MUST READ: Charter Schools in a Post-Truth Era

By   /   December 11, 2016  /   18 Comments

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For many on the neo-liberal Right, education is a business not a public good and therefore should be no different to electricity supply (semi-privatised); Air New Zealand (semi-privatised – again); or a whole host of other services and assets that were once owned by the tax-payer but have been sold off over the last thirty years.

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Charter Schools’ NCEA Results  in a Post-Truth Era

On 8 December, Radio NZ’s Benedict Collins reported  that Charter Schools had been using dodgy statistics to inflate their apparent “success” rate;

Charter schools use a different method of calculating their NCEA pass rates to state schools – one which inflates their success.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has been warned by her ministry that an imperfect impression of charter schools’ performance is being created as a result.

Advice to Ms Parata shows that when charter schools are measured using the same roll-based methodology as state schools, their pass rates plummet.

The Vanguard Military charter school on Auckland’s North Shore reported a 100 percent Level 2 NCEA pass rate, but that fell to 60 percent when the school’s results were calculated the same way as state schools report.

Labour’s education spokesperson, Chris Hipkins quite rightly slammed the fake results;

“It’s disappointing that we’re not getting apples for apples comparisons but it’s even more disturbing that many kids are leaving these schools without the qualifications the Government says every child needs.

The latest Ministry annual report data also shows charter schools’ National Standards results are actually in decline.

Last year charter schools were awarded performance bonuses for their results while state schools are staring in the face of major funding cuts next year.

It’s simply not fair that students are leaving these school with minimal qualifications while charter schools receive special treatment as state schools struggle.”

ACT’s David Seyour – current Leader of the neo-liberal party responsible for Charter Schools – gave this bizarre explanation for the why the figures had been willfully fudged;

“The reason that there is a difference, just remember, is that we have been pioneering holding schools to account through a contract, and it was necessary if you wanted to do that to have a different system of measurement.”

Seymour tried to regain the moral high-ground by hitting back at Hipkins to defend the bogus data;

“More importantly, Hipkins seems oblivious that there is more than one way to measure NCEA performance. Indeed, there are a range of different measures, including NZQA and what the Ministry reports on Education Counts.”

Seymour fails to explain why it was necessary to use “more than one way to measure NCEA performance“.

As PPTA President, Angela Roberts said;

“Charter schools are a bad idea, for a multitude of reasons, but to hear that their so-called success rates are not based on fair measures is disheartening. We question why the Government put in place a different system for measuring student success for charter schools in the first place.

Benedict Collins also revealed that officials expressed disquiet at the way Charter School performance was being measured;

Education officials are to change the way charter schools report their NCEA results to bring their methodology in line with state schools.

[…]

Education Minister, Hekia Parata has been warned by her ministry that an imperfect impression of charter schools’ performance is being created as a result.

Advice to Ms Parata shows that when charter schools are measured using the same roll-based methodology as state schools, their pass rates plummet.

Parata – herself no stranger to controversy within her education portfolioclearly wanted to tidy up the perception that National and ACT were trying to deceive the public;

“I want there to be a consistent system, for the purposes of reporting to the government, which is about roll-based, which means everybody who is enrolled at that school counts and how well did they do, versus only those who sat NCEA”

Yet, this is not the first time that National and government departments and organisations have been caught out falsifying data.

Police crime-reporting in a Post-Truth Era

A bizarre story of Police employing bogus statistics broke in the NZ Herald in July, 2014;

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Police made burglaries vanish - greg o'conner - national - crime statistics

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It took journalist Eugene Bingham two years to uncover information requested under the Official Information Act;

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When the Herald finally received the information they had requested, a startling item of incriminating nature was discovered;

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Calls for 'ghost crimes' inquiry after police note revealed - commissioner bush

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A damning internal police document has emerged that appears to show senior officers discussed not releasing embarrassing details about the “ghost crimes” controversy in which 700 burglaries vanished from official crime statistics.

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The memo, known within police as a job sheet, states John Tims had been advised by then-deputy commissioner [Mike] Bush and assistant commissioner Allan Boreham not to respond to the [OIA] request. Brady [see image above] wrote: “(Tims) had been advised to let the request sit and when and if (3rd Degree) followed up with a request the matter would be addressed then.

