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Teacher-bashing morons

Written By: - Date published: 10:33 am, August 20th, 2010 - 41 comments
Categories: dpf, education - Tags: , ,

National seems to hate teachers. Every time it is in office it attacks and belittles the profession. This incarnation of a National government is particularly bad. Over the national standards fiasco Anne Tolley has threatened school boards, bullied schools with threats of funding cuts, and censored the Parliamentary library. Nice.

National’s pet blogger DPF is among the worst of them. His post yesterday was an abysmal, lying, arrogant piece of rubbish. Here we go:

This is hilarious. Do you know why? The NZPF [New Zealand Principals Federation] is refusing to actually detail their concerns about the standards. They keep saying they are flawed, but have declined every request to detail how exactly they are flawed. They say they will not detail the flaws, unless the Government agrees in advance to suspend the standards.

No, it isn’t “hilarious”, it’s a serious matter about our children’s education. And DPF is lying. How can the NZPF be refusing to detail their concerns when they’re plastered all over their website? Like here for starters:

TWENTY FUNDAMENTAL FLAWS IN THE NATIONAL STANDARDS POLICY
W. B. Elley, May 2010

1. The National Standards policy assumes ‘One Size Fits All’. But our children vary enormously in backgrounds, interests, needs and abilities. They learn best if their teaching is pitched just above their present level. Each child should work to his/her own standard.

2. The Standards have been hastily prepared by committees, and untested for difficulty or intelligibility. They may well prove to be too hard, or too easy for the majority of children.

3. The wording of the Literacy Standards is vague and capable of many interpretations. They do not specify clearly how difficult the pupils’ tasks are to be, or how well pupils need to be able to perform, to pass the standard. Many are very similar from one year level to the next.

4. There is no research which shows that passing NCEA Level 2 requires the levels of progress indicated by the published National Standards. This is sheer guesswork.

5. Teachers will be expected to make their ‘Overall Teacher Judgements’ of their students’ achievement levels, based on various sources of evidence, which teachers and their students are to select. These sources will vary widely, from teacher to teacher, making comparisons between schools and between classes quite unfair and impossible to interpret.

6. The Ministry advice provided to teachers, in the Ministry web-site, on how to moderate teacher judgements is naive. It ignores the many problems which have dogged such policies.

7. When results are made public, league tables comparing schools will follow, and all assessments will be ‘High Stakes’. Lawyers tell us that they will have to be accessible under the Official Information Act. The league tables which the media love to publicise, represent THE MAJOR FLAW which has caused the abandonment of similar policies in other countries.

8. High Stakes testing for accountability in this way interferes with the formative value of assessment. It interferes with a teacher’s efforts to use tests for better learning. One test cannot serve many purposes adequately. If the standardised tests in current use are given early in the year for identifying children who need help, and for allocating pupils to groups, they cannot then be used for accountability purposes at the end of term or the school year.

9. Teachers will feel pressured to coach their children for the commonly used standardised tests such as the PAT tests, the Clay Tests, the STAR tests and the AsTTle tests (many of which are already stored in the schools) or the other forms of assessment that their overall judgements will be based on. There is much evidence from overseas on this. Teachers are found to drill children on the style of questions to expect, the specific contents that the tests cover, and in many cases the actual test questions themselves.

10. Overseas experience also shows that other key subjects in the curriculum will be downgraded, as more time is devoted to literacy and numeracy. There will be less time for science experiments or social studies projects, or oral language, or drama, or art, or music, or developing a lifelong interest in reading, and all the other desirable things that teachers do. Yet this is the time when teachers are expected to introduce an exciting new curriculum.

11. Teaching will lose much of its spark and spontaneity, and children become bored. There will be less time for the teachable moment, when a child brings a pet to school, or class excursions to the zoo or the fire station. There will be less time for class visitors, or reading and discussing a great story, or discussions about moral issues – bullying or racial prejudice.

