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Nats’ education policy

Written By: - Date published: 10:27 am, November 22nd, 2011 - 35 comments
Categories: child abuse, education, national, schools - Tags: , ,

The Nats’ education policy came out yesterday and, predictably, it’s ideologically driven nonsense that will damage children.

The main drive is to extend the significance of national standards.  The Nats’ version of the standards, you’ll recall, have been slammed by their own education advisor:

National standards ‘disaster’ feared

A top academic has told the government its controversial national standards system could be a disaster, warning it to block league tables, prevent teachers playing “devious games” with marking, and be prepared to dump the policy if it does not work. Professor John Hattie of Auckland University predicts that even with the changes he recommends, the system a key National policy will do little to raise student achievement.

They have been thoroughly discredited by the international evidence:

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.

Because of their concern for their students, and despite  threats against principals and school boards, over 400 primary schools refused to comply with the standards process until the threats became extreme. (See an account from one of the bullied schools here, and another that is being targeted here).

The most damaging aspect of standards is “league tables” comparing schools.  It’s unfair because it judges schools on a single mechanical measure (like time to run a race) without taking account of other important factors (like some runners get a head start and others a handicap).  A school that does better teaching (improves student performance more) may get a worse score, simply because the students that it gets start from further behind.  This is why all expert advice to Tolley was not to pursue league tables.  In 2009 Tolley said in Parliament:

As to the question around the damage that might be done to schools if that information were published, I have made it very clear that neither the ministry nor I will be publishing any information in the form of league tables.

Tolley acknowledges the danger, and that it is a reason not to publish league tables, but she plays cute with a limited promise – “neither the Ministry nor I”.  Now, predictably, she has driven a bus through the loophole. We’re headed full speed down the league tables dead-end road:

Nats open door to primary school league tables

League tables for primary schools appear almost inevitable if National is re-elected.

National leader John Key this afternoon announced the party’s full education policy, including early childhood, schools and the tertiary sector.  He said National’s “next steps” on the controversial National Standards scheme would include using performance information to “strengthen the accountability of schools”. …

Education spokeswoman Anne Tolley said a National-led Government would not roll out any league tables of its own but primary schools would, from next year, be required to publish their results against the National Standards. There will be no steps to stop media or anyone else from constructing league tables out of the information.

Standards and league tables place pressures on schools that damage the education of children.  It pretty much amounts to a slow and subtle form of child abuse, as this first hand account of experience in America makes clear.

There’s plenty more in the Education policy.  Some of it (like tinkering with Tertiary funding) I’ll wait until I see the details.  But I will leave you with this little gem:

National wants personality test for teachers

People wanting to be teachers may soon have to pass a personality test to assess whether they are right for the job.

It’s one of the moves planned by National should it retain power after Saturday. …[Tolley] says the industry needs the right people in the job and that’s why disposition tests will be introduced for teaching applicants.

“Someone’s making that decision now as they accept applicants for teacher training now, so we actually want to put some criteria in there.”

This isn’t just the usual nanny state gone mad stuff, the Nats want to vet each teacher to their own criteria.  And given that John Key once complained of  “creeping political correctness in our schools”, I wonder what kind of thoughtcrime they’ll be looking to expunge?

35 comments on “Nats’ education policy ”

  1. The policy is a shocker. The only rational justification I can think of for most of the stuff is that the Government wants to pick a fight with the teachers unions.

    Now that much of the trade union movement has been severely damaged they need a whipping boy to scrap to divert attention from their failure to give proper leadership. Looks like the teachers unions will be that whipping boy if the Nats get back into power.

    • jingyang 1.1

      It’s an open secret in Wellington that National will go for the teachers’ unions if they get in again. Anne Tolley is pissed at the opposition to National Standards and wants revenge.

      They’ve already started in on the ECE sector with the massive cuts to playcentre funding based on the “divide and rule” principle – eg: hope the kindergartens, childcare centres and kohanga simply look at that and go ‘well it’s not us” – but they’re next. The Nats aren’t concerned with early education, they’re concerned with daycare only and giving money to the childcare corporates like Kidicorp et al.

      National standards are ostensibly aimed at a genuine concern over the quality of teaching in NZ schools; however they measure the children’s performance rather than the teachers…which is daft. As several other commentators have noted, they also lead to completely perverse outcomes like league tables.

