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A Minister and some National Standards

Written By: - Date published: 11:00 am, July 3rd, 2010 - 61 comments
Categories: education - Tags: ,

The Minister of Education Anne Tolley, and the Government, is facing a fair amount of (growing) opposition to the implementation of her National Standards. Yesterday the Minister addressed a Principals Conference in Queenstown. Her message was essentially that schools need to get on with the job of putting the Standards in place and not to publicly criticize the policy. She would rather they went and talked to her and has said necessary changes will be made. She is critical of people turning it in to a political issue. Unfortunately, the Minister herself is responsible for a fair degree of that.

The Minister has stated on more than one occasion that the government received a mandate to implement the Standards. Certainly her Government was elected and it had a number of policies it wanted to implement. How many people voted for the Government as a result of the Standards is, at this point, unknown. In order to be certain the Minister will need to poll all National Party voters to determine the strength of that policy on voter’s behavior at the ballot box. Until that is done, the link between the Standards and her Government being elected to power is unclear.

The Standards are tied in with National Governments election in 2008 and their campaign to be re-elected in 2011. The policy itself has its genesis, I would pick, as a political maneuver. At the last election National was painted as being Labour Light. This represented a deliberate strategy of removing any vestiges of controversial policy from the Brash years in order to calm voter’s nerves. In many respects National portrayed itself as being very close to the Labour government, if not a mirror image. A few points of differentiation were needed. National Standards, set amidst a crusade on numeracy and literacy was a nice catchy slogan that was easily packaged and sold to parents.

It is important to the government to get them in place by the start of the 2011 election campaign so they can point out to parents how they are raising achievement standards in schools. Whether the Standards will be successful in delivering what they are sold as delivering is not so important in this facet of the project. It is the perception of delivery and the surface gloss of ‘raising achievement’ that matters most. Supporting this view, I think, is a couple of important matters. First, the National Party did not present a detailed education policy prior to the election. The National Standards policy was never publicly fleshed out in any great detail. Second, the legislation to frame the implementation of the Standards was introduced under urgency in the first few months of the new Government. There was some haste in getting the package implemented, perhaps even verging on the point of making things up as they went along.

Had the government wanted to make an actual good fist of the Standards a slower and more deliberate approach may well have delivered National a better outcome. A start would have been fully involving the teaching profession in the design of their design. Better yet involve the profession in the implementation of the package. This process was successful in developing a new curriculum the primary sector is committed to. As early as last year educators and academics were telling Ms Tolley and John Key that the chances of the Standards delivering the outcomes they wanted were tenuous. A Lange style ‘cup of tea’ may have been in order at that point. History shows this did not happen.

So it seems that the Minister is busy digging herself a hole. No one has yet appeared to take the shovel from her hands. Certainly the Prime Minister has; as yet, show no inclination to step back from his avowed full support for Ms Tolley. He lightened her Ministerial load so she could fully concentrate on the Standards. Whether he decides the matter is becoming all too messy is, again, a political matter. It would have been far more satisfactory had the Government sought to resolve the matter on an educational level. It seems, to this writer at least, that the way the government went about delivering the Standards package turned it into a political matter almost from the outset.

Perhaps the Minister does genuinely actually believe the Standards will deliver the outcomes she thinks they will. That is, perhaps she is not simply playing politics, but is acting out of some genuine belief. Whether the Standards will deliver what she wants is a hugely debatable matter. The weight of informed evidence seems to lie against her. It may actually come down to the simple fact that Ms Tolley does not properly understand education or children learning. If this is so, there seems to be at least three outcomes at least. One is that the Standards get pushed through and whatever outcomes may come, will come. Another is that the Minister takes some time to talk to educators, academics and parents in an open and genuine way to first understand what improves children’s learning. She might then determine if the Standards package does meet those criteria. A third option is that John Key seeks to replace the Minister of Education with someone untarnished by prior controversy. Someone who either understands education a little better or shows that they are prepared to learn and throttle back the standards roll out. How desperate the government is to go into the election in 2011 with the standards in place may determine which of those possible outcomes is most realistic.

It may be too late to turn a political issue back into the educational issue it should have been from the outset.

61 comments on “A Minister and some National Standards ”

  1. ianmac 1

    Well done Guest Post.
    The disconnect is between identifying a problem of “failing” and the National Standards as a solution. Over and over it has been said that teachers know full well who is “failing”. What a pity that the millions spent on Standards was not spent on people and resources to solve the “failing” problem. (Principals say that it is a 7% figure rather than 20% by the way.)