“The direction to me was to not respond to the Official Information Act request and file the file as it is.”

Up until then, National had been  gleefully trumpeting the fictitious “fall in crime”;

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Twitter - National - Lowest crime in 35 years - propaganda

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On TVNZ’s Q+A, on 25 October 2015, Michael Parkin interviewed outgoing Police Association President, Greg O’Conner.

O’Connor was unusually candid  when he made clear the extent to which statistics are fudged to make politicians and State officials look good;

@3.10

“Well, it’s uh, lies, damned lies, and statistics. If you look at the crime stats, um, which is those recorded stats, you’ll say the government and police administration are right. If you look at the stats around calls for service, they’re the phone calls that police receive in communications centes, etc, and just an example, family violence, domestic disputes; up by 10% a year pretty much, and across the board, 20% increase. So it’s the calls for service, to the extent that the communications centres couldn’t manage last summer. There’s a fear, and we’re obviously we’re trying to make sure it doesn’t happen this year. So the two are going in completely different directions.”

Parkin pointedly asked if the statistics are being manipulated. O’Conner’s response  was startling in it’s honesty;

@3.55

“Of course they are. Every government department – I mean, what happens is that, the stats themselves are fair, but I mean I see it as a debate [like] about health, y’know, medical – the waiting lists have going down, but people get kicked of waiting lists and so it’s, you achieve – Put it this way, with crime stats, what we’ve set out to do is the way to cut crime stats is to hit your bulk crime. So if you have any success there, of course, that’s going to be big numbers down. And what you ignore is your small  numbers. You ignore, in fact, interestingly enough you ignore drugs. You ignore a lot of your serious stuff that you only find if you go looking. And in the past that’s got us into real trouble. Got us into trouble with the child abuse files, in particular, and you remember, that they were put aside. Because they weren’t politically known. They were business as usual. All of a sudden we were concentrating on the crime and crash reduction, um, and we ignored that stuff. And so you’ve got to be careful. And this is where the politicisation of policing is really dangerous. It’s not done by the Minister saying ‘you gotta do this and you gotta do that’, it’s done by funding.”

Herald journalist, Eugene Bingham, also reported;

“ It transpired others knew about the allegations around the same time, including the local MP and then-Minister of Justice, Judith Collins.”

Judith Collins featured heavily in Nicky Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics‘, and recently stood as a candidate for the next Leader of the National Party.

Mainstream media is often criticised for reliance on superficial ‘news’ reporting; ‘clickbait‘; and dubious ‘stories‘. On this issue, the Herald and Eugene Bingham revealed to New Zealanders the extent to which State agencies will go to “massage the truth” to present deceptively favourable impressions to the public.

Statistics NZ in a Post-Truth Era

In August of this year, I reported how Statistics NZ had radically changed the manner in which it defined a jobseeker;

Change: Looking at job advertisements on the internet is correctly classified as not actively seeking work. This change brings the classification in line with international standards and will make international comparability possible.

Improvement: Fewer people will be classified as actively seeking work, therefore the counts of people unemployed will be more accurate.

Statistics NZ explained the ramifications of the “revised” definition of unemployment ;

  • Decreases in the number of people unemployed and the unemployment rate

  • Changes to the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate range from 0.1 to 0.6 percentage points. In the most recent published quarter (March 2016), the unemployment rate is revised down from 5.7 percent to 5.2 percent 

  • Increases in the number of people not in the labour force 

  • Decreases in the size of the labour force and the labour force participation rate

A person  job-searching using the internet  was “not actively seeking work“. Predictably, at the stroke of a pen, unemployment “fell” over-night from 5.7% to 5.2%.

It was “manna from heaven” for the incumbent government which has  been besieged on several fronts for worsening social and economic indicators.

Despite being little more than a dressed-up “accounting trick”, politicians could claim with a straight-face that “unemployment was falling”.

Which did not take long.

Statistics NZ announced it’s changes on 29 June 2016.

Four days later, our esteemed former-Dear Leader, John  Key, gloated on TVNZ’s Q+A  to Corin Dann;

“The unemployment rate in New Zealand is now falling pretty dramatically.”

