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Trial needed for national standards

Written By: - Date published: 10:37 am, December 18th, 2009 - 105 comments
Categories: education - Tags:

Anne Tolley should have the sense to listen to the teachers, the principals and the eduction experts. She should trial her national standards in primary schools to get information on the outcomes before introducing them nationally.

The teachers want national standards tested in a trial, like other education innovations are before they are introduced nationally. The guy who came up with the idea of national standards says they should be trialed and has warned they could be a disaster. 80 principals so far have announced they will not implement them without a successful trial first.

Tolley seems determined to make this a fight between her and the unions. She misunderstands (as it typical of the Right) what a union is. It isn’t the handful of paid officials. It is the thousands of members. In this case, it is the teachers.

It is the teachers who have opposed national standards, the officials just follow their democratic decisions. It is the teachers that Tolley is unwittingly seeking a battle with. It is the teachers that Tolley has the temerity to accuse of not caring about the kids.

She is too stupid and too arrogant for her position, and she is charting a course for disaster and strife in the education system.

105 comments on “Trial needed for national standards ”

  1. deemac 1

    surely the trials in Britain etc are enough to prove this sort of thing is a disaster?

    • Since when has reality succeeded over prejudice and rhetoric?

    • Borborygm 1.2

      Trial? The Minister is definitely guilty! Guilty of deafness. Guilty of unmovable simplistic dogma.The reasoned and reasonable letters to the editor in the Dimpost obviously are making no effect on her. The woman reads a children’s book to the PPTA executive about a rat who is happy with his lowly lot. She wishes all workers knew their place as in the good old days. Will she ever learn? I doubt it.

  2. ieuan 2

    I 100% agree with you on this Eddie.

    Tolley also needs to announce how the results of the national standards will be used to assist those schools that are found to be underperforming.

    I suspect that Tolley will use the results to ‘pressure’ schools to improve, with little or no other external assistance.

    Excellent article from Perry Rush (principal from Island Bay school in Wellington) on the Herald website http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10615922&pnum=0

    • Ianmac from Abu Dhabi 2.1

      Thanks Ieuan. Perry Rush says it all. Fancy the Herald letting it be published given recent Editorials.

  3. Anne Tolley (and National) is an idiot looking to make an even bigger idiot of herself.
    What was the election propaganda? 5-10% of our kids are failing?
    Translation, 80 – 90% are doing just fine, so the solution was fix the 5-10%
    The latest propaganda, 30% can’t read and write?
    Translation, if it is actually true is that 70% are up to standard, so fix the 30% not change the whole F**king system.

  4. Where did the edit function go?

    [lprent: I will have a look. ]

  5. Pascal's bookie 5

    (hat tip to taranaki in Dimpost comments)

    Useful look at what these literacy numbers mean and how we compare with Canada and the US.

    PDF here

    Comparatively we are doing ok. These “20-30 %” numbers do not appear to be some dramatic slide.

    Page four shows that between 96 and 07 (when this study was done) literacy levels in NZ not only improved, but improved more here than in Canada or the US.

    There is no crisis, but for some reason National wants parents to think there is.

  6. Tim Ellis 6

    No Eddie, a trial would just give an opportunity for the unions to sabotage it. There wasn’t a trial of NCEA, which had far greater structural changes to the education system.

    What is it about the Labour Party and the unions that they haven’t understood that they lost the last election?

    Unions don’t dictate government policy. Politically accountable governments do. If National Standards doesn’t work, then the government will bear the costs of it. The real reason unions don’t want this system is that it will be much easier to assess teacher and school performance.

    • IrishBill 6.1

      NCEA was introduced incrementally.

      • Tim Ellis 6.1.1

        Not with a trial though IB.

        • chris

          NCEA was debated and took close to ten years of studying and prior analysis and policy development before it was implemented. this is just anne tolley waking up one morning then saying, hey let’s have standards!!!! w00t! Hell it was positively cross party given how it was introduced by national and then implemented by labour. so different that you just look stupid, Tim

    • After all what do teachers and lecturers know about the education system and why should their opinions be given any more credence than that of the illinformed swinging voter who thought they were voting for a tax cut but never got it?

      • Tim Ellis 6.2.1

        I suggest you campaign for a single party state then micky, where voters can’t choose their governments but the Labour Party and the unions remain permanently in power. You’ll have to get a majority of the public to agree to it though, if it’s going to be lawful.

        • mickysavage

          This should be a debate about what is best for the education sector.

          You are suggesting that because National won last year they can do what they want and teachers no longer have any expectation of a meaningful dialogue and Tolley can do what she wants, no matter what damage is caused.

          Are you being serious?

          • Tim Ellis

            I am being quite serious micky when I say it’s the government’s job to set education policy, not the unions.

            The government is accountable to the public. Unions aren’t. If you don’t like it, tough. Rally to have the government voted out, and if it’s a concern for you that future governments might set policies that unions don’t like, then campaign to have unions set government policy rather than elected politicians.

