax media: Tolley and unions strike league tables deal

Fairfax media: Nats open door to primary school league tables

NZ Herald: Labour would dump National Standards

Labour Party: Only constant is Hekia’s waffle

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Mediaworks, Solid Energy, and National Standards

17 June 2013 3 comments

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Solid Energy looking to sell Southland land

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – TV3’s owners in receivership

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Stupidity heaped upon government incompetence – there is no other way to describe the fiasco that Solid Energy has become since National took office in 2008. Whether it was National Ministers  encouraging Solid Energy to expand their operations during a time of  recession or  forcing it to borrow huge sums and then pay it to the National government as “dividends” – Key, English, Joyce, et al have a lot to answer for.

It is not often that a government will run a SOE into the ground and then blame others for their incompetance. (See previous blogpost: Solid Energy – A solid drama of facts, fibs, and fall-guys )

News that Solid Energy may be planning to sell 3,500 hectares of land, and which may be purchased by offshore investors, is the final humiliation.

At this stage, I will make the following point;

  1. I don’t care if a foreign purchaser resides in Boston, Berlin, or Beijing. The negative economic consequences to New Zealand are all the same.
  2. Rightwingers maintain that it doesn’t matter if the land is sold into foreign ownership; “no one can take it away”. But that’s not the point. It’s not the land that is removed – but the profits  generated for owners. It is dividends  to overseas investors that can be “taken away”, thereby reducing our income; worsening our balance of payments; and ultimately pushing up interest rates.
  3. Land sales to overseas investors denies the birthright of  all New Zealanders to participate in land based enterprises. It is difficult for young people to buy a farm when competing with wealthy  investors from Boston, Berlin, or Beijing. In the end, those young New Zealand may end up tenants in our own country – which Dear Leader himself said was not desirable (see: PM warns against Kiwis becoming ‘tenants’ ).

The most common sense solution to this problem (I refuse to call it an “issue”) is simple and straightforward.

If local buyers cannot be found, the land should be transferred to SOE Landcorp, to hold it in stewardship. Good, productive farmland could be later sold/leased to young New Zealanders who want to get on the first rung of the ladder to farm ownership.

Selling/leasing to the next generation of New Zealanders – our children – is a sound way to give them opportunities in our own country.

Why we would deny them that birthright and instead prefer to sell to faceless foreign investors, sitting in offices halfway around the word, defies understanding.

As Bruce Jesson said in his book, about the neo-liberal mentality to sell off everything to the highest bidder, and bugger  the consequences; Only their Purpose is Mad.

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MediaWorks in receivership

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – MediaWorks in receivership

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It is a great shame that Mediaworks is in this position. Their flagship broadcaster, TV3, has raised the quality and standard of programming in this country. Unlike the mediocre rubbish on state-owned TVNZ, TV3 has treated the viewer with a fair measure of respect.

Programmes like Campbell Live, Outrageous Fortune, and Inside Child Poverty have been nuggets of gold at a time when mainstream media is dumbing down faster than John Banks’ integrity post-Skycity and Dotcom donations scandal.

This leftwing blogger wishes the company all the best for the future; fervantly hopes that no one loses their job; and looks forward to more high-quality programming  from TV3.

See more at The Daily Blog by Selwyn Manning: Breaking News: New Company Newco Positions To Purchase MediaWorks Off Receivers

Breaking News: New Company Newco Positions To Purchase MediaWorks Off Receivers – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/06/17/breaking-news-tv3-radiolive-owners-mediaworks-has-gone-into-receivership/#sthash.YBRLNczb.dpuf

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Teachers to boycott trial of national standards computer system

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Teachers to boycott trial of national standards computer system

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The biggest problem and greatest threat from National Standards is the American phenomenon, “Teaching to Tests”. As Gordon Campbell wrote, four years ago when National Standards were first mooted by the Nats,

The main risk is that national testing will foster mechanical ways of assessing of children’s learning, as teachers get pressured into ‘teaching to the test’ – thus narrowing what they teach, and fuelling a focus on simplistic measuring rather than on creating a richer, and more child-oriented environment.

Quite simply, what this means is that for schools to “look good” in league tables (another right wing invention that inevitably follows National Standards), they will be pressured to teach  students solely to answer tests. Nothing more, nothing less.

