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The long game on charter schools & national standards

Written By: - Date published: 12:32 pm, December 7th, 2011 - 57 comments
Categories: class war, education - Tags:

To understand why a party does stuff, you have to go back to their core objectives. Simply looking at policies in isolation means missing the underlying goals. In particular, looking at policies that clearly don’t work to achieve their stated aims without context can lead you to the erroneous conclusion that a party is stupid or crazy. To understand why National is pushing ahead with charter schools and national standards/league tables, we need to remember what National is all about.

National doesn’t like public services, which have to paid for by tax (the horror, the horror) and it doesn’t like organised labour because that distorts the god-like allocative powers of the market (and the market must only be distorted in favour of the capital-owning haves, not the rest of us). It likes ‘freedom’ and ‘choice’, in other words in believes that access to resources and opportunities ought to be allocated on the basis of ability to pay because it believes that money comes to those who deserve it and it’s only right that society serves the interests of the morally deserving. In short, National believes in maintaining and enhancing the privileges of the elite that funds it, and that elite paying as little tax as possible.

What’s that you say? Maybe National is just trying to do something to improve education? That’s the old ‘something must be done, this is something, therefore, this must be done’ fallacy. If National cared about education, it would be emulating successful policies from abroad (much as Labour sought to emulate Australia’s successful monetary, savings, tax, and labour policies last election). Instead, it is running policies that have manifestly failed to improve educational outcomes abroad, and mostly taken them backwards. There has to be a reason for this arising from National’s underlying values.

So, let’s look at the long game of charter schools and national standards:

National standards will be used to generate league tables – this was always their purpose, there is no educational value to national standards because they don’t identify learning difficulties (there are other diagnostic tools for that) and there’s no resourcing, anyway, associated with national standards to tackle learning difficulties.

So, we get league tables. They tell us which schools are ‘doing well’ and which are ‘failing’. No surprises, it’s the ones with lots of kids that are living in poverty that are ‘failing’.

Charter schools lets private organisations take over ‘failing’ schools or set up competing ones. All funded by the government (as any good businessman knows, the way to get rich is to get the taxpayer to pay your salary). And these charter schools, unlike public schools, can take in the students of their choosing.

Naturally, they don’t let in the low-grade/high-c0st students. Just like privatised ACC, the private sector takes the cream and leaves the public sector to pick up the hard cases. They also get the best teachers because teachers are understandably lining up to work with schools full of the best pupils. And, thanks to those national standards, the league tables show that, sure enough, charter schools get better results for the same cost, or less per student. Which justifies cutting spending on those ‘failed’ schools.

Now, something like 70% of the cost of public education is wages. So, if you want to drive down education costs (= tax cuts! … for the rich at least) you have to cut teachers’ wages. Conveniently, charter schools, like private schools are outside of the ministry of education’s bargaining with the main teachers’ unions, weakening their bargaining power.

Naturally, the league tables also show that public sector teachers are obviously under-performing and don’t deserve more pay – in fact, maybe we need some union-busting legislation to get them off their arses. Most teachers are still employed by the public sector schools, of course, and their lower pay helps to depress wages for the bulk-funded charter school teachers and private school teachers.

And the elite get their elite schools without having to pay private school tuition, while the rest are dumped in under-funded public schools. Just as has happened in the UK and Sweden.

What does this do for educational outcomes? Not a jot of good, that’s for sure. In fact, you’ve increased the concentration of children with learning and/or social difficulties in certain schools by siphoning off the others. That’s just going to lead to worse educational outcomes for the kids who already have it worst.

So, once we see the underlying objectives of National, we can understand their seemingly illogical education policy. And we can see why it must be stopped.

The truth is that what is holding this country back is not too much tax on a few Randian supermen, it’s the fact that we consign 20% of the population to the scrapheap from birth and they never achieve their full potential, many of them becoming a net cost, rather than benefit to society. Charter schools and national standards/league tables just accentuate this. It is a educational philosophy designed to cut costs and give the best of what’s left to the kids who need it the least, which punishes the children of poverty even more for the situation they were born into, and worsens a situation that every burdens an untold cost on New Zealand in the form of the lost potential of hundreds of thousands of young lives for decades to come.