12. Bright children and slow learners will not be challenged so much, as any gains in their achievement levels will rarely be reflected in assessment results reported publically. Overseas experience shows teachers focus on students just above and below the standard.

13. Schools will be judged unfairly, by parents and media, as the results of the assessments largely reflect the socio-economic level of their students, rather than the amount of learning that teachers generate. Surveys show that decile 9 and 10 schools, whose children enjoy the best of home and school resources, consistently outperform decile 1 and 2 schools, where many children are disadvantaged in terms of home language, access to books and computers, family support and other factors. These persistent trends tell us nothing about how well some individual teachers are lifting the performance of disadvantaged children.

14. Overseas experience shows that these kinds of compulsory assessment/reporting plans do not reduce the size of the tail of underachievement. Some say they go backwards.

15. Many children, who do not reach the national standards will be labelled as failures, by their parents and peers. This will be inevitable in Years 1 and 2, as the gap between high and low decile children at age 5 is already huge, and hard to eradicate in the short term. This factor will be tragic for young children, as negative labels are always hard to shake off.

16. Dedicated teachers who currently work hard to help students in low-decile schools will soon seek to move, rather than remain in a failing situation. In USA, many good teachers resign because they disapprove so strongly about high stakes testing with young children.

17. The National Standards policy will require much more teacher time spent assessing, reporting, moderating, and defending their judgements before and after they are made public. This is valuable time taken away from teaching and mentoring.

18. An analysis of the students in the lowest 20% would show the Minister that many are ESOL children, or have learning disabilities. Many come from dysfunctional families or communities that do not value schooling. National Standards will do little to change this.

19. This policy will require the full cooperation of teachers. Surveys of teacher opinion show that most believe that the policy is counter-productive, so full cooperation is unlikely.

20. ‘Big Shake-Ups’ as the Minister describes this policy, surely require a period of trial before implementation, as there are so many ways it can be screwed up or sabotaged. Our children’s education is too precious to allow a wholesale change of culture in a system that is working well for most children. The introduction of the National Standards-Based assessment system in Years 11 to 13, for NCEA, took over 10 years, yet the State Services Panel that investigated its failings judged that it had been implemented too hastily.

I’ve quoted that in full so you can see just how clearly the the NZPF have set out their concerns. But wait, there’s more, like this document stating ten “Criteria for Judging the Acceptability of National Standards”. Or this main resource page linking to expert opinion and warnings from a range of noted educationalists like John Hattie, Lester Flockton, Martin Thrupp and Terry Crooks. So when DPF says that the NZPF is “refusing to actually detail their concerns about the standards”, he is simply lying. And then he gets worse:

A principled stand ha ha ha ha. And ‘best interests of the children of NZ’ they should write comedy. They are going to disrupt as many schools as possible to prevent parents from knowing how their kids are doing against a national standard, and claim this is to protect the children. MyGod.

Yeah actually, to protect the children. And if DPF actually knew anything about the issue instead of just arrogantly pontificating he would know that 40 years of international evidence and the warnings of experts like the government’s own education advisor tell us just how damaging these national standards could be. But the depth of DPFs commentary on this vital issue is limited to snide cynicism and the reflexive Tory attack on teachers. MyGod indeed.

The Nats are trying to astroturf a claim that the parents of insert region here are on their side. But here’s a reality check. Parents like teachers. Parents and teachers are sharing a great task together. The task of raising and educating the young. It builds trust. That may be why, gee, teachers are near the top of NZs most trusted professions list along with firefighters, nurses, the police and judges. Politicians are at the bottom of the list with sex workers and telemarketers.

So who do you think we the people are rooting for when the government and their thugs attack teachers? DPF and any other teacher-bashing morons out there might like to ponder that question, and stop treating the education of our children as just another political football.

41 comments on “Teacher-bashing morons”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    Farrar is a cynical ACToid to hooked on the baubles of power to have the balls to actually be honest about his political views. Hence, I see his double posts attacking teachers as simple spin, an attempt to divert his stable of useful idiot posters from talking about the ACT implosion, the rumbles in the Maori party, and the failure of John Key’s “leadership” that runs as a common thread through it all.