  2. ASA 2

    A very well reasoned posting. Clearly NZ overall doesn’t have a ‘failure issue” (after all using govt figures 80% plus are doing very well. Therefore why is a sledgehammer being used on the 20% walnut, especially given many reputable researchers suggest the true figure may be 7% . A concentrated effort on this 7% would receive total support from schools and spare us all this nonsense. However there is no political capital in that approach so we won’t see it. Our efforts need to go into ensuring parents are provided with accurate peer based (not artificially set standards) information on how their children are doing. Once parents are happy with the quality of information, the govt lose their emotional lever that they used to panic parents into voting for them in the first place.

  3. Pete 3

    I can’t get over Tolley yesterday allocating such a limited time to the Principal’s Conference, to lecture, then suggesting that they should communicate to her before going to the media – and then promptly buggering off.

    Was that conference NOT a perfect time to have that discussion? And, were the three votes taken amongst the Principals NOT clear enough?

    Looks like a losing battle for the toTolleytarian (ht frog) to me.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    A start would have been fully involving the teaching profession in the design of their design.

    National would never do that because:
    A) They think that they know best
    B) The teachers belong to a union and
    C) The academic community actually has facts and figures available that go against Nationals beliefs.

    It seems, to this writer at least, that the way the government went about delivering the Standards package turned it into a political matter almost from the outset.

    It was always a political matter as far as National were concerned. They don’t want people to be well educated as well educated people will realise that National are a bunch of delusional psychopaths. They want people to do as they’re told and not to think and National Standards are, effectively, an implementation of that mindset.

  5. popeye 5

    What is astounding is just how educationally offensive these standards are.

    Consider this from Professor Warwick Elley…..

    “All children can count to 10”. A clear, easy to measure standard, able to be reported against with consistency.

    Now consider Tolley’s national standards for reading at Year 4 .

    “By the end of Year 4 students will read, respond to and think critically about texts in order to meet the reading demands of the NZ Reading Curriculum. Students will locate and evaluate information and ideas within texts appropriate to their level, as they generate and answer questions to meet specific learning purposes .’

    What on earth does this mean??? This is not a clear and easy to understand standard. It could mean different things to different people and would need hours of work for each child to get the same judgement between teachers let alone between schools. You would need many more hours than in a day or even week to effectively moderate the meaning of this one standard for each of the 30 children in a class let alone for each standard. Do we expect teachers to spend any time teaching???

    I am dumbfounded at the way how teachers have been treated in blowing the whistle on the standards. Any other profession and these standards and the teaching practices teachers have been bullied to implement would be up in front of a professional body such are the damage they are causing. Everybody in any sphere of educational expertise is shouting their professional opposition from the rooftops. I think the time has arrived for the profession to move a vote of no confidence in the Minister.
    She has had, after all plenty of time hear about how educationally offensive this policy is but remains hell bent on trashing the integrity of the teaching profession.

    • Dan 5.1

      Popeye, can you outline in more depth the sorts of requirements that are in these standards. Give a few more examples of the standards.
      I can’t help but feel the Minister is of the same ilk as Fisiani and Bruv below, where the standards are being used to bash teachers rather than help parents or students.

  6. Fisiani 6

    Parents really really want National Standards
    Left wing teacher organisations fear that National Standards will ultimately lead to teacher accountability. Too right and about time.
    National Standards 2010 are just the first step. Plunket book raised Parents have to know who is failing to thrive educationally. Second step is to stop them failing. This means early intervention and also getting rid of the utterly useless teachers who ruin some childrens prospects.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      Got proof that parents want the delusional National Standards?

      It’s not the left that is afraid of accountability but the right. And, yes, National Standards are just the first step to an uneducated public that NACT want.

      • Quoth the Raven 6.1.1

        As foolish as I believe these National Standards to be I do not believe they are part of some Nact conspiracy to make people stupid. Do you honestly believe that?

        “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

  7. big bruv 7

    Sack every teacher that refuses to implement National standards.

    This government has a mandate from the people, if National standards also exposes the bad teachers then so be it.

    • BLiP 7.1

      Don’t suppose there’s been movement in the primordial sludge that makes up your psyche, has there, any developments that look like they might eventually form even the foundations of what might eventually become a conscience, big bruv, any desire to keep your word or honour your debts?