Because otherwise, a school risks looking poorly in National Standards results. Couple this with “performance related pay”, and “teaching to the test” to guarantee a high ranking in League Tables, becomes a dead cert.

Parents should not only be worried – they should be downright angry. This undermines our education system and turns it into a farce. Kids become expert at answering tests – but not much more. Problem-solving, initiative, increased knowledge, and even more tradition curricula, become secondary.

Because, really, if we’re going to have “performance related pay”, then teachers will make damn sure that their school doesn’t fall behind in any National Standard and subsequent League Table.

Interestingly, China, Sth Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong are also at the top of the OECD PISA scale.  International education scholar, Yong Zhao (see bio here), pointed out why in December 2010;

… China has become the best education nation, or at least according to some experts and politicians. Chinese students (a sample from Shanghai) outscored 64 countries/education systems on the most recent PISA, OECD’s international academic assessment for 15 year olds in math, reading, and science…

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I don’t know why this is such a big surprise to these well educated and smart people. Why should anyone be stunned? It is no news that the Chinese education system is excellent in preparing outstanding test takers, just like other education systems within the Confucian cultural circle—Singapore, Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong…

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That’s the secret: when you spend all your time preparing for tests, and when students are selected based on their test-taking abilities, you get outstanding test scores.

Acknowledgement:  A True Wake-up Call for Arne Duncan: The Real Reason Behind Chinese Students Top PISA Performance

Is this education?. Or is this a  corruption of education and turning our children into mass-trained cogs, able to pass tests, but not much more in terms of free-thinking and expanding knowledge?

Make no mistake. This is setting us up for failure in the decades to come.

Perhaps, instead we should be looking at the Finnish experience,

In his country, Dr. Darling-Hammond said later in an interview, teachers typically spend about four hours a day in the classroom, and are paid to spend two hours a week on professional development. At the University of Helsinki, where he teaches, 2,400 people competed last year for 120 slots in the (fully subsidized) master’s program for schoolteachers. “It’s more difficult getting into teacher education than law or medicine,” he said.

Dr. Sahlberg puts high-quality teachers at the heart of Finland’s education success story — which, as it happens, has become a personal success story of sorts, part of an American obsession with all things Finnish when it comes to schools…

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Both Dr. Darling-Hammond and Dr. Sahlberg said a turning point was a government decision in the 1970s to require all teachers to have master’s degrees — and to pay for their acquisition. The starting salary for school teachers in Finland, 96 percent of whom are unionized, was about $29,000 in 2008, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, compared with about $36,000 in the United States.

More bear than tiger, Finland scorns almost all standardized testing before age 16 and discourages homework, and it is seen as a violation of children’s right to be children for them to start school any sooner than 7, Dr. Sahlberg said during his day at Dwight. He spoke to seniors taking a “Theory of Knowledge” class, then met with administrators and faculty members.

“The first six years of education are not about academic success,” he said. “We don’t measure children at all. It’s about being ready to learn and finding your passion.”

Acknowledgement: New York Times – From Finland, an Intriguing School-Reform Model

Solutions?

1. Don’t vote for National in 2014.

2. Look at Finland for our answers to improve education – not the US which is lower on the OECD PISA ranking than us. (Finland is near the top.)

3. Be wary of simplistic rightwing agendas.

Other Blogs

Gordon Campbell: National Education Tests, And Michael Jackson

The Political Scientist:  National Standards and Neanderthals – “They will know what is required …” – Part I

The Political Scientist: National Standards and Neanderthals – “They will know what is required …” – Part II

The Political Scientis: National Standards and Neanderthals – “They will know what is required …” – Part III

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12 June – Issues of Interest

12 June 2013 4 comments

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Looking at the pieces

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Nigel Latta on National Standards

On Facebook, child psychologist and TV host, Nigel Latta, had this to say about the recent National Standards “results”;

‘National Standards’ aren’t.

The latest national standards ‘results’ being reported in the media are utter nonsense. Pure and simple. Even if we ignore the large inconsistencies between the way that the ‘standards’ are measured (and we can’t because the inconsistencies make comparisons all but impossible), and the fact that it assumes all children of a given age are maturing at the same rate (which they don’t), and we ignore the impact of little things like child poverty (which some politicians like to do much to their shame), it’s still impossible to say anything at all about a change in the numbers when you only have two data points.

