Flip-flop still leaves hole in education budget

Written By: - Date published: 6:28 am, June 8th, 2012 - 65 comments
Categories: budget2012, education - Tags:

National’s flip-flop on class sizes shows not only what a poorly-thought through policy it was but that this government still values its skin above doing what it thinks it right. Faced with a popular revolt and the possibility of marches to eclipse even the anti-mining demonstration, and with its polling slip-sliding away, National had no choice.

But hang about – how come the Nats dropped the extra money for ‘improving teacher quality’ at the time same? If that was a top priority worth cutting a thousand teachers for, isn’t there something else in the budget that could go instead?

Parata’s tone almost seems churlish in the press release as she says that “The Government will no longer be able to make that investment at this time” – ‘if you won’t accept larger classes, you can’t have improved teacher quality, so there’. Of course, there’s no such dichotomy. If the Government thinks that teacher quality needs improving, it should find the money from elsewhere…. Unless (say it quietly) this was really always about weakening the teachers’ union by creating an oversupply of teachers,

And what about the remaining $114m shortfall in Vote Education? Parata says “The remainder of the savings will be achieved through a combination of a pre-commitment against Budget 2013, and other savings we will work to find within Vote Education.”

You see, the Nats have got rid of the savings they were going to make from increasing class sizes. Basic maths means tells you that if you remove a negative function from an equation, the total needs to increase. But the Nats are clear they won’t increase Vote Education, the pot of money available for education, by a single dollar.

That’ll just mean cuts somewhere else. In education, that can only mean a few things: fewer teachers, fewer resources, or less professional development. There’s no free lunch and, despite the back-down on class sizes, the Nats still aren’t paying up.

Meanwhile, the $2 billion tax cuts for the rich, the $1 billion greenhouse polluter subsidies, the $12 billion motorways to nowhere, and the $400 million water subsidies for farmers remain untouched.

PS. Now, Hekia Parata is claiming that what reports she receives on education is a matter for the ministry. Um, what? Since when was what reports the minister reads the responsibility of anyone but the minister? The fact that government patsy oral questions regularly go “What reports has the minister seen on X?” shows that it’s a matter of ministerial responsibility. Looks like Parata fails again.

65 comments on “Flip-flop still leaves hole in education budget”

  1. CnrJoe 1

    but isn’t this the classic – give them the worst possible scenario and then back down and then deliver what you wanted all along?

    • tracey 1.1

      agree. and isnt it nice that ghe pm always appointsxwomen as the sacrificial lambs?

  2. Kevin Welsh 2

    I expect the $114 million shortfall to be magiced up by hitting the poor, the working poor and beneficiaries once again. Never underestimate this bunch of sociopaths ability to exact petty revenge.

    • Dr Terry 2.1

      Kevin, I think you are right. As for savings within the education sector, at the moment I can only think of school closures, but I am sure the Nat’s will manage to dream up something.

  3. Dv 3

    This constant refrain about poor teacher quaility and the 20% failing.

    On cambell last night the tail was said to 14% and dropping.
    We are 4th in the oecd on a variety of scores.
    And one of the top for value for money ie results for cost of teachers.

    Oh and one the first things they did to improve teacher competence was to remove advisors.
    and introduce charter schools. 0.2 effect on hattie research (about the same as class sizes)

    • Dr Terry 3.1

      As I have been saying all along, there is basically nothing wrong with the quality of our teachers, they are simply targets for Tories.

    • Jackal 3.2

      What somebody says on Campbell Live is hardly empirical evidence that the tail is now 14%. Although the research showing 20% of school-leavers are functionally illiterate is old (1996), there is no other large scale research to show an improvement.

      People working in the sector might have reported that learning outcomes have improved, however other areas might have experienced the opposite… They’re less likely to report on such things. Keep in mind that inequality has increased in New Zealand the fastest of any OECD country in recent years, and poverty has a direct impact on a child’s ability to learn. Up to date research into this needs to be undertaken.

      Teacher quality is good in New Zealand, but like all other factors that go into ensuring a child has a proper education, there is room for improvement. Unfortunately the Nats ideas on how to improve outcomes will not work.