    Most of what Farrar posts now is simply diversion, distraction and sophistry.

    • comedy 1.1

      “Most of what Farrar posts now is simply diversion, distraction and sophistry.”

      A bit like this site when Labour was in power then ?

      • Blighty 1.1.1

        yeah. remember all those ‘i love helen’ posts? didn’t they have a tag for that?

        dork/

        [lprent: What ‘i love helen’ posts? Not here – we leave that type of slavish dog-like devotion to the right (eg DPF and recently Clint Heine). We never did many on either Labour or Helen.

        There has always been a distinct focus on the issues with letting the right apply their short-term focus on government. Most of the posts here look at the consequences of dumb short-term populist decisions. For instance the long-term stupidity of making Tolley type decisions (ignorant and stupid) on education.

        r0b: reading comments out of context, I think you missed Blighty’s sarcasm there lprent! ]

  2. Blighty 2

    just turns my stomach to see that bastard accusing principals and teachers of not caring about the kids. why does he think people go into teaching? for the money?

  3. G-sus 3

    hear hear!!

  4. Sam 4

    Tolley has sent an email out to schools and staff saying a similar thing, that the NZPF are not providing her with details of the flaws. It’s insane. I’d paste it but I can’t figure out the blockquote tags :(

    Edit!

    August 2010
    A busy few weeks for education

    New Zealand Principals’ Federation

    I believe it’s important to clarify the facts around my discussions with the NZPF.

    I last met with the NZPF executive on 19 July, at which time they gave a short presentation on some concerns they had around National Standards. The NZPF agreed to make this information available to me, so that I could obtain advice from the Ministry and my Independent Advisory Group before having a further meeting with the executive. The NZPF has yet to give me this information.

    I can assure you I will continue to listen to the sector. There is a three year monitoring and evaluation programme, as well as an Independent Advisory Group. If changes need to be made, then that is what will happen. We are determined to get this right, so keep in touch. …

    Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any concerns. You can email me at:anne.tolley@parliament.govt.nz or of course at hightrust@parliament.govt.nz.

    Kind regards
    Hon Anne Tolley
    Minister of Education
    Minister Responsible for the Education Review Office

    I hope it’s not too large :(

    [A bit too large yes – hard for people to find the relevant section – I have trimmed to just that part — r0b]

  5. Perfect response R0b.

    Please DPF reply to this and explain why you said things which on the face of it appear to be entirely incorrect.

  6. comedy 6

    “National’s pet blogger DPF is among the worst of them. His post yesterday was an abysmal, lying, arrogant piece of rubbish. ”

    Fight fight fight fight

  7. Chris 7

    I’ve always thought that National MP’s had a crap time at school and now they what to punish teachers for it.

    I’ve be a high school teacher for 5 years and I’m always stoked when it comes to parental support on these issues.

    They trust us that we have the best interests for students at heart and we do. Everything we do is to make education better not worse and those you think that are just deluded.

    The PPTA is currently trying to negotiate with the govt on our collective agreement.

    They have refused to address claims around class size, because having 30+ students in a class works out great!

    They have refused to address claims around professional development, because not trying to improve your teaching is the best way forward!

    They have refused to address claims around paying for our work computers, because having to pay for things you need to do your job is awesome! Don’t see people paying for their police car or shop assistants paying for their till.

    This govt, left unchallenged, will destroy education in New Zealand.

  8. Fabregas4 8

    I don’t care what the issue is – it takes an awful lot to get people to put their hands in their own pockets for a cause. The mere fact that Principals have resolved to give a days pay to help educate the public about National Standards should be seen for what it is – a commitment to ensuring that children get the very best chance at school and that NZ’s education system remains one of quality.

    They should be applauded for caring enough to do so.

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    A RWNJ caught lying – again. What a surprise.

  10. randal 10

    knowledge is power
    if we educate the peasants then they will become powerful
    therefore
    dont educate anyone!