      There are already systems in place to measure/appraise the performance of teachers, but they’re more difficult to implement and operate cos they need in-depth ongoing appraisal of one’s teaching by mentors, peers, principals and outside teams and ideally should be aimed at supporting teachers to improve rather than aimed at simply firing poor ones without recourse. It also goes without saying that National’s cuts to “the back office” are directly and negatively affecting such educational support systems. Cuts to educational research also mean that will likely be bugger all investigation into the effects of the funding cuts, National policy and national standards.

      National standards OTH is clear, simple, simplistic, and craptastic.

  2. Roy 2

    Personality tests for teachers? What about politicians? Can we require aspiring politicians to undergo a personality test too?

    • shreddakj 2.1

      They’d never implement that because Shonkey would fail for being a narcissistic sociopath.

      • mike 2.1.1

        Not sure about narcissistic, I feel like John Banks and Gerry Brownlee are in that camp. Sociopath? Yes.

        There are narcissistic sociopaths, but they are some of the nastiest fuckers around, I don’t think even I would go that far for Key. And peeps here know how I feel about fuckhead. Merely a straight up sociopath. Just my opinion of course.

        My pedantic psychology geek is showing, I apologizse.

        On the education issue, sheer small mindedness from National. It’s a one size fits all approach to education. Let’s make everyone good obedient tax slaves who can’t think for themselves and don’t see an alternative to being told what to think. The creative ones can fall by the wayside, turn to drugs or depression, or give up and become one of the units in Nationals self-serving economic plan.

        We need more creativity and independant thinking taught in our schools. More celebration of individuality instead of conformity training. Someone needs to take a brave step forward, instead we just get more of a training camp for serve our National Party plan robots. Either that’s how they like it, or they are just too thick to see the potential they are slowly beating out of our kids.

        • shreddakj 2.1.1.1

          Fair point, I was going by his self-absorbed election campaign and his sheer lack of consequential thinking of his policies for those that they affect as reasons for calling him a narcissistic sociopath, but you’re right, it’s probably more English/Brownlee pushing for those that and Shonkey just doing what they say.

        • Roy 2.1.1.2

          OTOH it is very common for a person with one personality disorder to have characteristics of one or more of the other personality disorders. I agree that Key is primarily a sociopath but that doesn’t rule out some narcissistic tendencies.

          • mike 2.1.1.2.1

            Quite right Roy, I certainly didn’t mean to imply I was ruling out some narcissistic tendencies for Key. I think we might even hear some on that tape.

            I only meant that in my studies of personality disorders, calling someone a narcissistic sociopath implies a sociopath who also has narcissistic personality disorder. Truly one of the worst types of human beings, I don’t think Key is in that category. However you don’t need full blown NPD to have narcissistic tendencies. Many ‘normal’ people have those, and indeed, very common among sociopaths.

            As I said, just being a pedant 🙂

  3. sophie 3

    Not sure if I heard correctly but was there some reference to withdrawing funding from schools where results do not “achieve expectations”.

  4. Macro 4

    Tolley knows nothing about education and cares even less.
    Her past three years as minister have been a travesty. Education in this country has gone backwards under her watch. She is an even worse Minister of Education than the Gumboot.

  5. ianmac 5

    Friends in the trade report such a diversity of teacher personalities in the system, that it is hard to imagine a National Standard of Testing of Suitability to teach. Some “weird” people are brilliant. Some safe middling unremarkable are not.
    League Tables may force schools to lie, misrepresent, exclude the needy, cope with angry parents. Of course teachers who are dedicated to those in Decile 1 schools might well seek decile 10 school where it is safer. Exacerbates the problem.
    And under all this are the kids. Why on earth don’t those meddling politicians instead provide the means for helping the kids who are failing? We have always known who they are. Poverty. Abuse. Hungry. Neglected. Angry. Hopeless. Show them the money!

  6. Uturn 6

    MBTI type tests have been used unethically for years. Originally they were concieved by Carl Jung for psychotherapy and then taken into professional realms by various people. But all groups were quite clear that they were not a test to pass or fail – as a personality cannot be “wrong” – they were identifiers of preference only and any prejudicial use was unethical. Furthermore, not just anyone can interpret the the tests, though many think they can. It is afterall, an aspect of clinical psychology.

    I assume that the type National would want for teachers (sympathetic to their policies) are exactly the opposite of the type who would want to be teachers. The idea of seeking a particular outcome is inherently contrary to the basics of personality theory and psychology in general. The fundamental error is that the observer has forgotten to consider his bias and effect.