      I couldn’t find anything relating to your charter schools and 0.2 effect on hattie research (about the same as class sizes) comment Dv?

      What John Hattie’s research has found (PDF) is that teachers account for 30% of the variance in achievement, Students ability accounts for about 50%, Peer effects accounts for about 5-10%, Schools 5-10% and a students home (parents expectation and encouragement) accounts for about 5-10%.

      • Dv 3.2.1

        Jackal
        Here is the presentation to treasury which refers to the charter school effect.
        http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/media-speeches/guestlectures/pdfs/tgls-hattie.pdf

        What is interesting in that presentation is that the quotes class size reduction is on one of the first slides

        The variation effects make interesting reading.
        One that struck me was the effect of preterm birth weight of .54.

        The comment on Campbell was by a educator and was from recent data.
        It doesn’t make it right, but I was railing against the simple meme of 1 in 5 failing and the fact that the data was old and has been repeated as if it was correct.

        As you point out education better for all students is not the simple cause effect that some would have us believe.
        To achieve improvement requires a sensible careful discussion with the educational sector and not based around spin, dogma and poor interpretation of data.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.2.2

        Unfortunately the Nats ideas on how to improve outcomes will not work.

        That’s assuming that they’re actually supposed to. Considering that they’re forcing state schools into these actions, that state schools should follow best practice and that they believe private schools are best then we can probably assume that they’re not supposed to.

      • lprent 3.2.3

        What somebody says on Campbell Live is hardly empirical evidence that the tail is now 14%. Although the research showing 20% of school-leavers are functionally illiterate is old (1996), there is no other large scale research to show an improvement.

        I saw that. What he said (from memory) that the number came from a study done by the OECD in 2005 and was 20% then. That there had been a later study by the same people in ?2009? and then it was 14%. There was the same study happening this year and that he wouldn’t be surprised if it got down as low as 5%.

        Definitely wasn’t from a 1996 study. I’d be interested if someone has time to look up the links.

        • Dv 3.2.3.1

          Your recollection is the same as mine lpent
          It seems that there needs to be an effort to acertain the stars.
          There was dicussion on this topic on this site when nat standards were being forced in .

        • Jackal 3.2.3.2

          The last major international study I’m aware of was conducted in 1996. It found 20% of school-leavers in New Zealand were functionally illiterate.

          Just watched the program: http://www.3news.co.nz/Behind-Hekia-Paratas-about-face-on-class-sizes/tabid/367/articleID/257023/Default.aspx

          Brian Hinchco said an ACD report (maybe he meant OECD?) in 2005 said that 20% of children were failing our system. By 2009 he said it was 14%. I cannot find anything online to corroborate his claims.

          The closest is the 2008 Moser report on basic skills, which found that 18.4% of adult New Zealanders were unable to work out the correct amount of medicine to give a child from the label on the packet (functionally illiterate). Hinchco was very unconvincing when he said it could now possibly be 5%.

          • Kotahi Tane Huna 3.2.3.2.1

            Jackal, the study showed that of New Zealanders aged between 16 and 65, 20% were illiterate. Can you see how using 65 year-olds as an example of “school leavers” might not be scientifically rigorous?

            Nowadays 85% pass NCEA level 2 – that is probably a fairer measurement.

            • Jackal 3.2.3.2.1.1

              Some OECD studies I found and the Moser report looked at ages 16 to 65. I’m not sure about the 1996 study to tell the truth, but was under the impression it looked at school leavers.

              I think it’s likely there has been a slight improvement, somewhat due to foreign students who come to New Zealand specifically to study, increased access to information and improvements in teaching techniques.

              I’m not having a go at teachers btw. Be it 15% or 20%, I simply think there is room for improvement. I also agree with Shearer that improvements in teacher quality is the one of the most important things in regard to educational outcomes… being that teachers account for 30% of the variance in student achievement.

              My solution would be to reduce class sizes and increase wages to attract the best teachers to stay in New Zealand. I would can a highway or two of little significance to pay for it.

        • ianmac 3.2.3.3

          I saw that as well. However if the 2012 study does show a significant drop in the numbers of “failing” students, then Key/Parata will trumpet that they have caused a big improvement already. Like Minister Collins did in claiming the fall in crime was by her efforts. Yeah Right!