            • Pascal's bookie

              Democracy doesn’t end at the ballot box.

              • gitmo

                Sadly it does.

              • Tim Ellis

                well it certainly doesn’t end with unions dictating government policy over the will of a democratically elected government.

                • lprent

                  TE The unions aren’t pushing this more than their members are. What you have is a government trying to push a policy in over the objections of teachers and principals that the policy timeframe and detail is unworkable.

                  BTW: you look to me like you’re starting to troll on that union line.

                  There is no evidence that I’m aware of that it is the unions pushing this. All of the evidence I’ve seen is that it is the teaching profession. Perhaps you’d care to enlighten us about why you think that the unions are pushing this as a threat to government policy rather than just asserting it.

                  I think that your PR repetition is starting to get annoying.

                  • grumpy

                    Tim, have you been misrepresenting NZEI as a “Ãœnion”? That could get you into serious trouble!

                    • logie97

                      I have read through this blog and had hoped to read justification for the standards being “rammed” through by Mrs Tolley. The teaching profession knows why this is a bad decision.

                      Unfortunately I have had to read typical trolling by Ellis and his mates taking the discussion off topic.

                      Ellis, come up with some sound educational reasons to support your mistress’s case for her “standards”.

                      An alternative might be to ban Ellis and his mates – they appear to be a waste of space. I know I will not be the first to suggest he be removed.

                      [lprent: You aren’t. But we ban for bad behaviour, which Tim has been edging closer to today. ]

                    • Tim Ellis []

                      My point is logie, the government doesn’t need a justification to implement its policy, apart from winning an election.

                      Unions have no justification for calling for boycotts of govvernment policies. As I have said above, I don’t think the public likes the idea that unions can hold democratically elected governments to ransom.

                      There will be a lot more battles to come in the education sector, including bulk funding. If the unions want to use all their iammunition on this one, then good luck to them. It won’t help the unions cause, and it won’t help the Labour Party.

                    • r0b []

                      My point is logie, the government doesn’t need a justification to implement its policy, apart from winning an election.

                      That is the most childish definition of democracy that I have ever heard. You should have written it in crayon.

                      Say Tim, when lobby groups were opposing the policy of the last government, which side were you on?

                    • Tim Ellis []

                      That’s a good point r0b. The EMA knows more about what makes businesses tick than a group of Labour politicians who have never worked in the private sector before.

                      But it would have been unthinkable for the EMA to tell its members to ignore and boycott the employment relations act just because they disagreed with it. Had they called for such a boycott, I would have backed the government of the day’s right to write law and set policy.

                    • grumpy []

                      Fascinating debate here guys. On the one hand Tim is saying that it’s the government’s perogative to pass legislation that they campaigned on heavily in the last election and on the other hand prism, ak and pb want him banned for ..???? probably not agreeing with them.

                      Can we please move on to something more edifying?

                      [lprent: People don’t get banned here for that. That is an argument that has been going on for centuries.

                      However if he says it is all the fault of the unions again without offering proof or discussing why he thinks it is, then I may decide that he is trolling.

                      It is a bloody annoying PR tactic of repetitively trolling of lines and avoiding discussion that adds nothing to a debate. Also it pisses me off when I have to read the same damn line masquerading as fact over and over again delivered without humor, wit, or any apparent interaction with other commentators.

                      Before anyone bothers to do the usual next line. I have never been a union member or worked for one. All of my dealings have been from the other side of the table. With the exception of a few idiot stewards, their behavior doesn’t match with the line TE is taking.

                      On the other hand TE’s behaviour on this topic does conform to the traditional proported ‘unionist’ myth beloved by people like him. That of a idiot repetitively droning the same unsupported position over and over again because they are too stupid to think of anything different to say. Do I make myself clear? ]

                  • Tim Ellis

                    What nonsense, LP. You want to frame your argument the way that suits your argument, fine. I frame my arguments the way that suits my argument, sure. It’s called debate. It isn’t the terms I used, it’s my philosophical position that annoys you.

                    There’s not actually anything you can say to convince me that the unions are not playing politics over this, or that their ambition isn’t to advance their own interests. You disagree, fine, but be a bit more tolerant of differing points of view for crying out loud.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      Someone call a whahmbulance, please.

                      Tim, you don’t have an argument. You just have an assertion.

                      The only philosophical position you have shown is that just because you are a partisan hack willing to sacrifice primary education for partisan warfare, everybody else must therefore be the same, and must therefore be lying when they say they have actual concerns about the policy.

                      Assuming bad faith on everyone’s part is a philosophical position of sorts. It has absolutely nothing to do with good faith debate however, and everything to do with the lowest sort of partisan hackery completely divorced from policy and the good of the nation, everything to do with enflaming passion solely as distraction from whatever your real agenda is, if you have a policy agenda at all that is.