    • BB

      You seem to have an inbuilt anger to teachers. Did you have a bad experience? Did they not teach you something important like how it is important to pay up when you lose a bet?

    • Fabregas4 7.3

      38,000 teachers, principals, Boards, and PARENTS signed the petition against NS actually.

      • BLiP 7.3.1

        As a Principal, how does that make you feel that so many in the community are angered about the Nationalâ„¢ Standards?

        • Fabregas4

          This is another of Tolleys lies. The Board of my school understand fully the problems around NS (yes all you doubters they worked this out for themselves). I have tried to be very impartial giving them literature that both supports and opposes them. They immediately saw how mental it is to have a linear plunket style approach to learning. I provide several reports each year on the progress of our school and every child at our school is provided with some form of extra assistance if they are behind or at risk of falling behind in Reading and Maths (thanks to a great Board and dedicated staff).

          NS have been a distraction this year and I see them as a sign of mistrust of the work we do. Our perspective is to not let this policy get in the way of what we are doing which includes using national normed assessments and many others and really knowing our children – and monitoring closely the most important thing – progress.

          My school is decile 1a (the lowest) rural, largely Maori, we have close to 80% of our kids reading at the appropriate level for their age, 85% at the correct maths level (number strand) and over 83% writing at the correct level. This is actually a wonderful achievement both for our kids and our school. Why do I feel that our work is undervalued?

    • Lew 7.4

      Ok. Sack the teachers. Sack the principals. Who teaches the kids? Who runs the schools?

      Nobody, that’s who. There’s already a shortage. So the schools close down. Those kids stay home. Daycare is overloaded. So parents stay home from work, because, by law, they have to look after their kids. So their work doesn’t get done. Their bosses are angry. They’re not earning, so their bank managers are angry.

      Sound like a good result?


      • Bored 7.4.1

        Really sack the lot of them, Big Bruv wants that and his rectitude is beyond denial. One thing though, send the teacherless kids to his place, he can look after them, he sounds like a practical type, I’m sure they will listen to him…………………..

    • nzbuzzy 7.5

      Are you mental? National Standards will not solve the problem of poor achievement levels at the tail end. They are just a measure of achievement thought up by National Party cronies. What Anne Tolley is not telling the public is that there has been significant backdown on National’s part with the Standards. The name implies standardisation, however a new educational anagram has emerged. The so called OTJs (Overall Teacher Judgement) now allows teachers to apply their judgement about what a child has acheived. With 30,000 odd teachers doing this, where is the common standard in that? National Standards are a crock! Education in New Zealand can be improved, but not with the National Standards. The biggest thing in my view to solve under achievement is to reduced the teacher/student ratio. Currently the Ministry believes it is acceptable to have a 1:29 in Year 4 – 8 classes … when we try out 1:20 we will see changes to the tail …

  8. popeye 8

    Funny thing is Dan, the Minister is selling these standards on the premise that parents want clear information. Fisiani, you hanker for the Plunket book…and the Ministry has produced examples of Plunket style graphs indicating well below, below, at or above standard as examples of how schools should report. Fisiani you must be thrilled. Except she made at clear on Morning Report on Friday that schools don’t have to use those terms: don’t need to tell parents whether their child is WB, B, A or Above standard. Strange eh!! I thought Tolley said that was what it was all about. Must mean that there are other reasons for these standards….hummm…competitive marketplace for schooling based on searingly accurate standards like this one:

    “By the end of Year 4 students will read, respond to and think critically about texts in order to meet the reading demands of the NZ Reading Curriculum. Students will locate and evaluate information and ideas within texts appropriate to their level, as they generate and answer questions to meet specific learning purposes .’

    Lets be really clear. If you want to bash teachers with the big stick and have schools arm wrestling over data then you’ll need something that is truthful. Dan, I’ll find a few more examples of these loose standards. I hope then a few more of the teacher bashers will come to realise opposition to standards is not because they fear acoountability but because they are educational clap-trap. No decent teacher could support them.

  9. popeye 9

    Ok Dan…look at this…writing standard for Year 8:

    By the end of year 8, students will create texts in order to meet the writing demands of the New Zealand Curriculum at level 4. Students will use their writing to think about, record, and communicate experiences, ideas, and information to meet specific learning purposes across the curriculum.

    What sort of texts should be created?
    What depth of thinking is appropriate?
    What criteria applies to “communicate experiences?”
    What does “ideas’ mean. How do you distinguish between good and bad ideas?
    What is a learning purpose?