  4. Carol 4

    Unbelievably skewed poll on this on Stuff this morning:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/7063028/Class-size-backdown-political

    Is the backdown on education changes damaging to the Government?

    Yes – They should stand by their decisions

    No – They’re listening to the people

    Nothing I could vote for there!

  5. fabregas4 5

    This was always about cost cutting and at least in part undermining the public education system. The big message I got from all this is that in the very large majority the public support schools and teachers and they know how difficult the work is and just how good a job teachers do each day.

    They do not see a crisis in teacher and/or school quality.

    Schools are open places – mums and dads and grandparents are welcome and encouraged to be part of them – they see and understand what is happening far better than the people who purportedly know what is good for them and their children.

    • Dr Terry 5.1

      Has Parata any experience as a school teacher? Very much doubt it! I have much experience in teaching and my wife had even more; add to that my mother was a life long teacher. None of us would take Parata’s (or Key’s) guessing at all seriously (don’t even mention Tolley!).

  6. Tom Gould 6

    How come the MSM are not running their usual ‘where’s the money coming from’ line? Or is that just reserved for Labour and Greens? In fact, one senior radio political journo was telling listeners this moring that the bigger classes and fewer teachers policy was “fundamentally right” it’s just that they hadn’t “sold it” well.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 6.1

      Typical capture by the people they are supposed to report on. Next step is a job in the government manufacturing the spin

    • Dr Terry 6.2

      Tom, what this journo really meant is that they were insufficiently crafty, failed to spread enough convincing misinformation.

  7. “National had no choice but to dumb its ideological class size increases.”

    Did you mean dumb down or dump? Right now it doesn’t make sense 

    • happynz 7.1

      Maybe the poster meant ‘to dumb’ as in ‘to mute,’ although that would be rather clunky. Perhaps the OP will clarify.

      • Yes well, it looks rather odd because the very next sentence says “But why did they dump the spending on teacher quality too?”

    • Carol 7.2

      Where are you looking? I can’t see the original dumb/dump quote anywhere here.

      • It was on the front page not in the article itself.
        Now reads “but to dumits ideological class size increases”.

        Heh, though I am sure it’ll be fixed soon. 

        [lprent: It was written late last night and there were several edits on the post this morning by various people presumably fixing typos. We don’t exactly have a professional sub-editor system here. ]

    • Dr Terry 7.3

      The Contrarion. “Choice” does not enter the picture. All you need say is “National IS DUMB, full stop.
      The second thing you need say is “Yes, let’s DUMP this Government!

      • Vicky32 7.3.1

        “National IS DUMB, full stop.

        Please, I beg you all, as I have in the past, stop using DUMB to mean stupid! It’s one of the worst Americanisms of the millions of Americanisms New Zealanders use, because it’s, as my lecturer in disability studies would have said “bad SRV” *
        Dumb (except to Americans, who are ‘dumb’ in their own sense) means mute. Some deaf people are mute, some people who have had strokes are mute, some people with cerebral palsy are mute. Americans may have decided that means they are stupid, but it’s really not so. Don’t use ‘dumb to mean stupid’!!!

        (I am reminded of a paragraph I saw on page 3 of the Herald, which stated that a study had shown that men prefer to ‘date’ dumb women. Given many of the men I have been out with, that made perfect sense, as many men don’t like the woman they’re with to talk, and maybe contradict them. However, reading further showed that the study meant ‘stupid’ women. )
         
        * Social role valorisation… look it up
         

      • Vicky32 7.3.2

        “National IS DUMB, full stop.

