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Anne Tolley is a fool

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 am, September 29th, 2010 - 67 comments
Categories: education, national - Tags: ,

Anne Tolley, Minister for wrecking primary education, is a fool. Sorry, but it’s the only conclusion I can reach. She doesn’t seem to have the first or faintest idea of what “national standards” are actually going to mean in practice. To maintain this blissful state of ignorance she has had to ignore veritable mountains of expert and professional advice. It is literally unbelievable. Here’s the final straw:

Education Minister Anne Tolley yesterday told teachers she would be “appalled” if they told parents their children were failing National Standards.

… [A teacher] started showing parents how their children were faring against the National Standards in reading. “They asked, ‘Is my child a failure?’ I said, ‘According to National Standards, yes, but according to me they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing’.” … Mrs Tolley replied: “… I’m appalled that any teacher would say to any parent that their child is a failure.”

What the (pardon me) hell does Tolley think national standards are for? You achieve them or you don’t, if you don’t achieve them you’ve failed to achieve them. If you don’t achieve them you’re a failure. That’s one of the major flaws with national standards, and that’s exactly what experts and professionals have been telling Tolley for months!

Experts:

We are very concerned that the intended National Standards system wrongly assumes that children are failing if they do not meet the standard for their age. This will lead to the repeated labelling of many young children as failures and will be self-fulfilling because it will damage children’s self-esteem and turn them off learning and achieving in literacy and numeracy and other curricula areas.

The PPTA:

The policy is driven by ideology. Research evidence shows that National Standards will not lead to improved outcomes for students. They will simply label individual students as failures, and may lead to league tables that wrongly label schools as failures. Many countries that have gone down this route in the past are now turning away from it. Refusing to recognise the weight of local and international evidence against such policies is most unwise.

The New Zealand Principals Federation:

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.

The New Zealand Educational Institute in the media:

The first round of reporting against the standards has begun labelling children as failures, with parents and teachers now conceding that for many students, this process, as predicted, is damaging their motivation to learn.

And so on and so on, a universal chorus of resistance to Anne Tolley’s stupid national standards. Standards that label children as failures. That’s what they’re designed to do. That’s what everyone has been complaining about. And now Anne Tolley is “appallled” – she is “appalled that any teacher would say to any parent that their child is a failure”. Unbelievable. Key needs to show some actual leadership and bundle this blithering idiot on to the back benches, out of harms way. Because it is our children that she is harming.

67 comments on “Anne Tolley is a fool ”

  1. lprent 1

    Agreed. The more I see of her, the better she makes Merv Wellington look – something I would have never believed to be possible. She appears to lack any political abilities and to have no understanding of her portfolio.

    As far as I can see her only ‘talent’ is an utter faith in the rightness of her remaining pig ignorant.

    She is a fool

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    And now Anne Tolley is “appallled” – she is “appalled that any teacher would say to any parent that their child is a failure”.

    It wasn’t the teacher that said that though – it was Anne Tolley and her (Nacts) National Standards. This should be driven home in the MSM by the teachers, principals and academics.

    • Ari 2.1

      Isn’t it depressing that the Minister for Education doesn’t have critical reading skills? ><

      • NickS 2.1.1

        What else do you expect from Ministers “placed” by a PR firm?

        Sure, it’s nice to see National having multiple female Ministers for a change, but unfortunately unlike Labour they don’t seem to have been appointed on the basis of ability, but rather on the basis of “voter appeal”.

        • KINTO 2.1.1.1

          It was always a good laugh to see DPF’s regular pre election write ups\spin\defence of nationals lack of women and brown people, saying that labour may have more but national selects based upon ability or what ever. Now we get Bennet, Tolley and Collins, token morons.

  3. Tolley would be appalled at the notion that half of all students were below average. Sounds terrible to a simpleton, especially if they do not know the meaning of the word “average”. And try as they might no matter how much effort is put into raising standards half will still be below average.

    Is this simpleton really in charge of our kids’ education system?

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Half of all students are below the median?

    • prism 3.2

      ms – I always like Garrison Keeler’s tribute to the fictional local people from Google — Garrison Keillor Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average. Sounds good – Minnesota has a low of cows too doesn’t it? (Appropriate typo eh.)

  4. Iang 4

    Anne Folley is a tool

  5. Julie 5

    It’s because Tolley’s intention with the Standards is not to label children as failures but to label teachers as failures. Key component in the battle to demean teaching and thus keep down teacher pay and conditions, justify privatization of parts of the education system (cue private sector can do it better rhetoric) and bring in performance pay for teachers, ostensibly to reward the non-failures but actually to divide a pretty unified profession. Children are just irrelevancies to Tolley et al.