They can’t say that a difference of 1.2-2% on the various measures between last year and this year is an ‘improvement’, because we simply don’t know.

If you had assessed all of those very same children again the day after they were assessed for these numbers, in the exact same conditions with the exact same measures, then you would also get a different number. That’s because in the real world we have this little thing called statistical variation–things never work out exactly the same. To make any meaningful statements about ‘improvements’ you need meaningful measures (which national standards aren’t anyway) over several different data points (i.e. over several years).

I wish the media would get that very simple, but very important point. Politicians will spin it as a gain, but it isn’t. It’s simply meaningless statistical ‘noise’.

The government went with national standards because they thought voters would like it, not because it’s the best thing for making progress on education. If we really wanted to lift our ‘national standards’ then, perhaps as a beginning, we’d take more care of the large numbers of our kids living in poverty.

When they produce their ‘rankings’ of schools I’m pretty sure it’s going to show a trend whereby higher decile schools meet/exceed the ‘standards’ much more than lower decile schools. I wonder why that might be? And who do we blame for that? Teachers?

Don’t be sucked in by all this political positioning. My advice is to ignore the national standards tables because they don’t mean anything. There’s a reason teachers were so opposed to the way these ‘national standards’ are being used… fundamentally because it’s nonsense!

Nigel Latta, Facebook, 12 June 2013

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100% Pure brand busted!

New Zealand’s distance from it’s major trading partners (except Australia) has always been a major impediment to our trading. Our point-of-difference has  been the quality of our food products, and has made them desirable commodities on that basis.  Branding ourselves as “100% Pure” and  “Clean and Green” were marketing tools that created a multi-billion dollar export industry.

But that is coming to an end.

We are not “100% Pure” and nor are we “Clean and Green”. Anything but.

National has paid lip service to being green.

Pollution has been allowed to increase.

It’s focus on “reforming” the RMA to allow for exploitation mof sensitive environmental areas; more and more chemicals ion our farms; allowing dangerous deep sea drilling of our coastline; mining in Conservation lands; and ditching our committment to the Kyoto Protocol – have not gone unnoticed by our trading partners.

And those trading partners  are starting to react accordingly,

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Sri Lanka demands DCD testing on NZ milk powder

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Sri Lanka demands DCD testing on NZ milk powder

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An over-reaction?

Not when National has appointed a  board to over-see a resource consent application to allow an increase of nitrogen pollution  in the Tukituki River  by a staggering 250% !

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Nitrate proposal seen as death knell for river

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Nitrate proposal seen as death knell for river

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This will not doubt be ratchetted back to “only” 50% or 100%, and National will claim that they are “listening” to public concerns. It’s an old political trick when a deeply unpopular policy is put forward. Make a number unfeasibly large; then offer a lower number, and claim that government has listened to the public. In reality it was the lower number all along that was the preferred option.

National has consistently undermined environmental protections in this country, as well as knee-capped DoC by sacking staff and under-funding it’s operations.

We are now starting to pay the price of right-wing policies that pursue business and profit ahead of  preserving our environment.

What National and it’s one-eyed supporters don’t seem to comprehend is that business and profits are dependendent on our clean and green environment. Mess up the environment and expect to lose customers and profits.

Just ask the Sri Lankans.

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User-pays healthcare?

For those neo-liberals and naive National supporters who advocate replacing our socialised healthcare system with privatised healthcare insurance, I present the reality,

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NZ private health insurance uptake hits 6-yr low

Acknowledgment: NZ Herald – NZ private health insurance uptake hits 6-yr low

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Private health-privider,  Wakefield chairman Alan Isaac said,

“The total number of New Zealanders with private health insurance (is) decreasing.”

Acknowledgment: IBID

Well, no wonder!

Even as private healthcare companies like Wakefield are complaining about losing customers, they are hiking premiums and still making a 27% increase in full-year earnings. Twentyseven percent! Compare that to other investments, and you begin to realise that these companies aren’t doing too bad.

That’s 27% that could have been re-invested in healthcare – but is instead going into the pockets of shareholders.

What would happen, I wonder, if New Zealand’s healthcare system was fully privatised and  went totally “free market”, as ACT policy demands?

This OECD chart suggests the result, if we were ever foolish enough to go down that road,

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OECD - private - public - healthcare expenditure -2007

Source: OECD – Total health expenditure per capita, public and private, 2007

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At 7,290, the United States spends nearly three times as much on healthcare as we do. Their private/public health costs are vastly greater than the entire public/private expenditure we have here in New Zealand with our “socialised” system.

