Some random observations on Key’s Education proposals

Written By: - Date published: 1:38 pm, January 24th, 2014 - 64 comments
Categories: child welfare, education, john key, national, schools - Tags:

Following on from Karol’s post I thought I should offer a few random observations on National’s announced education reforms:

  1. At a political level the proposals are good, they combine an impression of action man, concern for children and a desire to improve education.  Who could possibly complain?
  2. National is obviously weak on education and needed to do something.  The recent drop in PISA results coupled with the Novopay fiasco and growing concern with National Standards has obviously opened a vulnerability for them.  Writing a big fat cheque is a good way to address this weakness but I wonder if there is any evidence to show that the proposal is good value for money?
  3. John Key is moving back to the conciliatory Key that we saw in 2008.  His performance on Morning Report this morning was quite good.  Expect to hear a lot more from him this year on Radio New Zealand.
  4. The teachers are being bought off and marginalised with the promise of more money.  Essentially this is performance pay for teachers.  What has been a cooperative and egalitarian profession will now become more competitive.
  5. The proposals continue the theme that the worsening of our eduction standards is the fault flat of teachers.  Paying more money for these so called super teachers suggests that the solution lies with them, not elsewhere.
  6. The reforms are expensive.  $395 million worth of funding could pay for four years of Hone Harawira’s breakfast and lunch in decile one and two schools programme.
  7. The reforms are untested.  Key said this morning they are based on a Singaporean program.  New Zealand has had a world beating education system for decades and why do we have to try overseas models untested in New Zealand?
  8. The extra money could be used to significantly increase teachers’ salaries.  In Finland, which has a world beating education system, teachers are paid well and this attracts the best candidates to the profession.
  9. The reforms are full folk of management speak.  Phrases such as “executive principals, “change principals”, “lead teachers” and “expert teachers” makes you think that you are dealing with IBM.  And the system will create a more rigid hierarchy where the “elite” are well paid but ordinary teachers will receive improvement.
  10. Bureaucracy and red tape will be increased, not decreased.
  11. Poverty is the real reason for declining education standards.  And Key’s proposal does nothing whatsoever to address this.

64 comments on “Some random observations on Key’s Education proposals”

  1. Enough is Enough 1

    The slimy bastard is pulling it off as well.

    The MSM and radio jocks are gushing over this, even claiming it is a lurch to the left. Since when has different pay levels for people doing the same job been a left idea.

    This is bad policy.

    Lets hope Cunliffe trumps him with his speech with some real reforms.

    • Bill 1.1

      Christ! The slimy bastard isn’t so much pulling it off as having it pulled off for him! I’m astonished.

      Seriously. What exactly does this policy have to do with the education of children? I’ll answer. Nothing. Nothing at all.

      So, sorry Mickey – but when you ask “Who could possibly complain?” or Gordon Campbell suggests it’s “Hard to argue with an extra $359 million for teacher pay…” Are you guys and everyone thinking along those lines taking the piss?!

      All it is…and I mean in totality…is $395 million of public money being siphoned into a privatisation programme. Said it on Karol’s thread – will say it again here – call it for what it is and don’t give it the air of credibility by suggesting it has anything to do with the education of children or has any part to play in any debate or discussion on education.

      It belongs in the dog turd bag along with all the other mashed up and ideologically driven talk that favours privatisation and market discipline.

      • Chooky 1.1.1

        @ Bill… I hope they were being ironic

      • mickysavage 1.1.2

        I was being ironic Bill … The comment was made in a paragraph dealing with the policy at a political level.

        I would prefer that the money was spent on free school breakfasts. Child poverty is the cause of our education standards and this is where any reforms should be addressed.

        • Bill 1.1.2.1

          Yeah, sorry Mickey. Just the whole thing is winding me up. If the money was being spent on education, then sure…argue about poverty and meals and what not as a way to better target the money. But it’s not being spent on education and National’s $395 million isn’t even about education. It’s ‘privatisation money’ that’s being spent into the education sector in order to create a tier of enforcers, so that national standards and all the other measurable criteria that future private investors will need, in order to evaluate an investment, are locked in. Like I said beneath Karol’s post, it’s the funding for a $395 million Goon Squad.

