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Nats bullying schools again

Written By: - Date published: 11:08 am, November 11th, 2010 - 58 comments
Categories: education, national - Tags: , , ,

The Nats have a long and dishonourable history of trying to gag those who would speak out against them. This includes multiple attacks on schools — threats against principals and school boards who were exercising their rights to free speech, threats to sack dissenting boards, threats of withheld funding. And these are just the threats that we know about.

Today we see further effects of this bullying:

Third of rebel schools appear to soften stance on standards

Nearly a third of the schools that said they had no confidence in National Standards have told the Ministry of Education they do in fact plan to implement the controversial scheme.

A group called Boards Taking Action Coalition said last week that the trustees from 225 schools around the country had issued a vote of no confidence in National Standards. As a result those schools would refuse to set student achievements targets for next year until the system was reviewed.

The next day the ministry starting contacting all of the protesting schools’ boards of trustees to check the claim.

The Ministry was not “checking on the claim”, they were working through their script of escalating threats against the schools. We know this because a senior official in the Ministry resigned refused to participate in protest at the unethical bullying tactics. Fortunately the Herald piece quoted above gives at least some attention to this side of the story:

Mr Rush said it was very hard to test the veracity of the information gathered by the ministry but he did know some board members were upset with the tone of the calls they received.

“Board chairs have inundated me with calls complaining at the tone of ministry questioning in recent telephone calls. Ministry officials seem to have been instructed to put the fear of God into board members.”

Some board chairs said the ministry callers implied they would be sacked if the standards were not implemented in full.

Schools are boycotting national standards in a last ditch attempt to protect children from a flawed system which is likely to do them nothing but harm. Because they are so utterly unable to listen to expert and professional advice, because they are so utterly ideologically obsessed with “victory” over teachers, the Nats are determined to press ahead. They are desperate to contain the current boycott. The only way they can do so is to continue their campaign of bullying threats against schools. Every school board threatened in this way should speak out loud and clear.

PS:

Anne Tolley Dec 2009:

Education Minister Anne Tolley says she will sack the boards of primary schools which allow teachers to boycott national standards, saying they would be refusing to obey the law.

Anne Tolley Nov 2010:

Education Minister Anne Tolley says she does not intend to dismiss school boards which fail to implement the new education standards. … “That has never been my intention,” she replied.

58 comments on “Nats bullying schools again”

  1. Joe Bloggs 1

    [post moved here from open mike — r0b]

    looks like the teacher unrest fomented by a few disaffected rebels in the education system is starting to be exposed for what it really is – mischief, hypocrisy and blatant lies.

    The Herald has learned 66 of the 225 coalition boards indicated their schools planned to implement the standards in full. A further 109 said they would take some form of action or were yet to decide if they would implement the standards in full. Fifty schools are yet to be contacted.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10686820

    A group of rebel principals plotted to “quietly take over” an association representing 90 per cent of school boards in an effort to overwhelm the national standards debate, leaked emails suggest. An email exchange shows principals involved in a boycott of the standards discussed “dealing with” the New Zealand School Trustees Association. “The easiest way is for us to quietly take over regional organisations of NZSTA … Just imagine NZSTA run by principals!” an email written by Hora Hora School principal Pat Newman states.”
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/4332146/Takeover-plot-by-rebel-principals

    That’s the same Pat Newman who aspires to be a Labour candidate for Whangarei in the next election. The words “self-serving” come to mind, and the evidence continues to grow that this boycott has been engineered by Labour. At the cost of our children’s educations.

    Great effort! That should keep Labour on the opposition benches for another 3 years.

    • Pascal's bookie 1.1

      Hey joe, where you going with that kiwiblog link in ya hand.

      I’m goin’ off to post shit at open mike

      an’ pretend I got a brain in my pan

      • Joe Bloggs 1.1.1

        can’t cope with the facts huh?

        • Pascal's bookie 1.1.1.1

          Cope with facts fine.

          One fact I find amusing is that when I see your name in the comments list, I can predict what you have to say by looking at farrar’s blog.

          You should get some self respect son.