  11. Rex Widerstrom 11

    I’ve commented before that Tolley’s handling of this is appalling (as indeed is her entire performance as Minister). And most of the arguments advanced by the principals I find compelling.

    But I cringe a little at the worldview enunciated in the first point:

    The National Standards policy assumes “One Size Fits All’… Each child should work to his/her own standard.

    As a child grows older this becomes less applicable I feel. It’s wholly appropriate at primary, where you’re trying to instil the fundamentals and develop broad capacities. But once out of school and into the rest of the world people are judged against one another: in work, in politics, in love, in sport…

    Cocooning them from this reality does them no favours. And as an occasional employer I need a simple (albeit somewhat imperfect) means to judge candidate A against candidate B.

    So there are two issues that this statement from the principals overlooks: the inculcation of a competitive spirit as a motivational tool; and the very practical need to measure the outcome of education in terms of its effect on a learner in the latter part of their educational career.

    As an aside, from a purely strategic point of view it’s stupid to be citing “league tables” as the major flaw (IN CAPITALS!11!1!!) when this is something many parents – for better or worse – want. The points that resonate with parents (and make virtually unassailable common sense) are things like 10, 11 and 12.

    • Chris 11.1

      Its lucky then that National Standards are only at the primary level then.

      • felix 11.1.1

        Yeah and it’s lucky that the Fire At Will law only applies to small businesses.

        • Rex Widerstrom 11.1.1.1

          Good point. An inability to objectively rank one applicant against another against a standard scale provides a good excuse to support fire-at-will provisions lest, through lack of empirical data, you hire the wrong person.

          I don’t want to hear that someone has “consistently improved his own standard”, I want a means to judge whether he is better at certain skills that matter to me as an employer than the applicant whose CV is next in the pile. Without a work history on which to base this judgment, I need a comparative standard.

          Of course this applies only to school leavers… amongst the groups most vulnerable to workplace exploitation.

    • Puddleglum 11.2

      Actually Rex, it pays never to try to use a ‘one size fits all’ standard – especially in the ‘real’ world – IF your aim is to help someone develop their capacities. Of course, in hiring decisions the candidate judged the most competent and able should get the job, all other things being equal (though this is a far less frequent event than some might hope).

      But, once in employment it’s presumably in the interests of any employer to get the best out of an employee (especially given what I have often heard from employers about the prohibitive costs of going through the process of employing someone – 90 days arguments and all that). That means the task is ‘development’, ‘training’, ‘education’ or whatever you want to call it. For that task – as educators well know – the best approach is not to adopt a ‘one size fits all’ standard.

      On reflection, even if we are concerned about hiring someone we (as employers) would presumably wish the education system to get the best out of children in terms of developing their capacities to contribute to the workforce (personally, I have problems with that motive for education but I realise others don’t).

      Once again, the best way to achieve that is not to have a ‘one size fits all’ standard. As an employer you would only support it, so far as I can see, if you have no particular interest in having available the most skilled pool of potential employees as possible. That is, if your only concern is ‘how to select’ someone rather than the quality of the pool from which you select. That’s a pretty narrow and short-sighted concern.

      I would have thought individualist ideologies like those supposedly propounded by the likes of ACT and National would simply assume that ‘one size fits all’ is a flawed approach (as Burt often reminds us) – but apparently not. I guess if, primarily, you see people as commodities then it pays to treat them as fixed quantities in need of measurement rather than people who learn, adapt, develop and, basically, live. Better to think of them as immutable objects waiting to be weighed and measured by a standard system of weights and measures (that great economic invention).

      • Rex Widerstrom 11.2.1

        But, once in employment it’s presumably in the interests of any employer to get the best out of an employee … That means the task is ‘development’, ‘training’, ‘education’ or whatever you want to call it.

        Large companies (or at least the intelligent ones) do follow this path, yes. But in most small businesses “development” ranges from ad hoc to incidental to coincidental. I can provide feedback to someone I hire. If they (and I) are lucky it might even occur during the course of a project and not after it’s finished and it’s too late to change anything.