          • emergency mike 1.1.2.1.1

            “But it’s not being spent on education and National’s $395 million isn’t even about education. It’s ‘privatisation money’ that’s being spent into the education sector in order to create a tier of enforcers, so that national standards and all the other measurable criteria that future private investors will need, in order to evaluate an investment, are locked in.”

            +1 A bunch of well paid enforcers looking to find ways to criticize is not what teachers need. And the corporatization of schools is not what kids need. But it’s exactly what you need if you want to impose the neo-liberal corporate competitive model on the education sector.

          • mickysavage 1.1.2.1.2

            Just the whole thing is winding me up

            So it should. It is consummate Crosby Textor wrapped up in teacher bashing with a side serving of management speak justifying well paid people being paid even more while kids still go to school hungry. It is very well designed. It is also atrocious.

            • Bill 1.1.2.1.2.1

              No ms…I think you’re misunderstanding where I’m coming from. What is winding me up is that too many people are lending this an aura of respectability by allowing it to be spoken of as something to do with education (ie, childrens’ learning).

              That teachers are going to ‘get bashed’ is (from the Nat perspective) simply a natural and somewhat inconsequential side effect of readying the education system for privatisation.

              Below (comment 7.3) you say “In a perfect world if you are going to spend lots of money you would ask if the people most directly affected thought that it was a good idea …”

              You don’t think they have had talks with potential private providers/investors on what measurable criteria must be introduced to the system so that it’s ‘a goer’ for privatisation? Of course they have! And they are the people – the people/institutions with money that National would see as being affected. Teachers? They’re just some pesky flies in the ointment…as are the children.

              To repeat myself – that the Nats have been given a free run in promoting this shit as some kind of education policy, and are being unwittingly abetted by many on the left who accept that framing, is where the wound up feelings are coming from.

  2. Chooky 2

    +100 good post

    Key has duped and is buying off teachers and their unions … to support ‘excellent’ Principals (who think the Nact way..( lets face it , they wont be thinking any other way when they are the recipients of tens of thousands of dollars!)

    …when in actual fact excellent teaching and teachers are NOT the problem in our State schools ……. but under-funding and poverty is.( Key , Joyce and Nact have created these problems by creating an inegalitarian society and pouring money into private education, while starving state education!)

    …the effect of this will be to further divide teachers , establish a fascist top down cronyism, and further undermine State Education (even more than National has already done)..making State education ripe for a private take over by Charter School businesses ( bye bye critical thinking and secular education…because schools will be captured by business and religious interests )

    …..lets hope the teacher union membership wakes up and does a rethink!

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Spoke to a couple of local notables this afternoon with significant knowledge of and experience in the education sector. They spoke positively of Key’s education announcements.

    The NATs are damn good at this game. This single announcement alone is worth around 1% to the NATs I reckon.

  4. aerobubble 4

    National like to give parents choice, because in this choice it makes school zones house prices boom,
    it grows inequality, it manufactures in the minds of parents that status can be gained from the school their kids go to, its basically all about manufacturing consent. Pure politics and ideological backwardness. I thought we waged a world war to do away with his ilk.

  5. ianmac 5

    Glad you spoke up Mickey. There are many flaws in the policy especially for Primary teaching.
    Katherine asked some good questions of Parata on Morning Report. For example once the quota of excellent Lead teachers is filled, how long will it be before the avenue of promotion opens to trickle one or two more in? 5 years? 20 years?

    But it was the interview with a bloke with a name like Dr Berlinner (couldn’t catch his name) that exposed the error of Key quoting international best practice and best reasearch. Not too long but it counters the MSMslobbering with excitement and the particular enthusiasm from the Secondary group who teach one or two specialist subjects which is so different from Primary.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/2583337

  6. aerobubble 6

    Key to throw money at teachers, like when will he stop. He threw money at Novapay. He threw money at a education civil servant. He threw money at smaller class sizes and then back tracked. He threw money at National standards and standards have dropped! He threw money at ACTs school policies. He plans to win the election on how much money he can throw at inept education policy.

  7. karol 7

    Interesting “fish hooks” on 3 News. Parata says Executive Principals won’t be paid to do more of the same – must do something different – will be monitored and will have extra pay withdrawn if they fail to produce “change”…… and the changes will be at elast in part measured by the dodgy National Standards.