        Please, I beg you all, as I have in the past, stop using DUMB to mean stupid! It’s one of the worst Americanisms of the millions of Americanisms New Zealanders use, because it’s, as my lecturer in disability studies would have said “bad SRV” *
        Dumb (except to Americans, who are ‘dumb’ in their own sense) means mute. Some deaf people are mute, some people who have had strokes are mute, some people with cerebral palsy are mute. Americans may have decided that means they are stupid, but it’s really not so. Don’t use ‘dumb to mean stupid’!!!
        (I am reminded of a paragraph I saw on page 3 of the Herald, which stated that a study had shown that men prefer to ‘date’ dumb women. Given many of the men I have been out with, that made perfect sense, as many men don’t like the woman they’re with to talk, and maybe contradict them. However, reading further showed that the study meant ‘stupid’ women. )
         
        * Social role valorisation… look it up
         http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_role_valorization
         

        • Vicky32 7.3.2.1

          Oh just wonderful!
          The “server error” I encountered after I hit submit means it posted twice!
          What is with these ‘server errors’?
          Oh, and …
          http://englishusagewoman.blogspot.co.nz/2011/04/dumb.html

        • Draco T Bastard 7.3.2.2

          I’ve never liked the word dumb. Dunno why but it just makes me cringe. And, yes, I’ve known the correct meaning since I was a child.

          I am reminded of a paragraph I saw on page 3 of the Herald, which stated that a study had shown that men prefer to ‘date’ dumb women…

          Which would just go to show the stupidity and lack of confidence in some men.

          • Vicky32 7.3.2.2.1

            Which would just go to show the stupidity and lack of confidence in some men.

            That’s true! I am thankful that it’s not true of all men, or even most… Some, such as my late brother, positively prefer clever women…

  8. Dr Terry 8

    You are right to describe Parata as “churlish”, a good word to employ. Behind that beaming and inappropriate smile is a relentless woman. We need an educator for this Ministry, then it might actually accept “ministerial responsibility”.

  9. Lanthanide 9

    Hooten was on national radio this morning and said that John Key had received polling in London on Wednesday morning that showed overwhelming negative response to the proposal, hence why they dropped it, regardless of what they want to spin it as.

    They had an interview with John Key where he said they had a telephone conference with himself, English, Parata and other senior cabinet people and one of the options that Parata presented was to reverse the decision and ultimately that was the one that they all chose.

    I suspect Key’s version of events has a lot of fudge applied and it the outcome was much more pre-determined than he suggests.

    • Carol 9.1

      A lot of fudge? Yes. The biggest problem to getting the policy through parliament is that Dunne was speaking out against raising class sizes…. end of story.

    • felix 9.2

      That’s not fudge.

  10. ianmac 10

    I ask over and over here there and everywhere, “Just what form are these improvements to teacher quality supposed to take? Millions were to be involved plus the $30-40 millions that Anne Tolley promised to help the tail.”

  11. The latest OECD report on education still ranks New Zealand near the top, which prompts me to ask a number of questions: http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.co.nz/2012/06/education-questions-that-demand-answers.html

  12. I don’t hold very high hope for future National Government Education Ministers if Ms Parata and Ms Tolley are anything to go by.

    http://willsheberight.blogspot.co.nz/2012/06/education-in-bungling.html

  13. fender 13

    Flip-flop ! Backdown !

    No No folks, it’s a “reversal”

    I stand by my “plastic Maori” description of Parata the day ShonKey announced his Ministers. She is a flake, more concerned with her wardrobe than delivering good education for our future generations.

    Scrap the charter school plans and the education budget looks alot healthier.

    • Roflcopter 13.1

      So Māori are only real Māori when they agree with you? Nice piece of work you are.

      • fender 13.1.1

        Nothing to do with being in agreement with me.

        More about having people of substance in Ministerial roles. But I understand its impossible to appoint a worthy person of substance from a pool of unsubstantial dimwits.

        • Roflcopter 13.1.1.1

          How does that make them any less Māori?

          • Colonial Viper 13.1.1.1.1

            Plastic Maori aren’t less Maori. They also work against the interests of the majority of Maori, and for the ones which happen to benefit the agendas of the wealthy and the corporate elite.

  14. Fortran 14

    So where are the moneys to come from ?
    The education budget – assume Teacher Salary increases come October will be targetted ?

  15. Ad 15

    I absolutely loved being a teacher. Money wasn’t great, but helping lives change was just heroin (I guess) as a hit.

    Just a philosophical question since the left appear to have the righties on the run: Say Dunne goes in a fit of pique, say they lose not just Parata, but also Smith, and Collins.