By August, both Key and Bill English were joyfully quoting the “new unemployment stats”.

On 8 August, Key was quoted on Interest.co.nz;

“On the other side, we need these people in an environment where unemployment is 5.2% and where growth is still very, very strong. You’ve just got to be careful when you play around with these things that you don’t hamstring certain industries that need these workers.”

So not only was Key quoting the  “new, revised” unemployment stats – but his government was now actively predicating their immigration policy on the bogus data.

Three  days later, in Parliament, English also gleefully congratulated himself on the “fall” in unemployment;

“The Reserve Bank is forecasting an increase of about 1 percent more growth in the economy over the next 3 years, compared with what it thought 3 months ago. It is forecasting that unemployment is going to continue falling from 5.2 percent this year to 4.5 percent by 2019 and that job numbers will increase by more than 2 percent on average over the next 2 years. A significant component of that, of course, will be the construction boom, where thousands of houses will be built over the next 2 or 3 years. These forecasts are in line with Treasury’s forecast for the labour market and show an economy that is delivering more jobs, lower unemployment, and real increases in incomes when in many developed countries that is not happening.”

Whilst it is expected for politicians to mis-use questionable data for their own self-aggrandisement (and re-election chances), worse was to come.

On 10 August,  Radio NZ‘s Immigration Reporter, Gill Bonnett, reported;

“The unemployment rate stood at 5.2 percent for the three months ended in March.”

Bonnett did not  quote a reference source for that statement. Most likely it was Statistics NZ and it’s now-“revised” figures.

It is unfortunate that some journalists seem unaware of the new regime which portrays unemployment lower than it actually is. The fact that Statistics NZ has fudged their  data which now skews unemployment should be common knowledge throughout the mainstream media.

Especially when National ministers are now “patting themselves on the back” for a “fall” in unemployment that never happened, as their Twitter-feed showed on 2 November;

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And three days later;

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As I wrote on 14 November about Statistics NZ’s decision to change it’s criteria for unemployment,

Ms MacPherson’s [Government Statistician] assertion that Statistics NZ has changed it’s definitions of unemployment and jobseeking  “to maintain consistency with international best practice” is not an acceptable explanation.

If “international best practice” does not recognise on-line jobseeking as constituting a definition of unemployment – then that in itself is worrying and suggests that global unemployment may be much, much higher than current international statistics portray.

As a consequence of Ms MacPherson’s decision to exclude on-line jobseekers from official stats, this blogger concludes that official unemployment data is  severely flawed and unrepresentative of our real unemployment numbers.

In simple terms; the numbers are a sham.

Unemployment statistics will no longer be presented in on-going up-dates of the Jobless Tally.

When data cannot be relied upon to be accurate, it ceases to have value, except as propaganda.

Those who welcome the Post-Truth Era

On 10 July this year, Radio NZ’s Colin Peacock asked if “a ‘post-truth’ era is upon us?”  He quoted journalist Andrew Vance’s misgivings about the way half-truths and outright lies were now becoming more and more a feature of current political discourse;

…TVNZ’s website, political correspondent Andrea Vance said “the polls don’t punish National for straying from the truth”, and she pointed to the success of fact-free campaigns by Donald Trump in the US and Brexit backers in the UK.

“We are living in a ‘post-truth’ era and it has infected New Zealand politics,” said Ms Vance, who worked for newspapers in the UK before reporting on politics here. 

She’s not the only one who thinks so.

Massey University philosophy professor Bill Fish also sees echoes of the UK’s “post-truth” Brexit campaign in New Zealand politicians’ attitudes towards expert opinion and evidence.

“This is different,” Ms Vance told Mediawatch. “With Trump, Brexit and what’s happening here you’ve got political players actively deceiving the public. Politicians have always been selective with truth, but now it is brazen. I’ve been doing this for 17 years and its getting worse. It’s also crept into the public service. This lack of accountability and obfuscation feels like it’s sanctioned by political masters”.

Post-Truth has it’s sibling, “fake news” – which has shown to be an effectively vicious political weapon in the recent Presidential elections.