    I challenge anybody to tell me that a teacher in Invercargill is going to interpret this drivel the same as a teacher in Auckland. If you agree that this standard is loose then you don’t have a National Standard….you have rubbish that will be used to bash schools, bastardise learning and convince those that struggle to think beyond the false economy of a tick in a standards box on a school report of a position on a league table. People naively think of Tolley’s standards as being like a high jump bar. You can clearly see it and make the effort to jump over it. But they aren’t like that at all. Teachers have no clear pictures of the standard to be achieved. That is the basis of their concern. Teachers are right to call these standards a ‘dog’.

  10. ianmac 10

    I sent a letter to our paper inviting Anne Tolley to help the children who have been underachieving for about a hundred years. The schools always know who they are but would Anne Tolley be good enough to divert the 30million dollars being wasted on National Standards and spend it on all those kids who have Special Needs, like having smaller classes, special teachers, equipment and so on. It would also help if the kids who live in poverty got a fair go before they get to school. Those are some of the answers.

  11. I was in Banking for about 15 years. In various roles, including management at a low level. The accountability in Teaching is different but if anything more than in the private sector. It is accountability that is hard to measure or understand by non educators. Pressure comes from Principals, Syndicate leaders, Boards, and parents. But most importantly for the very high majority of teachers it comes from within because every day you are confronted with the welfare and responsibility for learning of each and every child in your class. This responsibility weighs heavily on teachers and given that each child in your class becomes like your own – it is very rare to find a teacher who does not do their very best every day. Indeed in my 8 years in teaching I have seen only one teacher who would not live up to everyones expectations and that teacher was being actively worked with to improve and ultimately was moved on from the school with advice made to the Teachers Council.

    When it comes to National Standards I have yet to find anyone who is afraid of any accountability that they may bring – indeed most teachers say that they are nothing that they are not already doing better now. What they are concerned about is the quality of the policy, its possible affects, and that they have not been involved adequately in their development. As professionals, who have a responsibility for the children in their care and for teaching in general they are speaking out to ensure that our countries well admired education system is protected – we should actually be grateful that they care enough to do so.

  12. Macro 12

    “It may actually come down to the simple fact that Ms Tolley does not properly understand education or children learning. If this is so, there seems to be at least three outcomes at least. One is that the Standards get pushed through and whatever outcomes may come, will come. ”
    The sad fact is, she has NO conception of what constitutes education whatsoever. Every change she has made as Minister has been to the detriment of education.
    There can be only one outcome – your first. The others are just wishful thinking.
    For the sake of NZ’s Education system National have to go.

  13. ianmac 13

    How sad it is that all the people who really know about education have been forced to write about the negative effects of this policy. A tragedy for the kids and for the schools. Well said all.

    • popeye 13.1

      Couldn’t agree more. Fabregas4 is on the money. Teachers are incredibly hardworking and sincere in their effort to do their best. Tolley’s negative agenda to get her policy over the line has caused untold collateral damage.

  14. MrSmith 14

    There has to be an angle to all this, it was born to fail and the government new it, why else would you call it “National standards”. Talk about a losing name and when you new most teachers are labour or green supporters I assume. Just another diversion in my opinion, while they load the truck out back with the gold.

    • Bored 14.1

      No, they load the truck with our gold anyway, thats par for the course. They also like to add insult to injury, its called National standard treatment of you and me.

  15. Kelvin Davis 15

    “How many people voted for the Government as a result of the Standards is, at this point, unknown.”

    No one at all voted for National Standards at the last election. The Standards were not developed until after the election. They could not vote for something in 2008 that did not exist until 2009.

  16. tsmithfield 16

    I agree with bb. Principals are public servants. There job is to implement the government policy of the day whether they like it or not. If they dislike the policy so much that they are unable to do this they should resign, as would be the case in any other government department. If they refuse to do this they are simply principals without principles.

    • NickS 16.1

      By Cthulhu, can’t you even read? It’s been stated multiple times that principals and teachers are employed not directly by the state, but by the board of trustees, meaning they’re not public servants. And in fact their main job is to teach, and for which changing methodologies for it and getting teachers etc to accept and implement these changes involves giving them research reports and enough info to do the job. Not blindly implement wide sweeping changes, especially while the Minister for Education can’t answer key questions about the national standards and censors government research into them. On top of education researchers in the teaching colleges and universities clearly stating the flawed nature of the standard as Tolley has tried to implement them.