          • Joe Bloggs 1.1.1.1.1

            thanks Mum, I’ll be sure to listen to your advice.

            In the meantime I’ve picked up a new word today – astroturfing

            An artificially-manufactured political movement designed to give the appearance of grass roots activism… Unlike natural grassroots campaigns which are people-rich and money-poor, an astroturf campaign tends to be the opposite, well-funded but with little actual support from voters.

            Describes the PPA/Labour intervention in education to a T

            • r0b 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Congratulations on learning a new word JB. I know how hard that must have been for you.

              Now that you know the word, you should be able to work out who is astroturfing, parents in the boards of schools all over the country, or the parents of “insert region here”.

              Grass roots and astroturf

              Ooops.

            • Pascal's bookie 1.1.1.1.1.2

              I’ll be sure to listen to your advice

              You do that, it’ll make you smarter.

      • grumpy 1.1.2

        For God’s sake, have a bit of class and leave Jimi out of this. Other than that, quite clever.

  2. ghostwhowalksnz 2

    How come emails with individuals names have been released to bloggers.?

    Farragoblog blats on about the OIA?

    The OIA normally blacks individual names but even then seems like Tolley and her staff are perusing the emails of selected principals who are using Education department servers.

    The OIA is just a smokescreen of course as farrar has previously used the OIA to get names of those seeking OIA material.
    This time he hasnt bothered , they are wholesale using government information to intimidate principals

    • grumpy 2.1

      Nah, as someone else has said, the emails were leaked by a disgruntled union employee, opposed to Phil Goff’s leadership of the Labour Party.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 2.1.1

        Cant be.
        They are Education department servers which have had a fishing expedition by Tolleys henchmen contradiction to privacy rules.

        What ‘union’ member sees emails from various principals.

        Thats just a ruse

  3. dave 3

    It’s unclear how many schools are boycotting National Standards. It is conceivable that some of the stated rebel schools are implementing National Standards in its entirety. Noone knows what each school has signed up to.

    More here

  4. Joe Bloggs 4

    speaking of hyperbole has anyone noticed this piece of blatant bullshit in the post?

    We know this because a senior official in the Ministry resigned in protest at the unethical bullying tactics.

    There has been no resignation. So much for coping with the facts…

    • Gosman 4.1

      Why hasn’t this senior official gone public with his/her resignation?

    • r0b 4.2

      There has been no resignation

      Well that’s your word vs Kelvin Smythe I guess. I know who I believe.

      • Gosman 4.2.1

        Why hasn’t this person gone public then? They resigned over a matter of principle and surely communicated that to the Education Ministry, (not to mention publicised it to Kelvin Smythe) so it therefore not a secret. This would be a great coup for the anti-National standards campaign so where is this mysterious resignee?

      • Joe Bloggs 4.2.2

        .

        Kelvin Smythe doesn’t mention anything about a resignation either. Here’s the link to Smythe’s hyperbole – check it for yourself

        http://www.networkonnet.co.nz/index.php?section=latest&id=262

        Do you also see the word unconfirmed in there? As in My unconfirmed information is that the regional head was away, and when the instruction was relayed to the deputies, one refused to act on the instruction

        So there has been no resignation – just a bit of Uri Geller-like spoon bending and a pinch of truth twisting…

        • r0b 4.2.2.1

          Gosman and Joe Bloggs are correct, Kelvin Smythe does not say that the official resigned, just that they “refused, on moral grounds, to take instruction from Karen Sewell to organise ministry officials to ring schools about their declared stance on national standards”. I assumed resignation but that is not stated. I will update the post.

          “Unconfirmed” refers to the regional head being away, not the revolt of this official.

          • grumpy 4.2.2.1.1

            It also refers to a “brave whistleblower”. If they were really brave they would have gone public, name and all!

          • Joe Bloggs 4.2.2.1.2

            you channelling Kelvin Smythe now?

            You’ve assumed and misinterpreted quite enough not to be going around muddifying up what Smythe was bleating on about.

            • r0b 4.2.2.1.2.1

              Read Smythe’s post JB. If you think you can draw any other conclusion from it you go right ahead.

