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Ideological blindness on education

Written By: - Date published: 9:33 am, April 18th, 2012 - 49 comments
Categories: education, national, schools - Tags: , ,

The Nats are ideologically blind when it comes to education. Pressing ahead with National Standards, when all the evidence and advice shows that they’re bad for kids. They’re repeating exactly the same mistakes when it comes to charter schools:

Charter schools ‘harmful’ says study

…A group of education experts at Massey University has investigated similar models to the proposed charter schools – Sweden’s “free schools”, England’s “academies”, and privatised schools in the United States. …

“The evidence is clear that charter schools have the potential to cause harm to the very groups of students they are supposed to help” …

The study criticised not only the way charter schools failed to help underperforming students, but also the way they undermined core principles of education.

“Education does not exist solely to promote financial or employment success: it serves highly important social purposes including the promotion of equality of opportunity and informed citizenship.”

Are they going to ignore these facts too? You betcha!

The Government has reaffirmed its keenness to implement charter schools despite a damning study which says they may do more harm than good to the under-achievers the Government is targeting.

If the government is going to harm people, I’d prefer it to be adults. We, after all, have the power to vote them out. But this willingness to harm kids, as incidental pawns in their ideological games, well that really pisses me off.

49 comments on “Ideological blindness on education ”

  1. Rusty Shackleford 1

    One study? Fucking hell. There is a huge body of research on charter schools and, at best, it’s inconclusive. It helps some groups it’s neutral for others and seems like it could harm some groups.

    “Education does not exist solely to promote financial or employment success: it serves highly important social purposes including the promotion of equality of opportunity and informed citizenship.”
    This is purely and opinion. It has no placer in any serious study.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 1.1

      “Some groups” – yes, like “the very groups of students they are supposed to help”, for example. Are you saying this “one study” is an outlier?

      • Rusty Shackleford 1.1.1

        Do you have any evidence for that? The folks who are swarming to them in the states are the poorest people in the poorest communities.

        • Kotahi Tane Huna

          If the best you can do is point to a dysfunctional system that consistently produces worse outcomes than ours, your whole argument is fucked. You do realise that, don’t you?

          But you didn’t answer the question: do you think Prof Snook’s analysis is an outlier?

        • bbfloyd

          i,m glad that your comment constitutes just another “opinion” rust bucket…. otherwise it may have had validity… aren’t we lucky that it’s just a meaningless, personal outlook….

          based on ignorance, and a narrow, partisan worldview, but an opinion(and therefore meaningless) nonetheless….

          • Rusty Shackleford

            Another product of the NZ education system. Were you away the day they taught capitalisation and the correct use of apostrophes?

            • Kotahi Tane Huna

              Answer the question – is Prof. Snook’s report an outlier?

              • Rusty Shackleford

                Fuck off. Put it on a scatter graph then get back to me. Why should I have to do your work for you?

                • Kotahi Tane Huna

                  lol don’t throw your toys child, you asked for evidence. Since Prof. Snook’s report is cited above why did you ask unless you think it’s somehow invalid?

                • McFlock

                  You’re the one who said “there’s a huge body of research”.
                  Since you are obviously intimately acquainted with the field (enough to know the breadth of research, anyway), you should be able to take a rough bead on whether Snook’s study is an outlier or not. 

                  • Toby

                    You’re a bunch of fucking nerds. As if this is going to beneficial to NZ! Such thinking isn’t even part of the National equation.

      • joe90 1.1.2

        The folks who are swarming to them in the states are the poorest people in the poorest communities.

        This, 21st century segregation.

        Forty-three percent of black charter school students attended these
        extremely segregated minority schools, a percentage which was, by far, the highest of any other
        racial group, and nearly three times as high as black students in traditional public schools

  2. Kotahi Tane Huna 2

    They are not “incidental pawns”. Making sure there is a decent sized pool of stupid ensures support for the National Party.

    This might sound like a cynical joke, but it is merely a reflection of well-established research demonstrating the links between stupidity and conservatism.

  3. Gosman 3

    Ummmmm… They are trialling Charter schools idea not implementing them completely without accessing them. Regardless of this fact you conveniently ignore, the research on the effectiveness is mixed not completely negative. They had one of the researchers from the US on Radio NZ National a couple of months back and she mentioned that it largely depends on how they are implemented. Hence if you get the implementation right you can get positive outcomes.

