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20% of Schools Break the Law!

Written By: - Date published: 4:03 pm, July 31st, 2011 - 61 comments
Categories: education - Tags: ,

Reposted from bsprout* at  Local Bodies blog. 

I have already expressed my concern that this government’s focus on numeracy and literacy, above all else, will have negative consequences on our children’s learning. The Ministry have just revealed that around 20% of schools have refused to set targets against the Standards and therefore rejecting a legislated requirement. These school communities (boards and staff) have felt so strongly about the negative aspects of the standards that they have broken the law to protect the children in their care. Considering that the Minister of Education has threatened to withhold resources or replace boards with statutory managers, their stands haven’t been taken lightly. One can only imagine how many schools have difficulty with the Standards but aren’t prepared to break the law. A number of surveys have indicated at least 75% of principals and schools have major concerns.

It will be difficult for the Minister to continue to claim that this is just political action initiated by education unions when whole school communities are taking action and the New Zealand Education Institute has mainly focussed on finding professional solutions. The Institute even attempted to engage with the Minister’s NS Sector Advisory Group only to find that there was no ability to address the flaws in the standards, its sole function was to facilitate implementation.

With such overwhelming opposition the Minister needs to start engaging with the profession and actually start responding to concerns in a professional way. The cracks are now too wide to cover up and reading the odd supporting letter in Parliament is not going hide the reality.

* And no, it is not the sprout


61 comments on “20% of Schools Break the Law! ”

  1. Hilary 1

    Those schools, their principals and their boards are so brave for taking this stand for education and are setting a great example to the children and their communities of standing up for principles. School boards are not comprised of radicals but of ordinary parents concerned about teaching and learning.

    • richard 1.1

      I agree Hillary – they are brave, and there are lots of other BOT’s out there that are equally abhorred by Nat Standards but, for a wide range of reasons, have not been quite as brave. Basically lots of us are just doing the bare minimum required for Nat Standards, then backing our staff and principals to do real, meaningful teaching.
      This is a huge issue and I will be gutted if it is not a major election issue.
      P.S. My prediction: Tolley dumped after election but Nat Standards remain. Face of Nat Standards removed, issue quietens, policy remains (assuming NACT re-elected). Just like they did with Ruth Richardson in 1993.

  2. Ed 2

    Does that 20% of schools include private schools? Since the requirement apparently does not apply to them, if this idea is so good, how many such schools have picked it up?

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      good question

    • Anne 2.2

      I have never understood why Labour and the Greens have not made more of the fact that the private schools are not included in the National Standards. It’s common knowledge that most National Party MPs send their kids (and grand-kids) to private schools. They’re happy to impose these so-called standards on the public school system, but golly, gosh no… we’re not having our own kids subjected to it!

      Not only does it smack of hypocrisy, but it shows that the whole National Standard thing is nothing more than an exercise in political philandering of gullible members of the general public.

      Given that private schools are now heavily subsidised by the state coffers why are they exempt?

      • Colonial Viper 2.2.1

        Given that private schools are now heavily subsidised by the state coffers why are they exempt?

        Because they want kids who go to private schools to receive an education not merely training in reading and arithmetic.

        • Anne

          And that’s because their own kids go to private schools!

          • Mac1

            Hard as it is to defend the Nats on where they send their kids, ( BTW, I do believe we should try to keep politician’s families as much out of the debate as we can- they are not to blame for their parents!), there is a good reason why pollies might send their kids away from their electorate schools, and that is to do with the flak that the kids might get because of their parents. I know that was true in my instance purely as a candidate and the local Nat MP’s kid did get a hard time, I know for certain. Another Labour MP I know sent his children away for the same reason.

            That being the case, it is still arguable that private schools might offer other reasons more to do with social cachet, status, connections or even religion. I’m not convinced that National Standards are not applied to private schools because Govt MPs send their kids there.

            I would rather ask why such a Good Thing is not required of the private schools, since all parents do want the Best For Their Kids.