    The final thing to consider is that personality theory is not absolute science – psychology itself is relatively young – and if you aren’t in any way a western romantic, Jungian theory is not only going to fail to measure you, it’s going to turn you off completely. At present it is really just a barely condoned endorsement of pop-culture.

    I’m tired of National’s step-by-step, one-size-fits-all recipes for life. God they’re ignorant.

    • mike 6.1

      Agreed. Personality is a very complex and much debated area in psychology. For National to push the idea that there is some standardized test for it such that it could be useful for selecting teachers is pop-psychology. Even more rubbish than the idea of IQ tests.

      And that these small-brained clowns who push education policies which are condemned by experts want to decide the personality that THEY want for the teachers of OUR kids – be afraid, be very afraid. This is fascist talk that should be shot down quickly before too many people buy the spin and start saying “Oh but maybe my kids should have teachers with personalities that are better/more right/correct/in line with the NACTional interests.” This is madness.

    • Roy 6.2

      Teachers with different MBTI temperament types suit different students. I have read that most people in training to become teachers are either SJ or NF temperament types. I had many teachers who were SJs, and they suited many classmates but never inspired me. Far and away the best teacher I ever had was an NT as I am myself…funny that. Many students report that NF teachers are the most ‘inspirational’ but although I had a few NF teachers, none of them ever inspired me. The only SP teachers I ever had were PhysEd teachers which is no surprise if you know your MBTI. The reality is that school pupils cover the full range of temperament types and ideally, teachers should too. There is no wrong type.
      Note also that the MBTI is a sorter of temperament, not personality. NOT the same thing.

  7. Gramsci 7

    It is always frustrating when those who want more factory automatons poke their noses into education.

    NZ education is one of the best in the world and the politicians should just leave the teachers and principles to it. The future is not one of going off to the factory in the same job for your working life; it is one that requires versatility, inquiry and curiosity. The Nats just want to dumb it down because their mates running private schools have not been able to adapt.

    Hands off our world-class system!

  8. the pink postman 8

    if this does not get all teachers and their families out to vote Labour on Saturday they will be guilty of a crime against the young people . Im hoping they will,prove to be the decent people most are and turf this anti education lot out .

  9. marxbrother 9

    No one in their right mind would agree with the Nact education plans. A minority really wants asset sales. A minority believe the rich deserve more tax breaks. Few believe $13-00 is a fair minimum wage and so on, however, I overheard a 20 something person in my workplace today saying something about Key along the lines of “Well, he did alright in the earthquakes, and Phil Goff’s a bit weak…” This is what the left/centre left are up against. If Nact form the next government by 2013 you won’t find many that will admit to voting for them but the damage will well and truly be done. If they are the main opposition next week I believe Labour needs to find its left wing mojo again and proudly put a radically different progressive plan to people for 2014 that totally opposes all the hypocrysy and corrupt bullshit that the right are doing now. Labour has the best policies- most would agree- but the polls say most people will not be voting for policy. We need a new way to follow. Socialism is all about taking collective and shared responsibility. The people need to rediscover their socialist ideals and take responsibility for themselves not give it all to rich powerful wankers like Key and his mates.

  10. insider 10

    How can NS “have been thoroughly discredited by the international evidence” when that same evidence is about standardised testing, which is not part of National Standards?

    In similar news, the Green Cheese Theory of the Moon has been comprehensively debunked by the Sun being yellow

  11. mik e 11

    After going from 16th place in the OECD to 4th under the last labour govt .National under Ayatolley seems hell bent on taking us back down the ladder just like what’s happened with the tertiary sector where our universities are required to compete again under petrol head Joyces rules our universities halve fallen outside the top 100 .The same will happen to the primary and secondary schools just like the 1990’s under National.

  12. SBW 12

    “This isn’t just the usual nanny state gone mad stuff, the Nats want to vet each teacher to their own criteria”.

    Excuse me, but way to twist a policy into a lie. The tests will make sure idiots that can’t teach due to personal ineptitude, don’t end up teaching. Some people can’t teach, and shouldn’t teach.

    As a side, the vast bulk of teaching students and teachers support this policy as they know that not everyone possess the skills to be able to teach kids. They might be smart; but not everyone can convey their smarts to kids.

    • Vicky32 12.1

      “They might be smart; but not everyone can convey their smarts to kids.”

      Chances are SBW that you’re a student – however, I don’t think you should consider teaching! 😀 Only in NZUSA is ‘smart’ a synonym for clever – in the NZ of my childhood, smart meant cheeky, as in “Don’t get smart with me, nitwit!” (The corresponding idiom now would probably be “Don’t get cheeky, dumbass”.
      The Americans are not content with trying to kill Third-World people, eliminate Islam, conquer countries with resources and make $$ at the expense of the rest of the world,. they’ve stolen our culture and our language!