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      I think this is spot on. National Standards isn’t about children, it’s about teachers. The problem is she has to pretend that it is about children, which is why we’re getting this schizophrenic response from her that doesn’t make sense.

      Having said that, I think a more capable liar could sell it much better than she has.

    • Irascible 5.2

      Merit Pay is another failed policy imported from the USA.
      http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2010-09-21-merit-pay_N.htm

      Even when empirical evidence demonstrates that it doesn’t work the ideologs within the establishment still continue to believe in it because they regard education along the lines of an assembly line.

  6. popeye 6

    The most frustrating thing is that Tolley does not seem to have the capacity to grasp the issues. This makes her the perfect foil for the Nacts education agenda. It doesn’t make one jot of difference what argument is put up against National’s standards, Tolley blindly sticks to her rehearsed lines…parents want them, 1 in 5 etc. Sadly should the Key/English show be elected next year we will see the real intent of this bullshit policy as shonky data drives public opprobrium of perceived failure…a whole false economy designed to prompt the success of National’s management of education and justify the a private schooling/anti union agenda. Wake the feck up NZ.

    • illuminatedtiger 6.1

      She certainly doesn’t come across as the smartest individual.

      • Craig Glen Eden 6.1.1

        Smart? she is a straight out idiot.The only good thing I think that will come out of this is that hopefully teachers will finally wake up and wont vote National at the next election. Because if they watch what has happened in the rest of the state sector it is more than likely jobs will be lost in the public sector schools if National are re elected.

        • factchecker 6.1.1.1

          Spend appears to be going up not down ?

          http://www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/2009/estimates/est09educ.pdf

          • The Voice of Reason 6.1.1.1.1

            Whats your point? I don’t see a link between the spend and the comment you are replying to nor the post itself.

            • factchecker 6.1.1.1.1.1

              “Because if they watch what has happened in the rest of the state sector it is more than likely jobs will be lost in the public sector schools if National are re elected.”

              Vote health and education spends are overall going up rather than down unlike most other areas of expenditure.

              Education and Law and Order are two of the areas in NZ I’d like to see depoliticised so we the people could have a sensible discussion about what we want over the next fifty years – unfortunately between the politicians, unions and lobby groups I don’t believe it will ever happen

              • The Voice of Reason

                Ok, see where you’re coming from. However, I suspect Craig GE isn’t suggesting jobs will be lost for budgetary reasons, but for idealogical ones.

                • Craig Glen Eden

                  The spend in the public sector has gone down with reductions in money available for professional development of teachers and special needs units.However the private sector got a 60 million increase. Funny how National didn’t campaign on this before the election. But yes Voice of Reason I think its all idealogically driven. The Public sector will become less desirable to work in if its not financed properly so the driver is ideals the mechanism will be funding.

              • ianmac

                I cannot remember at any time when a politician has demanded a shift in the day to day operation of Primary School classrooms as this Government has. BOTs have no place in the classrooms as they are a Governance body. So above them, how come a Minister can do what the BOT cannot?

                I read Tolleys remark in the Herald and am staggered that she would say that in that she has said countless times that parents want clear plain reporting.
                Therefore: “Your child has failed to meet the National Standards.”

          • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.1.2

            http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10667623

            One hundred jobs are to be cut at the Ministry of Education before next June, the public sector union says.

            Ministry staff were told today about the job cuts, on top of about 300 vacancies not being filled, and were assured that the changes would not add to already heavy workloads, Public Service Association national secretary Brenda Pilott said.

            Pretty sure that, in reality, funding is going down courtesy of a government only concerned about giving tax cuts to themselves and their rich mates.

          • Vicky32 6.1.1.1.3

            English teacher here… Spend is not a noun (except in grocery advertising!) 😀
            Deb

            • RobertM 6.1.1.1.3.1

              Daring to venture where angels fear to trend I will reply to this. Actually grammar is pretty much trade and and an artisans trade skill. My father and grandfather were both Oxford University educated, ( actually my grandfather got a first with Aldous Huxley and Harold MacMillen at Balliol in l913-14) and my mother was an MA and probably one of the best reading teachers in the nation. My lack of grammar is partly lifelong poor eyesight, I do not see or read comma’s and also that I was taught to read by rather radical methods which were very look and say and very little phonic. Possibly because the aim was to produce a very high comprehension ability. The flash cards were worked relentlessly in front of me by mother just as with Kennedy and Bush children. My mother as a professional reading teacher used any method to get good readers. She would’nt have hesitated to use say NASCAR subject matter if that had been current and certainly used a wide amount of material on Indianapolis and Grand Prix on her poorer decile and reading candidates. On several ocassions she told me she wouldn’t have hesitated to use Penthouse, if she thought that would have helped them read and she could get away with it. She admitted to me also that the methods she used to fully develop reading ability in me and several others, were criminal, but she had her reasons.