    Subtext – do what the government wants or you won’t get extra pay.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Compliance and conformity i.e. selling out

      • Chooky 7.1.1

        fascism in our education system is a very serious matter

        …this is an attack on our democratic society!

        • Colonial Viper 7.1.1.1

          In McCarthy USA, educators with socialist tendencies were black listed and removed from their employment, never to work in schools or universities again.

          No explanation would be provided to the school or university; government agents would turn up and walk the educators off the property with no evidence and no due process.

          The result of all of this is the USA we have today.

          Remember history; it never repeats but it does rhyme.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 7.2

      So, as predicted, the policy proposal amounts to little more than a betrayal.

      Performance pay, again.

      Smash the National Party. It is a cancer.

    • mickysavage 7.3

      The really interesting thing is that teachers were not consulted. In a perfect world if you are going to spend lots of money you would ask if the people most directly affected thought that it was a good idea …

      • KiwiGunner 7.3.1

        True enough. But we haven’t been consulted on anything for several years now. Hell how could trained professionals who work at the coalface know anything?

        • mickysavage 7.3.1.1

          Yeah you only spend your working lives doing your best and there is a bunch of capitalist wanna bees led by a merchant banker who understand the system so much better than you …

          • LilaR 7.3.1.1.1

            Key was not even a merchant banker – he was a money trader, i.e. a professional gambler – with other people’s money.

  8. Debbie Brown 8

    It’s disgusting. To throw money at bonuses for a few, while ignoring the actual CHILDREN whose education they pretend to care about.

    Free breakfasts or lunches would go a long way to helping kids learn. So would extra teachers. But paying a few heads extra, and demanding all the staff underneath them work harder to justify their bonuses? It just won’t work.

    Fact is, teachers usually started out teaching because they already liked

  9. Debbie Brown 9

    It’s disgusting. To throw money at bonuses for a few, while ignoring the actual CHILDREN whose education they pretend to care about.

    Free breakfasts or lunches would go a long way to helping kids learn. So would extra teachers. But paying a few heads extra, and demanding all the staff underneath them work harder to justify their bonuses? It just won’t work.

    Fact is, teachers usually started out teaching because they already liked kids and wanted to help them learn. They don’t need a bigger whip to motivate them, rather they need better resources. I have teacher friends who have no choice but to photocopy entire books because they aren’t provided with enough for the class, let alone additional learning resources. And the fact that so many kids turn up to school hungry, means those kids are gonna struggle to learn no matter how motivated they are. Noone can think straight on an empty stomach.

    But National don’t care about any of this.

    • geoff 9.1

      Great post, Debbie Brown!

    • mickysavage 9.2

      Fact is, teachers usually started out teaching because they already liked kids and wanted to help them learn. They don’t need a bigger whip to motivate them, rather they need better resources. I have teacher friends who have no choice but to photocopy entire books because they aren’t provided with enough for the class, let alone additional learning resources. And the fact that so many kids turn up to school hungry, means those kids are gonna struggle to learn no matter how motivated they are. Noone can think straight on an empty stomach.

      But National don’t care about any of this.

      Well said Debbie. My wife is a teacher and would endorse everything that you say.

      • geoff 9.2.1

        I just hope DC picks up on this aspect of it instead of pushing some kind of ‘me too, except even more!’ copycat policy of National’s.

    • Chooky 9.3

      +100 Debbie Brown

  10. RedLogix 10

    As a few people have more or less intimated above:

    1. Who does the selecting of these expert teachers?

    2. What agenda will they have to comply with?

    3. Will teachers will be required to resign from their union in order to accept these managerial roles?

    Can anyone here spell ‘union-busting’?

    • Bill 10.1

      If you read JKs speech that Karol linked to on her ‘Spot the Difference! Stating the Nation’ post, then the answers to points one and two become fairly obvious.

      Executive Principals will have a proven track record in raising achievement and they will pass on their knowledge and expertise to other principals. They will be appointed by an external panel, for up to four years. Executive Principals will be paid an annual allowance of $40,000 on top of their existing salary, and they will be judged on their results.

      &

      National standards have taken time to bed in, and we’re working to improve the consistency of assessments. But the information they provide has been invaluable in determining where to put resources and effort to lift achievement.