        I sincerely hope that less experienced people learn from watching me work (and I acknowledge I can learn from them too). But my business is a size – in common with many thousands of others – where the owner spends most of his her time “working in the business not on it” because it’s simply not economically feasible to do otherwise.

        That means if I hire someone I need to be confident they can do what I need with a minimum of supervision. OTOH I’m committed – and have been all my life – to offering young people breaks in what can otherwise be some very difficult fields to break into. So when faced with a line of shiny faced applicants, I need a measuring stick.

        • Puddleglum 11.2.1.1

          Thanks Rex. It honestly doesn’t surprise me that you’re aware of these issues (your comments on this site show that you are a thoughtful person and take moral responsibility seriously).

          It also doesn’t surprise me, however, that, in this kind of economy and society, you don’t have much of a chance of acting on that awareness. Ultimately, none of us know each other and each of our purposes are primarily self-interested, so, quite logically, we have to resort to ‘product labelling’ to make decisions about each other – particularly when it comes to buying someone’s labour (i.e., a portion of the life of someone we don’t know and only have an interest in to the extent that they can further our own projects).

          Perhaps, given that reality, an employer also needs to come with a label that gives an independent, authoritative measure of their likely viability over the longer term, their abilities, employment policies and practices, history with past employees, general experience in the area, etc.? And, perhaps, WINZ could have a policy that an unemployed person need only accept job opportunities from employers who meet certain standards through that labelling regime? After all, it’s an equal relationship, so I’m told.

          • Rex Widerstrom 11.2.1.1.1

            Puddleglum, thanks for your compliments. I think your last paragraph raises a brilliant idea, albeit one fraight with a few fish hooks (as I’m sure you’re aware).

            How you judge viability of a small business over the long term I don’t know (if you do, please tell me so I know whether I might as well give up and go work for MegaCorp as a Level 4a drudge!) I’m just brutally honest with people and say I haven’t a clue, I’m just a leaf buffeted on the wind of glocal economics and political whimsy… two forces that make fissionable material look stable and safe. And I hire on a project basis, so with a finite end point agreed in advance that’s not such an issue.

            How you assess past history I don’t know. Employee references would probably be about as much use as employer references (i.e. bugger all) and, if legislatively protected from libel laws, could be used to slander good employers. And if it wasn’t protected it’d be useless as unscrupulous employers would shut down criticism.

            But certainly WINZ ought to have a very thorough file on any employer, including details of any adverse findings in employment actions etc, and prioritise placement accordingly (or even refuse to place in some cases).

            Perhaps the government needs to establish some sort of “Employer Watch” website that consolidates information – good and bad – about NZ employers?

            As an aside I’d hope someone applying for a job (even if sent by WINZ) would be smart enough to do the sort of due diligence online that employers seem to make a part of any hiring process these days.

            • Puddleglum 11.2.1.1.1.1

              “I think your last paragraph raises a brilliant idea, albeit one fraight with a few fish hooks (as I’m sure you’re aware).”

              Yep, I sure was. I just through it out there (should probably have added an appropriate ‘smiley’). I guess what I was really trying to imply was that the logic of employment sets up an arms race that no side, ultimately, could afford (if it were a race between equals). The reality, of course, is that employers can demand evidence about the employee but employees (in most cases) can’t demand evidence about the employer.

              “As an aside I’d hope someone applying for a job (even if sent by WINZ) would be smart enough to do the sort of due diligence online that employers seem to make a part of any hiring process these days.”

              What, even the much harried small business person who is too busy working to train anyone has the time to do ‘due diligence online’ for each prospective employee?

              Also, my hunch is that most prospective employees don’t do that ‘due diligence’. Not because they aren’t ‘smart’ enough but because (1) they wouldn’t know where to start and the information wouldn’t mean anything to them (that’s a lack of ‘cultural capital’ not neurons); (2) most people don’t experience any job as particularly enjoyable or stimulating and they don’t expect much from it other than a regular pay packet for a while, so these sorts of issues about the employer would probably be marginal so long as some money flows in right now. You’d only do due diligence if you thought you had options.