We will never be all we can be as a country while we deny so many children a decent crack at life so that the elite can have things a tiny bit better. But, National is the party of the status quo, and how things are now is basically how National wants it: they would rather have a society that fails to live up to its collective potential as long as they are on top (and, ideally, with a bit more than they have now) than a New Zealand that takes away some of their privilege and invests it in creating a richer society for all by giving every child real opportunity.

57 comments on “The long game on charter schools & national standards”

  1. stever 1

    In fact, I believe, John Key has said that the charter schools will not be able to pick who goes there. I read a quote form him saying that (it was one of the things in the USA system that he said would not be used here), but all I can find is a report thusly (perhaps from the agreement between ACT and National?):


    The “look to the reasons, the core values” for explanation theme in this post is further strengthened, however, when we see that *other* ideas from Sweden (which have worked, and which Sweden itself is not withdrawing from because they failed, like charter schools) have *not* been picked-up by National, e.g. their approach to disadvantage, social security etc.

    So, National *have* picked something which has failed in Sweden, but have *not* picked something which has succeeded there—why? Look to their core values, as Eddie says, for the answers.

    • felix 1.1

      “In fact, I believe, John Key has said …”

      Turns out that a fair bit of what he says doesn’t count for much akshully. Always gotta check his phrasing, generally leaves himself an escape clause.

  2. Anthony 2

    I’m ambivalent about it, in someways I can see how it can more adequately respond to a monolithic, prescriptive and sometimes irrelevant curriculum that fails to respond to what skills students actually need to succeed in the real world and going on to tertiary education.

    On the other hand there’s so much room for failure in the concept, and the same responsiveness could be accomplished within the current system although I don’t know how likely that is to happen.

    • ianmac 2.1

      Anthony. The recently released “NZ Primary Schools Curriculum” is a remarkably flexible document. (It has evolved over the last 20 years of trial and research and review.) It covers the very thing that USA pines for in identifying the “skills students actually need to succeed in the real world and going on to tertiary education.” One of the issues that American Charter Schools aim for is exactly what NZ has against the American backdrop of “a monolithic, prescriptive and sometimes irrelevant curriculum.”
      Ask at the nearest Primary School to get up to date. Sadly the NS cut across the intent of the Curriculum.

      • ianmac 2.1.1

        Oops. Should mean at the end, Anthony ask at the nearest Primary School to have a look at the NZ Curriculum so that you can get up to speed.

        • Anthony

          It’s secondary schools I’m worried about, although I may be biased because I teach tertiary.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            Or maybe you’re biased because everybody is. That’s why your (or mine, or anyone else’s) individual opinion doesn’t count for shit, and you have to:
            1. Look for evidence that contradicts your beliefs if you really want to test them, and
            2. Use evidence, not your bias, to manage risk.

            I have yet to be convinced that a single member of this government has any idea what any of the above even means.

            • Anthony

              Pretty sure they know exactly what it will take to counter many of the problems in our education system, they just don’t want to pay for it (or more accurately the majority of society don’t want to pay for it).

              So they tinker.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                “The problems in our education system” are not in our education system, they are in our economic situation. The recent OECD report spells it out pretty clearly.

                • Anthony

                  Sounds like bollocks, sure the two are inextricably linked but our economic situation has never been so dire as to require the chronic underfunding in certain aspects of education in recent history. Also while poverty accounts for certain aspects of underperformance, it sure as shit doesn’t account for all of them.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    I think if you look at the evidence you’ll find that underperformance correlates better with inequality than “poverty”, which is what the OECD report discusses. Hence “our economic situation” refers to the aforementioned inequality.

                    The underfunding of education is a symptom of the same phenomenon: political ideology.

                    Politics is the only realm in which this comment is even vaguely controversial.