The phenomenon of Fake News – promulgated and spread repeatedly predominantly by conspiracy and alt.right websites – recently came to violent conclusion in the US when a 28 year old “lone gunman” (did he act alone or was it a conspiracy?) attacked  Comet Ping Pong, a pizza restaurant in northwest Washington;

Edgar M. Welch, a 28-year-old father of two from Salisbury, N.C., recently read online that Comet Ping Pong, a pizza restaurant in northwest Washington, was harboring young children as sex slaves as part of a child-abuse ring led by Hillary Clinton.

The articles making those allegations were widespread across the web, appearing on sites including Facebook and Twitter. Apparently concerned, Mr. Welch drove about six hours on Sunday from his home to Comet Ping Pong to see the situation for himself, according to court documents. Not long after arriving at the pizzeria, the police said, he fired from an assault-like AR-15 rifle. The police arrested him. They found a rifle and a handgun in the restaurant. No one was hurt.

In an arraignment on Monday, a heavily tattooed Mr. Welch, wearing a white jumpsuit and shackles, was ordered held. According to the criminal complaint, he told the authorities that he was armed to help rescue children but that he surrendered peacefully after finding no evidence that “children were being harbored in the restaurant.” He was charged with four counts, including felony assault with a deadly weapon and carrying a gun without a license outside a home or business.

According to alt.right websites  Comet Ping Pong contained a secret underground facility where  “young children were used as sex slaves as part of a child-abuse ring led by Hillary Clinton“.

None of it was true, but in an  ironic twist, the gunman  who attacked Comet Ping Pong is now himself viewed as part of a conspiracy cover-up to protect the non-existant pedophile ring;

The viral nature of the misinformation was illustrated again late Sunday, not long after the police arrested Mr. Welch and called Pizzagate a “fictitious online conspiracy theory” in their report. Some individuals on Twitter said Mr. Welch was an actor used by the mainstream media to divert attention from the alleged crimes at Comet Ping Pong. Followers of a shuttered Reddit thread on Pizzagate dissected the episode on a new online network called Voat.

Witch-hunts based on paranoid conspiracy theories become more bizarre when they turn on – and cannibalise – their own followers.

Even here in New Zealand, individuals were not immune to the moral-panic fanned by the flames of  Fake News. Some commentators uncritically reposted the pedophile allegations.

Pointedly, no citations were ever provided to the parroted allegations. (Mainly because the allegations were a fabrication. Perhaps even a conspiracy in itself, to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.)

As Clinton herself warned, Fake News can have disastrous “real world consequences”;

“This is not about politics or partisanship. Lives are at risk. Lives of ordinary people just trying to go about their days to do their jobs, contribute to their communities. It is a danger that must be addressed and addressed quickly.”

This seems to have been recognised by the Trump transition team who took action against one of their own, caught spreading Fake News;

President-elect Donald J. Trump on Tuesday fired one of his transition team’s staff members, Michael G. Flynn, the son of Mr. Trump’s choice for national security adviser, for using Twitter to spread a fake news story about Hillary Clinton that led to an armed confrontation in a pizza restaurant in Washington.

At first Vice President-elect Mike Pence denied that Flynn had ever worked for the Trump team, saying on MSNBC that he had “no involvement in the transition whatsoever”;

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However, soon after,  a transition spokesman, Jason Miller, admitted that  Flynn had worked for the transition team. Miller said Flynn would no longer be involved.

From Flynn’s Fake News to Pence’s dishonest denial – the truth eventually came out.

Curiously, Michael Flynn’s father – Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn – is also well-known for his John Key-style of “truthiness”;

“He has regularly engaged in the reckless public promotion of conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact, with disregard for the risks that giving credence to those theories could pose to the public,” Representative Adam Smith of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said on Tuesday.

“Someone who is so oblivious to the facts, or intentionally ignorant of them, should not be entrusted with policy decisions that affect the safety of the American people,” Mr. Smith added.

The Mainstream Media

As Fake News websites and “stories” proliferate, the mainstream media may actually take on a fresh breath-of-life.

In a functioning democracy; with the need for  vital checks and balances; the msm will become more critically vital to determine what is real and what is fantasy. Which also adds greater pressure on msm to ensure that it’s stories are well-researched and cite accurate facts and data.