              On (1), my Mum and Dad purchased their state house in the early 1970s with a 3% loan over 40 years from the Housing Corp (whatever it was called then). They’d never owned a house before and never had a mortgage. They left the repayments at the original level until they sold up in 1996 to shift into an ownership flat. They didn’t know, and no-one told them, that they could have increased the repayments. So far as they were concerned, they’d signed a contract and they’d stick to their end of the bargain. The original $19,000 loan was down to around $14,000 by then.

              I guess you could say they weren’t smart and that most people now might know about that. My point, though, is that we don’t all have lives that conform to ‘middle class’ (to use a much-maligned term) norms of what people should know or do.

              • Rex Widerstrom

                What, even the much harried small business person who is too busy working to train anyone has the time to do ‘due diligence online’ for each prospective employee?

                Okay, what I should have said was “10 minutes looking at their Facebook pages” :-P But we hear stories all the time of people failing to get a job because their clean cut interview image is at odds with some social networking page which pictures them downing a keg while waving their tackle about.

                But I take your point about the interpretation of information found online… it’s easy for soeone who spends 27 hours a day online (I dream about it too, compressing several more hours into a few miutes REM ;-) ) to forget that unearthing and weighing the credibility of business against various scales doesn’t come naturally to many.

                Which is why I genuinely think your idea is worth pursuing, in some way, somehow…

                • Puddleglum

                  Thanks Rex – perhaps some web entrepreneur can come up with a useful website to make it easy for people to run a quick ‘check’?

                  Anyway, we’ve probably wandered a bit far off the post’s topic (and you’ll want to celebrate the end of the Aussie election campaign!).

                  It’s been good ‘talking’ – let’s do it again sometime… off to bed

                • lprent

                  Personally I try to not have much of my identity on-line.

                  You can’t find photos, and the only stories you will find are the ones I choose to provide (well apart from the inarticulate and barely coherent ravings of Cameron). They aren’t the important parts of my life anyway, and are inextricably tied to the functions of what I’m doing.

                  But I’ve been around the net since before it was the net….

            • lprent 11.2.1.1.1.2

              …I’d hope someone applying for a job (even if sent by WINZ) would be smart enough to do the sort of due diligence online that employers seem to make a part of any hiring process these days.

              I do. Personally I find looking at the companies office is always interesting

  12. Fabregas4 12

    Respectfully Rex you may have missed the point. National Standards expect every child to reach a certain point at a certain time. To not do so labels them as not achieving to the National Standard which in turn labels them as not achieving as expected. Just as children learn to walk and talk at different rates they learn to read, write and do maths when they are ready too. I am a school principal and I charge my teachers to work collaboratively to ensure that when children leave our school that they are achieving at the expected level – this is what counts not the rate that they get there. Of course at my school, like in the great majority of schools we monitor children’s progress carefully so that we can provide extra assistance to those who need it or extension to those who are making the quickest progress this is done without the need for National Standards.

    As for parents wanting league tables I am not sure that you are correct in saying that parents want them. What is true is that league tables provide very little in the way of valuable information about school performance (i think you are suggesting that they will use them to judge this) and therefore what should be most important is that the negative effects of league tables on children’s achievement should be negated by Educational Leaders (including the Minister) doing their best to ensure that any policy they introduce does not allow for them and if necessary that they educate parents and caregivers about the shortcomings in League Tables rather than leaving it up to the teachers and principals to do so.

    • Rex Widerstrom 12.1

      I perhaps haven’t been as clear as I should be above. I think your comparison of learning to skills like walking is very apt for younger children but necessarily becomes less valid as they get older and hopefully educators have done their job of addressing any barriers to learning.

      By senior high school level it is surely reasonable to expect everyone (bar those with specific learning difficulties) to have reached a minimum level of competence in certain areas?

