Shame on those who put politics above the well-being of children.
Pity those who wallow so intensively in the mud of politics that they are unable to see any issue in other than political terms.
Shame and pity on those, like National’s pet blogger DPF, who are prepared to advocate a system likely to damage children because all they can see is politics. They can’t see the evidence. They can’t see the children. Only the game.
DPF’s record on the national standards debate has been disgusting. In August he wrote:
This is hilarious. Do you know why? The NZPF [New Zealand Principals Federation] is refusing to actually detail their concerns about the standards. They keep saying they are flawed, but have declined every request to detail how exactly they are flawed. They say they will not detail the flaws, unless the Government agrees in advance to suspend the standards.
TWENTY FUNDAMENTAL FLAWS IN THE NATIONAL STANDARDS POLICY
W. B. Elley, May 2010
1. The National Standards policy assumes ‘One Size Fits All’. But our children vary enormously in backgrounds, interests, needs and abilities. They learn best if their teaching is pitched just above their present level. Each child should work to his/her own standard.
2. The Standards have been hastily prepared by committees, and untested for difficulty or intelligibility. They may well prove to be too hard, or too easy for the majority of children. … etc …
We didn’t hear any more of that particular line of nonsense out of DPF. But now he has another just as puerile, trying to portray the massive opposition to national standards as a Labour / union driven political campaign. For this he relies on documents produced by another blogger (a known forger of evidence) and speculation that a Board of Trustees chairwoman (Jane Forrest) must be the same person as someone with a similar name who was an activist 14 years ago. Yes — really.
Two things. First, you know the Nats have lost the debate when all they have left is shooting the messenger. From Tolley on down to the grubby little bloggers the Nats have nothing, no evidence, no reasoned argument, nothing except union-bashing hysteria. And second, let’s grant that it’s all true. Some of those active in the revolt against standards are unionists and even (teh horrorz!) members of the Labour Party. Now — so what? Are they are automatically wrong? Are they automatically barred from having an opinion? Teacher unionist: “We should rescue the children about to be run over by the bus!”. DPF: “It’s all a union political campaign!”.
Let’s remember where all this started. With warnings from the government’s own education advisor Professor John Hattie:
Prime Minister John Key has credited Hattie, a highly influential education expert who is often called in to advise officials on education matters, with inspiring the system. But today Hattie is going public with a critical discussion paper – which he says is a to-do list rather than an attack on the system. The paper warns that although the national standards system could be a “wonderful opportunity” it:
Could be the most disastrous education policy ever formulated.
Will only barely raise student achievement, if at all.
Could “pervert the nature of teaching” by pitting schools and teachers against one another.
Hattie also writes that the standards themselves – the targets students will be measured against – are “untested and experimental” and need to be drawn up based on evidence, not committees.
Is the government’s own educational advisor a credible source? Yes. Is the government’s own educational advisor running a union campaign? No. And it is his advice (and other experts emphasising the potential for national standards to harm children) that lead to the widespread schools’ rebellion. Are the schools refusing to participate in standards (early list here) all from Labour electorates? No. They are from the length and breadth of New Zealand. They aren’t running a union political campaign, they are standing up for children.
Summing up. The government’s own education advisor says that national standards could be the most disastrous education policy ever formulated. When the government refuses to test the standards and drives schools and the boards of trustees representing parents to eventually oppose them, National and their lapdogs do not engage with the evidence or the professional debate. Because they can’t. All they can do is threaten schools and look for ways to attack the messenger. It is an utterly shameful abdication of responsibility to the worst kind of “win at all costs” aggression. They are quite prepared to damage our children for the sake of the political game.