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Translating Tories: “Creeping political correctness in our schools”

Written By: - Date published: 1:25 pm, February 4th, 2010 - 16 comments
Categories: education, john key - Tags: ,

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.

16 comments on “Translating Tories: “Creeping political correctness in our schools” ”

  1. Interesting issue.

    There is this suggestion that schools are hotbeds of PC activity. The main piece of evidence is the very bland reports that get handed out at some schools.

    I have talked to a few teachers about it and those that teach in the low decile schools acknowledge that it is a problem and a feature. The cause is not some sort of PC namby pambyism, it is because of their real fear of “white flight” and the need to preserve the roll of the school as much as possible. A bad report will make some parents believe that the school is at fault and that all that is required is a change of school.

    The drive away from having zoning and the suggestion that schools are commodities to be accessed by parents who are consumers is IMHO a direct cause of the blandness of the reports.

    If you want more concise and “hard hitting” reports you have to create an atmosphere where this can be done.

    And there should be greater emphasis on kids attending their local school that should always be sufficiently well resourced to provide them with quality education.

  2. Perhaps this is the kind of thing that represents creeping political correctness gone mad:
    http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2010/02/kicking-deaf.html

    After all we can’t have those deaf people treated any differently. Never mind that NZ sign language is an official language of our country. (Imagine what would happen if they tried to cut funding for Te Reo or English teaching!)

    micky, one of the main reasons I’ve encountered for bland reports is that teachers are aware that children read them too.

  3. Zaphod Beeblebrox 3

    The speech Key gave was outrageous and he should be made accountable for what he said. His statement that educational standards were deteriorating (where is the evidence???) was a slur on all students, parents and educators then he went to quote his 20% failure figure (again where did that one come from???).

    Interesting when asked to defend his speech on Radio NZ he was unavailable.

  4. Lew 4

    r0b,

    young protesters

    That would be Young Labour protesters, since they apparently organised that Waterview protest, and there’s the trick. This is part of a campaign to use childrens’ wellbeing and educational achievement as a wedge to drive between parents and teachers, which persisted throughout the Nats’ time in opposition based on the fact that teachers are overwhelmingly unionised and are (apparently) generally Labour supporters.

    It’s a play lifted straight from the reactionary right playbook written by folks like Redbaiter, who figure that free education is basically a vehicle for pro-government propaganda. It’s ugly, and it’s false, and it should be beneath a mainstream party like National. But they just can’t help themselves. Every time they’re in government, they fuck with public education in horrible, often irreversible ways.

    L

    • IrishBill 4.1

      teachers are overwhelmingly unionised and are (apparently) generally Labour supporters.

      I saw some polling in late 2008 that indicated more than 40% of secondary school teachers we planning to vote national.That’s a lot of swing vote right there.

    • Those Young Labourites are really good and did a huge amount of work during the by election. The result was in no small part due to their work.

      Key should jealous, the young nats are not in their league.

  5. Onomatopoeia 5

    Ya wanna talk about meaninglessness? How about this from the Enviroschools website:

    The journey involves exploring some guiding principles of the programme, working through a whole school process and enabling young people/rangatahi to be empowered to investigate, explore ideas, make decisions, take action and reflect on the changes they have created.

    I have a firm policy: anyone who tells me they are on a journey, or have had a journey when they have, in fact, travelled nowhere, gets a knee in the genitals.

  6. So literal Onomatopoeia. Perhaps you too would have joined Tolley in her helicopter?

  7. Irascible 7

    Key is being Brash -Translation of clueless’ statements: Hot Beds of PC = anyone who argues that constant testing or that the NACT education policies are the equivalent of the emperor’s new clothes are to be identified as suspect and labelled with a knee jerk reaction guaranteed name…. where is Wayne Mapp when Key needs him?

  8. aj 8

    Didn’t he also infer that educational standards are slipping? which was completely refuted on NatRad with an impressive array of facts.
    Key wouldn’t front up to comment on this claim he’s made either.
    He really is full of wind.

  9. tc 9

    Awesome….finally Johnny clown is actually coming down off his PR pulpit to engage in an issue……all his bullies must be too busy.

    Finally a chance for everyone to see the masterful one at work placating everyones concerns and brokering peace and love whilst casting aside the unfounded doubts those pesky professional teacher folk have.

    This should be fascinating………

  10. Red Rosa 10

    Best Minister of Education since Merv Wellington!

    But even Merv was teacher in a past life. And presumably knew something about teaching.

    Maybe NZ could keep her on for amusement? The Tolley ‘helicopter’ and ‘vice-chancellor’ gaffes are classics.

    But seriously, the current issue is not about education, as well analysed above. It is about National dog-whistle politics and social engineering.

  11. prism 11

    onomo – I know someone that works under the rather wordy Enviroschools mission statement in that quote you give. Everything in there is positive, is indicative of its approach, and when followed leads to inspiration of the chilren who achieve great outcomes with the schemes they undertake.

  12. prism 12

    Another towering success of cogent reasoning about basic society-building policy by King John of Charmalot. He addresses the peasants from his rampart. Also shades of the wee king in the wizard of iz. He has a knight too called Roger doesn’t he?

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