The real reason New Zealand’s literacy standards are tanking *

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, March 27th, 2023 - 42 comments
Categories: education, national, same old national - Tags:

Last week Chris Luxon gave a speech on National’s education policies.

In it he made some outlandish claims which makes me wonder about his and National’s understanding of New Zealand’s education system.

He claimed that the education system was in chaos.

In particular he said this:

… back in the year 2000, New Zealand was in the top 10 countries for maths, reading and science, according to the OECD’s PISA rankings.

Now we’re outside the top 10 in all three. In maths we have dropped from 4th to 27th.

I think many parents got a sense of what’s happening when, during Covid, they saw their kids’ lessons. Remote learning exposed the school system and the lack of focus on the basics.

The results in education today are more than disappointing. They are more than frustrating. They are unacceptable and a government that I lead will make it a priority to turn them around.

While this is true a deeper dive into the data suggests that if Luxon wants to address the cause he should look at what happened under the last National Government.

Here is the graph showing what has happened over the past couple of decades.

The latest PISA data is from 2018.

There are some interesting features to all of the data.  Results were relatively stable until the 2012 results when they fell off a cliff.

What may have happened around that time?  How about the election of a National Government and the implementation of National Standards.  And this was not an example of coincidental correlation.  Implementation of the standards and the destruction of the Numeracy and Literacy programmes existing at the time in my view marked the start of the decline.

As I wrote in 2012 at the time of the change of Government in 2008 the Government was advised that the average performance of New Zealand 15-year-olds in mathematics, science and reading literacy placed New Zealand among the top countries in the OECD.  It was said that New Zealand’s top students were among the best in the world and that compared to similar countries a greater proportion of our young people were achieving at the highest levels. 

The Government was urged to continue with two professional development programs which it was considered had achieved a great deal.  

The Numeracy Development Project, established in 2000, had resulted in significant improvements. Between 2002 and 2007 the percentage of Year 6 students achieving at or above the expected level in mathematics increased from 40 percent to 61 percent while the percentage classified as at risk decreased from 30 percent to 13 percent.  

The Literacy Strategy, also established in 2000, also achieved significant improvements.  A 2008 evaluation showed that after taking into account expected growth and maturation, students’ gains in reading and writing were twice those that could be expected without the intervention and that schools accelerated the rate of progress for the majority of the at-risk students by four times the expected rate. 

So what happened to the recommendations?  In Budget 2009 then Minister Ann Tolley gave private schools $35 million extra funding, announced the roll out of National Standards while at the same time cut funding for the literacy and numeracy projects despite their effectiveness. If she wanted to do something for literacy and numeracy she would have kept the projects going.  Instead she was looking to appease National Supporters and introduce testing for PR purposes at the cost of two quality programs that achieved a lot of good.

And looking at the PISA trends from 2009 the consequences have been clear.

National should not be talking about the decline in education standards.  It should be taking the blame for them.

Luxon’s speech and subsequent claims by Erica Stanford that teachers put their finger in the wind to guess what they’re teaching shows how National has no understanding whatsoever of what is happening in education.  And also how they will attack teachers without justification for political advantage.

The subtext is clear, teachers do a terrible job and the only reason kids are failing at school is because of the terrible teachers.  Child poverty is not the cause.  The myth that we have an even playing field and that there is no such thing as disadvantage and only the brightest and most deserving rise to the top also shows how badly wrong their world view is.

What is most concerning is National’s lack of understanding of what happens in education.  Apart from having a degree Stanford has no background in education and it shows.

National’s claim that kiwi kids do not learn subtraction in year one their schooling shows an inability to comprehend that is deeply disturbing.  I have been reliably informed that year one students do get taught subtraction and year 6 students do get taught algebra.  The wooliness in in National’s understanding, not in the curriculum itself.

And we have a new curriculum.  Rewriting the curriculum when a new rewrite has just been completed is rather excessive.

NZEI President Mark Potter has been scathing about the proposed changes.

From Radio New Zealand:

“What we are seeing is the idea of setting standards and testing children to that and what that creates is a high-stakes education and learning environment – which is not good for children – and to start with seven-year-olds, my goodness, we should not be doing that that early.”

“What they’re going to do is increase bureaucracy in education yet again at a time when ironically National says it’s trying to cut bureaucracy out of other areas.”

He also disagreed with the idea of one-year curriculum bands.