    • Draco T Bastard 12.2

      Some people can’t teach, and shouldn’t teach.

      Generally speaking, in a free society, we leave it up to the person to decide rather than the politicians.

  13. tc 13

    Probably didn’t even mean to release it but with sideshow losing the hollowmen plot and banksy being a toxic step too far they’ve chucked this puppy out there in the hope it’ll win over some more rednecks as they know they ain’t getting many votes from within the education system.

  14. DS 14

    The last National Government made screwing up the health system its specialty. This one seems to prefer screwing up Education.

  15. mac1 15

    ….they ain’t getting many votes from within the education system.”

    The local intermediate school voted Labour in on their election day today.

    National certainly won’t be getting traction in the secondary teaching area with its personality testing and league tables. This is a sop to the social conservatives, as tc says, and more sign of panic as National drops below 50%. Also, a bit fraidy cat of National not to release this policy with enough time to thoroughly analyse and criticise it, for what it’s worth. A good policy would be released early, surely?

    The local paper is running hot with anti-National party and candidate letters to the editor. The local Nat candidate has been reduced to dropping off his own pamphlets with a little biro pen as inducement. The Labour signs are being affected more by the Nor-Westerly winds than by angry citizens- a reverse of 2008 when our signs were stolen in large numbers.

    Interesting times…………

  16. Draco T Bastard 16

    National wants personality test for teachers

    I’m all for it – politicians first, to be publicly shown prior to them getting the sponsor to put them forward as a political candidate and to be on view at all time ever after.

    /sarc

  17. Dr Terry 17

    I want to say how encouraged I am by the many intelligent remarks in these comments; there is hope for the future after all! I would love to know (and see) the form of “personality test” that non-personality Tolley wants to administer; probably one devised by herself, given her grandiosity. My God, she even presumes to call them “disposition tests” which says it all; “disposed” to the Tories own criteria for certain! This is about as near to evil as anyone could get.

  18. Georgy 18

    World renowned NZ curriculum: Dead
    Tomorrows Schools: Dead
    Government Control: Full
    Community governance: Dead
    Education: now a commodity

  19. Georgy 19

    Personality testing: find square teachers for square boxes. NZ education is dead.

  20. Cin77 20

    Shit we don’t need no thought control!

    This policy makes me even more convinced to leave to county if National get back in. I’d hate to think my daughters school was losing points on a league table because she has trouble grasping the more complicated aspects of math. Then again, shes the bomb at art! Oh, wait, thats right creativity isn’t counted >.<

    I'm sure the teachers are unhappy but parents should be absolutely livid

  21. georgecom 21

    One piece of National party education policy not mentioned (on my reading above anyway) but which has the potential to be peverse is the stated aim to make teaching qualifications ‘post graduate’. An improvement you may think. However, if it means a standard ‘secondary’ model of teaching training it won’t be.

    The ‘secondary’ model has a student take a subject based (arts, sciences, maths etc) bachelors degree and then complete a 1 year post graduate teaching diploma. 3 years learning subjects and 1 year the theory and practise of teaching. Works well for secondary.

    The ‘primary’ model involves a 3 years degree in the theory and practise of teaching. Works well for Primary, although there are good teachers who choose the ‘secondary’ model.

    However, if Anne Tolley et al intend to roll out the ‘Secondary’ model for all teachers, what this will mean is the possible (probable?) death of a 3 year specialised teaching degree. Primary age children could end up with teachers having 1 year of theory and practise of teaching rather than 3 years.

    That would seem a backward step.

    • TeachinginAuck 21.1

      What you learn in Teacher’s Training College could have taken place in 20 minutes. But I did come through the (secondary) school model so I am not sure how it is for my primary colleagues. .

      Also it doesn’t seem to exclude getting a Bachelor of Education at a university and then a Diploma of Teaching for primary school. This one I would let pass

  22. Rodel 22

    Publishing the education policy just before the election..what was it?… with 4 days to go, so there is minimal opportunity for the present minister of education to face up and defend the policy.
    This is bordering on.. can’t think of the words…blatant fraud…? cynical manipulation?

    • mike 22.1

      Agreed. 4 days is not enough time for people to consider policy like this, it’s nothing less than sneaking it in under the teapot radar. Then when it’s implimented they can claim we voted for this shit.

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