Stifling dissent

Written By: - Date published: 3:01 pm, February 19th, 2010 - 41 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, education, john key, national - Tags: ,

John Key and his National Party have a long and dishonourable record of trying to shut down those who speak out to oppose them.

The most outrageous case was Key’s attempt to shut down the “we would love to see wages drop” story by putting pressure on a journalist and his employers (to the extent of trying to get him sacked?). This led to the unprecedented response of Herald journalists writing a letter of protest over Key’s political interference. A close second, Bill English, bullying journalists who were covering the story of his personal hypocrisy and greed. Nick Smith has tried the same tactics, National tried to shut down a KiwiSaver story, and let’s not forget the attempt to muzzle the DHBs, or the repeated (also failed) attempts to silence the 50,000 Kiwis represented by the EPMU. These are just examples that we know about – how many more?

Here’s another one (courtesy of the Dominion Post):

Boards get warning over standards

School board members have been warned not to sign a petition protesting against national standards, even if they personally object to them. Boards have also been reminded they are legally bound to implement the standards and can take employment action against principals who block their introduction.

Opponents of national standards’ immediate implementation have called the warnings an affront to democracy.

The Dominion Post has obtained a copy of the email, addressed to board chairs and sent by School Trustees Association president Lorraine Kerr this week. Principals were excluded from distribution. Mrs Kerr confirmed yesterday the email’s intention was in part to tell board members that even if they opposed the standards they were legally obliged to implement them. It would be “unwise” for any board member to sign a petition against national standards, the email said.

This is outrageous. In a democracy people are entitled to speak out. Board members are elected by their communities and charged with the care and development of the pupils in their schools. They have more than the right, they have the duty to speak out if they think children’s education is at risk, as it clearly is from the blind lumbering elephant that is “national standards”.

41 comments on “Stifling dissent ”

  1. tc 1

    It’s not a democracy it’s a corpratocracy…….does it all makes sense now.

  2. blinded by the right 2

    Political parties in power have a long and dishonourable record of trying to shut down those who speak out to oppose them.

    Tidied that up for you to be more inclusive.

    • Bright Red 2.1

      phew. guess we can just turn a blind eye to it and keep kissing John Key’s sexy arse then, eh blinded?

      • blinded by the right 2.1.1

        Feel free. I was just pointing out it wasn’t a National monopoly, not defending it.

        • r0b

          Yes, the extensive documentation of the numerous examples you provided was especially convincing too.

          • blinded by the right

            Seriously? You think I’m just making things up? Or do you truly believe that National is the only political party to ever do this?

            • r0b

              I’m sure you could find examples of other parties involved in one off or occasional foolish mistakes of this kind.

              I doubt that you could find examples of such systematic and outrageous attacks, led and directed by the two top figures in the party.

              Or do you truly believe that National is the only political party to ever do this?

              To this extent and at the very highest levels, yes. The Muldoon government being another example of course.

            • Draco T Bastard

              You think I’m just making things up?


            • mickysavage

              What Draco said

              Otherwise cite examples and be ready to have a real debate.

  3. tc 3

    naturally it helps if the MSM are compliant lapdogs with the morality of a currency trader.

    • You mean there is a currency trader in the beehive?

      If that is true we are in trouble.

      The next thing you will say is that there is an English PR form engaged in distorting reality so that the masses think that things are actually ok.

      Oh f*(k

  4. Daveo 4

    Don’t forget those two mums on the DPB Paula Bennett released the private details of after they criticised her. Speaking of which, anyone heard where the privacy commission case is at?

  5. Jared 5

    Oh come on, are you serious? School Boards, Teachers and Principals are bound to adhere to a curriculum as designated by the government and the MOE. It is not their place to question it, or refuse to implement it. Imagine if Electoral Commission and Electoral Office staff disliked the Electoral Finance Act, they can personally “dislike” the policy, but it is their job to implement it.
    Absolutely in a democracy people are entitled to speak out. But considering we haven’t even seen any feedback from the implementation of the National Standards yet, apart from an ideologically driven opposition to the policy specifically backed by a union that dislikes the current government regardless of policy initiatives, its hard to see how any criticism can have any substantive quality.

    Let me ask this. Is the opposition to National Standards simply an attack for the sake of an attack because it is a product of the National Government, or a truely academic attack.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 5.1

      Fair enough Jared, the response to National Standards has been pretty political (I see public meetings springing up all over the place) but the question needs to be asked- was Tolley the architect of the policy or was it a backroom political move to exploit dissatisfaction with unionism in schools?