            I think CV @ 2.2.1 is right on the money. Whether private schools deliver better than state schools in that regard, I am not so certain.

      • Mac1 2.2.2

        “Given that private schools are now heavily subsidised by the state coffers why are they exempt?”

        Maybe if they were required to enforce National Standards, they might Break the Law themselves? I understand, in all seriousness now, that some Catholic prelate was severely critical of NS? Would Catholic schools, for example, have worn a Ministry directive, or disobeyed?

  3. Dan1 3

    The agenda has always been to demonise the teacher associations. That parents and BOTs have agreed that national standards are questionable is a complication. However, if you wish to see where the NACTS are going, check out what Ms Rhee did in Washington, and when she lost her job there, what she is doing in Wisconsin.
    Anyone with an interest in education who votes for the NACT crew are turkeys voting for Christmas!

  4. Todd 4

    Yep.Teaching children that as long as you believe its right just go ahead and break the law.Sounds smart to me.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      thanks goodness we have schools which aren’t willing to let an incompetent Minister and her lackey Ministery push through shitty backward standards.

      And for those 20% of schools, another 20% would have seriously considered doing the same.

    • mik e 4.2

      When National were in opposition they barked on consistently about teachers needing less paper work so they could spend more time teaching in front of children . The reverse has happened now teachers have even less time especially to spend on extra curricular activities which keep kids engaged and out of trouble .Typical Nats this program is to pick up those not achieving teachers already no who aren,t achieving and why so all the Nats are doing is making the Problem worse!

    • Georgy 4.3

      I think, Todd, the point is the value placed on professionalism and integrity. National standards are flawed, they are not actually national standards at all, they are not researched based, and the league table consequence doesn’t bear thinking about. The National Standards National Testing process is clearly being shown to be not only ineffective but also new research coming out that shows they are probably having the opposite effect.

    • Purplescottie 4.4

      If I believe the law is wrong and I am prepared to accept the consequences of breaking it, then it is not only smart, it is brave and right, and about standing up for my principles.

  5. tc 5

    And you see very little of ayatolley in the media, for good reasons as she’s a barking loon. Again if the media were interested in doing their job this would get plenty of inches/airtime as would plenty of other incompetent NACT ministers, makes great coverage and sells your content…..not here though…nice work if you can get it.

  6. Regardless of whether they agree with National Standards – I’m personally still dubious about their value but haven’t looked closely past all the hubris and politicking – schools should carry out government policy. Unless of course they want to be privately funded (or bulk funded?) so they can set their own agendas.

    • Dan1 6.1

      Pete, if the standards are so important, why do private schools not have to do them??!!

      • Pete George 6.1.1

        Because they are private schools. Government departments should carry out Government policy, that’s a fairly basic principle of our public service and political system.

        If political parties encourage schools to not carry out Government policy then that smacks of another example of rules and conventions only matter when convenient.

        If Labour get into Government and scrap National Standards I’d expect all schools to stop using them as directed. It’s a fairly simple principle.

        • Colonial Viper

          Here’s another fairly simple principle: don’t expect people to do things which compromise their children and the education system, especially when you have never bothered to discuss the issues with them in good faith.

        • Dan1

          If the standards are so robust and an absolute requirement for state schools, why are they not essential for every young New Zealander? Why is it that if you have the money to pay for private education, you can get an elitist label but not have to do what other NZers do?
          Further, teachers have a responsibility to point out the failings of a proposed system.

        • Georgy

          The govt policy you refer to Pete George, is seriously flawed – if doctors were told how to operate by some group of people in Wellington and the govt made it policy, would doctors be happy to simply comply??? the govt dept concerned with National Standards should have clearly researched and fully consulted, especially with the professionals. A positive approach would have got the educ sector onside.

        • Ianupnorth

          As stated to you on a previous thread – do doctors follow best practice as determined by research, or, if Ryall says do something that I say and do not follow what the evidence states, who will be held to account when a patient dies?
          Same goes for teachers and principals – they know the research, they see the flaws and they are making a stand for those in their care – end of story.

