Another day – another laugh
Dear reader – today a pastiche
This morning (Thursday, 18 February) has been a good morning for the cause.
On national radio, Frances Nelson was asked about the ‘independent’ advisory group appointed by Anne Tolley.
Its members are a retired economics professor, Gary Hawke, whose source of education wisdom is the OECD ; Tom Nicholson who, two years ago in the posting for ‘Battle for Primary School Reading’ I predicted would trundle out on a change of government; John Hattie the Get Smart of education who thinks he’s James Bond; Tony Trinick a kindly presence and maths lecturer from Auckland University; and Avis Glaze, a Canadian who was in charge of standards testing in Ontario (just what we need – the horrific North American experience). Leaving aside Avis Glaze, what a matey atmosphere.
I believe NZEI has been wrestling with how to handle Hattie’s twists and turns.
But this morning, Frances couldn’t have been clearer, this ‘is not an independent advisory group’ she declared.
Trevor Mallard who has been matey with Hattie said the same thing.
Mallard, the day before, had distinguished himself by making a fool of Tolley in question time in the House. Tolley had no idea how moderation might occur, mainly, it must be acknowledged, because no-body does. I suspect the main element in moderation, if it appears, will be fear.
John Armstrong in writing about Tolley’s debacle seems to have gone rather lukewarm about national standards when, in previous columns, he has been red-bloodedly in support.
Then, Martin Thrupp from Waikato University struck just the right note in speaking to 150 teachers, parents and school trustees from the Cambridge area. It was the first good coverage the cause had received in the Waikato Times for many months.
Points he made:
- A national standards economy could develop, with funding chanelled towards national standards rather than being divided out into the other areas schools needed money for.
- There had been a failure to understand teachers’ motives.
- He was concerned league tables could be introduced.
- For children there are not going to be any winners.
- Most parents have no idea what is involved.
The good news is that this meeting was the first of 12 NZEI-organised meetings at which Martin will speak in the Waikato over the next few weeks.
I commend the NZEI on the initiative, Martin for pitching the talk perfectly, and the schools of my own area for the good attendance.
The task for principals in discussing national standards with their boards is to set out the literacy, numeracy and reporting policies and any suggested changes. They should also present a package that now includes being able to attend to the new curriculum, and saying no thank-you to implementation courses.
Schools should not allow themselves to be bullied by the bluster from STA – yes, boards have a duty to legislation, but there is an even higher duty: doing the right thing for the children at their school.
As for the voucher report. What a laugh! I can see schools lining up to offer their bottom 20%.
There is no doubt that the idea is a step towards all schools private, integrated, and state getting a set transferable amount for each child. Such an amount could not carry a decile weighting. Schools with children from wealthier families would, of course, be able to help fund wealthier schools.
To think the Maori Party could support this is monstrous.
I’LL SPELL IT OUT VERY CLEARLY TO TE URUROA: SCHOOL CHOICE IS ABOUT NEARLY ALL PAKEHA PARENTS, IF THEY CAN, AVOIDING SCHOOLS WITH A PREPONDERANCE OF MAORI AND PACIFIC CHILDREN; ALL ASIAN PARENTS DOING THE SAME; AND A SMATTERING OF MAORI AND PACIFIC ISLAND PARENTS DOING THE SAME, TOO.
IT’S CALLED THE BIG SWERVE.
IT HAS ALMOST NOTHING TO DO WITH GOOD OR BAD SCHOOLS AS TALKED ABOUT BY POLITICIANS AND EDUCATION BUREAUCRATS.
SO SPARE US THE PARENTAL CHOICE …….. .
Professor John O’Neill from Massey University writes:
Yes, Kelvin, I first noticed Bill English using a new ‘equity of state subsidy’ logic around the time of the last Budget to justify the additional funding for private (independent) schools.
The government currently provides differential per student tuition subsidies to state, integrated and independent schools for the education of children. The Right’s logic is that
differential tuition subsidies are inequitable (!), and that over time, the differential should be reduced so that the tuition subsidy is identical irrespective of school type.
As you suggest, the only logical outcome of this perverse argument is an ‘equal’ tuition voucher for each child, a minimally regulated schooling marketplace, and a residual obligation by the state to be the default provider of school buildings for children of non-4x4, cross-town, school-run parents.
Equity is seen as no longer the collective responsibility of the state but entirely dependent on the willingness of individual parents to pay top up fees and sign behaviour contracts to gain entry to more desirable schools.
The voucher report refers to Sweden’s free schools, but the schools of that country are lavishly funded, and it is a largely mono-cultural society.
America’s charter schools and England’s academies, taking into account the huge amounts of money that have been poured into them, have been failures.
The idea of secondary students attending certain departments in other schools for studies (like classics) their school doesn’t provide, works in England, but is fairly expensive and schools need to be close to one another.
Would someone remind me of the problem all this is supposed to be solving – it’s purely ideological.
My suggested response from the teacher organisations is to treat the voucher issue with a light touch, remind people that New Zealanders value highly their neighbourhood schools, that there is complete freedom of choice at the moment (subject to school zoning plans which are about ensuring schools remain neighbourhood schools), and that it would be disastrous for Maori, Pacific Island children, and children from less wealthy families.
Back to national standards – Bruce Crawford the feisty principal of Hikurangi School wrote to Camilla Highfield, Director School Support Services, Team Solutions.
Kia ora Camilla
What an apologist for Anne Tolley. You talk of ‘research and evidence’, then go on to talk about National Standards. Where is the research and evidence that NS will do what you say it will?
I am not about to let propagandists for a failed system espouse the flawed NS in our school. We are currently on a literacy contract and we have a lot of respect for our facilitator. However, if she starts talking up NS she will be asked to leave the premises.
Prove to me that NS work and will deliver the benefits that you claim then I will implement them like a shot. So show me the evidence?
Camilla Highfield wrote back but I couldn’t transfer the response – anyway you will get the drift from Bruce’s reply.
Kia ora Camilla
Interesting response to a professional debate but, as you have bought it up, please note the following. At the time of signing the contract, national standards were not in place.
The standards weren’t in place when the curriculum was written, certainly not when our curriculum was written, therefore, if they are, as you say, ‘too deeply embedded’ then they are because of you making them so.
How was it that writing was taught/facilitated before national standards?
I suggest to you that the contractual liability to espouse national standards that you have is with the ministry not us. I may be wrong and am always willing to be corrected.
I have never asked for an assurance that the literacy work will not reference the national standards, which is your implication.
How did you facilitate literacy before national standards?
Interesting that you totally ignore the request for evidence and data as to the effectiveness of national standards. So I say again ‘Where is the research and evidence that NS will do what you say it will?’ and restate my position ‘Prove to me that NS work and will deliver the benefits that you claim then I will implement them like a shot. So show me the evidence?’