And ACT wants to emulate our American cuzzies?!

The only thing the USA has demonstrated is that a privatised healthcare system will result in a massive blow-out in costs and rapacious profits for shareholders.

The argument from the neo-liberal Right is that private enterprise is “more efficient” and better for consumers. This is absolute bollocks.

If anything, private health insurance is highly ineffective at delivering  universal healthcare for it’s clients,

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Ongoing jumps in health insurance costs

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – Ongoing jumps in health insurance costs

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As has been observed by others in the past, private health insurance is relatively cheap when you are young, healthy, and make few demands for medical intervention.

But with old age; increased infirmity; and heightened vulnerabilty comes increased premium payments for policy-holders. Just when they most require increased medical services.

This is the fatal flaw in private medical insurance; those who most require it, will pay the highest premiums. And pay, and pay, and pay…

Just ask the Americans.

See also: NZ Herald – Jack Tame: Sickness is too expensive in the land of the free

Other blogs:  Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate

Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate
Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate
Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate

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Some good news at last…

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It has been a stain on our reputation that despite our anti-nuclear legislation, our Superannuation Fund was still investing in overseas companies engaged in producing atomic bombs and cluster munitions. This was a problem (I refuse to call it an “issue”)  that I highlighted  in December, last year.

Previous related blogposts:  New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame

Previous related blogposts:  New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame – *Update*

The Superannuation Fund has done the right thing by no longer continuing to invest in Babcock & Wilcox, Fluor Corporation, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Jacobs Engineering Group, Serco Group and URS Corporation;

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Super Fund sells nuclear investments

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – Super Fund sells nuclear investments

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The other weapons we are no longer investing in is the manufacture of cluster-munitions. These vile things are the weapons-of-choice for vicious dictators and other repressive regimes which they use against their civilian population.

They have been used in Syria, against unarmed civilians. Children have been killed by these monstrous devices.  (see: Syrian children ‘killed by cluster bombs’)

Cluster munitions have been outlawed by  nearly 100 nations which signed a  treaty to ban cluster bombs.  In 2009, to their credit, the current National-led government  passed legislation banning these obscene weapons from our country. This included the possession, retaining, stockpiling, assistance, encouragement, or even inducement to deal with them.

NZ Parliament: Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act 2009 (17 Dec 2009)

It would take a ruthless person to discount this human suffering and advocate for our continued investment in their manufacture.

The Superannuation Fund was effectively breaking the law with it’s investments in General Dynamics, L-3 Communications, Raytheon, and the Goodrich Corp.

It’s good to see that our fingers are no longer bloodied by such  investments.

As for right-wingers who dismiss investment in atomic bombs or cluster munition – go play with a cluster bomb.  Come back to me after it’s detonated in your hands. Then we’ll talk.

Just ask the Syrians.

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The bucks stops with me over there, somewhere…

I guess it was inevitable, really…

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Deputy Secretary resigns over Novopay

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Deputy Secretary resigns over Novopay

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Did we really, really expect any one of the three Ministers who signed off on Novopay to put their hand up and admit responsibility?!

No less than three ministers signed off on Novopay, to allow it to “go live”;

  • Education Minisrer Hekia Parata
  • Associate Education Minister Craig Foss
  • Finance Minister Bill English

Because doesn’t it strike people as  indicative that Minister for Everything, aka, Mr Fixit, Steven Joyce was appointed Minister in charge of Novopay – thereby taking responsibility for this ongoing balls-up away from Parata?! (see: ODT – Joyce to take on handling of Novopay)

Despite the so-call “ministerial inquiry”, Joyce had a very interesting point to make on 31 January;

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Government sticking with Novopay - for now

Acknowledgement – Radio NZ – Government sticking with Novopay for now

Steven Joyce revealed that Education Minister Hekia Parata, Finance Minister Bill English and former education minister Craig Foss approved the use of Novopay despite being told that it had bugs.”

So… how can  Joyce’s statement be reconciled with his statement, five months later,

Reporting to Ministers was inconsistent, unduly optimistic and sometimes misrepresented the situation.”