      In saying that I acknowledge that National’s “vision” seems to be about teaching to the standard and doesn’t address the strategies needed to ensure those who are struggling are supported and those who are excelling are encouraged and given the freedom to do so.

      If we’re not ranking students against their peers by senior secondary level then I believe (for the reasons I’ve enunciated above) we’re doing them a disservice.

      In terms of “league tables” (and I’m talking of these as applied in a secondary setting) I agree that as presented in the media they are worthless and give a distorted and unfair perspective. But OTOH I think Julia Gillard (no right winger) is on the right track in creating a web site which endeavours to compare like with like. That is to say schools in similar deciles and with similar ethnic mixes etc – attempting to filter out as many externalities as possible rather than ranking a decile 10 private single sex school in a table with decile 3 co-educational public schools… which is the nonsensical “statistics” we’re fed at present.

      My comment on parents’ demand for some form of ranking mechanism is, admittedly, based on the Australian experience. Perhaps it’s muted – or even non-existent – in New Zealand. Here, certainly, parents want some form of regular reporting on the performance of their child’s school (and I believe they have every right to demand that) though are open to debate as to what form it should take.

      • Fabregas4 12.1.1

        National Standards are not for Secondary Schools at all they are for 5 to around 12 year olds.

        I can give you a league table that will be reasonably accurate right now without visiting a single school (there will be a few exceptions of course) by following this formula. (a)List all schools according to decile (b) further sort them according to ethnicity placing those with most Maori children at the bottom of this list. That’s about it.

        Now there lies two questions:
        1. If we already know this then why are the government saying they need information?
        2. Is it a coincidence that schools from the lowest decile and with the largest number of Maori are those that struggle to help their children achieve or is this schools reflecting society?

        I’m not for one minute suggesting that teachers and schools aren’t achieving great things with these groups of kids (my own school is) but it is despite the societal effects that get in the way of learning.

        Want to lift achievement? Don’t look at schools (they do extremely well with relatively poor resources across all world measures for children not in low decile schools and children who are pakeha and middle class) instead look at a society that allows poverty, rampant drug use, lack of work opportunities, costly health care, poor state housing, and non existent early child care/new parent support. Like so many problems there is no quick fix – but focusing on the real problems would help and benefit each and every one of us.

        • Rex Widerstrom 12.1.1.1

          Thanks for this debate Fabregas4. FYI I chaired the board of a decile 3 state school with a high Maori / PI quotient so I know whereof you speak. I also got my education there.

          I understand national standards are proposed for primary and intermediate schools but the NZPF also have a dig at NCEA’s “failings” (not that there aren’t any) so I read their position paper more as opposing standardised testing across the board.

          I agree league tables could be compiled as you suggest and used to fume when newspapers would insist (in the days before formal “league tables”) on ringing round the schools in the area and asking for pass rates for exams, then publishing the results with no mention of the fact that we were struggling to get a toilet block made safe and re-opened while being ranked against an exclusive public school for which people paid over-the-odds house prices to get into the zone, not to mention several private ones.

          But because one measure is inaccurate does not mean all must necessarily be. The more data factored in and accounted for, the more accurate the result.

          And I particularly agree that the causes are primarily societal… though having sat and interviewed every teacher at two secondary schools which we were merging I cannot help but conclude that – like all professions – there are the mediocre and the brilliant amongst the ranks of educators and that therefore we need a way of measuring performance, rewarding it, and culling those who don’t measure up.

          • Fabregas4 12.1.1.1.1

            ‘ though having sat and interviewed every teacher at two secondary schools which we were merging I cannot help but conclude that like all professions there are the mediocre and the brilliant amongst the ranks of educators and that therefore we need a way of measuring performance, rewarding it, and culling those who don’t measure up’.

