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Hekia Parata wants to punish poor schools

Written By: - Date published: 9:43 am, March 17th, 2014 - 45 comments
Categories: education, Hekia parata, national, national/act government, same old national, schools - Tags:

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Like Labour, National has a strongly held view of the importance of education.  Unlike Labour National prefers that the system is tailored so that market forces operate in such a way that the children of its supporters benefit.

When it was first elected National obviously wanted to increase state support for private schools.  In the 2009 budget briefing for Education it was suggested that an increase in funding of $17.5 million per year was appropriate.  National made it $35 million while at the same time cutting funding for many worthwhile education programmes.  It was clear from the start what National’s priorities were.

National MPs have always been upset at the prospect that poorer kids should have more spent on their education.  The reason why this is the way schools are funded is obvious.  Resources should follow need but National MPs do not see it that way.  Their propaganda surrounding education is to suggest that failing educational standards are the fault of individual teachers even though it is abundantly clear that poverty is the primary cause. Many on the right would be sympathetic to the funding model being “flattened” so that support for the poorest schools was lessened to the benefit of the wealthiest.

It seems that Education Minister Hekia Parata is interested not only in flattening the funding for students across the different deciles but she wants to actually tilt things so that kids in wealthier schools tended to receive more funding per student than kids in poorer performing schools.  Because this is the only interpretation that can be given to Parata’s latest announcement.

According to the Herald:

The Government is looking to fund schools according to the progress their pupils make, the Education Minister has revealed.

In an interview with the Herald on Sunday, Hekia Parata described the existing regime, in which schools with deprived neighbourhoods are paid more, as a “blunt instrument”.

The Ministry of Education is calculating new decile rankings for the nation’s 2500 schools from last year’s quake-delayed Census. Parata agreed that schools in some gentrified areas, especially in Auckland, could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, while others would gain similar amounts.

Parata said the current funding system was unsatisfactory. “I think we need to be looking for something else.”

The Government is spending a record $9.7 billion on education, she said, but achievement levels were below the 85 to 100 per cent New Zealand needed. The most successful funding systems narrowed the gap between high-achieving rich kids and under-achieving poor kids by “strongly incentivising” pupil progress, she said.

The Government did not want to fund schools according to their raw results in National Standards or NCEA, but on how much teachers had helped students to learn over the course of six months or a year, “the consistency and the progress”.

“You’ve got to work out which school is delivering achievement, which schools are focusing on how they raise the quality of their teaching and leadership practice, and how is that translating into kids demonstrating that they’re learning more?”

Parata presents no information on what are the “most successful funding systems”. The PPTA states that overseas experience in the area is that funding is taken away from the poorest students.

There are four major concerns with Parata’s proposal. Firstly the rate of improvement in education standards tends to be lower in the poorer areas. There is just too much happening for schools to be able to provide education on top of dealing with a myriad of social problems. Secondly “white flight” will be exacerbated as pupils seek out the “better performing” schools that receive greater resources. Thirdly gaming of the system will become more pronounced as schools make decisions based on what will enhance their statistics and not on what is good for their pupils. And finally why should we tolerate a system which claims that by definition half of our schools are not up to scratch and should therefore be penalised financially because of their inability to comply with an arbitrary statistical norm?

This morning there appears to have been an effort to shut down the story. A spokesperson for Parata has said that the proposal is not currently on the table, that said it could be looked at in any future overall funding review but not before the the election.

A better reason to vote this Government out of office I cannot imagine.

45 comments on “Hekia Parata wants to punish poor schools”

  1. Bill 1

    From the summary

    Yesterday Hekia Parata floated the idea that funding of schools should be based on measuring the periodic change in academic standards.

    If anyone still had any doubt about National introducing measurable criteria into education, in order to form a basis for generating profit so that the private sector could then operate in the education system…

  2. captain hook 2

    if the same criteria was applied to her personally then haka paratai would only be getting half a salary by now.