      If there are solid educational principles behind the policy, I would like to see them. There don’t seem to many educationalist supporting it. The main proponents seem to National supporters (and their pollsters) who keeps telling us that parents want it. If it is not government by focus group and politicisation of our schools I and my kids, would be happy to be proven wrong

    • r0b 5.2

      Let me ask this. Is the opposition to National Standards simply an attack for the sake of an attack because it is a product of the National Government, or a truely academic attack

      Jared, Prof Hattie is the government’s own education advisor. He is one of those warning of disaster.

      This is NOT an “attack for the sake of an attack”. It is the dire warnings of the experts.

    • lprent 5.3

      Jared: The reason that there hasn’t been any ‘feedback’ is because National rammed this bill through the house under urgency and without any select committee. So no-one got a chance to point out the bloody stupid flaws in the scheme. In fact at the time that the bill went through the house, the details of the scheme hadn’t even been drafted from what I understand.

      There was no public consultation worthy of the name. Just Tolley and other ministers lying their teeth off about a scheme that hadn’t been devised yet.

      Stuff the government. If they don’t want to hear the views of principals, teachers, and trustees then they can take them to court (or those people can take the state to court for unjustified dismissals). At least in court the basis of the governments decision can be examined. All of those people have a responsibility to their students – which will make for some very interesting cases balancing responsibilities.

      But this particular debacle puts paid to the line that the fuckwit minister was trying to spin – that it was only teachers and principals against the standards. I’d take a bet that most trustees are as well, and probably most parents if it was explained to them.

      Fire Tolley and can the ‘National Standards’ until the new minister can show the benefits to the students. This current minister appears to have no freaking idea. The evidence from similar programs in the US and the UK is that the programmes are being dismantled because they cause more harm than benefit.

    • reddy 5.4

      Also when the policy was initiallly released it was done in catchphrases. Even when it was rammed through under urgency the details were not included in the legislation, they were to be added later. There was no chance for submissions.

      Put it another way- if Anne Tolley and John Key started to dictate to doctors about good medical practice without allowing any scrutiny and then started to shut down dissent- well look at what has happened with the blood testing in Auckland.

  6. lukas 6

    Slightly off topic, but still on the topic of stifling dissent… any one else get regularly stuck in moderation at Red Alert for no apparent reason other than having a differing opinion?

    • The Voice of Reason 6.1

      No, it’s just you.

      • Tiger Mountain 6.1.1

        Unfortunately your reasonableness, it is me too, and not many would describe me as a right winger. There is a glitch for some posters at Red Alert. It seems to work ok if I use a fresh search but not from a bookmark.

        • The Voice of Reason

          Cheers, TM. I was really having a pop at Lukas’s paranoia, I don’t visit Red Alert enough to really know. In fact, I think the one time I did comment there, last year sometime, I was briefly sent to purgatory too. Which is odd, given how reasonable I am.

          But for Lukas’s benefit, there is a million miles between moderating a private entity such as a blog and heavying staff who actually know better than their masters and are brave enough to tell the truth.

  7. Ed 7

    The muzzling of the ACC Board so that Nick Smith and his new tame chairman Judge could create a ‘crisis’ in ACC was a clear example of managing a fictional story – and putting John Judge at what must have been close to professional misconduct.

  8. Julie 8

    Slight pedantry on my part – the petition on National Standards that the STA President is referring to is actually calling for a trial, not opposing them outright. What’s so threatening about that? Particularly given the National Standards legislation didn’t go through any of the usual scrutiny like a select committee process.

  9. Jared 9

    Bullshit. The “dire warning” was back in November. He has since consulted with Key and Tolley and is involved with a refinement process, see
    All you are doing is dressing up a political attack.

    • r0b 9.1

      The “dire warning’ was back in November.

      What difference does that make?

      He has since consulted with Key and Tolley and is involved with a refinement process

      Yeah he wants to fix it because it’s broken.

      All you are doing is dressing up a political attack

      So you are accusing the government’s own education advisor of a political attack? Really?

  10. randal 10

    I can understand them stifling dissent.
    If anybody really took the time they would see: a) that most of their arguements are inane, and b) the debate is being run by the national party’s eminence gris and follows a standard right wing code that that needs to be exposed first.

  11. Rex Widerstrom 11

    Hahahaha! I’d have seen that as an invitation to do a round of talkback, public meetings and a media release on the topic when I chaired a board. What would Tolley do, cut the huge $60 a month (or something like that) I got paid?!