              • Joe Bloggs

                Smythe is an unreconstructed neo-liberal who has a bone in his throat over the restructuring of education twenty years ago.

                He used the word unconfirmed because he, at least, still has some vestiges of moral fibre and can’t lie through his teeth to save himself. he does however do hysterical and outraged moderately well.

                Has a reasonable grasp of English although his sentence construction could use polishing.

                Tries hard, could try harder.

  5. Gosman 5

    So let me get this straight.

    Someone refused to do their job, the job they get paid for, the job that taxpayers pay tax so that civil servants carry out their jobs as instructed, and you think this is a good thing?

    If this person truly believed in their principles then they should have resigned. This action is essentially gutless if in fact it happened as is suggested. The person should be reprimanded for non-performance of duty.

    • r0b 5.1

      Someone refused to do their job, the job they get paid for, the job that taxpayers pay tax so that civil servants carry out their jobs as instructed, and you think this is a good thing?

      Yes.

      Now let me get something straight.

      Someone was being asked to participate in an action which, according to the best expert advice, is likely to cause harm to children. If they had gone ahead and “just followed orders”, do you think this is a good thing?

      • Gosman 5.1.1

        LOL!

        Gotta love the moral justification for refusing to implement an electoral mandate that the left has.

        So following your logic if a Tax expert stated that raising taxes was going to be damaging to the economic well being of the nation, (not to mention the poor wee little children), it would be entirely justified for people to not pay this tax even though it was voted for by the majority of the population at the previous election.

        I must remember that before the next election and advise the National Party to find an appropriate expert on taxation to make this pronouncement.

        Just goes to highlight the sort of contempt certain members of the left hold for democracy.

        • r0b 5.1.1.1

          You didn’t answer my question Gosman. Should officials implement actions that are likely to damage children?

          I answered your question Gosman – are you going to answer mine?

          • Gosman 5.1.1.1.1

            This was the opinion of a person not a FACT unless you are saying that the overwhelming consensus on this subject and EVIDENCE backs up that National Standards do actually harm children.

            Regardless of this we live in a society where policies affecting the population are generally made via the democratic process rather than imposed on us by “Experts”.

            If you want to live in a society where decisions like this are taken out of the hands of the electorate then by all means go ahead and push for this sort of society. I will have a hell of a lot of fun opposing that.

            • r0b 5.1.1.1.1.1

              You’re too chickenshit to answer the question aren’t you Gosman.

              Should officials implement policies that harm children – yes or no?

              Answer the question, then we can discuss the nature of the EVIDENCE.

              • Gosman

                It is bollocks question. You have evidence that National Standards “harm” children then present it and I’ll bother answering the question. I’m looking for evidence though not opinions.

                • r0b

                  I have plenty of evidence Gosman.

                  But all the evidence in the world is of no use, your kind doesn’t care about evidence.

                  You can’t even bring yourself to say that we shouldn’t harm children can you Gosman.

                  Last chance to answer the question – should we do things that harm children?

      • jcuknz 5.1.2

        It is only your opinion that it is l;ikely to harm children … true there are some others with the same opinion but … our elected representatives have made a decision and maybe, just maybe your folk can reverse it sometime in the future. Meanwhile our paid servants have a job to do and they should get on with it and stop bellyaching. … or resign.

        • r0b 5.1.2.1

          jcuknz I try to get through life without gratuitously insulting people, but in your case I’ll make an exception. You’re an idiot. You’re taking sides in a debate when you have not bothered to get yourself informed about the issues.

          Start here – follow the links. Read. Think. FFS.

          Listening to the evidence on national standards

          http://www.nzpf.ac.nz/national-standards

          • jcuknz 5.1.2.1.1

            Idiot or not I am entitled to take sides in a debate irrespective of what homework I may or may not have done and your comment Rob is about the same level as JK’s Secretary and what I read at Kiwiblog.
            It is a public servant’s job to do what they are told to do and if privately they don’t agree then they either resign or work, as I assume you are doing, for a change of government. I don’t believe for one moment that a testing system, one of many in use in schools, is going to harm children. I am sure most NZ teachers are doing a good job in a difficult situation so really have nothing to fear from NS, though maybe they can fear the media like all of us do when they get on a crusade looking for a whipping boy or girl..