  3. Zorr 3

    It’s funny because this is obviously intended as a distraction to the Oravida scandal

    But it’s looking more and more like Hekia has done what she always does best – pouring petrol on to a fire. This is just fuel to strengthen the support that Labour/Greens/Mana have because it is such an obviously pro-poverty stance.

    It’s almost like National/Hekia went “hey, I see you’re going to fight the election on social inequality… here, have some ammo”

  4. ianmac 4

    Yesterday Puddlegum and Greywarbler drew attention to the Hefferman interview.
    Parata is a perfect example of the thinking that increasing competition will achieve better results. Hefferman points out that the greater the accent on results forces learners to concentrate on getting good scores at the expense of the process of learning. How you learn is far more important than what you learn. Competition is so damaging to being willing to risk and learning from mistakes.
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/2589144

    • Tracey 4.1

      yup. greater competition doesnt magically provide resources to assist english second language students, not r doe sit change the non speaking parents back at home come time to do reading and writing homework. Not all parents can afford tutors.

      A friend of mine has 21 students in year 1. 6 came to school this year speaking NO english. 11 have parents who speak no english.

      Last year the breakdown was similar.

      NONE of her 6 non english speakers reached the NS level for that age, but had come close. The 11 who spoke some english but whose parents did not, also largely did not meet NS. 4 did.

      That they even came close, to me, points to some good teaching, especially with the restricted resources. This needs to be put to Parata. In the above scenario, does her proposed scheme give that teacher a pay rise or not?

      If she says the school wil get more funding in those circumstances because the school and teacher will be measured from the starting poin tof each child, will she confirm that if there is a single instance where that happens she will;

      A. resign if still in parliament;
      B. personally donate $50,000 to a school that does not get so rewarded?

    • Craig Glen Eden 4.2

      Brilliant stuff ianmac Puddlegum and Greywarbler thanks for sharing. Really worth listening to callaboration is certainly the way forward.

  5. tricledrown 5

    This is just another step in demoralizing the teaching proffession.

  6. MaxFletcher 6

    From memory when they introduced such a policy in some US states there was widespread grade inflation as teachers were desperate to secure funding.

    So all in all – a bad idea

  7. greywarbler 7

    Yesterday Hekia Parata floated the idea that funding of schools should be based on measuring the periodic change in academic standards.

    Isn’t it more that the funding will be based on observable achievement to whatever arbitrary measure is chosen?

    And let’s be practical, from NACTs viewpoint, why should they bother about endeavouring that all children should receive a wide education of a good standard that enables them to think and act logically and in a reasoned manner. Better that we should lurch along in constant crises and discontent.
    Slogan for us, ‘Don’t get lost in the shuffle – Shuffle along with the lost”.

    *They don’t want our education levels and R&D to advance, progress.
    *They don’t expect to be employing many NZ at any education level as they can choose their employees from the whole world, already trained and experienced beyond their own, so the country’s capacity for innovative thinking, and new business providing employment cannot advance, progress.
    *They don’t care about our society being able to advance, progress.
    *They don’t care if NZ falls behind in measures achieved by the rest of the advanced world, except in those measures that enhance their own pursuit of wealth and resources.

    NZ is to be their elite supermarket where they can shop for all the goodies they can imagine, no restraints. The purpose of the country is to continue existing to serve their interests. And bug.er the other beg..rs.

    • mickysavage 7.1

      Isn’t it more that the funding will be based on observable achievement to whatever arbitrary measure is chosen?

      I’m not sure gw. Parata is one of the most imprecise ministers in Government!

      • greywarbler 7.1.1

        But she has been to “Sound Confident” school. Probably with Brian Edwards or his wife. And as every General from Blackadder knows, one should stand tall and say in a determined firm way, Over the top, Chaps. Do or die for the good of the – NACTs. (Because either way we have ways of coming out on top SAFELY.)