“If you actually understand how children learn, it sounds crazy because not every child is ready in that particular window of time to learn that particular skill.

“It’s only going to create another high-anxiety point for children in education.”

And as Jan Tinetti has pointed out there is no new budget for the policy.  All the extra testing and collation of data will require resource, unless they are expecting teachers to work more for free.

Stand by as we get assailed by repeated claims from National that they will change education for the better and that all that is required is to bring teachers to heel and make them teach the basics.  And how we will have a completely detail free debate full of rhetoric but disturbingly short of facts.

42 comments on “The real reason New Zealand’s literacy standards are tanking * ”

  1. tsmithfield 1

    The problems are much deeper. Basically, according to research, modern teaching methods have been shown to be useless.

    From the article:

    The scientific reviews I have read (such as Paul Kirschner and others in Educational Psychologist, 2006) claim that the new methods are far less effective at imparting knowledge to students than whole-class teaching methods.

    And that educational outcomes are not only declining here, but in other western countries.

    A UK maths primary teacher delegation recently visited Shanghai to investigate why Chinese children score 30 per cent higher on international tests than children in the UK.

    So, academics in charge of our learning institutions have basically failed generations of children of recent decades.

    • Peter 1.1

      Maybe academics have failed generations because they listened to dumb politicians who were appealing to a dumb public.

      The stage we have reached is we have dumb parents who back insane conspiracy theories about complicated science stuff. They show they have poor understanding and little or no ability to appreciate real learning, experience and expertise. Sop they take their kids out of school to home school them because they don't trust schools.

    • nukefacts 1.2

      100% tsmithfield.

      I can speak from having kids go through primary to intermediate and secondary in the past 6 years. How reading was taught ('guess the context') made my kids exceptionally poor readers, and this led them to feel a failure and not try. Our whanau have been trying to rectify this ever since.

      In maths, one parent commented to us that their kid was using tutors, and we asked around and everyone was doing it. When we asked the school why our kids were so poor at maths they said to get a tutor!

      If you can’t learn the fundamentals, then nothing works later on.

      The other observation is that around 17% of kids have a difference in learning, which includes our kids. Open plan classrooms are a disaster for such kids as they are overwhelmed by noise and distractions, but the ministry has been pushing this for years now. Once principal I spoke to said they redeveloped their school in line with the ministry requirements because the MoE said if they didn’t they would be paying for it themselves. So they built in the ability to close open plan classrooms off and hid it from the MoE inspectors. Sure enough, once signed off they closed off the classrooms.

      Astonishing.

  2. Stuart Munro 2

    I suspect, and it's not a completely uninformed reckon (I have a teaching MA), that culture plays a not insignificant role.

    While our public figures and incelebrities are conspicuously loud, stupid, and opinionated, students get poor indications of what is expected of them. Schools and teachers cannot do it all alone.

    When I taught refugees, they worked hard, and knew they needed to study – they told me I was great. As a new teacher, teaching Korean students, I had some success and made friends who still keep in touch. Teaching in Saudi, the guys were friendly and relaxed – they did little or no work, and they cheated on every test. Then they wanted to blame me for their results. Teaching in NZ was even worse.

    • Peter 2.1

      When I taught in New Zealand I had pupils who worked hard, knew they needed to study and knew they had to work hard.

      The mass were friendly and relaxed, did not cheat and seek the easiest ways out. In schools across the socio-economic spectrum but generally in the middle and lower middle range.

      • Stuart Munro 2.1.1

        Cheating is so ubiquitous in Saudi that it has a different meaning than in NZ. I wasn't impressed, but I can write cheat-proof assessments easily enough. The worst thing there was our company's marketers wanted more testing – they wanted to show off how great our teaching was, by using up much of our contact time with performative assessments.

        In NZ I was tutoring some who'd fallen through the cracks – the opposite of my usual group & catch-up maths for those that never learned times tables. Motivation was lacking, absenteeism was rife, job satisfaction was non-existent.

  3. Luxon is labouring under the Dunning Kruger effect: he lacks the competence to assess his own comments about education because his knowledge of the subject is as shallow as a puddle

    Reading, writing, maths are still core subjects. But there are actually more fundamental things that kids need to learn. Shock horror! Like, who they are; their place in the world; how to relate to others; how to manage emotions; a general confidence in solving problems (not just in the classroom but in the real world).