                    • Phaedrus

                      All very well to use overseas evidence support arguments, Stever, but it does pay to get your facts right first. Using Sweden as an example sounds good, except for this article published in The Guardian on September 10 2011
                      “Doubts grow over the success of Sweden’s free schools experiment
                      Some parents and education experts believe the programme has failed to raise standards and caused segregation”

                      It only takes a few seconds research to turn up increasing evidence from USA about the failure of their charter school movement. It is also very easy to find PISA evidence that shows that NZ is near the top of the pile. Further, of those ‘above NZ” the only comparable country is Finland, who are have gone the completely opposite way to the right wing standards /effectiveness agenda. Singapore, also ‘above’ NZ, has rejigged its education system, after having concluded that the test/achievement model was a failure, and are now invested heavily in a model similar to Finland. China is also developing a system more akin to Finland. Is there a message here or are we too busy playing me too, to the US influences. Oh, one more thing- the New Zealand Curriculum document (world renown) that National is discarding, regardless of their statements, would have taken NZ primary education BEYOND what is happening in Finland.

          • Sian

            The New Zealand Curriculum is for years 1 to 13, not just for primary schools. It’s also available online through TKI – http://www.tki.org.nz

          • red blooded

            Again – try having a look at the curriculum before you comment, Anthony. The NZ secondary curriculum is skills based, is extremely flexible (one page per subject) and based around the concept of individualised learning pathways.

            Maybe you are commenting that you don’t like NCEA (which is an assessment system, not a curriculum). If you are, wait and see the results of the current review and reshaping of NCEA. Secondary teachers are managing this year by year/Level by Level. We started with Level One this year and will be implementing the new version of Level Two next year.

            Just saying…

  3. randal 3

    charter schools are madness.
    they will all have to be undone with the next labour government and if the nashnil gubmint wants to lose the next election then just implement them
    the cartoon in the dompost says it all.
    binky hanging onto kweewee’s thumb and he is saying nobody beleives in the epsom result anyway.
    hardly anyone bleives in the election fullstop.
    its like the gubmint was elected by the wisemen in wellington who are totally bereft of any ideas except the lose collection of nonsense they picked up from the BRT.
    and as for the so callled providers.
    who do they think they are.
    oh thats right.
    they think they are educationists and that 1+1 is a contestible idea.
    and because the BELIEVE this or that then they are qualified.
    in a pigs ass.
    this country has gone friggin nuts and all the thirty tyrants have got alzheimers.
    no wonder everybody is fleeing if they can.

  4. Gosman 4

    I haven’t noticed those objectives you claim National has on any of their official documents or information sources. Do you happen to have access to some secret Policy objectives that the rest of us mere mortals are not privy to?

    • felix 4.1

      You must be fun at parties Gos.

    • framu 4.2

      aww look, gossies playing all innocent again. aint it cute

    • insider 4.3

      I find it hard to correlate the inspired conniving and scheming that must be going on in education with the picture of an intellectually challenged Anne Tolley and poll and image driven smile and wave John Key that Standardistas seem to favour. WHere is all this being done and who is behind it?

      • Colonial Viper 4.3.1

        Anne Tolley is just the front of stage puppet.

      • felix 4.3.2

        What the hell does Tolley have to do with National Party policy, insider?

        And why can’t you get your head around a right-wing ideologue being able to smile or wave?

  5. ianmac 5

    All through discussions about National Standards has been from the right the case for obedience to the Government’s will rather than a discussion about the value of NS. It is usually framed as being about Teacher Unions (Institute) just wanting to protect their own and avoid accountability. I always thought this strange and I think Eddie has nailed it. NS was just a vehicle to demolish the teacher unions and expose education to the Market.
    Sadly one of the great strengths of NZ education has been the openness and sharing of good teaching practice. Put that cooperativeness into a competitive model and the values drop. Performance pay means selfish protection of good ideas and animosity between the rewarded and the ones who are not recognized.
    And how on earth can anyone decide which schools are doing well? There are so many variables that make that impossible and of course unhelpful. In some areas it is a major achievement to get children by the age of 6 to be able to speak in sentences, show courtesy to others, use a handkerchief or tissue, and understand which way is up for a book. Against a NS fail. Against laying groundwork for learning, magic.

  6. Rob Salmond has a (long) sensible take on how we should really be dealing with the Charter School issue:

    We should be asking what makes successful charter schools successful, not declaring all charter schools a failure on the basis that some charter schools failed.

    It is hard to see how a large-scale charter school system, which relies for its success on hiring all of the most cost-effective teachers for themselves at the expense of other schools, is good for the education system as a whole. But that is very different from saying that no charter school system can help alleviate some of the most glaring inequities in our current schooling arrangements.