      And all of which has already been explained in greater detail in the above replies.

      You idiot.

    • kaplan 16.2

      “There [sic] job is to implement the government policy of the day whether they like it or not”
      Their job is to ensure teachers and students at their school receive the best possible support and education.

      “as would be the case in any other government department”
      The day schools become part of a government department is the day humanity has lost.

      Go back to school TS. Until you can comprehend the facts, as the exist in reality, there is little point in you debating on a subject you can’t or won’t understand.

    • Pascal's bookie 16.3

      Authoritarian upset that People are not Doing As They Are Told: Update at eleven. yawn.

      ts, it’s a high stakes gambit, but if the Principals really think this policy sux, they have a natural right to civil (breath deeply now) disobedience . That disobedience is not without risk. It never is. But if their Boards of Trustees support them and don’t want to sack them, the government can disband the boards. That is the challenge being thrown down. They are testing the government’s belief in it’s alleged mandate for this policy.

      It’s a perfectly principled position to take. They don’t have to resign, they just have to accept that the govt has the legal power to ultimately force their policy on to schools. If the government isn’t prepared to do that because of the political costs involved in sacking boards elected by parents, then yay, democracy.

      • tsmithfield 16.3.1

        Pascal, the threat by principals not to implement the National Standards would be fair if they did have the backing of their boards of trustees. And, as you point out, the board of trustees are ultimately responsible to the government. So, indirectly I am correct. Would you agree that if principals don’t want to implement the National Standards despite the fact that their boards do want them to implement those standards, then the principals should resign if they can’t meet the requirements of their boards?

        BTW, the evidence to date is that there is hardly a revolt by boards of trustees against National Standards. So, the foot stomping by school principals in Queenstown likely did not have the support of the school boards.

        • BLiP

          So, indirectly I am correct.


          • tsmithfield

            So, BLiP, given that only a handful of schools are refusing to adopt the standards, most of Principals should be implementing them given that it appears that the majority of boards want this to happen. Otherwise, if there are Principals that refuse to implement the standards, despite the wishes of their boards, they should resign so that the board can appoint someone who will get the job done. You agree?

        • Dan

          There is a major problem that head office STA is a government clone which does not represent the views of the average board of trustees. Canterbury and Wellington regions are so concerned they have set up separate trustee organisations.
          Public servants have a responsibility to serve the public, not follow some dictate from a Minister quite out of her depth.

        • Pascal's bookie

          the threat by principals not to implement the National Standards would be fair if they did have the backing of their boards of trustees.

          A 180 degree reversal from your I-love-Big-Brother routine I was responding to then. Care to front up about whether you believe what are you saying now, or what you said then, or whether it’s all just using our kids education as a political football?

          Would you agree that if principals don’t want to implement the National Standards despite the fact that their boards do want them to implement those standards, then the principals should resign if they can’t meet the requirements of their boards?

          They could resign, or they could just refuse to implement them and see if the board is prepared to take the political risk and sack them.

          You don’t really get this ‘civil disobedience’ thing do you? It’s political action, designed to test mandates. If you really don’t like something, don’t do it. Don’t co-operate. Take that risk and see if your opponent is prepared to up the stakes. If they are not, you win. If they are, it becomes a political issue, you still might win in the long run, or you might lose.

          So, the foot stomping by school principals in Queenstown likely did not have the support of the school boards.

          You have no idea if that’s true or not. I think it far more likely that the boards would support their principals over the minister, given they have the power to get rid of the principals if they don’t like them and have not done so. Tactically, having the principals take the lead seems the much stronger bet. The boards can play the role of piggy in the middle, but standing by their respected and trusted in the community employees.

          And I’d say that the BoT’s are ultimately responsible to those that vote them in. The govt has the power to disband them though.

          • tsmithfield

            <A 180 degree reversal from your I-love-Big-Brother routine I was responding to then

            Not a reversal, just modifying my position after considering what you said. However, principals are still ultimately accountable to the government because the government can sack a non-compliant board and appoint a compliant one that will fulfill their wishes. So, the point I made in the first instance is valid so long as the board is a voice for the government.

            <You don’t really get this ‘civil disobedience’ thing do you? It’s political action, designed to test mandates.

            I guess its civil disobedience to the extent that anyone could refuse to follow their employers instructions (no matter how fair and valid) so long as they are prepared to accept the consequences (i.e. sacking).