    Yes I’d have implemented the standards if told to, but I hope present board members realise they didn’t mortgage their integrity to Ms Tolley when they signed on… they still own their opinions, and the right to express them.

  12. Tiger Mountain 12

    NZSTA had an unfortunate gestation and has always been a weaselly operation misleading groups of parents who often need capacity building not tory lecturing to serve their schools. Fear and loathing predominates between many boards and principals, the latter actually being on BOTs as of right, which makes Lorraine Kerrs note on the above mentioned communication as not being for principals eyes even more offensive. Ex coppers, haridans, and unfortunately, a smattering of burnt out unionists are to be found in the ‘top’ ranks of NZSTA, they should be ashamed of themselves.

  13. George D 13

    And of course threatening to sack the board of Radio New Zealand.

  14. The Electoral Finance Act had a similar effect. It included a prohibition on instruments of the Crown (which includes school boards) from publishing election advertisements. Many of the things that are being said about National’s imposition of national standards would probably have qualified.

  15. Tom D 15

    What a crock. Stifling dissent my ass. The School Trustees Association is an incorporated society that has nothing to do with government. You are grasping at straws if you think Key is behind this. All your other examples are stupid.

    Remember when Helen called John Campbell a creep? How about when Cullen threatened the Herald over its tax changes? How about when Cullen told TVNZ that journalists were self-serving in wanting tax cuts? How about Clark’s attacks on Wishart? How about how Clark had press gallery favourites that she would call up and have private chats to?

    More smear from the standard. It is a pity that you haven’t got your shit in order since launching this cool site. Still same old same old bullshit from tired has-beens.

  16. Cnr Joe 16

    Deborah Hill Cone (Anyone?) on the panel this arvo,gave it a go

    Cptch – failed

  17. Zaphod Beeblebrox 17

    Ok so they will sack the School Council first then appoint commissars to sack the Principal then sack the staff. Who wants to go to Kaikohe or Murupara to do all that?.

    Good luck.

  18. Paul 18

    My take on the STA is that they have become anti-teacher. This is really strange since Boards and teachers are in partnership. As Zaphod says it would be great to see the government try and send commissioners to every school in the country (or even 50% of them) to replace boards. Most Board members (heartedly fed up with struggling to run schools on bugger all money) would happily hand them over (Board members are you remember paid a massive $55 per meeting for doing this most worthy job in their spare time). Boards are not simply elected to follow the rules of the day. They make their own policy and decide what is good for their school. This is an idle threat and the day that one Board is replaced by a commissioner for any reason other than an inability to lead the school just about every other Board in the country will resign in sympathy.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 18.1

      If the Board, the principal and possibly the Senior teachers are all sacked- it may be tricky trying to stop parents pulling kids out of the school. It could take years for such a school to recover its standing.

  19. Lorraine Kerr is anti-union (run a Google search and have a look) and someone who has taken the ’employer’ role far too far in her politicisation of the STA chairs’ role. Her exclusion of principals from the circulation of her e-mail was a serious error of judgement, as principals are, coinstitutionally, board members. If I were on the board of the STA, I would be looking for a resignation.

  20. John Walker 20

    Lorraine Kerr is bad news. I have written to her early in the debate about BOTs being a partnership but no reply. Lorraine continues to run her own personal political agenda flushed with the rush of “power” her role appears to afford but meanwhile she denigrates any standing the STA may have had. STA has always been dictated to by Govt as was the School Committees Federation that preceded it. Mindless robotic adherence to political whims needs to be heavily questioned as do the sycophants who follow party lines.
    Reason and rigour applied to education by a broad spectrum of New Zealand research, peer reviewed and supported by all the main University Education faculties, lays down clear analysis of any national standards in testing and diagnosis of the curriculum.
    STA has a very limited role curbed by its lack of ability to be independent of govt and politics. Its management is a joke as is it’s advice to schools.
    I have been around the scene a lot longer than Lorraine Kerr.
    Time is well passed when BOTs should consider pulling out of funding STA and banding together in groups to handle their own legal advice and forget the often stupid dictates from STA . Education is not a place for politicians following a far right wing agenda ignoring our NZ traditions and character.
    Lange created havoc destroying out system of Education boards as he was ignorant of how that all worked. As he knew little of education he sought advice and guidance from Picot who was a private school follower. Lange had a personal agenda related to his own child. A fool allows personal reasons to be a guide for legislation.
    Politics should be left out of education. It is far too important to be a football.

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