    People who are about progressive educational outcomes should ask hard questions about the government’s proposal. Where will the schools be placed? How will the schools select their students? How many will there be? The answers to those kinds of questions will determine how supportive I am.

    What we should not be doing is writing off charter schools en masse. There is evidence that charter schools, done right, are progressive institutions. Our challenge is to make sure the government does them right. That will involve battling the natural instincts of ACT. But it should not involve battling the very idea of charter schools.


    Rob’s whole post is well worth a read.

    • ianmac 6.1

      Yes I read that from Rob.
      But have you confidence that the ideals of Charter Schools will be developed here in NZ? Given the record of total lack of consultation, lack of research, and the disaster of National Standards, how on earth would you trust Key/Tolley to have in mind anything other that the intent as outlined by Eddie?
      Market Rules? Competition improves quality? Rubbish!

      • Pete George 6.1.1

        I hope that Key and Tolley have learnt from their NS implementation mistakes. That this is talked about as a small trial is a promising sign that they have.

        Eddie’s ‘outline’ is overblown – every suggested policy isn’t a part of a wider class war.

        • Blighty

          but the ones that don’t make any sense otherwise almost certainly are.

          The truth is, we have one of the best education systems in the world and National’s plan is for us to emulate worse ones. They must have a reason for that – it can’t just be that they’re total fucken morons.

          • KJT

            The only reason is that Nationals puppet masters have identified an area of possible profit.

            The sort of businesspeople who support national are the ones that are incapable of building a business. They have to rely on speculation or grabbing the ones that the State has already established.

        • Draco T Bastard

          …every suggested policy isn’t a part of a wider class war.

          If it’s coming from National and Act then yes it is.

    • Craig Glen Eden 6.2

      Why not emulate our schools successes after all we do better than the States and England.

      And by the way we already know why some kids don’t do well for reason such as these, English is their second language, they are special needs kids (physical or learning or both), they come from poor homes and have not had breakfast or have a lunch, they have not had the opportunity to be socialized in things like sport or other activities like the arts, no books in homes, English is not spoken in the home.They don’t get to go to school camps Mum and Dada cant get a job or have a job that is minimum wage.

      Ok so know we just need to stop bashing the teachers start supporting them and their Principles by ensuring they get payed well for doing the impossible with bugger all. Oh and all the parents could take over the teachers Saturday sports responsibilities. This would then allow the teachers to have their weekends to themselves to recover for Monday, when they will once again have to deal with all those social issues and try and give our kids an education.

  7. prism 7

    Teachers are preparing to teach for the national standards as a matter of necessity. Meeting targets set by Principals and school leaders is the important thing, not education. Getting some obssessive type devoted to ‘being the best that you can be’ and giving it ‘105%’ is moving towards the end of education and enquiring minds as we know them. And those principals and school leaders may flay their teachers who fail to meet the targets they have set, a difficulty when teaching a diverse group of children from low deciles.

    The ‘tail’ of our education system must increase as more restless, anti-social, anti-learning children are ‘mainstreamed’. One lower decile school coping with such children and succeeding in encouraging them to improved results is telling their devoted teachers that they are unsuccessful, disappointing and lacking in teaching skill, although the children being assessed may have shot ahead of previous levels, but not to the arbitrary targets that their jackboot Education Managers have set.

    Low decile schools are short of money, short of interested, curious, learning-oriented parents to role model and encourage their children who are short on time for quiet study, short of set and controlled time limits on tv, electronics etc or have parents who have mental problems, can’t run their own lives and can’t support their children in a balanced and stable way.

    The truth is that various governments have munted our nation and its economy and there aren’t enough appropriate jobs for bright educated and motivated children and adults. There have to be scapegoats for this situation. These are not to be the politicians or the self-focussed business elite who have manipulated their power. They are to be teachers trying to bring the concepts of our world to the young, more and more of whom will see their parents struggling to earn a decent living despite having useful skills.

    So we can abandon preparing all children for a bright new future. We can return to colonial days and schools just teaching to intermediate stage from where youngsters start on apprenticeships and manual skills which will help them to self-manage in the shitty world that these smarmy right wingers have insidiously created.