              But both National and the teachers are wrong. National for political and ideological reasons pretends it is possible to raise student capabilities far more than is possible. The introduced national standards will always be beyond 30-40% of the pupils if they were consistently assessed particularly in the intermediate years. The teachers also overstate what can be achieved. In modern world for the average secondard students it is probably the quality of their body that will determine there health and attractiveness to employees.

              • Vicky32

                In which case, RobertM, you ought to know that “comma’s” is wrong – plurals don’t take an apostrophe…
                I have extremely poor eyesight myself – I am an English teacher, and on the VARK scale am 80% auditory, but I can still recognise errors when I se and hear them.
                I taught my son to read in the 1990s, but I didn’t use American car racing!

  7. ianmac 7

    Rob: Great post by the way. Well said.

  8. tc 8

    “Key needs to show some actual leadership …” that’s f’n hilarious rob, good one.

    The only way sideshow will do anything if is his spin doctors spot some PR points to be gained from removing her…..otherwise the knuckle dragging wrecking ball routine will continue unabated.

    • ianmac 8.1

      She must remain as a smokescreen for other things. Note the lack of outrage over the Canterbury Emengency Powers Act.

      • Vicky32 8.1.1

        Although I noticed today that Kathryn Ryan seems to have finally become aware of it, today! (Unless I missed her saying something before, which is possible.)
        Deb

  9. E. Campbell 9

    Tolley’s clearly one of the worst performing Education Ministers the country’s had for nearly 30 years.

  10. randal 10

    the thing is most tories dont read because its too hard and they can only count when there is a profit otherwise they start whingeing about compliance costs.
    they wouldn know a standard if they tripped over one.

  11. tsmithfield 11

    If she is a fool, then what does that say about the teachers’ union considering they are being caned in the court of public opinion by a fool?

    • The Voice of Reason 11.1

      The Kiwiblog comments section is not the court of public opinion, TS. The teachers seem to have solid public support in all the reports I read of the reaction to the strike.

      • tsmithfield 11.1.1

        Did you actually look at that link? Nothing to do with Kiwiblog. Its a Yahoo online poll. Less than 1/3rd of approx 8000 respondents are supporting the teachers.

        • Pascal's bookie 11.1.1.1

          What’s that 8000 a sample of? Is it random? Weighted? Got MoE figures? Of any use at all?

        • NickS 11.1.1.2

          I take it you have absolutely no understanding of how utterly easy it is to mess with online polls, let alone the fact that because they use convenience sampling that such results are utterly fucking statistical invalid?

          In short, using an online (or a ring in poll) to support a point other than the uselessness of convenience sampling is fractally stupid.

    • George.com 11.2

      National Standards = an “assessment” package (using a very liberal interpretation of assessment) to record childrens progress.

      Teachers pay disupte = how much teachers get paid.

      Two seperate matters. The level (actual or perceived according to one poll of unknown validity) of public support for teachers getting a pay increase is nothing to do with a system of “assessing”childrens development and reporting this to parents in plain english.

      As has already been stated, ‘your child has failed to meet John Keys National Standards for their age cohort’ seems fairly plain english to me.’ That’s what National campaigned on in 2008, the policy which Anne Tolley says parents elected them to implement.

      • Draco T Bastard 11.2.1

        And now that it’s implemented the teachers should be saying “John Key and National have judged your child a failure” to all those parents whose child failed the said implemented standards.

      • Armchair Critic 11.2.2

        I looked on the National party’s policy page to see what they had on National Standards. And IMO the policy page sums up the National party’s policies very well. Honestly, follow the link.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.3

      Wow, TS linking to an unscientific, self-selecting, online poll, i.e. TS linking to delusion to support his delusion.

  12. toad 12

    TS, do you usually rely on unscientific on-line polls with poorly worded questions as a reliable information source?

    And in any case, that one is about teachers’ pay and conditions – not about National Standards which are the subject of this post.

    So you are about as far off the mark as it is possible to be.

    • tsmithfield 12.1

      Actually, Toad, the question looks perfectly clear and straightforward to me.

      Sure, its a convenience sample. However, it is out there in the public domain in a location where people from all political persuasions and views are likely to be looking. Thus, its main weakness is likely to be that mainly people with strong views either way are likely to bother responding. Might explain why “don’t know” is only 2%.

      So, I think it is at least safe to say that those with strong views are mainly against the teachers position.