            <You have no idea if that’s true or not.

            Well according to that article I linked to only eight schools in the whole of NZ were refusing to implement National Standards. So, I think the government needs to sack a few boards or threaten to cut funding to non-complying schools if they are serious.

            Note: I am not arguing for the merit or otherwise of National Standards. It is the principal that a government (left or right) should be able to set a national policy for education and expect that it will be implemented. In my opinion, this sort of thing, when its at a national level similar to NCEA, is something that a board should have no option in.

            • Pascal's bookie

              Like I said:

              Authoritarian upset that People are not Doing As They Are Told.

              • tsmithfield

                Shit Pascal, its not as if the principals were being asked to do something unreasonable like telling lies about NZ history to indoctrinate students. Then I would agree they should engage in civil disobedience.

                However, I don’t think it would be unusual to expect principals to implement assessment systems. So, the instruction from the government is perfectly reasonable. I don’t see it as any different than me instructing one of my employees to go and service a machine for one of my clients. Sure, my employee could refuse my instructions. But I don’t see it as particularly authoritarian to fire his arse as a consequence.

                • Lew

                  The problem the sector has is not with “assessment systems”. It’s with this assessment system, implemented in this way, under these circumstances, with this little sector engagement and involvement. Their contention is that it can’t work. They’re not alone: the leading experts on such matters agree. Their goal is not to prevent the implementation of a national assessment standard system: it’s to reform this one so it works.

                  Any time the minister wants to step back from her “my way or the highway” position, I’m sure she’ll receive enthusiastic cooperation.

                  And as for firing them: any response to this?


                • ianmac

                  Oh really. TS. If the tea lady instructed the lathe operator how exactly he was to turn a fitting that would be OK?
                  Or if the Company Accountant went to the surgery and instructed the doctor how examine the patient, gather data on a patient, interpret the data and publish that data so that the Accountant could measure the quality of the doctor?
                  Cut it out! You can’t be serious!
                  If on the other hand you asked a teacher to use his experience in tracking the progress of the children in his care, and let the child and parents know how it was going, we would all agree on that as a course of action. OK TS?

                  • tsmithfield

                    First Lew,

                    I have no particular opinion on National Standards myself. However, rights withhold co-operation etc just don’t go one way. I doubt prinicpals/boards will be sacked. However, the government can in turn refuse to co-operate. Perhaps by refusing to consider applications for funding increases from non-complying schools for example.

                    Now, Ianmac,

                    In the examples you gave those individuals would never be in a position of authority to give those instructions in the first place. In the case of the government, it has to be assumed that they have taken their own advice from experts in developing the system. Just because some people have a different opinion on that doesn’t mean the system shouldn’t be implemented.

                • Pascal's bookie

                  You’re all over the place.

                  The educators seem to think that this policy is not well thought out, needs a lot more work and is generally shit. What if you instructed a technician to do something in such a way that they felt it would harm one of your clients, or cost them a lot of money for no real benefit? That would be a more apt comparison, (although, as noted exhaustively, the principals are not the employees of the Ministry. The Boards are not ’employees’ of the Ministry either, certainly not in the way your analogy would have it)

                  You said that you didn’t have an opinion about NS, and that your concern was about the principle that educators should simply implement govt policy whether they like it or not. That because there was a failure to comply, you were concerned enough to think people needed to be sacked, without respect to what the disobedience was about. This disobedience, in and of itself, necessitates sackings.

                  That’s an explicitly authoritarian thing. Sorry if that offends your self image, but there it is.

                  Now you say that it would be ok for them to not implement certain policies , but that this policy is legit, so apparently you do have an opinion about the merit of the NS.

                  I think you are just scrambling to defend a shambolic Minister, and/or attack teachers you perceive as lefties. But I only think that because your position shifts so wildly from comment to comment.

    • George.com 16.4

      Principals-Teachers are state sector workers. Whether they are ‘public servants’ depends on how you define the term. Certainly they can be classed as ‘servants of the public’ in as far as their job is about providing a core social service and they have a duty of care toward the public (which incidentally is one reason why they are vocing concerns with the NS).

      Twenty years ago the state DID have direct control over Principals-Teachers. They were employed through Education Boards which were structures of the central state. Education policy was determined by the Department of Education. Hence – the government-state had direct control of determining education policy through the Department and the operations of schools through the Boards.