  8. Ed Aotearoa 8

    new facebook page on charter schools – “We don’t need your charter schools” – http://www.facebook.com/groups/237491956316493/

    also check out this post from a principal John McKenzie from another website – it’s very cool –

    A few points:

    You write “…there is also robust statistical evidence showing that other charter school systems really do produce better educational outcomes.”

    Looking at aggregated data shows in fact quite the opposite. The most complete studies of academic achievement at charter schools have been done by Stanford University’s Centre for Research in Educational Outcomes (CREDO). Their synthesis of 16 states’ charter school outcomes showed that (as has been pointed out in the media already) only 17% performed better than public schools, while 37% performed worse.

    Caroline Hoxby, who you link to, disputed the methodology of the CREDO survey, but there’s definitely room for doubt about her impartiality – she’s a conservative economist and high profile advocate of charter schools.

    Another substantial survey on the impact of charter schools was conducted for the US Department of Education last year. This one only looked at 36 charter schools across states, but has a wider scope than the CREDO study. The schools chosen were all oversubscribed… so arguably therefore all ‘succesful schools.’ A key finding is that “charter middle schools… are neither more nor less successful than traditional public schools in improving student achievement, behavior and social progress.”

    I’d be interested where your ‘robust statistical evidence’ comes from?

    I’m happy to acknowledge that when the data is disaggregated, for certain groups, of students in certain contexts, charter schools do seem to allow them to achieve better than they would in public schools. Of course there will be variation, and as you say, if we are going to have them, in principle one would like to see them doing well for their students. But on balance the achievement data suggests that this is not a model that we should follow.

    You also dispute the “rich getting richer” argument against charter schools. Approaching this from another perspective, charter schools are an example of turning the public sphere into a competitive market place, with profits to be made. Capitalism demands growth, and growth needs new markets.

    This is Rupert Murdoch’s take: “He said that he sees the American education sector as a $500 billion market that’s largely been untapped by companies like his.”

    This is how it is about enriching the rich… through the profits to be made from ‘efficient use of taxpayer funds.’ And if you doubt that there is much cash to be made, quarter of Microsoft’s earnings last year were in the education area.

    That, I think, is the main reason to be cautious. There has been an incremental marketization of public services in New Zealand since the 1980s, often driven by arguments of efficiency; just like your claim above that charter schools are better for students. But, when we can empirically show that these arguments are rubbish, then it is time to expose the ideological imperative that’s really driving them.

  9. Tony P 9

    Something not really touched on is the question as to who is going to teach in these schools. There’s no way I would teach under these conditions even if they were paying more (highly unlikely) and I can’t see any of the staff at my school doing so either. Unfortunately for some there may be no option. Something else that is happening that may seem unrelated but now is probably being implemented to run alongside Charter Schools is the fact Auckland University is setting up a “7 week” summer training course for graduate students to become qualified teachers. That is they train for 7 weeks in teaching with no practical experience and are then able to work in schools. No school would employ them unless desperate but it may provide a ready teaching pool for Charter Schools. It seems this week that a lot of unrelated dots in education are slowly being connected including the employment of a leading Free School advocate from England as our new head of the Ministry of Ed. Mind you some of us in the teaching profession could see it coming but very few people were listening or didn’t care.

  10. prism 10

    Radio news this afternoon – Christian schools suggest that they can help with education of non-achieving students with the charter system. Could that mean that we will build up a groundswell of science-deniers with creationism beliefs? That are tightly mind-controlled as in the USa and allows politicians to have a huge donkey vote. That’s on top of the oldies donkey vote. We have politicians who don’t have any vision for NZs using our own methods, and so they look to the big country of USA that has glamour and wealth, both for ideas and to send politcians such as Paula Bennett to train there in Friedman thinking also Ronald Reagan and Thatcher’s welfare depletion and social demolition.

    Then what sort of education. Convent schools have been well thought of but it depends on the Order and their approach. The Magdalene Sisters is one, stern discipline in the Jesuit style – neither is a positive way of dealing with education problems. And the newer Christian schools als seem to use religion to close down minds, not to learn more critical thinking.