    • greywarbler 7.2

      I have decided I have been too gloomy about NZ educational possibilties and have found a bright keen willing flagbearer for those of us lagging behind Parata’s expectations.
      I present Manuel who learns – and the horse.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6EaoPMANQM

  8. Chooky 8

    I am repeating the obvious yet again!

    ..it means that teachers will not want to teach in pooer schools because they will be designated as under performing teachers based on grades of their students.

    ..whereas they may be the most brilliant teachers and highly morally principled …doing a difficult job with kids whose families are deprived and struggling due to NACT’s policies of punishing the poor

    ….definitely a NO WIN ‘catch 22′ situation for poor kids and their teachers

    ….worse , this failure based on grades will give NACT the spurious reason to advocate for Charter Schools ….which is an introduced American big business model for education based on profit for the
    private Charter School BUSINESS…

    ….this will have the effect of undermining New Zealand’s high quality State Education System which is free, secular and non discriminatory …when well funded

    …it will also undermine the professionalism of teachers, education and their unions

    • dw 8.1

      To expand on your last point, it seems clear that a key driver here is to actually destroy the teaching unions through divide and conquer, and hence remove a source of support and funding for the left. Following the USA right wing nut job playbook to the letter.

    • georgecom 8.2

      One of the keys to a good education is a good teacher. So you have a school where National Standards statistics (this is how the Govt would like to judge schools) are not as good as others, that school is ‘under performing’ Take some money off that school and give it to others.

      Teachers will migrate to the schools with better NS statistics, the majority will be in higher decile schools, not lower decile. One asset in their education the students in these ‘under performing’ school have, good teachers, will be denied them.

      The Govt delivers a strong message to ‘under performing students’ that they must try harder by removing 10% of their funding and passing it to another school. That’ll teach them. Learn to do more with less, if you want the money back, try harder.

      Even more so, extend the lesson. If they are not working harder, try removing 10% of their food. If they are lacking in sleep, remove their bed one night in 10. If they are not breathing properly, remove 10% of their air. All good sharp lessons that will drive them to achieve.

  9. logie97 9

    Now here is a novel idea for meeting her criteria and at the same time producing some valuable dollars for the education system.
    Sell off the likes of Auckland Grammar School and other famous public schools in New Zealand.
    These “high achieving” schools would no longer be in the draw for the “performing schools” bonuses. They would no longer draw on government funding, as we know it, full stop.
    The arguments over zoning would dissipate.
    Mmmm gets better all the time.

    Note ‘high achieving’ does not necessarily equate to ‘value added’

    • Chooky 9.1

      @ logie 97….+100

      …very good idea and very logical!…they dont need help ….but State Schools do ….especially for special needs students ….and especially those State Schools drawing on students from poorer areas

      …and as well as selling off a few of the most elite schools ….get rid of ALL funding for private schools …and if they cant survive …sell them all off as well

    • ianmac 9.2

      Note ‘high achieving’ does not necessarily equate to ‘value added.’ Exactly logie.
      I did put that to a past Minister of Education who was at the time lauding the fine example that he said Private Schools were setting.
      Did he think it possible that advantaged pupils were not getting value added?
      How would he know?
      Was it possible that advantaged pupils just floated along without being extended as much as a kid from a poor home where language is limited who learns to speak in whole sentences and become able to socialise and therefore start learning? Huge steps with clever dedicated teachers.
      The Minister seemed to be a bit uncomfortable and said, “Perhaps.”

    • tinfoilhat 9.3

      And where pray tell would the 2000 add students go to school instead ?

      • Chooky 9.3.1

        …they can go to the local State School , which will be well funded and of very high quality and secular

        • tinfoilhat 9.3.1.1

          Auckland Grammar is the local state school.

          • logie97 9.3.1.1.1

            Yes it is a state school and is believed by many to be the best school in New Zealand. Of course the in zoners are generally drawn from the well heeled professionals. The out-of-zoners are generally potential sporting reps/academics etc.