                      I’ve never to my recollection suggested anyone get a permanent ban, but Tim’s admitted bad faith here would make it seem appropriate. He openly admits that he is not here to debate issues, assumes no one else is, and proceeds to troll threads on that basis. The fact that he never swears and plays the middle class snob to perfection, does not detract from the fact that his attitude and method, admitted here explicitly, treats other commenters with contempt.

                      For what it’s worth, I’m with logie. Hit him with the fuck off stick.

                      It’s not like he hasn’t had the opportunity to actually make an argument, or respond to the arguments raised by others, arguments he openly admits he will just ignore.

                      Why should The Standard give him a platform?

                      TimmyEllis.blogspot is no doubt available.

                      [lprent: I often think that he should get his own site, if he doesn’t have one already. It’d be interesting observing the readership profile. ]

                    • ak []

                      Hit him with the fuck off stick.

                      Shivers no – he’s the Foil from heaven: a drugged, lobotomised hare to the Standardista greyhounds, switching from “you did it too” to “we won, nyah nyah” with all the grace and style of curdled year-old porridge. Makes you other commenters look like witty genii – a near-perfect parody of the utterly humourless and terminally boring tory psyche. Gvie him a guest post and sell it as a soporific.

                    • Tim Ellis []

                      I didn’t say I’m not here to debate issues PB, I said I’m not going to debate issues on your terms.

                      Thanks for the lecture on partisan hackery though and bad faith debating. Coming from somebody who is arguing for me to be permanently banned because I take a different view on this issue, I’ll take it with a grain of salt.

                    • prism []

                      Tim ‘plays the middle class snob to perfection’. g.
                      Shakespeare couldn’t have said it better.
                      I keep thinking he is Don Brash’s alter ego, or altered something.

                    • prism []

                      Tim ‘plays the middle class snob to perfection’.
                      Shakespeare couldn’t have said it better.
                      I keep thinking he is Don Brash’s alter ego, or altered something.

                    • felix []


                    • felix []

                      Double bah!! That was supposed to be a reply to http://www.thestandard.org.nz/trial-needed-for-national-standards/#comment-180181

                      What the heynow?

                    • lprent

                      TE: The unions are almost certainly playing politics over it – politics is the nature of the relationship between employers and employees. However you haven’t established that that it is anything more than that.

                      The unions are saying that they getting stick from their members to do something about a stupid policy that they are being told to implement. I see nothing that says what the unions are doing is anything more than that, and you haven’t shown that to be the case.

                      Everyone apart from you and some PR spin from the 9th floor and parliament says that it is the teachers, principals, and educationalists who are describing this policy to have big problems and unworkable. How do you deal with this criticism? You just keep repeating ‘union’ ‘union’ ‘union’ like bloody parrot – ignoring what anyone else says, and not bothering to say why you think it is the unions.

                      That to me is smacks of a particular type of repetitive PR spinning. It isn’t ‘debate’.

                      If you want to spin – put a press release out on stuff or scoop. If you want to comment here, then less of the repetitive spinning, and more debate. Hell we don’t even know why you think the unions are playing ‘politics’ – you haven’t said why. Thats why I think that you’re trolling.

                      It also says that we need more posts on Tolley. Obviously the ‘rank and file’ of the national party are concerned about her.

                    • Swampy []

                      There’s a distinction between political employer-employee discussions carried out in house (contract negotiations for example) and publicity campaigns where organisations put out press releases attacking their opponents. We all know that TUs conduct this kind of public political campaigning as a matter of course. It is actually carried out explicitly with the national political scene and parliamentary elections in mind, and is pretty much as a proxy of a political party. And this is true because TUs are well known for party affiliations, even if these days many prefer to claim they are not formally affiliated.

                      I’ve written elsewhere that the leadership of most TUs is heavily stacked with hard core political activists. I think that is very easy to prove. Therefore knowing that to be fact it begs the question of exactly how much of this campaign really is representing the views of members and how much is political campaigning for its own sake. It cannot be just a coincidence that a major left wing party has announced its policy would abolish the standards.

                      The bulk funding campaign was similar and claimed the heads of two PPTA presidents who pushed their political views too far and lost support of their membership. That is a relevant piece of history to this particular situation. Tolley has stood up to it by calling the union’s bluff on its interference with school boards. It remains to be seen who will blink first.

              • Pascal's bookie

                You’ve never heard of protest? Civil disobedience?

                The govt has the authority to enforce policy. Citizens have the ability to make them use that force. That force may or may not be palatable to the broader population and a govt may fail to enforce their policy.

                There is nothing undemocratic about that.

              • gitmo

                When was the last time a NZ government gave a fuck about the NZ publics opinion outside of 6 months of an election ?

                The gimps on the left and the right just look after each other with gargling on taxpayers money at Bellamys.

              • grumpy

                Remember “we won you lost – eat that”?

              • Grumpy

                It was said 9 years ago! It was a rhetorical florish!

                Besides teachers did not expect to have the education system trashed in revenge just because they supported Labour.