    Especially boys. Despite the efforts of biology denialists, it is obvious that boys need more robust play and exercise, and girls are more responsive to book learning

  4. ianmac 4

    As a retired teacher my recollection was that innovation grew from teachers. If the innovation was sound then the inspectorate and Advisers promoted it.

    What is so sadly different now is that dim politicians collect simple ideas driven by the right wing NZ Initiative, distort them and impose them. Top down does not work as well as bottom up.

    • mickysavage 4.1

      Yep the Numeracy and Literacy programmes I mentioned, which clearly were aimed at empowering teachers, were working. Trashing them was just plain stupid.

  5. Tony Veitch 5

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. -Albert Einstein.

    So let's impose National Standards v2.0 ('23 election edition).

    Maybe, just maybe, the Natz don't want an educated, informed voting public?

    • Anne 5.1

      "Maybe, just maybe, the Natz don't want an educated, informed voting public?"

      Snap! The public are easier to manipulate uneducated. Just look at the US.

    • Obtrectator 5.2

      Exactly what I've been saying for years, Tony. A cowed and ignorant populace is what the rightists want. They've got quite a lot of the ignorance in place now. The cowing will be much harder, and certainly much uglier.

  6. KJT 6

    Note. All students that had National's idiotic "National standards" which showed National/ACT are totally clueless about pedagogy and how people learn, imposed during their formative school years.

    This is as relevent now as it was then.
    https://thestandard.org.nz/the-real-aims-of-nationals-education-policy/

  7. Mac1 7

    Education is one area about which most people have strong opinions. Going to school for 10+ years and maybe being a parent of school age children seems to give many people the belief that they know all about school and how to teach.

    Sixty eight years of being connected to education as a student at school, university and training college, as a teacher, a parent, a school committee member, a REAP committee chair, and still teaching a little music possibly entitles me to pronounce on these matters.

    But it doesn't. Ten years away from a classroom and I have no real knowledge. Being a secondary teacher meant I had no real knowledge of primary teaching methods which have changed since I was a primary student.

    But some things don't change. I have met throughout my career unqualified people with their educational reckons. I have met an entire class of parents reflecting the whole adult population with all their (our) concerns, opinions, beliefs.

    And I have met many people who had bad experiences at school who carry those feelings into their adult lives and who blame school, teachers, fellow students for their unhappy times then.

    But especially they blame teachers, for amongst the many who taught us there were some who we did not like.

    That body of ill-feeling I believe drives the politics of these issues that Christopher Luxon and Erica Stanford now have raised in an ill-informed (as the post above shows) and calculated way.

    While they risk the ire of a hundred thousand teachers to gain political points from the larger population, they are exploiting the feelings of the population at large without regard to the facts, the data, the incontrovertible figures.

    They do it deliberately under the guise of the good of the children when they are actually on a political witch hunt of teachers and the government they oppose. All for reasons of political advantage.

    Education for many conservatives is about creating a compliant work force with enough knowledge of the basics to fill the work force, hence their advocacy of a four hour day of mass instruction in the basics at primary school.

    It's the essence, the very basis of conservatism, after all- "commitment to traditional values and ideas with opposition to change or innovation; the holding of political views that favour free enterprise, private ownership, and socially traditional ideas."

    Now, like teachers do, according to Stanford (and what piffle that even had Luxon gazing wonderingly into the middle distance), I will stick this finger of mine into the air and see how my lessons of life are reckoned……

    • pat 7.1

      That is a thoughtful and well reasoned post.

      I submit one 'reckon'….you note (i think accurately) "Education for many conservatives is about creating a compliant work force with enough knowledge of the basics to fill the work force, hence their advocacy of a four hour day of mass instruction in the basics at primary school."

      While the purpose of education may not be (exclusively?) for that requirement there is no denying a functional industrial society needs it.

      • Mac1 7.1.1

        "there is no denying a functional industrial society needs it." Absolutely. And upon that knowledge then will sit the higher order skills, thinking, creative arts that are pinnacles of human achievement.

    • Craig H 7.2

      My observation is that there is a subset of the population whose education beliefs boil down to "I suffered through education and modern students should suffer like I did". Any attempts to reduce that suffering cause cognitive dissonance and the derision that follows.