Relying on dubious sources (such as the Herald did with the now-discredited Donghua Liu allegations) or questionable data from governmental bodies such as Statistics NZ, Police, etc, is no longer be sufficient.

This will be an opportunity for the msm to re-gain their relevance in a post-truth era of Fake News and deliberate political prevarication.

The question is; will they seize that opportunity?

Fake News, Post-Truth, Lies, Charter Schools

Charter Schools are an ideological response to State schools. It is an exercise designed to confirm that profit-driven, private-run education services are more effective and deliver better results than that offered by the State.

One of the core tenet’s of the New Right is that private enterprise/endeavour is superior to anything available from the State.

In 2002, businessman Phil Barry, author of  The Changing Balance Between the Public and Private Sectors, published by the Business Roundtable (aka NZ Initiative), wrote in the NZ Herald;

“Private firms tend to be more efficient than their state-owned counterparts, especially in competitive industries.

Privatisation of SOEs is likely to lead to improvements in their efficiency and to more open and competitive product markets, benefiting consumers, taxpayers and the economy as a whole.

The evidence does not suggest that private ownership is always more efficient. Some state enterprises can perform very well, at least for a period.”

And in 2012, then ACT-leader, John Banks said in Parliament;

“Public or private ownership of assets has been studied to death in many, many studies, and the jury is in. Private enterprise runs businesses better than the Government can.”

For many on the neo-liberal Right, education is a business not a public good and therefore should be no different to electricity supply (semi-privatised); Air New Zealand (semi-privatised – again); or a whole host of other services and assets that were once owned by the tax-payer but have been sold off over the last thirty years.

But to ensure that the basic tenet that “private enterprise runs businesses better than the Government can” is believed to be true by the public – and especially the voting public! – it must be shown to be true.

If it cannot be proven to be true, using accurate measurement and data, then fudging the truth will have to do.

In essence, that is what  ACT’s David Seymour was saying when he lamely attempted to justify  the inflated success rate for Charter Schools by claiming different standards of measurement;

“The reason that there is a difference, just remember, is that we have been pioneering holding schools to account through a contract, and it was necessary if you wanted to do that to have a different system of measurement.”

“…there is more than one way to measure NCEA performance. Indeed, there are a range of different measures, including NZQA and what the Ministry reports on Education Counts.”

When there “there are a range of different measures” you simply pick the one that gives you the results you want.

Which raises the question: what does it say about an ideological experiment if it requires a lie to sustain it?

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Note: certain portions of this story have been re-published from previous blogposts.

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References

Radio NZ: Charter school NCEA reporting to be brought into line

Scoop media: Ministry reveals shocking charter school results

NZ Herald: Charter schools not deceiving public over NCEA exam results, David Seymour says

The Northern Advocate: Charter school pass rates plummet when brought in line with state schools

NZ Herald:  Police made burglaries vanish

NZ Herald:  Two-year search for ‘ghost crimes’ truth

NZ Herald: Calls for ‘ghost crimes’ inquiry after police note revealed

Twitter: The crime rate is falling under National

TVNZ: Q+A – Police Association president steps down

Fairfax media: Firefighter injured after cat decides it does not want to be rescued from tree

Radio NZ: Stuff of substance in a clickbait climate

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey – Revisions to labour market estimates

TVNZ: Q+A – Interview with John Key

Interest.co.nz: Key deflects calls for migration review; says migration needed with 5.2% unemployment

Scoop media: Parliament – Questions & Answers – 11 August 2016

Twitter: National (2 Nov)

Twitter: National (5 Nov)

Radio NZ: Is a ‘post-truth’ era upon us?

New York Times: In Washington Pizzeria Attack, Fake News Brought Real Guns

Snopes.com: Chuck E. Sleaze

The Daily Blog: Slippery

Buzzfeed News: Hyperpartisan Facebook Pages Are Publishing False And Misleading Information At An Alarming Rate

The Guardian: Hillary Clinton warns fake news can have ‘real world consequences’

New York Times: Trump Fires Adviser’s Son From Transition for Spreading Fake News

Twitter: MSNBC – Morning Joe – Mike Pence

NZ Herald: Phil Barry Private ownership outperforms public

Parliament: State-Owned Enterprises and Crown Entities (Protecting New Zealand’s Strategic Assets) Amendment Bill — First Reading

Additional

New York Times: As Fake News Spreads Lies, More Readers Shrug at the Truth

Wikipedia: List of fake news websites

Radio NZ: Unemployment rate falls after Stats NZ revision

Other Blogs

The Standard: Charter schools fiddling their results

Previous related blogposts

The Donghua Liu Affair: One Year On

Roy Morgan Poll: Unemployment and Under-employment up in New Zealand!