              • grumpy

                probably not Mickey but it is something that has needed doing for a long time and because of their symbiotic relationship, Labour was impotent to do anything.

                You could sum it up by saying the Teacher Unions have no influence whatsoever on this government – and they are starting to see their irrelevence.

                parents on the other hand suddenly have the upper hand.

            • lprent

              It is the teachers and principals who have to implement the policy. What type of idiot minister of education doesn’t listen to them when they say there are problems with the schedule and what is planned.

              What do the unions have to do with it? They are merely feeding through the concerns of their members.

              When I see Anne Tolley actually showing signs of understanding what she is proposing at a practical level, then I’ll stop calling her an idiot. Managers who are stupid enough to push policy over genuine operational concerns need to be sacked. They always screw things up for everyone else. It is a sign of gross incompetence.

              Must start writing posts to that effect. Key needs to put someone competent in that portfolio to implement this policy. Anne Tolley isn’t.

              • gitmo

                Yet another of the long list of buffoons in this portfolio.

                Fortunately most BOTs and principals are adept at avoiding the fatuosities and delusions of grandeur of Ministers and MOE……….. and at sacking useless teachers when required.

    • lprent 6.3

      There wasn’t a trial of NCEA. However it was rolled out incrementally across schools and years with literally years to prepare (and more than 40 days of ‘consultation’ – in this case ignoring any input by the look of it). That allowed many of the little bugs to be isolated and fixed. They still are.

      Quite different to whacking the whole thing in one hit in based on the faith of an idiot without a teaching background that it is the ‘right’ thing to do.

      Hard to understand how you cannot comprehend the difference? Should I explain from an operations perspective how different the two approaches are… It can be surmised that Tolley has a certainty of a total screwup. NCEA only had a probability of the same.

      • Tim Ellis 6.3.1

        National standards are nothing like the scale of NCEA LP.

        NCEA was never part of a trial.

        If the unions were asking for an incremental phase in, then they might get more sympathy. But a trial is very different and leaves it open to sabotage, which isn’t going to happen. This is a core plank of National Party policy, which they were elected on over a year ago.

        If unions don’t like what the government is doing, they can try to influence the public to vote Labour (although last time they did that in 2008, the public voted National anyway).

        This arrogant attitude that the public are too stupid to know what they’re voting for, and unions and the Labour Party knows best, is one of the reasons Labour was voted out last time.

        I think the unions are blowing a lot of political capital over this. If they don’t start playing ball and cooperating with the government then there will be no public sympathy for them when National brings in bulk funding of teacher salaries.

        • lprent

          You are ignoring that the teachers, principals, and educational academics (oh and the unions and other teacher representative bodies) aren’t saying don’t put it in. They are saying that it is stupid to put it in this fast without bothering to think it through or plan for it.

          There was in fact a incredibly short 40 day consultation period where these issues were raised. The minister appears to have not even bothered to look at those objections by the people who have to implement the proposals – because exactly the same policy that went into the ‘consultation’ is what went out. That is why I’m calling Tolley an idiot.

          I’d also question how far parents are behind this. The reports from the ‘consultation’ period when parents were involved didn’t sound too enthusiastic. There has simply been an assertion by the ministry that there was. This is contradicted by the several people I know who went to the things.

          Bearing in mind this was a John Key line well prior to the election, that there was very little debate prior to or during the election (pretty much all negative), I suspect this is just National wanting to tick off an election promise as fast as possible – without looking to see that it is implemented in a way that makes it work.

          So what you’re in fact saying is that political reasons are more important than operational ones. Sounds pretty damn stupid to me.

          • Swampy

            “You are ignoring that the teachers, principals, and educational academics (oh and the unions and other teacher representative bodies) aren’t saying don’t put it in.”

            Umm, I think they are, actually. Go to the NZPF website and you’ll read a very strong line of complete opposition to the “flawed” standards, and basically claiming that school boards know better what is needed and it isn’t national standards.

            The truth is the only time the sector players were not saying “don’t put it in” were when they were in consultation with the government (as was the case back in August when the NZEI was putting out conciliatory public statements) and now they aren’t expected to act in good faith with that process the gloves are off and it’s now all out warfare.

            • lprent

              That was before they realized that Anne Tolley didn’t mean a word of the what she was saying about consultation. When she heard ‘consultation’, she though ‘whitewash’.

              That really doesn’t look like good faith to me, or anyone else apart from a few national party hacks like you.

    • ieuan 6.4

      ‘If National Standards doesn’t work, then the government will bear the costs of it.’

      And the kids and the teachers and the parents.

      What was wrong with Tolley going to the teaching profession and saying ‘what can we do to improve the system’ and then working from there???

      Why is education such a political football?

      • Tim Ellis 6.4.1

        Perhaps the teachers unions should have thought about that before they backed Labour at the last election and lost.

        • Pascal's bookie

          Says it all.

        • mickysavage

          Pay back is a bitch!

        • grumpy

          I think what Tim is saying is that the teachers played politics – and lost.