        • mik e

          That sounds like Nazism PG. Its just nationals agenda to brake all unions even when the policy is BS. if they really wanted to help under achievement at schools by the 20% of children they would put the money directly into those areas the teachers already know the answers it has to be a community approach to these families keeping them in stable cheap housing having a coordinated holistic approach to welfare like Canterbury universities social sciences trial program which has been working successfully for 10years .instead ayatolley is just making teaching more difficult by loading them up with more BS paper work ie detention for naughty unions.

          • Georgy

            Interestingly enough, the Literacy professional development project delivered by Learning Media showed significant gains in student learning outcomes – from a .6 effect and better – research carried out by Auckland University clearly showed this. If this project was delivered in all schools………

      • Craig Glen Eden 6.1.2

        The National Standards are not getting the support from parents as the standards are not delivering the result/ideals that the rhetoric promised. This is a classic case of be careful what you wish for. Many parents and I include some of my family in this thought the rhetoric was great what could possibly be wrong with having National standards they said. Well now they have them they have realized that their children are not reaching the so called standards and far from having easy to read reports, my wife has to explain to them why their children are not meeting the standards and what the report is reporting on. Now they think the standards are stupid and meaningless because they can see their 6 year old is not half a 12 year old.

        Sadly I think its going to take longer for many Kiwis to wake up to Keys little awe shucks routine but when their kids leave the country for the brighter future Key promised they will have only themselves to blame.

  7. D13 7

    And let alone are the standard from different schools through the country the same?

  8. Georgy 8

    The National Standards promulgated by this government are deeply flawed and the pedagogical practice that will develop around them will be extremely harmful to our current world class curriculum and to children’s learning outcomes.

  9. If National Standards aren’t bad enough the newly appointed Ministry of Education CEO is a British import and a “Free Schools” advocate.


  10. ianmac from Turkey 10

    Thank goodness you folk are keepıng the attentıon focussed on thıs travesty. It ıs the fırst tıme ever that polıtıcıans have enforced a process on schools (or hospıtals), and largely as a polıtıcal stunt. Damn them all. Polıtıcıans should stıck to what they do best; ummm…….ahh….
    (Jolly very hot here! Wıll never pray for a long hot summer agaın!)

  11. seeker 11

    @Dan1 7.04.pm
    “Pete, if the standards are so important, why do private schools not have to do them??!!”
    @Pete G. 7.08pm.
    “Because they are private schools. Government departments should carry out Government policy,…”

    Private schools were given $35,000,000 as soon as this nact government got in I believe. Does this not make them a government department and therefore should be required to carry out government policy??

  12. SHG 12

    Personally I think the principals and boards of every one of the 20% schools should be fired.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Yeah go on, you Righties love a bit of top down authoritarian rule.

    • lprent 12.2

      Yeah well your talk is obviously pretty cheap. The problem is that I have yet to find a teacher or even a school board member who thinks that Nationals standards are workable. I’m sure that there must be one or two. I’ll also bet that they are probably people who haven’t actually taught in the target areas for years.

      If the government was stupid enough to do follow your testosterone induced insanity, then they’d have problems finding enough statutory managers or replacement principals (because what teacher would be fool enough to step up into such a lose-lose position). And that is before you find most of the other schools that are currently paying lip service to the stupid legislation decide to drop the facade. After all being forced to add extra work on top of a constrained budget simply to satisfy some politicians ego doesn’t strike me as good or responsible government.

      Quite simply no-one knows what this idiotic policy is meant to achieve beyond some trite phrases in Nationals policies last election. The incompetent that National has at the head of education clearly doesn’t. You certainly don’t seem to have any idea either.

      • SHG 12.2.1

        Citizens vote in govts; govts make laws; public servants apply the laws. That’s the way it works. If you’re a public servant and you don’t like the law you’re applying, get a different job. Put your money where your mouth is and run for office to improve the law.