      The Tomorrows schools reforms of the late 1980s/early 1990s dramatically changed these arrangements. A central Ministry determined policy. Individual school Boards, as seperate entities in their own rights, were given the responsibility of controlling the operations of schools. The state lost it’s direct reach into schools. It has set in place various mechanisms to ensure Principals-Teachers are within their realm of control however it operates at arms length and by remote control.

      It should also be noted that the Tomorrows Schools reforms became, essentially, a neo-liberal project. It did not go as far as some of the extreme right (the BRT, formative ACT, for example) wanted. It did however lose much of its community & local democratic flavour that was present in the original language and framing used by David Lange at the outset of the project.

      If people want to try and batter back the criticism of NS from Principals and Teachers, with the claim that they are public servants, such people should first comprehend the changes that have occurred in the labour process of Principals-Teachers. A neo-liberal policy prescription was followed that weakened direct state control over teachers-principals.

  17. coolas 17

    Anne Tolley’s father was a ‘spare the rod spoil the child’ teacher, yet she has no tertiary education herself

    Perhaps her fanaticism and combativeness towards education academics and teachers has some loopy roots in her background.

    If so, she’s dangerous, blind to the destruction she’s causing because this is all about her.

  18. Dan 18

    Remember the NACT’s other agenda which is to discredit the teacher associations. They totally misunderstand concepts such as “professional” and “goodwill”. They do not understand how schools work.
    It’s OK to be in a group called Business Round Table which furthers a particular view of the world, but anything like Principals Association, or Educational Institute, or Teachers Association, the NACTS go gaga. It seems to be a congenital malaise which limits the individual’s ability to have dialogue, to reason and specifically to lead any policy to do with education.
    Is it true that private schools are not required to follow National Standards? If not, why not? The plot thickens!

    • ianmac 18.1

      Yes. Private Schools are exempt. Therefore had John Key’s kids had been young enough they would still not have been subjected to National Standards nor Anne’s grandchildren.
      However because these National Standards are so “good” no doubt those Private Schools will be rushing to take on Nat Stds . Ha! Ha!

      • Dan 18.1.1

        Then why are they called National Standards? How is it that Fisiani and Big Bruv, who speak for the right, know that “all” parents want national standards but send their kids to private schools who don’t do them.

        Back to my main question: if they are National Standards, with the implications of league tables and all that crap, why are private schools exempt?
        Is it a case of getting the right label rather than the right education?
        Or should we call the Double Standards!

        • ianmac

          Dan: Because Private Schools, while accepting Taxpayers money, run their schools without State interference. That’s the deal. I have a personal belief that given the huge advantages from coming from privileged families, that the Children in Private Schools do not add value anywhere near what a decile 1 school does for kids coming in with poverty, and poor parenting, and non-attendance at preschool. In other words many privileged kids are complacent.

  19. ianmac 19

    Remember that the Principal is the Adviser to the BOT on matters of Operations while the BOT has a role of Governance. Until they have very good reason to doubt the Principal (CEO), they must not interfere with how the day to day teaching.
    STA (School Trustee Association) by the way does not have the confidence of most schools and few still belong because for a decade the comments from the STA Chair has been miles away from the beliefs and concerns of BOT.
    Recently the Chair reported that the majority of BOT were for National Standards based on her survey. But just 18 out of 2,000 schools had responded to her survey and I think 11, yes 11 out of 2,000 had said that they were supportive of Nat Stds. Trust her? Sure can!

    • Fabregas4 19.1

      I posted on this here http://www.thestandard.org.nz/lorraine-kerr-national-standards-schools-money/

      NZSTA no longer represents schools and certainly is anti principal. If you ever have the ‘privilege’ of attending a NZSTA conference as a principal it soon becomes very clear that they see themselves as tools of the government rather than Boards or schools. The irony is that part of their job is to ensure that BOT’s understand their governance role.

      • ianmac 19.1.1

        Thanks Fabregas4. My figures were nearly right. And I believe that the STA is wholely or partly funded by taxpayers money isn’t it? Was set up after 1989 to coordinate BOT concerns and training. Ha ha!

    • Dan 19.2

      If only 11 out of 2000 responded to a very important survey, how come head Office STA got $1mil in the budget? Add that to the $29mil propaganda exercise for the so called National Standards, just what is happening with this NACT government?

      • ianmac 19.2.1

        Good question Dan. In this time of austerity and cuts to Education $1 mil would be hard to justify.

        • loota

          Yes would be hard to justify, so the probable action is that they won’t even bother.

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