I wasn’t expecting to do another in this series so soon, but then I’m much too polite to decline a clear invitation like this. John Key says that parents should not have to put up with “creeping political correctness in our schools”.
So what does “creeping political correctness in our schools” mean? Its tempting to think that it must mean something. Perhaps something to do with schools’ attempts to maintain the basics of appropriate behaviour, or topics such as social studies in the curriculum? Perhaps initiatives such as Enviroschools that try and teach the next generation something about our fragile environment and how to maintain it? But none of that is exactly “political correctness”, and it certainly isn’t “creeping” (for example the Government has already tried to axe the highly successful and popular Enviroschools programme, currently on a six month reprieve).
The sad truth is that “creeping political correctness in our schools” doesn’t mean anything at all. It’s an empty phrase designed to evoke a vague sense of unsavoury menace and dog-whistle National’s core redneck supporters. It’s right up there with “communism by stealth” (Key’s description of Working for Families, which his government now supports), or “cold and desperate” (Key’s description of young protesters). It’s only a short step away from “reds under the beds“. It’s a clueless empty soundbite.
There was plenty of other manly chest-thumping from Key reported in the same piece (“We will not bow down to those critics”, “National standards will demand schools and teachers do better” and so on). It’s all part of the escalation in National’s (tax payer funded) war on teachers, which Key is now personally leading. It’s a fight that he is highly likely to lose.