          • lprent

            In the end Anne Tolley relies on teachers and principals to implement the changes because every system relies on people to actually make sure it works (ie fix all of those niggly little things that don’t actually work). To get that she has to convince them it is worth spending effort on rather than the other things that they could do.

            The difference between willing effort and unwilling effort is the difference between a polish shipyard in the 1980s, and one that works. Simply trying to order things to be done is outright stupid and worthy of some dick-head dictator.

            Anne Tolley doesn’t understand that politics goes beyond winning elections. It involves getting the enthusiastic to grudging cooperation of the people who implement the policy. To date she hasn’t tried to do it. She is acting like a dumb arse autocrat with delusions of grandeur.

            Basically she is an idiot. Are you as well?

            • grumpy

              Hope not….

            • Swampy

              There was a lot more rot with a lot less justification talked about bulk funding in the 90s, the PPTA tried to hardball the government over that but eventually it was Tobin and Cooney who got rolled over when their stances became unjustifiable.

              In that case it was pretty obvious of the vested interest, eliminating the need for centralised wage negotiations with the Ministry (which the unions were very well placed to play to their strength in) and devolving them to local school boards instead undermining the collective strength.

              In this case it is much the same, it is philosophically and fundamentally about the right of a democratically elected government to make laws and implement policies, as against the wishes of the unions to directly challenge these rights. This was very plain in the tactics employed to campaign against bulk funding at that time.

              Whether we like it or not, State schools are governmental organisations and must be accountable to the government of the day as fundamentally that is a core expectation of our democracy and accountability. Here you have a group or groups not elected by the people of New Zealand and therefore not accountable to them, instead elected by their own members who have a vested interest in protecting their jobs and conditions, wishing to oppose by all possible means the democratic process, secondly to campaign politically against the government and I think the government is duty bound in the interests of democracy to neutralise their political influence.

              • lprent

                Here you have a group or groups not elected by the people of New Zealand and therefore not accountable to them, instead elected by their own members who have a vested interest in protecting their jobs and conditions, ..

                Hey you do know what a union is for. Congratulations – you’ve passed civics 101.

                The government is just another employer. It has no special status in employer / employee relations except in a few core services. To suggest otherwise is say that you want government employees to be regarded as slaves.

                But I guess you’re just a frustrated slave owner at heart

      • Swampy 6.4.2

        “Why is education such a political football?”

        Because we have a large state sector education system, which the Left of politics wants to guard and defend at all costs. And because a majority of teachers are left wing politically, therefore they have organised politically through the sector unions. Now with a National Government in power the Labour Party has everything in place to wage an effective political campaign and mobilise its members in the schools. It comes in large part down to the way that Labour has politicised the education sector by large scale organising and union activity.

        • lprent

          Interesting – what affiliates? I’m pretty sure that none of the unions involved in this dispute are actually Labour party affiliates. The unions have done all of this work themselves because they represent their members. After all there were some rather major strikes against the Labour government during several wage rounds over the last nine years.

          It kind of indicates that you’re blowing smoke with the political angle.

    • d14 6.5

      And there was a significant buy in from the teacher.

    • Transparent 6.6

      Sorry Tim, it’s not the government that will bear the cost, it’s our children. All over the world it has been shown that when you have national standardised testing then the children will be taught to pass the test, to the detriment of other aspects of education.

    • Swampy 6.7

      There was actually quite a lot of “trial” in the NCEA with bits of it used as bargaining chips in contract negotiations at various times. It was certainly not a popular policy at certain times.

  7. prism 7

    Problem is that National considers government services as
    something they personally purchase, rather than as part of a national infrastructure built from revenue from combined tax inputs. So teachers are condemned as you would with any servant (they are or were called public servants) and National likes to criticise such people (you can’t get good help nowdays).

    Teachers are prime meat for excoriating criticism – needing to be the pseudo parents that many children have little access to because they are too busy working to get enough money, or too busy spending and working for more it if they have got more than sufficient.

    • Swampy 7.1

      The problem is not with teachers per se, it is with those in particular who are too big for their boots (the ones that make the most noise in the PPTA etc). The opposition being whipped up is way out of proportion when you consider the standardised assessments are already being used in house by schools and in some cases have been for decades (e.g. PAT)

  8. felix 8

    Lynn, is it possible to have the word “unions” in Tim’s comments replaced by the word “teachers” because that’s what he means.

    He’s had it explained to him plenty of times too.

    • lprent 8.1

      I don’t do that as sysop. The only substitution I will do is on names.

      But it is starting to piss me off. The unions are the least of the governments problems with this change. The teachers and principals are getting quite annoyed. The unions are kind of being pushed from their membership from what I’ve been hearing.

    • gitmo 8.2

      I vote that we change “unions” to “Macbeth”

  9. randal 9

    tolley is trying to look like she is doing something.
    one of the vibrant people elected to this parliament.
    she should stick to vibrating.