            The school sits on prime real estate and there will be many in the business round table set who would love to buy it and make it a private school. It’s “record” makes it a top sales prospect – megabucks. And the wonderful new governors could handout scholarships to the deserving peasants.

            • tinfoilhat 9.3.1.1.1.1

              So because a school is on “good real estate” and has a reputation of being a very good school you propose to punish the school and local population by selling it off….. what rubbish you talk.

              You should also note that no preference can be given to ‘talented’ academic or sporting students who are out of zone for NZ public schools

              • logie97

                Where is the punishment sunshine? The locals who scramble to live in zone, can move to cheaper areas of the city and the families can pay the fees that the school would charge.
                Or, if you have faith in your current minister, the neighbouring schools will be coming up to first class delivery of education.

                Who are you kidding when it comes to selection of out-of-zoners?

                • tinfoilhat

                  What a ridiculous proposition.

                  Auckland Grammar like many of the older schools in NZ main centres has been where it is for decades during which time it and the teachers and support staff have served its community with distinction. Just because you have a dislike for that school you propose the Ministry sell it off and make it private disadvantaging the local community…. disgraceful and just what I’d expect from a RWNJ.

                  “Who are you kidding when it comes to selection of out-of-zoners?”

                  Public school in NZ which have to run a ballot for out of zoners do so under strict rules set by the MoE … apart from siblings and occasionally children of old boys/girls everyone else goes into a ballot which is drawn under police supervision

                  • logie97

                    Not a dislike for the school at all old chap.
                    Just a bit of realism.
                    The school could stand on its own and not need to draw on the public purse. “Teachers and support staff have served its community with distinction.” Any evidence that they have been any better than at other schools, or is it just that the school has had an “easier pool” of pupils to draw from.?
                    Do you have any measures of “value added” to make such statements.

    • Plan B 9.4

      My thought is to build more Auckland Grammar Schools, at least 3-4 in Auckland. The right to build housing near them could be sold off to developers- everyone gets to be ‘in-zone’ the cost of building the school can be met by the developers of the housing estates nearby.

  10. ghostwhowalksnz 10

    Strange comment in the article about decile data being ‘seven years out of date’. Well of course it is, the census was delayed because the Christchurch earthquakes.

    The way this is indroduced means it came from Hekias office

    However decile numbers arent going to change that much even over the regular 5 year cycle. Over say 15 years maybe in some of the larger urban areas.

    • ianmac 10.1

      I thought that each school’s Decile Rating was done on a school by school basis where the occupation of parents chosen by sampling the school roll, was averaged out to the rating. Surprised that it had anything to do with the Census???

        • ghostwhowalksnz 10.1.1.1

          So its easy for readers heres the gist

          A major reassessment of all school deciles is undertaken following each 5-yearly Census of Population and Dwellings.
          Census information is used to calculate the decile. A school provides its student addresses and these are used to determine which areas its students come from.

          The student addresses are assigned to the smallest Census areas, called meshblocks. A meshblock contains around 50 households. However, only Census information for households with school-aged children is used. The number and percentage of students from each meshblock is determined and the meshblock is examined against five socio-economic factors.

          Note: It is not the general area around the school that is used to calculate the decile, but the specific meshblocks where students live.

          The background to the attack on ‘decile funding’ is they want to cut this money to fund their other policies like Irrational standards and charter schools.

  11. Saarbo 11

    I was recently on a Decile 9 school BOT and often the Principal plus other BOT members would complain about the amount lower decile schools were receiving. I would reply that it made perfect sense, to ensure that lower decile schools could employ additional teacher aides etc to improve their results…once this was pointed out, no one agued…most kiwi’s are fair minded I think. But one thing that is happening is that all schools including high decile schools are screaming out for more resources, its tough for all schools to make their books balance. However there is no doubt that schools in higher decile areas have the ability to find additional funds, the current school my kids are at (D7) earns over $700 per child in additional funding (only 65 kids). I think the current decile system of funding seems to make sense.