      Because lifting achievement, each year and in measurable steps, is the whole point of going to school.

      Stats, stats, stats and more stats. What JK has explicitly said is that good stats = rising achievement. And forget that a moments thought tells us that’s utter bullshit…JK knows it’s b/s too. But anyway, you know how to produce good stats? We gotta job for you. And why do we want and need stats? Well, those measurable indicators are absolutely necessary if you intend to throw education into some market, profit making environment. And for the small cost of installing a regime for enforcement (around $400 million) investors/providers get a whole new profit orientated market delivered to them. Not bad, if you can pull it off.

      • Anne 10.1.1

        You’ve cemented it in a nutshell Bill. Thank-you.

        What astonishes me is that so many presumably intelligent people – including a lot of teachers – don’t apparently have the cognitive ability to see the reality of the Govt’s dirty little scheme. They have to win the election first and then wham… it’s all on!

        According to Bryce Edwards the govt has made a clever turn to the Left. What a dickhead!

      • Olwyn 10.1.2

        Over on TDB, I suggested that he seemed to be putting a layer of management between the government and the schools, so that the closure of “under-performing” schools becomes a “professional” rather than a political decision. Your linking the emphasis on stats with the market model, Bill, is very plausible. And Red Logix sees union busting in it. All different aspects of the same vile trajectory. This guy is nothing more than a corporate branch manager – he is not a prime minister in any meaningful sense of the term.

        • David H 10.1.2.1

          It is truly amazing, the despicible lengths this government will go to, to break the Teachers Union.

          • Chooky 10.1.2.1.1

            …and the teachers unions dont even seem to realise what a threat this John Key’s Nact /Charter School privatisation agenda proposals are to them…..!

            ….they just lap up any money thrown at a few (soon to be bought off) ‘excellent’ Principals …without realising it is a Trojan Horse set in place to divide and destroy teachers morale , the unions and divide state education into under-performing bits to be privatised

            ….teacher quality and excellence is not why our education is going downhill internationally under John Key , Joyce and Nact !

            …the real reasons are State schools starved of capital !….and poverty amongst children in the communities which schools serve ( Key, Joyce and Nact are responsible for this!)

            that said …..a school inspectorate is a good idea to share ideas , offer morale to teachers , help solve problems ….but the inspectorate of old ( before ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’)was made up of excellent teachers nearing retirement who did this work for little more than the average teacher’s pay…in other words they were more experienced non- judgmental colleagues with the good of State education and teachers at heart …(not, bought off with tens of thousands of dollars, servants to Nacts privatising agenda and American business Charter Schools

          • Francis 10.1.2.1.2

            It’s because the Teachers Union is one of the very few surviving unions with any reasonable political power.

            If any of you haven’t already, I strongly recommend watching A Civilised Society. It really helps put into perspective National’s true motives…

      • emergency mike 10.1.3

        “And for the small cost of installing a regime for enforcement (around $400 million) investors/providers get a whole new profit orientated market delivered to them. Not bad, if you can pull it off.”

        You’re bang on Bill. This isn’t an education policy; it won’t do anything to improve it. It’s a step towards moving public education towards the corporate competitive model. No more or less. Whether or not that’s best best for the education of children, (it’s awful), is unimportant. The kids of the investors you are talking about won’t be going to these schools.

    • KiwiGunner 10.2

      The positions of Executive Principals will be selected by ‘a panel’. Take a look at the folk selected for the governments new Teachers Council and you will see a bunch of right wing – National linked people. That will tell you about the panel for these new roles. Then the Executive Principals select the teachers – I trust you are getting the idea.

      The mental thing is principals and teachers would happily share their best practice and ideas – indeed they have been for years – for free. What the govt really only needed to do (were this about teaching) is fund some more release time for teachers and more relieving teachers. Man I could have done the same thing for less than 1/4 of the cost. But then I trust teachers and I don’t have an alternate agenda..

  11. KiwiGunner 11

    I’m a principal and I am disgusted by my Principal Federations response. Schools are run on the smell of an oily rag here and that our leadership thinks it is a great idea to give a bunch of already well
    paid principals large amounts of money to embed Nationals education policies (for this is clearly what this is) is a disgrace of mammoth proportions.

