A reader reports on our abysmal Minister of Education’s latest stop on her bus tour to try to sell national standards:
Interesting public meeting in Onehunga Thursday night, with Minister of Ed Anne Tolley seeking to sell her controversial National Standards policy. About 80 people there, seemed to be quite a lot of parents and those involved in education locally. Trevor Mallard and Carol Beaumont present, Robert Rakete MC’d. Largely dubious audience.
Tolley’s presentation took up nearly half the time allotted for the hour-long meeting. The Minister continued to spout the debunked claim that 30% of teachers are incompetent at teaching literacy. One of the questioners asked her about the sample size of the ERO report she was basing this on – apparently 212 schools were looked at. Given that the report actually said only 10% of teachers were “limited”, that’s based on only about 20 schools.
Tolley was unclear about:
No league tables, but she has a working group working on them anyway. Schools will be required to report on the standards to their communities. It doesn’t take a real estate agent to work out that reports to local communities that require detail about how many are at this and how many are at that will quickly be collated by media into league tables.
Contradictory talk about supporting parents to support their kids, but parenting education programmes like HIPPY being the responsibility of MSD. Tolley mentioned zoning for childcare centres, and said she thinks that without NCEA Level 2 someone cannot live “a full life”.
Best question of the night was from a young teacher at the back with dreads, who pointed out a lot of research has identified the common factor of children in the low-achieving tail is in fact poverty. Tolley tried to dismiss question as “political” (wasn’t this a political meeting?) and then provoked lots of gasps and murmurings of “that’s not true!” when she said the range of children failing was the same across all deciles.
What soured the meeting for me though, and prompted me to send this report in, was what happened with the last question of the night. After saying this will be the last question and picking a man who asked a tricky one about the different developmental stages of different children, MC Robert Rakete decided that actually there would be one more last question. He picked someone from the crowd who he knew by name a woman called “Denise”. She spoke at length in favour of National Standards, talking about the poor reporting from her local school.
Afterwards when a local teacher asked her privately which school it was she refused to answer. She also said that her child got good support when it was identified that child was struggling (although how this added up with her stated claim that the only communication she had had about her child was one ten minute parent interview and a written report on the last day of school was unclear. How did she find out her child was struggling again?)
“Denise,” I discovered afterwards, was in fact Denise Krum, a candidate for United Future in Maungakiekie at the last election, who has since left that party to join National. So the last question, which was really a party political broadcast in favour of National Standards, was in fact a plant.
I wonder how many other plants National has had at these meetings around the country? And how many other MCs have actively gone with that game plan?