            • r0b 5.1.2.1.1.1

              I am entitled to take sides in a debate irrespective of what homework

              Yes, you are perfectly entitled to take a position that is likely to result in harm to children without knowing the first thing about the issues. Free speech is grand that way. Just don’t expect anyone to respect such behaviour.

              I don’t believe for one moment that a testing system, one of many in use in schools, is going to harm children.

              You haven’t read the information in the pages linked to have you. And you won’t either, in case you have to deal with facts that upset you.

              • Pascal's bookie

                But r0b! He reckons!

                Shirley, that’s enough.

                And anyways, nice attempt with the distraction tactic, but the important point in this dispute is that Some People aren’t Doing As They’re Told! It’s outrage, and danger. This sort of thing can quite easily get out of hand you know. It starts of with small things like this but they snowball and grow, an asteroid on a slippery slope of rebel. And do you know what’s at the bottom of that slope? Care to guess? This is a play that has been played before you know. People not doing as they’re told and the next thing you know it’s men, men with their hair grown out! Right past the collar! People not giving Policemen their due. Ladies buying cakes. Disgusting. Black people. Children voicing opinions.

                It’s all the result of that music they listen to. It’s the drums and those jungle rhythms. It’s not right for civilised folk. Primal. I’ve seen them. Rooting in the bushes. Didn’t used to happen in my day. They need to bring back compulsory military training. And greco-roman wrestling in schools.

                • r0b

                  As Friday evening rants go — that’s a good ‘un!

                  • jcuknz

                    PB you forgot to mention corporal punishment. Which I experienced justly and ‘for the encouragement of others’, unjustly, in my youth. Regretably missing from the NZ Educational system.
                    But Rob is so pre-occupied with countering my feelings that NS will not hurt children he misses the main point of the NS debate. This is that teachers are afraid that league tables will upset their cosy situation where competence doesn’t get reward and as they serve their time so they move up the pay scale … or could that be another false impression I have got from Kiwiblog or my 30 years in the public service? That teachers are quite happy with NS but not with the results being published so they can keep parents in the dark. Otherwise they might vote for ACT and the voucher system. Is this right wing propaganda or the crux of the matter? Who is Rob to advise me? Or anyone else for that matter.

                    • r0b

                      he misses the main point of the NS debate. This is that teachers are afraid that league tables will upset

                      In your mind that’s the main point of the debate is it. Not whether or not national standards are good or bad for the welfare and education of children. Instead it’s some Kiwiblog domination fantasy about teachers.

                      Well that explains a lot.

          • jcuknz 5.1.2.1.2

            .I have visited the sites and without indulging myself by reading them, they look like the same message being regurgitated by many, an organised campaign of questionable merit by way of its seeming completeness.
            Your final para at 5.45 is grossly insulting … and typical of the desparation you obviously feel at people who appear to disagree with your firmly held views. Personally I have no position on the matter but sick of the bellyaching and name calling which gets us nowhere fast..

            • r0b 5.1.2.1.2.1

              an organised campaign of questionable merit by way of its seeming completeness.

              The experts are all in agreement so they must be wrong? Just listen to yourself.

              Your final para at 5.45 is grossly insulting

              It is completely accurate. Whether you are insulted, or instead moved to some kind of remedial action, is now up to you.

              • jcuknz

                Are they experts, a questionable title at best, or simply a chorus singing the union mantra? I simply do not know who to believe on this matter and I am put off by the antics of what I guess you would call the expert sources.
                Harping on a perceived danger to children strikes me as pushing a sob story because we all want to protect our children … highly suspect I think.

                • r0b

                  I’m persisting with this conversation because you have not previously struck me as an idiot, and therefore despite your totally blinkered views on this issue so far, I’m hopeful that your mind is open to new ideas.

                  Are they experts, a questionable title at best, or simply a chorus singing the union mantra?