    I can only think that he sees himself as an Executive Principal and is counting the cash now.

    As for the teachers only National would see collaboration as paying a few chosen ones more as encouraging this.

    • mickysavage 11.1

      I can only think that he sees himself as an Executive Principal and is counting the cash now.

      I thought the same thing KG. Divide and rule and to the victors the spoils and to everyone else …

      • Anne 11.1.1

        Yep. We’ve all been saying pretty much the same things here and on karol’s post. I hope David Cunliffe has had time to read the posts and the very good comments because there’s ammunition galore within for Monday’s speech.

      • Rodel 11.1.2

        Agree with you MS./
        Key and Textor know too well that ambitious people are so easily manipulated and corrupted by promises of money. After all it’s the Tory way and the Principals Federation response is a perfect example of this and it is very hard for a Labour movement to combat this kind of good dog- sit and you’ll be rewarded manipulation.The news media are equally manipulable.
        Somewhere I read about the corporation of New Zealand’s education and the dumb b*stards don’t realize it is happening.
        Tories, who are research evidence deniers, genuinely think private schools provide a better education. They don’t…they just provide a surfeit of uneducated Tory clones.. but with this CEO inspired crap and charter schools we are moving towards the US system. Next thing will we have parents giving gratuities to teachers if their kids get good marks.

        Very very hard for Cunliffe and Co. to combat. I notice Parata is quietly subservient but I’d like John Banks to give his educated. opinion.

        • David H 11.1.2.1

          “I’d like John Banks to give his educated. opinion.”

          So would I but sorry he’s a little busy right now, Tied up, with some legal things. Maybe he’s learning how to pick up a bar of soap, without bending over.

  12. Barry 12

    $90million a year extra on education is nice, but I think you will find that it will be clawed back elsewhere in reduced inflation adjustments at least.

    It is going to require hundreds (at least) of extra teachers/principals to backfill. Most of these will be part-timers/relievers which is going to lead to a greater casualisation of the workforce.

    They will use Nationa Standards to pick which teachers get the extra dough. Expect to see more fiddling of the figures/teaching to the test.

    I can’t believe that it will actually get implemented as described becasue it is going to need a larger bureaucracy to support it. It will require a lot of flexibility to work which is not apparent from the speech. Some schools are going to require more than others.

    Children in thousands of classrooms are going to find themselves with relievers 2 days a week which is going to annoy the parents. Many are going to prefer to have a “lesser” teacher and get them full time. Where to find the reliever principals?

    Many teachers who miss out on the extra dough (not putting enough emphasis on the tests) are likely to get pissed off and leave. This policy is upposed to encourage good teachers to stay in the profesion but it could have the opposite effect.

    • Bill 12.1

      $90million a year extra on education is nice…

      Well, it would be except that it isn’t on education – it’s just being put into the education sector…to secure the services of a 6 250 strong goon squad. Their task will be to ensure that everyone is producing those market friendly stats.

      This policy is upposed to encourage good teachers to stay in the profesion…

      No it’s not. It’s supposed to create the correct market friendly environment that will lend itself to privatisation and subsequent profit taking by private concerns.

      • lprent 12.1.1

        Is it my imagination, or was there absolutely no mention of the additional funding required for the schools to provide replacement teachers for those torn off to other schools?

        • KiwiGunner 12.1.1.1

          Nope. Or where these teachers are. I am amazed that so called executive principals will get $40k more for no extra work – just in a different school. I can only imagine that they are Keys ‘Boot Boys’ for educations bad policy.

          Just spend the money on the kids/schools/communities would be my advice – not already well paid principals who should be happy to share their expertise with other schools anyway – for free as part of their current work.

          • Colonial Viper 12.1.1.1.1

            Now you’ve figured it out.

            This is about creating a separate (first) class of Senior teachers and principals who fit a certain politically acceptable (and eventually non-unionised) profile. Only they will get the extra money and recognition. The money and recognition will also be waved in front of ‘trouble makers’ in an attempt to win them over.

            So, it’s an instrument to divide the teaching profession, gain institutional loyalty, and secure political compliance.

            The political left better get its shit into order and state what Key has actually done here.

  13. dw 13

    Please don’t insult a genuine innovator like IBM by lumping them in with these ideological Nazi clowns.

