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What price an apology?

Written By: - Date published: 8:45 am, June 12th, 2012 - 23 comments
Categories: education, john key, Media - Tags: , ,

Parents and teachers are calling for Key to apologise over the stress and anxiety that his government has caused them over the last 2 weeks. Want to guess how Key handled it?

The Prime Minister is refusing to apologise to parents and teachers over the Government’s botched education reforms. John Key admits it made a mistake, but that’s as far he’ll go.

Two weeks after the Government lined up education for funding cuts, it reneged. But it was two weeks of stress and anxiety for teachers and parents. “I think that they caused the teachers and the head teachers a lot of stress that was unnecessary,” says parent Kirsty Stewart. For that, parents and teachers are calling for an apology. …

The Ministry of Education and its minister spearheaded the reforms, but all of Cabinet approved them.

“Cabinet needs to take responsibility,” says John Key.

Usually when someone makes a mistake, especially one which causes such a stir, it’s followed by “I’m sorry”.

So will John Key say it? “No,” says the Prime Minister. “But I think parents would see very closely that the Government has listened.” …

I could speculate about the various charitable (and uncharitable) interpretations of Key’s refusal here, but cutting to the chase, I think he is dead wrong to withhold an apology. Most of the media isn’t playing suck-up any more, so this becomes a very bad look indeed…

(3 News screen shot – ouch!)

23 comments on “What price an apology?”

  1. Bunji 1

    Got to it before I did!
    Interesting read in The Herald as well.

    Basically, we were right, the public is wrong, but we played it wrong, so we couldn’t get our way.

    He said he would describe the idea of teacher “quality over quantity” as the right one. “But the execution of the idea was poorly handled and we all need to take some responsibility for that, including myself.”

    I’m not sure why the false dichotomy between quality and quantity, or why he thinks quantity has no influence on quality but…

    Also astounding in the same article:

    Asked if the Cabinet had been told about what the potential level of job losses would be on schools and technology centres he said: “No, not to that level of detail, no.”

    They’re proposing cutting back on teachers – frontline staff, as promised not to – and they’ve not gone into the ‘detail’ of how many jobs will be lost?


    None of the 20 in National’s cabinet thought that was worth raising? JK, Bill, Paula, Tony, Steven, Kate Wilko, Amy Adams, Craig Foss, Crusher, etc etc… NONE of you thought that was worth asking?


  2. ghostwhowalksnz 2

    To me the main issue is the ‘teacher quality’ which should be pursued regardless.
    Has class sizes become the ‘third rail’ of education politics ?

    Reminds me of Victoria in Australia, when they wanted to cut under performing teachers, they just looked at the amount of sick leave taken and used that as the measure of ‘quality’ and those affected were made redundant without replacement.

  3. shorts 3

    a politician… of any type apologise… as if that’ll happen

    politics is more important than anything to these people and most of the commentators – here as well as other places

    if policy & the details mattered they’d not have bungled this as they most certainly have

    viva the revolution

    • Zorr 4.1

      The stance is essentially the same but De Niro wears it comfortably where his character is confident in the power that he wields whereas Key comes across as a naked emperor the day after… “What? Who, me?”

  4. Dr Terry 5

    The government has backed down because it has been forced to “listen”, with much reluctance (note Parata), and only under such large pressure. The usual stance is, of course, to remain stubbornly obdurate (eg asset sales, retirement age etc). Now, so suddenly, they have discovered the word “listen”. I am not sure where they got it from. Possibly from Lewis Carroll (though doubt they are that educated!):

    “”Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
    Be off, or I’ll kick you downstairs!”

    • Fortran 5.1

      Give serious thanks to the media, without whom the Teachers unions and the mothers would not have succeeded in changing the Nats minds.

      Now the media are leading the Superannuation charge as the next project.

  5. Ross 6

    The government won’t apologise because it feels it doesn’t need to. National still intend to make cuts to education and this faux pas will be a temporary reprieve for the sector.

  6. felix 7

    Heh, the media are starting to publish pictures that actually look like him now. Good.

    But this: “I think parents would see very closely… ” WTF does that mean?

    How come a chimp can learn basic sign language but a PM can’t learn English?

  7. Ross 8

    Over at Stuff:

    Comment From Kristen
    “Thanks for backing down on the class-size thing, but I’d like to know what you’re going to cut in education to make up the savings you would have got from cutting class sizes.”

    John Key:
    “We are working on that, but worst case scenario we will have to take it out of next year’s new Budget spending provision.”

    So under the worst case scenario, no school will lose any teachers and class sizes won’t get any bigger?

  8. Ross 9

    And in another Stuff comment:

    Comment From Year 12 Sos Hghs class
    “How would you feel about class sizes going up in your son’s school? ”

    John Key:
    “Totally fine, if they were of the magnitude being previously proposed. I care much more about the quality of the teacher standing before my son.”

    This simply confirms what I said earlier. Key has no intention of apologising because he supports the policy of teacher cuts and larger classes.

    • tracey 9.1

      does key understand that the teacher in front of his son is probably there because of

      Low class size
      Quality of resourcing

      Make them stand in front of 30 with few resources and a lower salary and his son is in a state school. He should be asked how he measures the quality of his son,s teacher, is it by his sons grades?

  9. irascible 10

    An apology would be an admission that KeY and his cronies are inept, inadequate and incompetent as, like Mugabe, they only understand the word inpower there will be no apology or admission of failure.

  10. Georgy 11

    None of what the govt has done around class size should surprise anyone – no proper analysis of the effect of the policy and no questions asked. Thought it would be a breeze increasing classes by a couple of kids. Who could really oppose that if it is going to lead to some sort of magical improvement in the quality of teaching.

    A government with no plan.

    A government with no heart.

    Every national MP should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

  11. Georgy 12

    Given the recent reports on NZ ‘s educational achievements being in the top few internationally, what is the goal around teacher quality? What the hec is it if it isn’t already there?

    The real goal should be identifying where the need to improve outcomes for children is. Develop a strategy around that. Schools that are already doing well will continue to do well and improve under their own steam as they have been for years.

    More resources for teaching, and maybe teaching quality, should go into the areas where pupil achievement needs to be addressed.

    Instead of fixing things that aren’t broke, target the money to the area of need.

  12. tracey 13

    Frankly parents cld have avoided the angst if they listened to the teachers and principals, not just on class size but all education issues. Being a parent qualifies you for an opinion but doesnt make you an expert on teaching. Victims of crime dont determine policy policy, largely the police do, why tge difference in education?

  13. tracey 14

    It has never been about quality its been about cutting costs, the opposite of what is happening in govt funding of private schools. Does it count as welfare that we taxpayers subsidise mr key,s son,s education when he is perfectly able to afford unsubsidised fees? I wonder how much the pms trust have donated to his children,s schools over the years

  14. Roy 15

    Cabinet nees to take responsibility? Damn, I thought the Prime Minister was supposed to be part of Cabinet? Quite an important part, in fact?

  15. tracey 16

    Pm: the buck stops (points in both directions) over there

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