    • Yep if you spend enough money on them and make sure they are well resourced the chances of them working improves.  But why you would not put the extra money into an education system that is already world class is beyond me.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 3.2

      Mixed: – yes – in a system that consistently performs well below ours, there were more negative outcomes than positive. There isn’t a way to spin that to translate as “this is a good idea”. Unless, as I indicated above, the purpose is to increase the voter base of the National Party by reducing the IQ of the population.

      • Gosman 3.2.1

        I think the key word here is ‘Trial’. You know where you spend time accessing if something provides a benefit or not. In fact I believe it was something that the Teachers Union’s were arguing should have been tried with National Standards.

        • Colonial Viper

          Yeah just sacrifice a few hundred kids and millions of dollars on a “trial”.

          Shame National’s trials and their choice of trials are all predetermined by idiots like Tolley et al.

        • Kotahi Tane Huna

          I think the key word here is “harm”.

          And the key motivation here is greed.

          And the key emotion here is disgust at such gutter level cynicism.

        • framu

          yes – a trial set up and run by the act party

          kinda tells you what the result will be doesnt it

          so your insistence that “its just a trial” means your either being foolish or dishonest

        • Draco T Bastard

          Why do we need to trial them when it’s already been done in other parts of the world and effectively proven that they’re a failure?

    • r0b 3.3

      So Gos – you agree that such things should be trialled first. Why no trial with national standards? Why the forced implementation of a regime that all the evidence shows is harmful?

      • Gosman 3.3.1

        I never stated anything should be trialled first. I am pointing out that the Charter School proposal is a trial.

        • r0b

          That’s weak Gos.

          Do you think national standards should have been trialled first – yes or no?

          Do you think charter schools should be trialled first – yes or no?

  4. Rupert 4

    As an aside, did anyone else hear Catherine Issacs on Morning Report a few mornings ago arguing for council funding for Zealandia? The irony was obviously lost on her.

    • There’s no irony – Isaac would like public (local govt) funding for Zealandia, and she’d also like public (central govt) funding for private schools. This fits perfectly with ACT’s philosophy of raiding the public purse for private gain.

  5. captain hook 5

    the whole national programme is about finding jobs for its supporters and if it comes down to wrecking something that works in order to create job opportunities for “sooners’ then hey presto national wll do it.

  6. Rusty Shackleford 6

    The good part of the US system is still one of the best in the world. It’s just dragged down where the one size fits all approach doesn’t work ie. the inner city. They injected choice into those areas and people responded well. It seems here the govt is trying to inject some choice as well. It will probably have middling to fair results, no better or worse than what we currently have. Will you guys be offering retractions if it doesn’t work?

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 6.1

      The “good part of the US system” – which is what exactly? Answer – the higher decile areas. So once again your whole argument fails at the first hurdle.

      “They injected choice” – are you ignorant or lying? Or just mindlessly repeating talking points? National’s Standards removed “choice” – in terms of community involvement – in schools. Charter schools will not be presented as a “choice” either – they are to be inflicted on communities whether they want them or not.

      This attack on our children should not go unpunished. The next government has to take punitive action against those who support this assault.

    • happynz 6.2

      The good part of the US system is still one of the best in the world.

      There is no US system. It isn’t quite that monolithic. There are tens of thousands of school districts throughout the US, most having similarities in one way or another, but also there are many differences regarding funding, curriculum, direction, etc. These districts may have to follow certain state requirements as well as federal directives, but to say there is a “US system” isn’t all that accurate. For example, the City and County of San Francisco operates their schools somewhat differently than neighbouring Marin County.

  7. Craig Glen Eden 7

    ” The good part of the US system is still one of the best in the world.” Which bit is that?

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      The universities, schools, hospitals and fine dining for the 0.1%.

      • Craig Glen Eden 7.1.1

        Yeah I mean I understand some of the Uni’s and other course’s post hight School are good, but was wondering which bit was being referred to because any system/ school can probably say our best and brightest are/can foot it with anyone round the world.That dosn’t not mean that system/school has a good quality inquiring learning programe going on.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          The average middle class kid gets a fine education.

          • Kotahi Tane Huna

            And this relates to the inner cities you were citing before how exactly? The more you comment the less sense you make – perhaps you are the product of a conservative upbringing.

          • Craig Glen Eden

            Really I thought you said “best in the world”? From what I understand compared to the other OECD nations they are actually poor performers. I mean shit they voted Bush in twice, they cant be to sharp can they. Like I mean putting republican/democratic politics aside, Bush!