    • georgecom 11.1

      Yup, often the debate about decile funding is a fight for less than adequate total quantum of funding. Reframing the debate, each school, is saying it could do more with more funding.

      The basic funding model for schools, minus some of the ad on funding like deciles, was developed in the late 1980s or at least no later than the early 1990s. The requirement on schools was quite a bit different than today. The pace of life was slower. ICT was a banda machine-spirit duplicator, no need for expensive programme licenses or ‘connected’ classrooms. There was maybe a part time admin person in the school office and a part time teachers aide. The social pressures which mounted on schools was not as intense as today. Whilst society and societies demands on schooling had increased, the basic school funding model has not.

  12. tricledrown 12

    A report in todays news pointed out that children with disabilities in decile 10 schools claimed 10 x the number of funding than those in decile 1 schools.
    Decile 1 to 3 schools don’t have the same expertise of those in decile 10 schools.
    Fund raising is another area low decile schools loose out on .
    A low decile school is often only able to raise a few hundred or thousands of dollars.
    High decile schools in some cases can raise upwards of a million dollars.

  13. captain hook 13

    I guess thats what you call the survival of the fattest!

  14. Clemgeopin 14

    National party is a nasty outfit. This evil minister, Parata has now shown that the party is also dangerous, pretty stupid, damaging, and a little crazy too. I am sure that many people will agree that Parata has been the most stupid, most incompetent, most trouble making. most useless and the most clueless minister of education this country has ever had!

  15. ianmac 15

    Jolisa Gracewood has written a stunning piece on the Educational direction that Parata and Government are taking us. If you have kids or concern for our school system you must have a read. If the Herald really cared it would publish her work because it really should get a much wider audience – before it is too late to stop them!!!
    Jolissa’s observations fit in with Mickey’s post above.

    http://publicaddress.net/busytown/school-bully/
    Be warned though. It will make you very very angry.

    • MrSmith 15.1

      Please read ianmac’s link http://publicaddress.net/busytown/school-bully/ very well written by Jolisa Gracewood on Public address.

    • mickysavage 15.2

      Yep her post puts mine to shame. Please read it.

      • logie97 15.2.1

        Listen to Joyce every time the question of Novopay comes up.

        It’s now a call-centre-management issue and THE COMPLEXITY OF THE TEACHERS PAY STRUCTURE.
        He intends simplifying it and the easiest way will be to bulk fund schools and tear up the current agreement. (The years of contract negotiations to cover all eventualities when employed to deliver the national curriculum across the whole of New Zealand – the complexities involved to make employment fair for all involved) – just rip it up and pay an hourly rate, as if you are a clerk in the minister’s back office.

        After all, to the layman (like Joyce) who observes the profession from without, and wouldn’t have a clue what the job entails, sees all practitioners as just like clerks in his office.

        Of course, all of the government members have been through the New Zealand education system and are therefore experts in the field of education. (Which brings to mind, Michelle Boag she attended the Auckland College of Education at Epsom as a mature student in the 1990’s – did she graduate/intend teaching or did she attend to get the inside running?)

  16. red blooded 16

    This concept is an obscenity and an attack on the most vulnerable children in our country. Why, oh why do we keep on importing failed extremist experiments that diminish the focus on real learning, discourage collegiality and sharing of best practice and deprive our young of the resources they need at the time they need them?

    Because we have an elitist, extremist, arrogant bunch of buffoons in charge of our country, that’s why. Sigh…

  17. tc 17

    There is enough in education to see off the nact, people have little idea the damage and systemic stupidity they have introduced in deliberately breaking what worked.

    Higher education has taken its flogging quietly as the dark lord had that given to him early in the aya tolley era.

  18. Whateva next? 18

    Hekia dropped the ball there ( again) but by crikey, nice catch by those that were listening.

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