        • Colonial Viper

          Real world not working to your exacting standards? Gee life is tough. You better give Tolley a tutorial on “How to Win Friends and Influence People” before she screws up worse.

        • lprent

          So you would have covened the Nuremberg trials to try public servants for not implementing the final deathcamp orders of the German government without enough enthusiasm?

          Ok I had to Godwin this for effect.

          The point is that we don’t employ or pay people to be mindless automations. We hire them for their expertise and to exercise judgement in their field. The mindless public servant obeying orders defense went out of the window in international law in 1945 and in numerous war crimes trial since then – but apparently lives on in residual authoritarians like yourself.

          Tolley is making policy in an area where her greatest level of expertise is that she had teachers for parents. She came up with a stupid implementation of a daft political policy, and did so ignoring advice from almost everyone with any expertise. Rather than testing the idea in test studies and pilot programmes, she is tryng to mplement in one fell swoop.

          If she got it wrong (as appears likely) then she damages the education of a generation of kids by shifting the focus of their education into producing the Nationals standards reports diverting scarce educational resources on the way through.

          Now I can see how you’d be screaming in a bunker at the unwillingness of civil servants to do his will and just get out there and shoot people. But I find that having the school boards who know their school and teachers who work in it telling Tolley that she is silly is quite hopeful.

          After all, we the public, pay them to look after the interests of the kids in their care. We do not pay them to be mindless minions of someone who clearly does not understand the issues that have been raised about her stupid policies.

    • Ianupnorth 12.3

      Then SHG you are a complete fool!

    • richard 12.4

      Bring it on SHG. I bet 90% of boards would resign en masse in support. Now THAT would be an election game changer.

  13. Gosman 13

    Would lefties be so pleased if say 20 percent of people decided to not pay a Capital Gains tax if the Labour Party was elected in November?

    National Standards was an explicit policy at the time of the 2008 election. Hence refusing to implement it is anti-democratic in my view.

    • felix 13.1

      Thought you righties believed no-one with a good accountant was going to pay it. 😉

      When did National Standards become a left/right issue though? It’s professionals vs bureaucrats. If anything, a real right-winger would get behind the professionals and fight against the creeping nanny state.

      • Gosman 13.1.1

        I like National Standards. I like to know how my children are perfroming against children of a similar age. So do many other parents. Hence why the National Party made it an explict election promise in 2008.

        Do you think Governments should follow through on election promises felix?

        • felix

          That doesn’t make it a left/right issue, that makes it a “Gosman likes” issue. How is it “left/right” as indicated in your first comment?

          “Do you think Governments should follow through on election promises felix?”

          You mean do I think they should pick and choose which ones they follow through? ‘Cos they definitely ain’t following through on the ones that won them the election.

          • Gosman

            So what ones are they not following through with?

            • felix

              That’d be a bloodly long list, Gos, but a few of the greatest hits: North of $50 a week, not raising GST, not gutting the public service, not fucking with Kiwisaver.

        • Craig Glen Eden

          Well National Standards dont do that Gosman what the shit are you talking about? from the ministries website

          “National Standards are a tool to help teachers and schools understand the expected levels of achievement at stage/year-appropriate levels, know how to measure the achievement of each student in relation to the expectations, and to improve teaching and learning for better student learning and progress in all areas of the curriculum”

          So given they dont do what you think you must be ripped!Standards have been invented much like points on a ruler and are not a comparison between your child and others either in the class room or Nationally. They mean nothing they tell you nothing but Gosman likes them good on ya.

          • Gosman

            Prior to the introduction of National standards children were meassured against a range of measures of academic progress however it was often a confused mess. I know of numerous parents who just wanted a relatively plain English explanation of where my child stood in terms of level of achievements compared to where other children his age should be. Why is this something that you disagree with?