Weekend Revelations #3 – Greg O’Connor and criminal statistics

Lies, Damned lies and Statistical Lies

Lies, Damned lies and Statistical Lies – ** UPDATE **

National exploits fudged Statistics NZ unemployment figures

“Spinning” in a post-truth era

2016 – Ongoing jobless tally and why unemployment statistics will no longer be used

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18 Comments

  1. Afewknowthetruth says:

    In the post-truth (anti-truth) era we live in assume everything official is a lie or is founded on a lie, because it is.

  2. Pete says:

    How nice that an article about using lies and charter schools includes the name John Banks.

  3. Rosemary McDonald says:

    Frank…it seems like forever since you posted here on TDB, and I for one have missed your clear, measured and well referenced articles.

    Thank you.

    Hopefully this piece will be stored safely and hauled out when the light of truth and fact needs to be shone into the dark corners created by this current administration.

    It does somewhat undermine the notion that the media entire is biased. We all just have to have better, smarter filters.

    There is some reporting of the truth, and good interviewers are able to extract such candidness as displayed by O’Connor, and hopefully your reminding us that this can be the case will inspire other journalists to make that extra effort.

    Although, I should remind myself that O’Connor was on his way out….so his statements were made from an “I don’t give a toss anymore.” standpoint.

    Again, thank you for fine piece of work.

  4. Helena says:

    The decent people of this country are drowning in MSM fake news and political corruption. Pizzagate is only too real and whistleblowers are being murdered but clever manipulation is surrounding it with smoke and mirrors. Fake everything … but too many of us bought into our governments’ clean green NZ mind control spin doctors. This just in today courtesy of The Con Trail: “New Zealand’s Reputation Stained by Corruption” http://www.wakeupkiwi.com/news-articles-42.shtml#Windfarm
    So … quiet revolution anyone?
    Emails galore to Councils and Parliamentarians maybe. Peaceful sitins. Petitions. Saying no to endless Cancer research when the cures are being hidden from us, etc. etc. Cause if we don’t move our asses off the sofa there wont be children tomorrow but over-vaccinated, obedient robots obeying whatever Agenda is ordered. No schools are putting out the truth. Schools teach what they are told to teach, regardless. The teachers were never taught the truth and now they are just passing on their untruths to the children. Obedient children learn by rote and if their memories are really good and if they regurgitate the soup back up as fed they shoot to the top of the class.
    So … noisy revolution anyone?
    Man was created in the likeness of God … Like Mind … Like Body and Like Soul. Within the cells of man are contained the knowledge of the Multiverse.
    IMO the best class for a child is an open, daisy filled field, where in the quietness of the mind the child can find his knowledge and passion because without mindfulness and passion “education” is useless.
    And without our passion for a total clean up of this stinking mess Frank’s information will be blogged again next year saying more of the same.

  5. In Vino says:

    I like your idealism, but your logic seems a bit fluffy to me. I would suggest that the idea of God was invented by man, hence the ridiculous supposition that the creator of the Universe might have a human form.

    Sorry, but our schools are underfunded holding-pens keeping the little brats off the streets while their parents get profit-gouged while working.

    Daisy-filled fields? Are Daisies productive for our economy??

    • Helena says:

      A word twist : Could the Creator of the Universe be in all forms?
      Daisies, the beauty of a weed: http://en.heilkraeuter.net/herbs/daisy.htm
      Are daisies productive for our economy – a lot more beneficial to the “economy” than the corporate fraud swamp, I would suggest.