    • vanakast 10.1

      No, we have laws that prevent creationism being taught as science – I’ve been to a number of a Christian schools, they’ve all taught evolution (even against the teacher’s personal views).

      • dv 10.1.1

        Vanakast-No, we have laws that prevent creationism being taught as science

        No Vanakast -Charter schools can make up their own syllabus.
        That is one of the objections.

  11. N0rdy 11

    The concept of charter schools is completely irrelevant to the NZ education context.

    I am a secondary school teacher and a couple of years ago I won a fellowship to visit schools in the UK to investigate innovative practice in teaching and learning. I visited independent (what they call ‘public’ schools), state and academy schools (these are the equivalent of the charter schools in the US, controversially brought in by the Blair Government and about to be extended by the Tories.)

    The two academy schools which I visited in highly underprivileged areas were extraordinary. They had inspirational leaders, who had developed school-based curriculum programmes which were relevant to the students in their schools. The focus was on students developing their learning capacity rather than content. Much of the learning was cross-curricular and self-directed. The students were highly engaged in their learning A range of clever interventions were used to keep students on track with their learning. This included heavy involvement of parents in their kids’ learning. Restorative practices were being successfully utilised in place of heavy-handed discipline.

    How had this been possible? The UK state school system is highly centralised (and the US system is even worse). There are several layers of national and regional education bureaucracy which control school budgets, appointments and resources. The curriculum they implement is highly prescriptive, emphasising the specific content and skills which have to be covered at each level in each school. By allowing communities to run their schools for themselves, charter/academy schools bypass the education authorities and develop their own curriculum and approaches. But, how will Charter Schools function in New Zealand? Through Lange’s ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’ Reforms, we had our education revolution in the 1980s. The Department of Education was abolished, and the regional education boards scrapped. Boards of Trustees have their own charters by which they govern the schools their kids attend, they employ staff, set budgets and make all the key decisions about the school. Additionally, during the term of the Clark Government, a new curriculum was developed which gave schools incredible autonomy to develop learning programmes which meet their needs of the students. It is the envy of the world.

    In short, we already have a highly autonomous school system. (This is why teachers have been so opposed to the National [Party] Standards which force teachers to move away from student-centred and interdisciplinary approaches enabled by the curriculum to focus solely on the teacher instruction on reading and writing.)

    You are more than twenty years late NACT!. We have problems in New Zealand schools, but a lack of independence from centralised control is not one of them. You really have no understanding of education in New Zealand at all. What a disgrace.

    [Guest post perhaps team?]

    • lprent 11.1

      Yes please. Have a look at rob salmonds post and comments as well at pundit. It may be a policy from fools, the question he asks is if it can be adapted into something useful. The fool part of it is an idiot from act on campus who tried to rewrite ACT’s two page policy on the fly.

      • N0rdy 11.1.1

        Some good points over at Pundit. Thanks for the link. It was great to see Peter Mck get called on his edits of the agreement. Slam dunk! What this debate seems to be missing is any sense of NZ educational history, which really makes the NZ context unique. You can’t pick up a policy, good or bad, from one country, dump it in another and expect it to work in the same way (as we have found with the National Standards.)

    • ianmac 11.2

      Your excellent post NOrdy really confirms the importance of Eddy’s question about why the NActs are forcing this on our schools. There has to be a reason why intelligent MPs are ignoring the existing situation in NZ schools and fabricating a problem to which they can apply their “solution.” (As with ACC?)
      A bit like going to the doctor with a poisoned toe so he amputates your arm.

      • N0rdy 11.2.1

        I think they just lack any imagination and don’t believe in indigenous solutions. They also send their kids to private schools. (Banks’ and Key’s sons are at Kings College.) Private schools exist on the myth that state education is generic and bland. Note how the word “independent” is used instead of “private” on their websites, to emphasise their advantage over state schools. In reality, all our secondary schools are essentially independent, as shown above. They must be, otherwise how can they offer whatever qualifcations system they want, rather than the NCEA. (This would be unthinkable in state schools in New South Wales). Ironically, only the National Standards stop our primary schools from being equally independent. As you say, it seems like a case of importing a solution to fix the wrong problem, like the 1869 Contagious Diseases Act, copied verbatim from the UK to regulate prostitution throughout NZ, when it was designed in England to stop venereal diseases spreading through a couple of army barracks! I think the new Secretary of Education has an English Academy School background though, so they obviously have been planning this for a while.