    Just say he goes for a snap election. As Clark did in 2006, but earlier.

    Is the left ready to rule? Is there a Prime Minister ready? And an alternative Cabinet?

    We are nowhere near that field yet, but perhaps it’s time for Labour and the Greens to have a chat.

  16. irascible 16

    All the PISA reports are available for 2009 on:
    http://www.pisa.oecd.org/pages/0,2987,en_32252351_32235731_1_1_1_1_1,00.html

    The reports make interesting reading especially as they tend to demonstrate the lack of understanding of their findings by NACT and the Treasury wonks.

  17. bill@poverty.com 17

    I’ve done a lot of jobs, teaching is the hardest.

    Many citizens can’t teach. Those who can’t teach seem to resent those who can. It is hard work, only for certain individuals.

  18. Draco T Bastard 18

    brendonRS puts simply and powerfully over here:

    That’s why this isn’t as much of a victory as we might like to think it is. It does nothing to combat the false paradigm of austerity politics that determines everything this government does. It’s not true that quality and quantity are a zero-sum trade-off. Even with this backdown, the $114m that it was supposed to save still has to come from somewhere. The government’s commitment to austerity is unwavering; it is its commitment to its principles that is up for debate.

    The real trade offs are the ones the government refuses to talk about. They’re between education and tax cuts for the rich. They’re between education and inefficient roading projects that don’t even meet the Treasury’s own business case tests. They’re between education and billions of dollars of subsidies for our biggest polluters. They’re between our future and our present. They’re between opportunity and entrenched inequality.

  19. Scintilla 19

    As to their next move with education, some pertinent questions might be asked about charter schools, which apparently can decide their own curriculum (and I wonder if they can also opt for International Baccalaureate or Cambridge entrance exams instead of NCEA?), as well as hire unqualified teachers, decide their own hours, pay rates etc.

    I wonder to what extent various iwi might be wanting to invest in charter schools? And what those schools would look like?

    Schools centred on a particular theme directed at future prospects? I see Sir Richard Taylor & co. collaborate with one of the Wellington private schools that Taylor jnr. attends – possibly Scots College? Those students have a very flash multimedia suite & direct access, work experience with Weta etc. Lucky them.

    Sports Academies, Theatre and Film Academies, Tourism & Hospitality Academies?

    I can hear the spin coming already!

  20. Georgecom 20

    There are at least two areas the Government can cut costs in education.

    There is the policy of Charter Schools. Why do we actually need them? Unless the Government can state a compelling reason then scrap that policy.

    National Standards. Budget 2011 included $17 million on Nat Standards moderation. It employed ’50 experts’ to implement National Standards, that’ll be $5 to $6 million in salary alone plus the other resources that go along with the salaries. Maybe $9 million in total. Junk the junky Nat Standards policy and save a good number of millions of dollars annually.

    • irascible 20.1

      Interestingly, the PISA research argues that neither of these NACT policies contribute positively to educational achievement or improve the quality of teaching.

  21. How much money in Vote Education is spent on consultants and private contractors?

    Where’s the review of ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’ – including a ‘cost-benefit’ analysis?

    Time to apply a big, sharp scalpel to long term ‘corporate welfare’ beneficiaries?

    Penny Bright
    ‘Anti-corruption campaigner’

    http://www.dodgyjohnhasgone.com

  22. felix 22

    My favourite bit:

    it has become apparent that these minor adjustments have caused a disproportionate amount of anxiety for parents, and that was never our intention.

    See that? It’s not the fault of Hekia, National, or their stupid policy. It’s your fault for the way you reacted disproportionally.

    You’re being hysterical, NZ.

  23. captain hook 23

    I aint being hysterical.
    I just rmemeber when Parata got a JOB on the list.
    she thought she had got a job in the Public Service!
    hahahahahahahahahaha.
    What planet she from.
    what tribe she from.
    why she thinks she has a right to make policy when she cant even read and write.

  24. Phil 24

    Parata
    Parata
    Parat a
    Parat a
    Pa rat
    a Parrot!

    ( maybe a budgie 😉 ?
    Ha Ha Ha

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