            • Ianupnorth

              Gosman, are you a complete muppet?
              Teachers, in the main, are graduates; as part of that preparation they study educational theory and learn what works and what doesn’t. As professionals, using a specific body of knowledge to inform their practice, they are expected to use what works and reject what doesn’t!
              National standards have been proven not to improve educational attainment; for example in the UK the curriculum was largely forgotten because teachers HAD to achieve passes in certain subjects and only delivered to achieve those passes – if you was a stagnant, uncreative pool of school leavers who lack critical skills and vision (maybe you do?) then go ahead and have standards, but the real skills within kids will be lost forever.
              In much the same way doctors, nurses, dentists, etc are expected to follow evidence based practice – if Tony Ryall told docs to practice according to what he said would you be happy for that to happen.
              Lots of people disagree with it because it will impact negatively on childrens education – I know, my kids went through them in the UK!

              • Craig Glen Eden

                “Gosman, are you a complete muppet?”

                Please please can I answer this I know I know the answer and I can even answer in plain english so the likes of Gosman parents can understand just were he ranks!

                Ok I will sit down now, how come CV gets to answer all the fun questions?.

            • Georgy

              Gosman: “Prior to the introduction of National standards children were meassured against a range of measures of academic progress however it was often a confused mess.”

              This of course is a trite meaningless argument that cannot be substantiated in any way. Obviously you have absolutely no idea about what goes on in a school – simplistic idealogy seems to appeal to you more that basic common sense

        • mik e

          Gosman I thought you would have had your kids at a private school you must be a very low paid Nat reseacher party hack then.This is the only promise National have kept isn,t it.This is supposed to fix the problem of 20% of children not getting an adequate education,you need some NATIONAL standards of your own.It was not meant to help those already achieving.In reality you are showing the real purpose of Tollys folly!

    • lprent 13.2

      National Standards was an explicit policy..

      No it wasn’t. It was a few bullet points and a couple of paragraphs of waffle. There was nothing in there to say that this travesty was what National intended. There wasn’t sufficient for anyone to make up their mind on if it was a good or bad idea. If you think that was an explicit policy then I’d say that you probably qualify as one of those fools who doesn’t read contracts as well in case they see something there that they don’t understand.

      Now normally that lack of detail isn’t too much of a problem (even if it isn’t really that advisable for the reasons that we are now seeing).. What happens after the election is that the ministers take advice about how to make their policy workable from experts in the field. You can see that amongst almost all of the ministers in this government. I may not think that the direction that they are heading is particularly good, but they have taken worked around many of the pitfalls.

      Unfortunately in this case we have a minister who appears to only listen to her navel – and her navel appears to have very stupid fluff in it. So she has a crap policy that even Hattie (who she says was the inspiration for it – thinks will not work). It doesn’t matter if there were bullet points for the strategy, if the implementation won’t work.

      Incidentally, the only other ministers who showed this type of bullheaded stupidity were Brownlee and Hide. Both have now been effectively sidelined – because blatant incompetence is not good for governance. They really need to do the same thing with Tolley so someone can get in there and figure out how to make Nationals standards workable (or even better discarded)

  14. Gosman-“National Standards was an explicit policy at the time of the 2008 election. Hence refusing to implement it is anti-democratic in my view.”

    National may think they have a mandate to introduce National Standards but does that give them a mandate to introduce flawed ones?


  15. Cagey H 15

    “Gosman, are you a complete muppet?” (Gold!). Answer: Probably – most have someone’s hand inside them…..without which they are simply an empty sock.

  16. JS 16

    Remember also that national standards legislation was rushed through all its stages under urgency in less than 24 hours – hardly a democratic process. No select committee process to alert to the obvious flaws.

    • SHG 16.1

      Maybe if Labour wasn’t filibustering the VSM bill the passage of laws wouldn’t require urgency. Just a thought.

      • felix 16.1.1

        A thought? Literally I suppose, but not a relevant or coherent one.

        National have been abusing urgency throughout their term. Labour’s filibuster is relatively recent.

        Try again.

  17. Georgy 17

    One failed policy amongst many

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