    • Photo synthesis for millions of years is the perfect free trade deal

      • In Vino says:

        Fair enough. I think we want benefit to society, not the bloody economy, and damn to hell those creeps who told us that benefiting the economy would bring benefit to society. It didn’t – the profit-gougers gouged, that is all.
        Vive la marguerite! (French for daisy)

  6. Once Was says:

    Something I’ve been banging on about for years amongst friends: The Public Service needs complete reform and de-corporatisation.
    Govt. departments run as little fiefdoms.
    Those promises that were made at the start of the neo-liberal experiment – ‘greater efficiency and effectiveness;eliminating politicisation of the PS, greater accountability…. all those corporate buzz words at the time have produced the exact opposite of what was (supposedly) intended.
    Public servants work in spite of their masters rather than because of them, the chiefs take credit for any successes and blame the frontline when things go wrong ….
    As we’ve seen, there is no longer any accountability, politicisation and interference is rife whether in the manner Greg O’Connor suggests or by way of ‘nod nod wink winking’.
    But then the cynic would say it has all been by design.
    The model is simply no longer working – which is why things like the OIA request process has been corrupted, why morale is often very low, why frontline staff are often in fear of their bullshit masters.
    It’s not even a public ‘service’.
    I can’t think of a department or Ministry that doesn’t have problems.
    It amuses me at times when you see NZ ranked as being one of the least corrupt countries in the World.
    Often that’s bullshit.
    What they really mean is that corruption in (say) India is overt, in NZ it’s covert.
    Public Service reform (and not based on some corporate consultant’s template style report) I believe would be a vote winner for opposition parties of whatever flavour.

    • Andrea says:

      “Something I’ve been banging on about for years amongst friends: The Public Service needs complete reform and de-corporatisation.”

      “The fish rots from the head down’ and the problem started with the Fourth Labour Government when it went down the path of quasi-political appointments/approvals.

      There were all the endless jokes about ‘glide time’ and how useless public service workers were. Too many employed and lacking the ‘efficiency’ of the private sector. (ROFLMFO) The employer of last resort back in the days when the number of unemployed people was fewer than a thousand and people could afford to live fearlessly, for the most part.

      Politicians are temporary public servants and need to be treated as such. As we lack an upper house in parliament, that task of delaying and gently terminating some of the more wacko policies becomes the duty of well-trained public servants.

      We’ve lost that – and, after thirty years of cultural pollution, it could be hard indeed to find people who are willing to work for the greater good of all for less pay than the over-remunerated in the wild world of private ‘enterprise’.

      I wonder if Andrew Little has this on his important and urgent list?

      • Once Was says:

        Aye!
        And as for the politicisation of the PS – check out Frank’s “crony watch” some time.
        Over the months I’ve been reading blogs, I’ve seen a few good ideas that would contribute to the return of democratic principles as being paramount and a public SERVICE rather than the little feifdoms we see.

        One thing is that CEO appointments should be by some cross party committee/group rather than by a Minister alone – with any party having veto rights.
        Any legislation passed under urgency should have an expiry date
        An effective State Services Commission not headed by muppets.

        Structural/organisational reforms so that departmental functions and services are based on commonsense and commonality rather than the agendas of Ministers and politicians and ‘CEOs’ (MoBIE for example – what a bugger’s muddle!)

        …. there are a number of things that need to be done.
        You’re correct though, the destruction of the PS began under Labour which is why they need to unambiguously disavow their commitment to neo-lib/3rd way type bullshit. And I hope James Shaw recognises the need considering his corporate credentials.

        I suspect you might work in the public sector – if so, can you think of any department/ministry that doesn’t have problems? or where morale isn’t that great.
        Whatever happened to ‘Codes of Conduct’ being taken seriously?
        Budgets being manipulated because of the ‘use it or lose it’ principle (or that ‘capital charge’ bullshit if it’s still in effect….. or with purchasing (3 quotes being replaced by “preferred suppliers”, or Minsterial/CEO directives) etc., etc., etc.

        When I left the PS for the private (banking) sector during the 80s – I was amazed at just how useless, bureaucratic and “glidy time” things were by comparison with the public sector. It was like a grubby little pot calling a slightly tarnished kettle black.

        And all these so-called ‘reviews’ we see from time to time from the likes of Arthur bloody Anderson or whatever they’re called these days at a cost hundreds of thousands of $. Supposedly there needs to be ‘independance’ – as if the consultants don’t have an agenda!