        • prism

          Was that 1869 Contagious Diseases Act the one where the police could arrest any girl on a NZ street and once in custody take her to somebody for an inspection to see if her sexual organs were good and healthy? We followed Britain’s action to adopt this practice but were slow to follow their action to stop it. I suppose this was because we are the colonies down on the farm and think slower and more bovinely than the rest of the civilised world we wish to emulate and also it was probably a more interesting exercise than other duties. I wonder if we have radically changed in our approach?

    • prism 11.3

      NOrdy Sounds really good.

      The focus was on students developing their learning capacity rather than content. Much of the learning was cross-curricular and self-directed. The students were highly engaged in their learning

      This can’t be done in NZ. If it appeared to be succeeding it would break the paradigm on which all right wing political thinking is predicated, that the majority in NZ are dumbclucks and lazy ones at that. It follows that any improvement shown must be coming with an inordinate amount of money spent which cannot be justified on a cost-benefit basis. So the program would be damned with faint praise and dropped before it revealed that there isn’t such a big gap between the intellect of a right wing politician and the lower orders.

      (Has there ever been brain investigation on a run-of-the-mill RWNJ politician after death. I think they have Einstein’s brain. It would be interesting to know where the major activity of such a politician’s brain had taken place, or whether there was some pressure that biased and limited thought from such things as slow-growing tumours.)

  12. David 12

    The endgame here is what Howard acheived after 3 terms in Oz: a two tier health and education system, wherein the top end supply less and less resourcing to the lower two thirds. With these central pillars of shared social commitment and equality gone, the middle have no reason to support the rest of the welfare state. They will cut taxes further, and invest instead in prisons, and they shall surely be wanting to use them. This is why we need to win the next election.

  13. vanakast 13

    Or we can prevent this problem by implementing a mandated lottery-based zoned selection process. They’ve had some success too: http://econ-www.mit.edu/files/6932

  14. Leary 14

    Charter schools was NO surprise at all. There was no sneak up to it. All of the National Standard’s issues were debated throughtout the Universities, particuarly the Schools of Education just after the election and then in 2009 when Tolley foisted her ‘great lie’ on the nation. Charter schools following the introduction of ‘league tables’ were already on the cards. Across the Nation our top educationalists such as Professor Martin Thrupp wrote a joint letter to Anne Tolley outlining their concerns and from their considerable international experience and insight into these ‘failed’ school models warned against them. Tolley’s reply ( cliched and misrepresentations) dismissed the top experts and figuratively ‘flipped the bird’ at those who knew more than she. ( supposedly she who sold real estate). Start at the beginning of her rushed escapade and check out her 2009 utube Parliament speeches; that old ‘slippery slope’ and moral panic strategy. Check out how she ‘consulted’ with parents. A brochure in the mail to any random minimum number of addresses. The 93 year Nana got one so did the student flat down the road. The Nana said, ‘quote’ ” What’s this crap!”

    Her irresponsible manipulating statistics and citing 20% failure has stuck for the gullible to still quote eg. she omitted NZQA results, and the international PISA in literacy, numeracy and science, and OECD phenominal standing of NZ education. Her preferred UK and US system of ‘charter’ schools still sees both these nations continuing to slide down the OECD stats. That NCEA level two is the minimum to succeed in life was a total farce, and unsubstantiated lie, there is no research to support this, scaremongering the foolish who willfully chose ignorance over critical investigation. Since when did a great chef or butcher for eg need NCEA2? Check out Ben Bayly ( the Grove) for his successes and the great adventures he’s had internationally despite as a student his teacher saying he wouldn’t amount to much because he couldn’t pass tests!