                  Yes, a lot of people speaking out in this debate are educational experts. To deny that is simply to deny reality because you can’t face it. Are they singing a “union mantra”? Well let’s see, let’s look at just one expert. Prof John Hattie. He is Key’s hand picked education policy advisor. Do you think he’d sing a union mantra? Consider:

                  Hattie – Auckland University professor, student assessment expert and the man top politicians in this country see for advice about education … Ten days ago he was summoned to Prime Minister John Key’s Beehive office to explain what was going wrong with the Government’s grand plans for national standards in reading, writing and maths for all primary school children.

                  Education Minister Anne Tolley, stripped of her tertiary responsibilities the day before, attended the private meeting but it was Hattie that Key wanted to hear.

                  Both National and Labour have paid close attention over the last decade to this internationally recognised expertise on how to improve children’s learning. Bill English sought Hattie’s views when he originally developed the party’s national standards policy and Key took the same route, drawing inspiration from Hattie’s advice that a standards-based approach could work wonders in even the poorest schools. …

                  So it came as a shock when Hattie returned from a six-month study tour in the United States last July to tell the Herald that he was deeply concerned about the direction the Government’s policy had taken and worried that it could set back education 50 years.

                  In November he repeated his criticism, warning of a potential disaster with no improvement in children’s learning. A few weeks later he joined three other education academics in writing an open letter to Tolley, which pleaded with the Government to delay the introduction of the new system.

                  So what went wrong and where exactly does National’s education guru stand on the issue? Hattie says the Government didn’t consult him about the details, which were developed while he was out of the country. He adds that Key is right to say that he supports the idea but has concerns about its implementation.

                  But listening to his concerns (see story below), a different picture emerges. Hattie insists the system can work but admits if he had the choice, he’d drop it and start again from scratch. …

                  JOHN HATTIE’S ASSESSMENT

                  So does the Government’s favourite education adviser support national standards or not? Prime Minister John Key and many of Professor John Hattie’s ideological opponents claim he does, despite his strong public criticism.

                  Hattie replies that he supports the concept of standards-based learning but not the system the Government has introduced – in fact, given the chance, he’d scrap it and start again. These are his biggest concerns.

                  If it ain’t broke…

                  Hattie’s first point is that, despite sweeping claims of failure by Key and Education Minister Anne Tolley, the New Zealand school system is in good shape, especially compared with the rest of the world.

                  National standards, he argues, are usually the catchcry of countries where the education system is in serious trouble. They have been introduced in the US, Britain and Australia but none of these countries have been able to show any overall improvement in student achievement.

                  Hattie believes national standards may lift the performance of a few children at the bottom of the educational heap but says the average will not change because bright children will be neglected. He thinks the policy threatens to destroy one of the great strengths of New Zealand’s education system, which recognises that children of the same age have different academic abilities and allows them to learn at the level of their current ability.

                  Hattie is the Nats own education advisor, and he actually believes in standards (even though they haven’t worked in US, Britain and Australia). So he’s about as committed to standards as they come, and it’s simply ludicrous to suggest that he’s singing a union song. But even he says that National have fucked it up. They could set education in this country back 50 years.

                  Now, Hattie above was reporting in the American experience. Let’s look at what happened in the UK:

                  Tests blamed for blighting children’s lives

                  Landmark study of primary schools calls for teachers to be freed of targets

                  Children’s lives are being impoverished by the government’s insistence that schools focus on literacy and numeracy at the expense of creative teaching, the biggest review of the primary school curriculum in 40 years finds today. …

                  Children are leaving school lacking knowledge about the arts and humanities having spent too many years “tied to a desk” learning times tables, the head of the review, Robin Alexander, said.

                  “Our argument is that their education, and to some degree their lives, are impoverished if they have received an education that is so fundamentally deficient,” he said.

                  The report says schools should be freed of Sats and league tables to allow them to make more decisions about what and how they teach. …

                  Independent of the government and funded through charitable donations, the review is based on three years of academic research, 29 research papers and dozens of public meetings around the country. It marks 40 years since the last wholesale review of primary education and presents a blueprint for a curriculum that would give teachers control of 30% of their time to teach what they want.