        “I wonder if Andrew Little has this on his important and urgent list?”
        If he has any sense he will because people are getting tired of Corrections fuckups and Police inaction due to resourcing issues and nudge nudge wink wink politicisation and Health and Education problems, and Housing Corp fuckups, and Health and Safety fuckups, and PSA viruses and border bio incursions, etc.
        Not to mention child abuse and CYFS which is more about underresourcing and communication issues than anything.
        Pike River ….. decisions re possible rescue and entry made by the wrong department and a Police District head out of his depth (I think he even admitted it cos he’s actually a nice guy).
        Christchurch rebuild/EQC and all that goes with it (Fletchers and insurance companies – they’re really efficient and effective – NOT)

  7. Once Was says:

    Something I’ve been banging on about for years amongst friends: The Public Service needs complete reform and de-corporatisation.
    Govt. departments run as little fiefdoms.
    Those promises that were made at the start of the neo-liberal experiment – ‘greater efficiency and effectiveness;eliminating politicisation of the PS, greater accountability…. all those corporate buzz words at the time have produced the exact opposite of what was (supposedly) intended.
    Public servants work in spite of their masters rather than because of them, the chiefs take credit for any successes and blame the frontline when things go wrong ….
    As we’ve seen, there is no longer any accountability, politicisation and interference is rife whether in the manner Greg O’Connor suggests or by way of ‘nod nod wink winking’.
    But then the cynic would say it has all been by design.
    The model is simply no longer working – which is why things like the OIA request process has been corrupted, why morale is often very low, why frontline staff are often in fear of their bullshit masters.
    It’s not even a public ‘service’.
    I can’t think of a department or Ministry that doesn’t have problems.
    It amuses me at times when you see NZ ranked as being one of the least corrupt countries in the World.
    Often that’s bullshit.
    What they really mean is that corruption in (say) India is overt, in NZ it’s covert.
    Public Service reform (and not based on some corporate consultant’s template style report) I believe would be a vote winner for opposition parties of whatever flavour.

  8. Sally's Husband says:

    ““The reason that there is a difference, just remember, is that we have been pioneering holding schools to account through a contract, and it was necessary if you wanted to do that to have a different system of measurement.”

    David Seymour has been studying at the John Key School for Truthiness, Lies, and Affability. I’d say he’ll get a A+. (Though coming from a Charter School, an A+ would be about as meaningful as our son’s certificate to pilot tie-fighters for the Rebel Alliance.)

    So I take it that from now on we’re going to get REAL SCORES for Charter School performances? This should be interesting.

  9. John Stroh says:

    Great article! Compelling and convincing based on credible background data it would seem. Our education system seems to have improved in all the measures that don’t matter much for helping children grow into thoughtful human beings. The alt-right measures for charter schools lie on the same’ol continuum.

    Some of the comments appearing here are calling for reform of the public service. One line of investigation to pursue would be the annual amounts spent by various Ministries (and their Departments) on external private business and management consultants. Significant anomalies and budget blowouts (if there have been any) could be indicative of inappropriate staffing that could deliver the required rationale for a shake-up.

    • Once Was says:

      That last paragraph makes sense in that proper resourcing would in most cases negate the need for a good many enquiries into various failures in the first place.
      I’ve witnessed so many of these supposed ‘independant’ audits and enquiries now its not funny. (I’m old).
      In fact I witnessed one (be it an Arthur bloody Anderson or maybe a Booze bloody Allen – now there’s an appropriate name for a company) being constructed on an international flight back to NZ last week.
      I couldn’t help but watch. It was a boring flight so I couldn’t help but notice the excessive use of CTRL-C, CTRL-V keys strokes and the cursor over the ‘Window’ TAB.
      $200k plus GST thank you very much!
      I was imagining Parliamentary Question Time in days to come.
      “I seek leave to table ….etc.” as though proof postive.

      I felt like asking if the author banging away on the laptop in flight mode actually took themselves seriously! Silly question – they actually do.
      Bullshit and Jellybeans in this post-truth era, it seems, is what makes the Whurl go round

    • Once Was says:

      I think I meant Inquiry/Inquiries as opposed to E btw but I’m still both lagged and amazed

  10. […] blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 December […]