    • Blame the teachers for society’s ills? 7.3

      I'm surprised no-one has mentioned parents’ role in knowing how their children are doing with 3Rs. A party that emphasises taking personal responsibility has made wild claims that parents have no idea where their child(ren) are at in their education. How about attending parent teacher meetings most terms and reading the reports that are sent home? What happened to reading with your children, playing counting games, doing homework together? Surely there is a wider issue here and teachers are dealing with “students” that aren’t ready to learn and are not supported at home.

  8. tsmithfield 8

    Another problem is the move to open plan teaching environments.

    A paper from the New Zealand Council for Educational Research says teachers struggle to let students learn through failure in MLEs, while Melbourne Education Research Institute director John Hattie wrote that, without investment in teachers, open classrooms are "missed opportunities" at best.

    I know my wife's sister, who is a teacher in Melbourne, absolutely hates the open plan teaching model. As most people with half a brain would expect, the amount of noise and distraction in such environments where there are multiple classes in the same space makes teaching extremely challenging.

    A lot of these sorts of ideas seem to be driven by ideology and theory rather than actual evidence. When that happens, children are basically being treated as part of an untested experiment.

    • Craig H 8.1

      Presumably there are students who do really well in that environment though, even if it's not anywhere near all of them, and obviously there are students who do really poorly in that environment.

      Ideally, it would be possible to offer options for different learning environments better tailored to individual student needs, but I assume budgets would need to be increased somewhat to achieve that.

      • Belladonna 8.1.1

        The kids who do really well in the open learning environments are those kids who learn well in any learning environment.

        Crucially, the open plan system has *not* been shown to improve the learning of any students who are struggling for any reason (social, physical or learning disabilities). Indeed, those children almost always do worse in the open plan environment (and where parents have the choice, they are a significant reason for children being withdrawn from their local school and going elsewhere).

        MoE adopted this methodology (apparently with little or no research) and imposed it on schools (all new builds in primary are required to be open plan, 'modern learning environments') – and have done virtually no follow up research to determine whether their innovation was a success or a failure.

        • pat 8.1.1.1

          Indeed…to the point that in Christchurch there is now only one primary school that dosnt have MLEs…so Im told.

          No research, no evidence, and no choice.

          The teachers I know would happily see them disappear tomorrow….sadly we appear stuck with them for the foreseeable.

          • Belladonna 8.1.1.1.1

            Anecdata – and going back 7 or so years, but I was at a school parent meeting when the MLE's were being rolled out at our primary school (about half the classes were MLE's and half single cell classrooms). All of the senior school (Yr 4-6) were in the MLEs and all of the junior school in the single cell classes.
            One mother was absolutely furious that there was no choice. Her daughter had just been diagnosed with a significant hearing issue – which needed a hearing loop (and a teacher trained to use it effectively) – they'd just set this up in her current single cell classroom; but she was being told that her daughter would have no option but to be in a MLE the following year, and that the hearing loop would just not work in that larger space, and with co-teahers. And, that's aside from the fact that the higher volume of noise in a MLE makes it harder for any kid with a hearing disability to learn effectively.

            Of course, she removed her child at the end of the year – and sent her to a school which was all single-cell classes.

            I understand that because Christchurch schools were so thoroughly rebuilt after the earthquake, they have the highest numbers of MLEs in the country.

            She withdrew her daughter and sent her to a school which was all single cell classrooms.

            • RedLogix 8.1.1.1.1.1

              Having a younger brother with a severe hearing disability – I can so identify with that story.

              Frankly seeing so many of our public institutions descend into mediocracy that it's hard to have confidence in them, much less a righteous national pride.

              There are of course many brave individuals within these institutions who try to swim against the outgoing tide, but ultimately they get swept away as well.

            • pat 8.1.1.1.1.2

              Yes it was EQ damage that caused it…any capital spend post quake had to incorporate MLEs…no MLE no funding.

        • Ed1 8.1.1.2

          A gather quite a few schools have used other (non-building) money to put up 'removable' partitions to create 2 temporary rooms when needed – they are fairly expensive as they need to fit well at both floor and ceiling. Perhaps there needs to be more school / teacher input rather than have such decisions made as Ministry policy?

    • Tony Veitch 8.2

      children are basically being treated as part of an untested experiment.

      There's plenty of evidence world-wide which pans the Natz test, test, test approach.

      As Anne points out above, the failed USA model should be a warning to us here in NZ.

      But Luxon and Seymour are driven by ideology, not facts!

    • Drowsy M. Kram 8.3

      The 9 April 2017 Stuff article you linked to was published less than a month before Hekia Parata resigned after 5+ years as Minister of Education.