      • Pascal's bookie 12.1.1

        It sure looks like your longwinded complaints about a graph in the Spirit level stemmed from a heartfelt love of statistical honesty.

        (Kidding, you look like a hack t)

        • tsmithfield 12.1.1.1

          Touche. 🙂

          I certainly wouldn’t base a thesis on that poll.

          However, it is a lot better than the TV polls where people have to pay to vote. It should be reasonably representative of the general population as it is a public site where a wide range of people are likely to visit, rather than a poll on a website likely to attract a certain group. And the effort involved in participating is very low (a couple of mouse clicks). So, there aren’t too many barriers to put people off from participating.

          Given what it is, and the strength of the result, it is probably not too bad as an indicator of public sentiment in my opinion.

          • NickS 12.1.1.1.1

            /facepalm

            You really don’t sampling design do you? Because it’s pretty obvious that any online poll can be manipulated and due to social networks can be easily swung by whichever group(s) have the bigger audience to wang the poll. Not to mention either, that the poll is only going to be seen by those who use Yahoo, but also have to be bothered, which means it is pretty easy to realise that it’s in no way shape or form going to be representative of the population.

            This is very basic stats101 ts, and a very clear no-no when trying to support an argument. Why is so difficult for you to accept this and stop using ad-hoc arguments to try and support something so stupid?

            • tsmithfield 12.1.1.1.1.1

              “You really don’t sampling design do you?”

              Actually I do. The aim is to get a sample that accurately represents the population that is being sampled. As I said, I wouldn’t base a thesis on this poll. But, given the nature of the poll, the fundamentals of it probably aren’t too bad, compared to similar polls of this type (e.g. TV polls where people have to pay to participate).

              “Because it’s pretty obvious that any online poll can be manipulated and due to social networks can be easily swung by whichever group(s) have the bigger audience to wang the poll.”

              If this is happening, and thats a big “if” then its likely to “wang” the poll in favour of groups with a high percentage of left wing voters (students and the like) more likely to use social networks rather than right wing voters. Therefore, if left wing voters have been trying to “wang” the poll, and it is still showing a huge majority against the teachers, then the poll may well be understating the result.

              • lprent

                If this is happening, and thats a big “if”..

                As far as I can see that is the norm rather than the exception. In programming terms every poll that doesn’t rely on a previously known login/password is trivial to manipulate. I’ve helped do it a few times simply for the exercise in spoofing IP packets (making them appear to come from a range of IP addresses). But even a non-programmer with a modicum of scripting (ie a script-bunny) can program damn near anything into the results by forcing a device with dynamic IP to reset or using a range of proxy servers.

                Of course there is the good old traditional power switch technique as well – accessible to anyone with dynamically allocated IP’s.

                …a high percentage of left wing voters (students and the like) more likely to use social networks rather than right wing voters.

                An unsubstantiated assertion that is probably incorrect.

                Anyway, it isn’t the number of people that online polls have to guard against. It is a very few people with some pretty basic knowledge, obsessional traits, and heaps of spare time. In other words someone like Whale.

                I can’t believe that you’re such an fool as to put ANY credence in on-line polls. Mind you, you could just be emulating Tolley, who also prefers to believe whatever is most convenient and ignores any alternate explanations.

                • tsmithfield

                  OK, I guess I should concede that the poll might not be that good.

                  “An unsubstantiated assertion that is probably incorrect.”

                  You realise you have just made an unsubstantiated assertion about my unsubstantiated assertion. 🙂

  13. Fabregas4 13

    Back to whether Tolley is a fool or not.
    *She wants parents to know how their children are progressing against National’s Standards BUT NOT to tell them that they are not meeting them.
    *She limits National’s Standards to Reading, Writing and Maths AND THEN bemoans the fact that schools are only completing National’s Standards reporting in Reading, Writing and Maths.
    * She slams teachers for not performing well AND THEN then makes cuts to ECE funding that mean that only 80% of teachers are qualified.
    * She states that 1 in 5 children are failing and then says that we need National’s Standards to identify failing children (think about it).
    *(this one for fun) She attends the NZSTA conference and believes that everyone attending supports her because they give a round of applause to the NZSTA President.

    I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

  14. Shaun 14

    So no kids in our school system are currently told that they are not achieving at their age level? Yeah right.

    • Fabregas4 14.1

      Yes, kids are told this, so are parents. But this is exactly the point. They are told in a sensitive, caring, plan for how to fix it way. It is done along with a focus and discussion on the child’s strengths too. Not on a piece of paper that pretends to be parent friendly when all the while is teacher bashing and blaming.

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