John Key wants to debate school league tables. Presumably he thinks that this will do the double whammy of getting middle class parents back on his side in the education debate, and distract from asset sales.
But he’s not checked with his Minister, or the Ministry of Education, or presumably read any of the official advice about how damaging league tables would be.
Ian Leckie of the Educational Institute was excellent on Morning Report this morning. He reiterated all the important points:
If you want to assess your local schools – supposedly the point of league tables – then, as Ian Leckie suggests, review the ERO school reports on how they’re doing. And go along and look at them yourself, meet the teachers and the head.
If he read the research and official reports, or even talked to the Education Ministry Key would know that league tables may well end up like the decile system. They’ll be a short hand, used by misunderstanding real estate agents, and they won’t actually reflect school quality. They’ll exacerbate white flight and further ghetto-ising of our suburbs as schools in poor areas are seen as bad, because the children don’t do as well there – whether the teachers are good or not. They’ll struggle because their parents are too busy scraping a living in Key’s ‘Brighter Future’ and they don’t have the educational background of middle class parents (and with the scrapping of Adult & Community Education won’t get it either).
But no, Key wants to ‘debate’ the issue, flying some high-level soundbites that sound good, without any deep thinking.
According to Key it will be better if the government compiles the list rather than newspapers (does he not have faith in the literacy and numeracy of journalists?). The research says that contrary to that, governments should be putting pressure on newspapers not to compile lists as it’s not in the interests of the country (what with the lists being so unrepresentative of reality).
EDIT: Russell Brown also has an excellent post on this – h/t P’s b