          • Colonial Viper

            Sure Rusty, if you mean barely scraping into the top 20 countries in the world for math and science high school education as being “decent”.

          • happynz

            Nah, let me fix that for you.

            The average middle-class kid gets an education of some sort

            …which depends on so many variables such as parental influence, culture and so many more…

          • Descendant Of Smith

            It’s anecdotal I know but my nieces went from average students here in NZ to instantly being top of the class when they moved to Louisiana.

            It certainly helped them with their self esteem and confidence but when some years later when they returned to NZ they had to play catch-up.

            That includes Maths and English. On a positive their French had improved enormously but that had more to do with the community around them than the education system itself.

            I didn’t get any sort of sense from them that the education system they were in was equivalent to, let alone better than here.

  8. captain hook 8

    if charter schools are a trial then they are being trialled to see how much money the National party can parcel out to its supporters before it wrecks the education system and before the next election.

  9. Phil Stevens 9

    cap’n hook nails it: removal of accountability for the firehose of public funding which is to be diverted from the public education system. This is the other pillar of charter schools as an ideological tool, in the same manner as privatisation of prisons. Finding ways to take our tax money and give it to private enterprise with a minimum of performance requirements is a hallmark of right-wing cronyism. The outcome, a greater pool of stupid sheep to continue voting for the scheming crooks who raped them in the first instance, is icing on the objectivist cake.

  10. I wrote the following when a quarter of our boards of trustees were refusing to set targets against National Standards, of course they were all bullied into submission and now we have another flawed system being forced onto us. The teaching profession’s credible arguments against such ideological nonsense is being brushed aside and deemed political in nature. Although NZEI and the Principal’s Federation represent the majority of teachers on professional as well as industrial matters, the government and the Ministry refuse to engage on anything but industrial matters.


  11. ianmac 11

    Many decades ago the first Intermediate Schools were set up in New Zealand. Just a few as trials which would be evaluated in due course for educational effectiveness and for cost effectiveness. The bad news is that they were never evaluated except there was a cost cutting advantage. So they spread all over the country.
    So when the “experts” say the first Charter Schools will be evaluated before being extended, don’t you believe it. “They” will be committed and will use spinning to prove what a success they are. Can’t afford to let them fail can they.

  12. Tony P 12

    One result of charter schools generally is a narrowing of the curriculum with the main focus being on literacy and numeracy and as important as these are, combined with a testing regime that determines ongoing funding and in some cases the very existence of the school this leads to teachers taeching to tests, school days being extended, weekend catch up classes-all things that do little for the overall continued learning of children. Do we want our kids missing out on interval and lunchtime playtimes just to ring out more instruction time? This is what happens in American and English charter schools.
    Of course like the bulk funding trial back in the 90’s enough money will be thrown at this to make it work. Just watch for the cost cutting and in places, corruption, that’s going to happen once budgets get tight.
    Often admin costs start overtaking the learning costs.
    See http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2012/04/charter-schools-spend-more-on.html
    Then there’s the downright evil face of charter schools.

  13. Wonker 13

    “In general, however, the test-based performance of both charter and regular public school varies widely. When there are differences in relative effects, positive or negative, they tend to be modest at best. There are somewhat consistent results suggesting charters do a bit better with lower-performing students and other subgroups, and that charters improve the longer they operate. But, on the whole, charters confront the same challenges as traditional district schools in meeting students’ diverse needs and boosting performance. There is no test-based evidence for supporting either form of governance solely for its own sake.”


    A relatively well balanced appraisal of US evidence.

  14. ianmac 14

    It will be very interesting to find out just what form the proposed Charter Schools take.We can only guess. No National Standards. No Art or PE or music. No social responsibility.
    Who knows?

    • fender 14.1

      Who knows indeed. Even Banks wouldn’t know, except knowing he wants to see a certain group (of cronies?) recieve government funding. Theres an air of up-to-no-good about everything this govt. are up to and sum total of them all is becoming nauseating to say the least.

  15. Ron 15

    This whole discussion is based on a false premis – that the New Zealand education system needs “fixing”. It doesn’t. We rate near the top of the OECD in educational outcomes.

    the “1 in 5” figure that gets quoted for eduational failure is made up. I thin Tolley might have got it from a small study of a few Auckland schools but it does not reflect the education system as awhole.

    Now, there are some children dropping through the

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