Source: Beehive.govt.nz: Ministerial Inquiry report into Novopay released

Either Ministers were “told that it had bugs” or  reporting wasunduly optimistic and sometimes misrepresented the situation“. Which is it?!

By the way, the Ministerial Inquiry was undertaken by Maarten Wevers and Chairman of Deloitte New Zealand Murray Jack.

Mr Weavers was former head of the Department of the Prime Minister (John Key) and Cabinet.

Connect the dots.

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WhiteWash

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Other blogposts: Gordon Campbell on the latest Novopay revelations

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Parata preparing for another backdown? (Part Rua)

3 October 2012 15 comments

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After Education Minister, Hekia Patata’s dreadful performance on TVNZ’s ‘Q+A‘ on 30 September, it appears that her ‘minders’ have realised that she is not ‘selling’ the issues of  National Standards and Christchurch School closures, to the public.

In fact, her slip to Shane Taurima that National Standards data  was unreliable must have raised the eyebrows of every viewer in the country,

“ 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…”

As was her admission that school closures in Christchurch would add to the trauma already suffered by Cantabrians after two major earthquakes and 185 deaths,

 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

Parata didn’t just shoot herself in the foot in that interview – she kneecapped herself.

The consequence was that Parata appears no longer willing to be interviewed by the media.

She refused to accept John Campbell’s invitation to appear on his show on TV3 on 2 October – instead sending a bureacrat to front up, Ministry of Education chief executive, Lesley Longstone.

Longstone put on a brave face attempting to explain why so much of the Ministry’s information was completely wacko – as if they referred to schools in some other country (or maybe Planet Key) – but failed miserably,

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Source

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Little wonder that Parata refused to front. She would have been skewered and hung out to dry.

Again, this morning (3 October), Hekia Parata was invited to be interviewed on Radio NZ’s ‘Morning Report‘. Again, she refused point blank.

See: Radio NZ – Warning from Australia on National Standards

Ok, it’s possible that she had another engagement that prevented her from appearing on ‘Campbell Live‘ last night. But what was so pressing that she could not be on the phone to Radio NZ’s Geoff Robinson at 8.09am?

The answer is; nothing.

National’s policies on school closures and National Standards is an absolute mess. Parata is up to her neck in policies that are hard to defend; based on shonky data; and offer no real benefit to the education of our children.

Let’s be quite clear here; if National’s  so-called “reforms” were such a great idea, Parata should be willing and eager to front at every opportunity to defend  her policies and explain why they will help our children; communities; and country as  whole.

Her new-found ‘shyness’ is indicative of only one thing; her policies are indefensible and deeply resented by New Zealanders. Furthermore, judging by the response she has received from parents and teaching professionals, she has lost the trust of those people who rely on her judgement.

Hekia Parata is the Minister of Education. Her education policies are her responsibilty.

If she is unable or unwilling to front up to the public, then she has no business earning her $257,800 ministerial salary (plus perks, plus gold-plated superannuation) .

When it comes to education, where does the buck stop?

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Sources

See:  Q+A – Education Minister Hekia Parata (video)

See:  Q+A – Education Minister Hekia Parata (transcript)

Radio NZ: 13 schools to close, others to merge in Christchurch

Wikipedia: New Zealand general election, 2011

Previous related blogpost

Christchurch, choice, and charter schools)

Parata preparing for another backdown?

Additional

School standards report card ‘ropey’

Schools claim merger data incorrect

Ministry admits some errors in data

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Parata preparing for another backdown?

2 October 2012 7 comments

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I – National Standards

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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.

[abridged]

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…

[abridged]

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.

[abridged]

HEKIA Well, it’s schools’ data…

[abridged]

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

“Not reliable”?!?!

“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?

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II – National Standards Internationally

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‘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.

See: Widow says little improvement seem

See: GP hits out at health reforms

See: Died waiting for by-pass

See: Word today on heart list

See: Anger on heart op delay

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,

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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.

Source:  Wikipedia

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?

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III – Christchurch School Closures – Back-down imminent?

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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.