  10. tc 10

    ” She is too stupid and too arrogant for her position, and she is charting a course for disaster and strife in the education system…”

    Isn’t this why she was chosen ? To antagonise and upset ?

    Being constructive and making positive changes requires knowledge, intelligence and an ability to listen so she joins the large group with Bennett/Smith/Coleman etc

  11. Anne 11

    I’m with logie97 and Pascal’s bookie. What is more important? Giving him a platform (and occasionly having fun with him) or readers becoming so frustrated with his mindless, brainless twaddle that they sign off without reading the rest of the comments – most of which are of a very high standard. I’d say the latter.

  12. Pascal's bookie 12

    “somebody who is arguing for me to be permanently banned because I take a different view on this issue”

    QED Tim.

    I think you should be banned for your admitted bad faith, not you viewpoint. I was quite explicit about that. I have tried in fact over the last few days to engage with you on this issue, and you have simply and utterly failed to respond to what I have to say. I have addressed your assertion masquerading as an argument, and again you fail to respond. You simply refuse to acknowledge that others here have genuine concerns about this policy and accuse them of only pretending to do so as part of a ‘framing’ exercise.

    The ‘terms’ you refuse to argue on, what you claim are ‘my terms’, is the idea that I am not in fact lying when I say have genuine concerns about the policy and it’s implementation. You extend this to the posters, other commenters, the teachers academics and other education stakeholders.

    • Pascal's bookie 12.1

      This should have been in reply to Tim’s latest sophistry, where he lied about what I said, and once again failed to produce or respond to any argument.

    • Tim Ellis 12.2

      No I haven’t admitted bad faith at all.

      I don’t deny that there are some who disagree with the policy. There are also others who agree with the policy.

      Whether or not you agree with the policy is neither here nor there in my view. The issue is whether you believe the democratically elected government has the right to set government policy, or whether governments should allow themselves to be held to ransom by special interest groups.

      What the NZEI is doing by calling for a boycott is akin to the business roundtable saying under a Labour government that they didn’t like current tax levels, so advocated businesses not pay tax to the government.

      • Daveosaurus 12.2.1

        You seem to have a touching faith in the ability of a “democratically elected government” to do no wrong.

        Do you also have faith in the ability of democratically elected School Boards of Trustees to do no wrong; and, if not, why do you have this double standard?

        • Swampy

          The school board serves at the Minister’s pleasure.

          School boards are a convenient democratic fiction like the health boards are. The only difference in reality being they do not have Ministerial appointees or power to select the chairperson etc. The powers the board have are strictly limited and accountability to the Minister is a core part of their function.

          • lprent

            Yes you have accurately given their status. They are pretty important to the operation of the school because they provide a place for the parents to organize. They are allowed to have opinions and to express them.

            Are you suggesting that the government is the only organization that is entitled to have an opinion in the education sector? I’m sure that there are a lot of parents that will not like that.

            • Swampy

              Everyone’s entitled to an opinion. However you can’t get away from the fact that school boards are really like health boards, and while they do have a degree of independence, a core part of their function is to comply with the legal requirements provided for by the government.

              The government is accountable to all of us through the ballot box. Most people seem to accept that for what it is.

      • Pascal's bookie 12.2.2

        The issue is whether you believe the democratically elected government has the right to set government policy, or whether governments should allow themselves to be held to ransom by special interest groups.

        It’s called consultation, and listening to the experts. A consultation with the experts and stakeholders that simply declares them the ‘losers’ of a political debate and therefore irrelevant is going to be resisted. And should be. This is not like your roundtable examples, because the roundtable is not the democratic representation of jack shit. Let alone the experts at anything. A more apt analolgy would be to the government bulldozing the Doctors over some medical issue, and objecting to the fact the doctors took action.

        As to the right of the government to make policy , I’verespondedtothat

        The following is off topic:

        No I haven’t admitted bad faith at all.

        You want to frame your argument the way that suits your argument, fine. I frame my arguments the way that suits my argument, sure.

        Firstly, you simply want to have a different argument. There are two issues, and you insist on arguing only one of them. When you say that “Whether or not you agree with the policy is neither here nor there in my view.” You are just saying that one of the issues is utterly irrelevant to the people that are here, actually talking about it.

        Secondly, what you appear to mean here by ‘frame the argument’, (based on your behaviour) involves

        presenting your case,
        totally ignoring the arguments of the person you are discussing it with, justifying this on the basis that your opponents stated concerns are in fact just lies covering for a purely partisan political motive,
        not responding substantively to people that engage with your own argument, and
        repeating the same assertion over and over, never acknowledging that responses have been made.

        It ‘s kind of hard to claim you are arguing in good faith, when you never attempt to respond in a substantive manner to counter arguments to your own position, and you assume that your opponents arguments are held in bad faith, or are neither here nor there.

        There’s not actually anything you can say to convince me that the unions are not playing politics over this

        And this just clinches it. You are saying that the person you are allegedly discussing the issue with cannot possibly convince you, no matter what. Because that sort of discussion is not what you have in mind. It doesn’t suit your purpose to acknowledge their arguments, or to defend your own.