                  Evidence, jc, evidence, from the UK and from America. Advice from Key’s own education advisor (not the unions). It’s all there if you can see it. Stop supporting the side that could set education in this country back by 50 years.

                  Harping on a perceived danger to children strikes me as pushing a sob story because we all want to protect our children … highly suspect I think.

                  Unless it’s true.

                  • jcuknz

                    The perceived danger, from reading your message, seems to be to the few gifted and bright students who will be neglected. While if the scheme is dropped the few ‘dumb asses’ will suffer.

                    It seems to me a case of throwing a few babies out with the bathwater so if we keep NS then special attention needs to be paid so that despite the tests the gifted will be encouraged. On the other hand if NS is scrapped then that attention needs to be devoted to the ‘dumb asses’.
                    It seems to be a ‘frying pan and fire’ situation.

                    ‘Setting back education 50 years’ strikes me as one of those hyper statements made for the media to trumpet. Actually it could partly correct how education has gone wrong since I was in school but that is not for discussion here.
                    If you know of a problem you can take measures to counter it, without throwing any of the babies out with the bath water, so common with political stances from both sides.

                    Thank you for making the effort to present some arguments for discussion.

                    I’m left still sitting on the fence because it seems to me that it doesn’t really matter which way we go so long as we take the necessary steps to avoid the perceived pitfalls and are prepared to take further steps as unperceived pitfalls arise. I know that is a hard ask in a nationwide beaurocracy but one can hope..
                    I think the idiots in this situation are those who are getting so hot and bothered, making rash and extreme statements, but that is common with the younger enthusiasts of society…

  6. grumpy 6

    Lesson here for the lefties. If you want to plot against the boss, don’t use his time, money or his computer.

    • Craig Glen Eden 6.1

      grumpy I think you have missed your calling, you should have been an advisor for that bloke Brash, he use to lead some brethren group I think?

    • Vicky32 6.2

      Cos bosses are always he and him, right?

    • jcuknz 6.3

      Very true Grumpy but these f’wits, to use a currently popular phrase, simply haven’t a clue it seems.

  7. KINTO 7

    I’m not so sure about todays electrol mandate line that the right have been instructed to run. We heard lots about how 1 in 5 kids leave school with no qualification (National voters), but not very much (if anything?) about national standards.

    See: http://www.google.com/trends?q=%22National+Standards%22&geo=nzl&sa=N

    • Gosman 7.1

      What???

      Are you trying to claim that National Standards were not part of the National party election manifesto in 2008?

      • Fabregas4 7.1.1

        I think he is saying that there has been a lot of rhetoric and sloganeering around standards but little actual information about them. This is important because simply asking if people ‘want standards’ of course leads to the inevitable positive response. But if the policy was more closely looked at (I’ve done this) and people see the flaws and lies then the answer changes. The mandate question is not really fair because the policy had (and many would say still does not) no substance. It is only when the actual policy is developed that the problems and bullshit become evident to people.

  8. Fabregas4 8

    By the way the Herald data simply cannot be accurate. They state:of the 225 original Boards who are opposed:

    66 plan to implement if full
    109 said they would take some form of action or were yet to decide if they would implement the standards in full.
    50 schools are yet to be contacted.

    Thats 225 schools. I can tell you my school who is on the list will not set targets against the standards (but will continue to use reliable assessments and set appropriate targets)

    And I can tell you that many schools have already committed to not implement any part of the standards.

    Sounds like Ministry playing tricks with numbers in an attempt to dissuade other school Boards from signing up.

  9. Pat 9

    Actully Ms Tolley is not my boss I am employed by my Board of Trustees who are elected by their community who totally are opposed to Nat Stds. As far as conspiracy theories, I am not trolling private facebook pages etc….

    Just as well cause Toilley in the House last week when under questioning to say she didnt understand… that she wasnt a teacher as a response to a fairly basic question…. great response from a Minister of Education!!!!! Some of us have been telling her she doesn’t understand fopr a long tme now…..

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