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IV – Proposed School Closures & Electorates

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Planned Closures

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

Mergers

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

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Sources

See:  Q+A – Education Minister Hekia Parata (video)

See:  Q+A – Education Minister Hekia Parata (transcript)

Radio NZ: 13 schools to close, others to merge in Christchurch

Wikipedia: New Zealand general election, 2011

Previous related blogpost

Christchurch, choice, and charter schools)

Additional

School standards report card ‘ropey’

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Dear Minister…

John-Paul Powley

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Dear Anne Tolley, and John Key

I woke up this morning and read your education policy as summarised in the media. This whole article on your proposed education policy made me furious.  The article suggested that these were the key points:

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EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION:

Target of 98 per cent of new entrants in school having participated in early childhood education by 2015

New interactive website for parents to choose “the best” local ECE service

New funding model to be trialled in 2014

SCHOOLS:

Require publication of National Standards data in 2012

New assessment of “disposition to teach” for trainee teachers

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A long time ago when National Standards were introduced I predicted that they would creep to Secondary schools and that we would  see league tables.  It didn’t bother me that on both points you said this wouldn’t happen.  It was clearly a lie, and it is no comfort to me to see my predictions turn out to be correct.

It seem to me that there is simply no possibility of negotiating with your government in good faith and this makes me angry, because I am a reasonable person who believes that conflict is a dead end.

Here are some points that I would like to address to you:

  • How can you want 98% of kids in early childhood education, but cut the funding to these centres that make them affordable, and how can you want 98% of kids to go to centres where you do not believe that it is important that 100% of the staff there are fully qualified?
  • What does the term “best” ECE centres mean?  Doesn’t this just mean the centres with the wealthiest and best educated parents?  How does a competitive model in education work when some people can’t afford the best, and are you committed in terms of the massive amounts of money and time it will take to build up struggling centres, or is it a fail-and-close-them-down model?
  • You said that you would not create a situation of league tables two years ago.  This was clearly a lie.  Do you think it is a good model to our students to lie in order to get what you want, and then use double speak to try to pretend that you never said such things in the past?
  • League tables are good for comparing apples with apples, but after the first round of tables are printed there will no longer be apples and apples, there will be schools that are better than others when measured against one criteria.   My daughter started school yesterday, and I know the pressure to send your child to the “best” school and not the local school, but I believe in my local school and I was DELIGHTED to send her to the local school and see her running in and playing with the Somali kids, and the Pasifika kids, and the Indian kids, and the European kids all together, learning together, and being wonderful and curious together, and I can’t help but wonder what will happen to all the white kids when the school down the road does better on the league table, because it is a wealthier and more homogenous school.  Are we committed to a multi-cultural New Zealand or not?  Or is that just talk?  Past experience shows that Europeans like me abandon schools that are sinking faster than rats on a sinking ship because they can, and that parents who can’t afford to make the change don’t (even though they care just as much for their children).  I’m not proud of this fact, but I have to admit it is true.  Do you understand this?  I don’t think that you do, and I think that this is the weakness of a party that is made up of a homogenous and wealthy group and would prefer a voting system where they can just stop mucking about and govern alone.  You do not represent everyone, and you should never, ever be allowed to govern alone for that reason.  Not because I do not like you, but because NO ONE should govern alone.
  • Disposition to teach?  My first years teaching in a low decile school were hell.  I went home, lay down on the floor and cried.  If someone had offered me a job doing something else at the moment I would have taken it.  Now I am at the end of my sixth year teaching and I think I do a damn good job.  Teaching is a long hard road to success, and it is even more brutal and even more important at decile one schools.  My experience of a  decile ten school is that the students can almost teach themselves.  Is it not then true that student teachers in higher decile schools will appear to have a better disposition to teach than those toughing it out in low decile schools?  Where do you want good teachers to go?  Into the low decile schools where the results are low, and they will be judged on league tables, and their position will worsen as white flight takes place over the next few years?  I assume that you are also planning to let parents have “choice” about where they send their kids.  Which means abandoning zoning, and abandoning certain schools whose funding is tied to their roll.
  • Can I ask you this?  What was broken about our education system?  One of the best in the world for decade after decade with results we can be proud of in maths, and reading and writing?  Our identified area of concern was our long tail.  A characteristic that all multi-cultural societies face, and one that they are all battling with.  Why have you created a policy that will disadvantage the schools where the long tail is over represented?  I think that it is so parents who are educated and comparatively wealthy (compared to long-tail parents) can have a good reason to send their kids out of area.
  • Finally, I would like you to show me another country similar to our own where this model has worked over a long period of time.

Yours sincerely,

John-Paul Powley

http://manoferrors.wordpress.com

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