        It’s like a school debate for you I think, where the intended audience for your words is not the person you are debating with, (that person is but a means to an end), but an audience you are trying to impress.

        It isn’t the terms I used, it’s my philosophical position that annoys you.

        Seeing you mention philosophical positions.
        (that person is but a means to an end)

        Kant says you are arguing in bad faith.

  13. grumpy 13

    Fascinating debate here guys. On the one hand Tim is saying that it’s the government’s perogative to pass legislation that they campaigned on heavily in the last election and on the other hand prism, ak and pb want him banned for………..???? probably not agreeing with them.

    Can we please move on to something more edifying?

  14. Bill 14

    Anne Tolley should have the sense to listen to the teachers, the principals and the eduction experts”

    But since principles act on the behalf of school boards, it would seem reasonable to assume that it is the school boards rather than (or as well as) the principles who are agin all this crap.

    And since the school boards are the employers and the NZEI usually represents it’s members interests in opposition to the interests of the employer and since the employer and the employees and the employers agents and the employees reps are all on the same side with regards this particular issue….well, my money is on Tolley gone by lunchtime.

    • Swampy 14.1

      The school boards are essentially the agents of the State in a way that gives supposed autonomy and local control but they are still tasked very much with the implementation of government policy above all else.

      There is not 100% solid single viewpoint on that issue but there is obvious organisation to marginalise dissenting viewpoints so that the clear impression at least is of a united voice.

      • lprent 14.1.1

        That comment was just strange and very confused.

        • Swampy

          What I mean to say by that is that the PPTA is only representing the majority viewpoint (we presume). They aren’t interested in representing the percentage of their members who support national standards. That at least appears to be the case as of now.

      • felix 14.1.2

        “The school boards are essentially the agents of the State…”

        I just can’t get past that bit, sorry.

        Swampy, your midnight ravings, like surreal gifts left by some deranged Santa in the night are getting stranger and stranger.

        • Swampy

          School boards and health boards are a lot alike. The health boards while having some limited autonomy are firmly under the control of the government of the day.

          School boards have slightly more freedom, but still have to operate under the legal constraints set by governmental legislation and accountability for public funds.

    • Swampy 14.2

      Bit optimistic don’t you think? The School Trustees Association has come out firmly in support of National Standards. They said “NZSTA views the national standards as an important opportunity to give full effect to parents right to know how their child is doing at school in respect both their classmates and how they compare nationally, warts and all”

      I doubt very much you can make a blanket statement about school boards based on the views of principals. The principal is one member of the board only. There may be another teacher as a staff rep. The principal is actually the board’s employee. He or she may have some powers delegated to him/her but not necessarily the representation of how the board feels on such a matter as this.

  15. Swampy 15

    The call for a trial is just the latest union stalling tactic. The law is legitimate and went through the Parliamentary process and there was extensive consulation.

    School boards and principals are public servants employed at the government’s pleasure. They must be accountable to implement government policy as it applies to their schools.

    • lprent 15.1

      40 days. Then Tolley ignored that and went ahead with her plan without changes despite having the problems pointed out then.

      That is not ‘extensive consultation’. That is a petty autocrat ignoring advice

      • Swampy 15.1.1

        There were some changes like no league tables are going to be possible. But if you don’t get everything you ask for, well that’s just life.

  16. Swampy 16

    The views being represented are the unions, we aren’t hearing from the percentage of teachers who support the standards who are probably also union members, and it’s been totally clear how NZEI or PPTA would have gone on this matter before it got as far as it has, with the fact that it has yet to be implemented in NZ and is therefore untried.

    Now you have the facts and those are that there has been a lot of consultation, what is really being tried here is stalling tactics to try to drag out the implementation, especially across an election date which appears to be a political manoeuvre.

  17. Swampy 17

    Eddie, I expect you perhaps more than anyone else on this thread to know very well that the union is a political organisation that campaigns on a national stage with the aim of achieving political goals and outcomes. The level of affiliation. which in the past was a bit more overt, between various trade unions and certain Parliamentary parties, is well known even if only a handful of such unions have declared explicitly a formal affiliation.

    Now, if the union only campaigned on industrial relations matters where their track record of expertise is well known, that would be one thing, but in fact the kind of activities and causes they are involved in supporting places them well outside the sphere of representing their members in employment matters as one should suppose to be the case. The net result of that is that in an obvious case such as this, it is necessary to get an objective view by arriving at some process of being able to eliminate self-interest on the one hand, and obvious political goals on another.

    The most obvious political agenda here is for a left wing union to oppose the right wing National government, something we last saw with the previous National government when there was a big campaign against bulk funding. In that particular case the arguments were a lot more spurious than today.

    I’d like to see the union give some space for members who support the National Standards to have their voices heard but I don’t suppose that will happen as the big political goal of opposing National will get subverted too much to allow it.