            You hit the nail on the head ‘like all professions’ but like many you feel that it is ok to comment on and critique teachers but leave the doctors, economists, dentists, etc etc alone. Everyone thinks that they know about teaching, everyone thinks that they can identify good and poor teachers, everyone looks to blame them – I don’t see this approach for other professions – I reckon its because everyone has been to school – but the truth is it takes more than that to be an effective teacher or a teacher at all. Last time I looked you needed a degree, two years supervised teaching, annual appraisal against professional
            standards, all the while getting pressure from Principals, Syndicate Leaders, parents, community, and having a great responsibility to the children in front of you and around the school in general.

            And still everyone expects every teacher to be perfect all the time.

            • Rex Widerstrom 12.1.1.1.1.1

              like many you feel that it is ok to comment on and critique teachers but leave the doctors, economists, dentists, etc etc alone.

              Whoa there a minute! You’ll find me criticising all sorts of other professions… even if you don’t count politicians as professionals. Specially the economists. But the greater impact they have on society as a whole, the more likely I’ll be saying something more often. That’s only natural.

              I’d suggest that, in addition to your reason why:

              Everyone thinks that they know about teaching

              it’s also because doctors aren’t in the media agitating for lower patient numbers and more money. And dentists just charge outrageous prices while people like me nurse toothache and can’t afford to pay, but they’re basically individals and aren’t organised at all. The effectiveness of the teacher unions in highlighting professional issues naturally stimulates discussuon of such issues… which is exactly what the unions want.

              …everyone thinks that they can identify good and poor teachers, everyone looks to blame them I don’t see this approach for other professions

              What, you’ve never heard of Coronial inquiries into, and debate about, the competence of doctors – individually and as a profession? I have – I used to handle spin for the College of GPs. Not as often as teacher comptence was debated but as I said, the NZMA isn’t nearly as active in lobbying.

              • Fabregas4

                What’s your profession Rex?

                Doctors are consistently agitating for better conditions (think Junior Doctors strike) and have a strong voice in advocating for better health care (just as teachers and principals do for better education). I expect them to do so because they know better than me about medicine. I actually expect some Doctors to be poorer than others because I live in the real world – just as I expect to get a piss poor shop assistant here and there, a dead loss banker, and a shockingly bad electrician. Why is it that every teacher is expected to be perfect or culled out when we have workers everywhere in every job who struggle. Man, I used to be in banking and saw a whole heap more lazy and incompetent people in that industry than I ever have in teaching.

                What I am saying is the regularity of negative comment about teachers is a dam cheek from those who are largely unqualified to comment in any depth but feel free to do so for some reason.

  13. George.com 13

    And whilst Principals are busy having to tell the Minister (repeatedly it seems) about the issues/problems with National Standards, they are not being able to properly implement a new (and world class) curriculum. I wonder what will make more difference to childrens learning, some National Standards or a new curriculum.

  14. popeye 14

    Let’s be frank…Nat Stds are not about improving student achievement. The Standards subjugate the work of schools and the rich tapestry of humanity that attend to a searingly retrograde idea like “children learn in a linear lock step fashion that can be measured in the same incremental units every year of the child’s schooling. For gods sake…haven’t we evolved a little further than this. I’m with you F4…the total lack of understanding of what constitutes modern learning, teaching and assessment is clearly evident in the many armchair critics who seem to want to go back to the 70’s when we moved from Std 1 to Std 2 to Std 3…systematic, uniform, mechanistic learning. We don’t accept doctors using outdated ideas in their work but we are very comfortable in decrying teachers desire to move on from ideas that are tired and unworkable.

  15. jbanks 15

    What do the parents want?

  16. Fabregas4 16

    They don’t know what they want when it comes to National Standards (most polling shows that very few parents understand or care about National Standards instead most comment that they are satisfied with information already provided by schools).

    In general most parents want their children to:
    1. Be happy at school
    2. Be excited about learning.
    3. Learn across a range of subjects (but mostly reading and writing)
    4. Relate well to others
    5. Make progress and improve.
    6. Do their best and learn how to persevere.
    7. Get opportunities to find their strengths by trying new things.

    That’s what I wanted for my kids and what I want for kids I teach.

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