      So what are we spending $1.3 billion on classrooms for? Hattie has an idea.

      "Governments love infrastructure – and especially love to build new buildings," he wrote in a report used by the ministry to explain the move towards MLEs.

      "They can see the effects of their largesse, they can open them with fanfare, and the buildings can be named after someone important.

      "New buildings are particularly promoted when they are different: lots of glass, no walls or doors, for example."

      Wonder if the Minister read Prof. Hattie's analysis – it contains interesting opinions.

      What Doesn’t Work in Education: The Politics of Distraction [June 2015]

  9. mpledger 9

    I have two relatives who have done these tests. The thing about them is that they don't matter – there is no incentive for the kids to try. Ask a bunch of 14/15 year old boys to spend 2 hours doing tests that mean nothing to them then a majority are not going to put much effort in. It's known that the students perform worse on the second half of the tests compared to the first half – that's just people switching out because they can't be bothered anymore.

    Now there's going to be a different mindset from country to country. Some countries are going to be highly invested in being top of the table. But that leads to people cheating the system, either by non-representative sampling of children, making personal consequences for results, changing kid's answers etc. All things that are known to happen when tests become high stakes.

    And what does it even mean to compare literacy scores with non-English speaking countries? Our kids have to learn English, we can't change that, so does it really matter if their literacy is lower at a set point in time then kids who learn in a language that is easier?

    The thing that has changed is that more countries are being included and that has consequences when the scores are normed. So if our scores go down, it doesn't actually tell us that we are performing worse just that we are performing worse then newcomers. The thing to do is to look at our own country's tests over time and, IIRC, they have been pretty much steady.

  10. tsmithfield 10

    I think trying to blame NCEA for educational outcomes is confounding a number of variables.

    For instance, as I pointed out above, research is now indicating that modern teaching methods suck compared to the old methods. This is being noticed in a number of western countries. From the article:

    The teachers reported that much of China's success is down to its teaching methods, methods the UK and Ireland have moved away from over the past 40 years. The research I have read indicates that newer teaching methods are sharply inferior to the older teaching methods they supplanted.

    And, also other issues, as pointed out above, such as housing multiple classes in large open plan spaces, with all the obvious problems that causes. And, as Belladonna points out above, has been based on little in the way of research.

    In multivariate analysis, it is first necessary to factor out all the effects from other relevant variables that contribute to the problem in order to understand the true effect. And there are some fairly major ones to be considered. Otherwise, we are just going on the basis of "I thinks".

    • Peter 10.1

      Given all that, are the children in classrooms in 2023 the same as they were in 1923, 1953, 1983 and 2003?

      • tsmithfield 10.1.1

        Probably not.

        As I said, there are a lot of factors that contribute to the problem. So, trying to tie it to one particular thing won't provide a reliable answer.

        I know there is a heck of a lot more social dysfunction these days compared to those earlier periods. So, that also is a major factor that effects students who have to cope with the effect of disruptive students on their own learning.

        I know my wife’s sister has had to cope with some really difficult kids, and that has been a major issue for her in trying to teach the rest.

      • Belladonna 10.1.2

        Certainly not.

        Prior to the 90s there were no kids with significant disabilities in mainstream classes (screened out to special schools). And any majorly disruptive kids were swiftly removed from class (assuming they were still there), and sent to borstals.

        Kids with learning disabilities (dyslexia, etc.) were streamed into the lowest groups in primary school (and basically left there, so long as they were quiet), and then the lowest classes in secondary school, before they left at 14 (didn't change to 16 until 1989). And, of course, in 1923 – the vast majority would have left at 12.

        The classrooms today look very, very different to those of the past.

        • RedLogix 10.1.2.1

          Both of my parents were teachers, my mother for many decades. From listening to her stories I am aware of just how one seriously disruptive child in a class can completely derail any chance of learning for the rest.

          In those days, with class sizes north of 40, any child the teacher could not handle simply had to screened out by one of the pathways you mention. In principle the mainstreaming of these children back into the classroom would have only worked if substantial resources had been thrown at it.

          But of course that did not happen.

          • tsmithfield 10.1.2.1.1

            I think that is the problem with a lot of ideas governments come up with. In theory, they should work. But, they need huge resources thrown at them to make that happen.

            That is why I think National's "boot camp" (I wish they would call it something else) plan is doomed to fail, for instance.