     Tolley did not have to listen.. but there was and is so much academic literature out there on this topic of Testing for Failure over a decade before the NZ experiment on children began that it beggars belief that Nats went headlong into stuffing up a much internationally lauded and emulated education system and first class Curriculum in NZ. Her support man Prof Hattie that she selectively cited, publically backtracked…..out. ( Herald). Irony was that on one article on Hattie later in that first year was that while 80% of all kiwi kids were successful at his Asstle assessments (that school’s purchased) had then 80% of kiwi kids failing the poorly and hashed rushed, Hattie input, National Standards. They do not align with children’s diverse development at such early stages, real world learning, the forward thinking Curriculum and conflict with the expert and continually reviewed and standardised PAT’s. It was a con for introducing league tables and onto absconding with public funds for ‘cherry picked’ kids to go private. For one, Check out the teachers, who threw out important skills in US schools, and were just teaching static knowledge specifically for the tests to secure ‘bonus’ payments for their class pass rate. Teaching out of fear – schooling students to pass tests. The backlash and consequences have been appalling. At the time of Nats introducing “National Standards” the UK had been under this system and the research was out there  that there had been NO measurable link at all between their school system, both their primary and secondary equivalent and that of success at University nor rates of employment or employability. The ‘market’ was always the greatest influence. Standardising was a way of the market exploiting qualifications. Hence here in NZ for example, youth and adults go to a ‘roading school’ or a similar ITO and take a year on training rates ( with big employer subsidised) to gain Level 1 certificate in filling potholes and drive a digger… Since when did one need NCEA2 let alone NZQA units to do this? Market driven schools…

    That this was on the cards, before Nats last term is supported by the Education Working paper at that time with ACT on that party. The whole document was laughable. The objectives at the outset were listed for the ‘party’ to research top performing countries then named Finland as one to investigate. It never happened!!! The document only discussed UK and US academy (charter) schools in the most shallow way with no substantiation of its discussion claims. Then went specifically to phase two; league tables for privatising public schools here in NZ and discussed ‘bonus’ payments for teachers and schools in NZ. The working party for this research worked mere days not months to collaborate this outstanding piece of trash. Then wham, adopted and on the table before the new school year just two months after election. The specific National standards themselves ( never consulted on with education specialists or trialled in schools) published in just two months. Funny but the paper  has now disappeared on-line??? But we at the coalface still have copies on our PC’s !!! Can’t wait for the next PISA and OECD findings. Should children have become an experiment and should there be children who with no choice becoming the winners or losers in education which should never be politicised or have become the ‘markets’ pawns??

    • js 14.1

      The new head of the Ministry of Education has a background in the UK academy school (ie charter school) system. Coincidence?

      • Leary 14.1.1

        No surprises there either. Tolley never had an original phrase nor substantiated empirical academic backing. In effect she appeared to plagiarize selective concepts from the UK “Every Child Matters”. One butt ugly wedding photo to be had now with Banks and Tolley at the helm of NZ education’s con job.

  15. prism 15

    I wonder if the new head of the Ministry of Education has a background of familiar relationship with Rupert Murdoch? That old man looking to renew his grasp on the world again after he has been embarrassed by the News of the World et al with a new direction in education that fits the money slot with a pipe besides feeding into the brains of learners.

    It takes ages for anyone to do anything about the direction of business, and if a tvshow the masses enjoy is sponsored then people have positive perceptions hard to even impact if not demolish.

  16. Dv 16

    I wonder if Banks is going to set up a charter school in sth auck to teach financial literacy so they can pick the dodgy deals touted in the malls by Hullich.
    You know the outfit with Banks and Brash as dirctors.

    How did Banks and Brash avoid prosecution. Hullich did not.

  17. prism 17

    Dv The continuing story…..Banks and Brash and SCF and the SFO and ….

  18. Dv 18

    Prism, is there an investigation by sfo into banks?

  19. prism 19

    Dv –

    is there an investigation by sfo into banks?

    I was thinking of the ongoing tainted stories from these names and acronyns. The SFO has itself recently been in the news with some sort of dissing leak against the the head. I can’t remember whether they have inspectrf the dealings of banks lately.

  20. The sooner we start teaching Civics in schools, the better. The idea appeals more and more to me, as this current government implements policies never presented to the electorate.

    On the issue of Charter schools – even our American cuzzies are displeased; http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/privatisation-of-our-schools/

    Especially as it appears that such schools are getting into Upper Middle Class ‘burbs. Hey! “These weren’t these meant only for the Great Unwashed?!”

    Parents in Remuera, Khandallah, and Fendalton should take note, perhaps?

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