    • lprent 17.1

      A union represents its members. This is a case where virtually every person involved in having to implement the policy is saying that the policy is rushed and unworkable in its current form.

      Are you saying that a union should not campaign on behalf of their members. You have some serious comprehension issues about what a unions obligations are.

      I’d like to see the union give some space for members who support the National Standards to have their voices heard

      Interesting that there don’t appear to be any voices raised. Perhaps you should find some and link to them. Even the supporters of the policy are saying that the implementation is too rushed.

      • Swampy 17.1.1

        There are two core functions that most unions engage in. THere is quite likely to be different levels of participation of members in these:

        1. Industrial relations – high majority as everyone benefits from getting better pay and conditions etc

        2. Political activism – likely to be a much smaller bunch of people unless it crosses over into (1). This is pretty much a given, the top people in every union I can think of are well known political campaigners and activists in all the major left wing political parties that have ever existed.

        I suggest you can accurately measure (2) by the level of participation in national conferences which in most organisations full stop is a minority. As the PPTA found to its cost in the bulk funding campaign in the 90s when they lost two presidents in a row (Tobin and Cooney) because they took an extremist viewpoint out of step with many rank and file.

        The current campaign is politically driven by a hard activist core and as such we are reasonably entitled to ask exactly what percentage of the union membership is being represented by the positions taken.

        Also I think the voice we are hearing the loudest is the union’s – not necessarily the rank and file members.

      • Swampy 17.1.2

        A union’s obligations are whatever they choose them to be, they are not obliged in any way whatsoever to engage in the kind of campaign they have chosen to engage in.

        For example they could choose to continue private discussions with the government instead of public campaigning. They could choose not to write to all the boards as they have done.

  18. Swampy 18

    “80 principals so far have announced they will not implement them without a successful trial first.”

    Having your cake and eating it too – let someone else do all the hard work first.

    • lprent 18.1

      Yep – isn’t that the basis of Nationals version of the ETS? Are you saying that other people aren’t allowed to do that because it is copyrighted to the National party?

      • Swampy 18.1.1

        What is the relevance of the ETS to school principals?

        Some schools are quite willing to implement this policy, trial or not. The schools that want them to be guinea pigs aren’t being very generous, are they.

  19. Di 19

    The National Government wants to raise student acheivement. National Standards on will deflect even more of teachers’ time and energy away from the actual job of teaching to testing and paperwork. When children are turning up to school with no idea how to hold a pencil and unable to recognise written letters, then it is clearly obvious to teachers (but not to Nats) that more teachers are needed to give one on one help to these students. The children needing this type of help are already identified by their teachers but the Nats want to beat teachers with a stick and divert more money to private schools instead of funding higher staff levels to raise student achievement.

    To not run a trial before implementing the National Standards goes against all logical reasoning and the teacher unions may have a legal argument which would stand up in court for refusing to proceed.

    Tim Ellis: 1.Trials help highlight potential problems and allow for refinement and improvement.
    2. Assessment is not teaching.

    3. Teacher like to work cooperatively, not climb over each other to get to the top. Performance pay and bulk funding are divisive and counterproductive.

    • Swampy 19.1

      Bulk funding is how the tertiary sector has been funded a long time and no one has tried to turn back the clock on it. It was just a lot easier for Labour to undo bulk funding in primary-secondary education so they did. Bulk funding of course undermines the union collective bargaining monopoly. The opposition has got a lot more to do with that than any other argument marshalled against it.

      National standards already have existed for years, just not the reporting requirement of them.

  20. George.com 20

    The governments current position seems to be

    “we think there is a crisis in learning (even though the ERO report suggests something different) so lets do something, anything, even if it turns out to be wrong. We just want to be seen to be doing something”.

    We also have a new curriculum. What is more important, getting the curriculum implemented and up and running or getting national standards up and running?

  21. Swampy 21

    “It is the teachers who have opposed national standards, the officials just follow their democratic decisions. It is the teachers that Tolley is unwittingly seeking a battle with. It is the teachers that Tolley has the temerity to accuse of not caring about the kids.”

    Officials follow whose decisions? The teachers or the government’s?

    It’s already been observed that it is more correctly the teacher’s unions that Tolley is seeking the battle with. Unwittingly or not. Probably not in fact.

  22. Paul 22

    I am a principal and am interested in this debate. Two comments. First that this has become a political debate rather than a discussion about the merits or otherwise of the Standards is appropriate because the proposed introduction of the standards is itself purely political. This is what concerns teachers because if there was any evidence that the standards would lead to better teaching or learning then they would be embraced but instead Tolley and Key are prepared for ideological reasons to fly in the face of evidence around the world that suggests that standards to do work. Secondly, take a look at OECD rankings for achievement in Reading, Maths and Science and ask yourself if there is really a problem with primary school education in NZ short of the difference in the achievement of those from different socio economic groups – something that National seem prepared to make worse rather than improve.

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