    • Pasupial 13.1

      dw

      Dehomag: Innovative IBM subsidiary in Nazi Germany and Poland.

      NACT are ideological clowns; yes, even; fascist (in a Pareto Corporatism way). “Natzi” is bad enough (though almost justifiable wordplay), “Nazi” is just flat out wrong. Is it not enough that they are a pack of grasping self obsessed hyenas, do you really have to go for Godwinning?

  14. Cunliffe needs to say that this is more teacher bashing and blame shifting from NACTs policy of impoverishing working families to squeeze more profits out of them.
    That it won’t get implemented because if legislated the left when elected in 2014 will repeal this elitist attack on teachers and implement a policy of full employment, decent health and affordable housing, so that free, universal, comprehensive public education will return NZ to the top of the OECD pecking order.

  15. millsy 15

    The problems in the education sector wont be fixed until the support systems for schools that were whipped away by the Tomorrow’s Schools reforms are, at least in some part, reinstated.

    It also helps to:

    Address the problem created by schools implementing BYOD policies (ie some people being able to afford iPads and others not)
    Address the problems of ever increasing parental contributions — I note that schools are now requiring students to bring their own whiteboard markers now. Principals must think parents just shit out money.
    Put downward pressure on class sizes. Classes should be capped at 20 per student.

    • Chooky 15.1

      @ Millsey

      re “Classes should be capped at 20″…….Nact advocates small class sizes for private schools/Charter schools but says it doesnt matter for educational outcomes in State Schools (hypocrisy)

      ….something also must be done about s disruptive kids in the classroom…..schools should not be providing a social service for Nacts socio- economic disaster….nothing puts well adjusted kids and teachers off school and learning more than delinquent kids disrupting

      ….there needs to be more flexibility for State Secondary Schools eg scope for teacher lessons on video played at home and then the homework done in class at school so the teacher can give kids individual attention where they need it

      ….imo ….large State Secondary Schools should have flexi – shifts eg. one in the morning and one at night and maybe one in the evening for adult students returning for night school…..

      the whole school sector needs to be professionalised as in Finland( best in the world) …. NOT privatised as in the USA( very poor outcomes for many)

  16. gem 16

    Labour fluffed the response to this. The move was not a ‘six page apology for Hekia Parata’.
    Saying that fed the idea that National was finally Doing Something Right.
    Cunliffe’s communication skills can be excellent, but he does seem to have a bit of a weakness for a snappy soundbite.
    They should highlight the corporate sounding names of the new positions to posit that it’s corporatisation of the classroom. And link that back to charter schools.
    Most of the public sector is drowning in dross language and jargon; why do we want this sort of pseudo corporate nonsense creeping into schools? People would respond; they see it in their own jobs/dealings with govt departments.
    The media strategy seems overly cautious from Labour; you have to risk looking a bit negative, it’s what the opposition’s for.
    Schools, unlike hospitals, are not run by corporate bureaucrats, and long may that continue.

  17. Pushkin 17

    I don’t understand how the expert teachers are supposed to keep up student achievement in their own classrooms if they are going to be released two days a week to work in other schools. Won’t their own performance, and those of their students, thus slide? If I knew my son or daughter’s teacher was elevated to ‘expert teacher’ status, I’d first be happy they may have a great teacher (depending on how they are to be appointed). Then I’d be worried as they would only be actually teaching my children three days a week and someone else will be covering for them while away! Also, if the expert teachers are to be held accountable via performance measures as indicated in the latest reportage, how will they able to do this if their actual teaching time for the kids they are primarily responsible for is reduced by 40%?

  18. Murray Olsen 18

    My teaching experience is all tertiary, but it’s not hard to see that Key’s proposals are a recipe for disaster. In Australia they reward “rock star” researchers with something like three times the normal pay. It’s often not obvious what’s made these guys rock stars except a gift for self promotion. They use the extra funding they get to build their own little empires and in many cases actively suppress people outside their incestuous orbits.

    This is how I would expect the idea of executive principals and the like to work out. We’ll see mouthy little Tory shits creaming it, dishonest manipulation of statistics, and suppression of any eager and creative teachers. Key’s kids will still get good jobs because of their stupid surname. Ours would get pepper sprayed and tasered.

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