            In theory, such a plan could work if it was properly designed to identify learning needs in students/participants or whatever, and if substantial resources were put into improving the environment that the students would return to. Some programs overseas do this sort of thing by, for instance, setting up mentorship programs, finding jobs for the participants to return to, working with the family to help with issues such as depression etc.

            I think National's plan pays lip service to that concept by assigning social workers/counsellors or whatever to the family. But I suspect the level of intervention will be token, where it needs to be much deeper to make a real change.

            The same sort of thing with a lot of government programs. The necessary funding to make a real change usually isn't there.

            • RedLogix 10.1.2.1.1.1

              All that and the fact that putting a whole bunch of challenging kids together means that peer pressure and low expectations will mean they just reinforce the bad behaviour – no matter how much resource you throw at them.

              The program I always wanted to know more about is Project K. I knew Graeme Dingle as an acquaintance and always admired him. I have read the public facing information but always wondered if anyone had done any decent follow up research to see what the real world outcomes were.

              I thought that the physical challenge and embodied risk element was was what might make the difference – similar to the well known Outward Bound but more intense.

              • tsmithfield

                I am on the board of Crossroads Youth with a Future trust. We work in the poorest area of Christchurch, and deal with the kids the schools can't handle anymore. A short three minute video about Crossroads here you might find interesting.

                We give these kids total unconditional acceptance, and aim to create an environment where they can be themselves without the need to be staunch. We also work with these kids to show them they have choices far beyond where they are now. One of our employed youth workers actually came through the program and now has a diploma in youth work. I think it is the first person in her family to ever make such an achievement.

                The problem is, we need thousands of organisations like Crossroads.

                My son did Project K. That wasn't really aimed at youth with high levels of dysfunction, but rather at youth who needed some challenge in their lives. They tramped and biked from the Lewis Pass back to Christchurch around the back way through Oxford. He really enjoyed the experience, and has since gone on to own a highly successful local company.

  11. arkie 11

    This year is the first year that NZ History is a required part of the curriculum, Renews has a nice video of kids expressing why learning our history is important to them: https://www.renews.co.nz/why-making-aotearoa-history-compulsory-matters-to-students/

    • Mike the Lefty 11.1

      As a big lover of history I was pleased to see that NZ history is now part of the school curriculum, a long time coming.

      Knowing what and why things happened is important because it gives us the knowledge how we can make things better and not repeat mistakes.

      Whether we act on the knowledge is another question.

  12. nukefacts 12

    I do think one thing we need to consider is that teaching can only do so much, the wider social and family context is super important:

    https://freddiedeboer.substack.com/p/education-commentary-is-dominated

    Several of my whanau are teachers and their rule of thumb is that roughly 30% of success in education is due to their teaching, the other 70% to socio-economic factors outside their control.

  13. georgecom 13

    The "national standards" under the Key National Government did precious little to promote literacy and numeracy standards but cost a hell of a lot of money and resources. One thing not mentioned in the above, slashing of the nationwide Teacher Support Service that provided professional development and advise to schools, to fund national standards. A very short sighted move which contributed to the decline we are now seeing. The chickens of National Standards coming home to roost, the national party wants to exacerbate the demise it seems

    • Gaynor 13.1

      I have been a reading and maths tutor for 40 years and have seen disastrous mistakes made by both political parties, It is academics and MOE with ridiculous theories as well, who are responsible for the destruction of our once world class education system .

      This started in the 1950s with the introduction of progressive Ideology replacing traditional liberal education. The decline has been gradual but accelerated this century with the retirement of older teachers who actually had some idea of direct instruction rather than teach yourself child -centered constructivism type methods. Also political machinations contributed.

      Few people have any idea about how destructive progressive education is. Astonishingly it isn't actually concerned at all about producing an independent ,literate and numerate person but rather someone aligned to some sort of socialist utopia.

      Hence the present MOE refresh is focusing on the present cultural wars on gender and race at the expense of time spent on the 3 Rs taught directly in a traditional way, which according to Hattie's research are the most effective. The new history curriculum is full of propaganda promoting critical race theory which is derived from Marxism. The new science curriculum with Maori mythology mixed with western science is quite beyond belief.

      Many people realize there is an educational crisis because of NZ's catastrophic decline in the basic subjects as recorded in a variety of ways. As a tutor I certainly see it. I despair at our society's future unless something drastic is done comparable to turning the Titanic around.

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