Alleviating poverty key to raising student achievement



Cunliffe’s state of the nation speech in Kelston was welcome relief to the nonsense of last week when the government decided to throw $359M at high-earning change and executive school principals. When the government’s answer to “underachieving” students is the establishment of charter schools, then anything they suggest needs serious scrutiny. So what exactly can executive principals achieve? If the government believes that successful schools are those with lots of Cambridge exam-achieving kids, then essentially their work programme will be to unleash high-decile school principals on low decile schools. Turning Maori and Pasifika learners into ‘mini-me’ decile 10 kids by advancing their styles of learning and engagement is better known as assimilation.

By contrast, Labour’s announcement of an extra $60 per week to families of new born children – including beneficiaries who are people too and some in society need reminding of that often – will help lift the burden of rising living costs across the board. Increasing the number of ECE centres in high needs areas as well as increasing free hours for children is placing investment and support where it’s needed most. In the early years of a child’s life and development. Moreover, extending paid parental leave to 6 months means that a parent can be at home with baby for a good period of time without too much stress on family finances. The Greens also came out with an impressive plan to ensure school kids get enough to eat at lunch time, greater access to nurses and free after school care. Labour and the Greens are agreed on prioritising the needs to children in order to give them the ‘best start’ in life.

There is a clear link between child poverty and educational achievement. Professor of Public Policy Jonathan Boston of Victoria University states that there is “a large proportion of children born into disadvantaged families and/or who experience protracted periods of childhood poverty who do not enjoy high levels of educational success” (2013:9). The idea of throwing money at executive principals does nothing to address the issue of childhood poverty and misleads people and organisations to becoming “cautiously optimistic” that it will have a positive impact on student outcomes. Further, the recent suggestion by some academics that it will raise the perception of teaching as a profession is merely succumbing to the lolly scramble of more money for management positions and careering off the (under) achievement of students in low decile schools.

NZ has long prided itself in being a society built on the egalitarian premise that everyone, regardless of race, class or gender, has fair and equal access to opportunity. This is not the case when 1 in 4 children is living in poverty and even less own two pairs of shoes. Focusing policies on alleviating financial hardship and disadvantage will lift student success and pave the way for future prosperity and peace that can be experienced by all and not the high-decile few.

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  1. “a large proportion of children born into disadvantaged families and/or who experience protracted periods of childhood poverty who do not enjoy high levels of educational success”

    A large proportion of children born into disadvantaged families also do not enjoy high levels of parental love and support. Parental love and support are far better determinants of good outcomes than money is.

    • So how do you suppose people pay rent and buy food with “love and support”?

      I didnt know what “love and support” was a currency that is accepted by utility companies and the like?

      Love and support is useless with out a stable place to live and food in your belly.

    • Interesting how you equate poverty with lack of parental love?

      I wonder how many millionaires who suddenly found themselves bankrupt in 1987, following the sharemarket crash, and living on the dole, lost their love for their children?

      So obviously, the amount of love a person has for their off-spring is measureable, quantifiable, and has a per-cuddle dollar value?

      If this sounds ludicrous to you, RandomTperson, there may still be a modicum of sanity left for you.

  2. I’ve visited many schools and seen nothing but dedicated teachers giving it all for their pupils, this bollocks just sounds wrong on so many levels, if you bother to think about it.. (there lays the problem)
    All teachers I’ve ever spoken too have stated that they need the support in the homes of the kids, not more hand holding from the state.

  3. We can help pay for it all by,
    1. Removing Charitable status from Private School Industry.
    2. Reduce payment per pupil to Private schools to the marginal cost- ie approaching zero of each additional pupil the state would have to pay for if they did not attend a private school.

    Private schools entrench privileges, separates us from each other. Why should we be paying for the private schools building programme and running costs. I say use this year- Charitable status is under review this year!

  4. Here’s the summary of when/how Schooling went TOTALLY wrong:
    1) “Tomorrow’s Schools” . A Policy (from WHERE? and From WHOM?)
    Suddenly a switch.
    Suddenly a big part of the burden of teaching was thrust onto Parents.
    Suddenly parents had to spend lots of time to teach their kids to read, and learn basic maths. Whereas before, that was the sole domain & purpose of schooling.
    ***Suddenly Teachers were told to STOP marking & correcting work.
    Result= loss of Standards.
    Kids left to flounder on their own.

    It makes perfect sense that Poverty DIRECTLY affects learning outcomes, because
    Parents who are STRESSED
    with trying to survive financially, HOW can they possibly have the energy left to devote time to ALSO teaching tables & reading to their kids?- that which was once and should STILL be the domain of schools

    “Tomorrows Schools” FALSE IDEOLOGY is SOLEY responsible for the drastic decline in maths & literacy standards witnessed today.

    YES , because as well as abovementioned changes
    schools were also transformed into “businesses” , which meant that SUDDENLY tons of bureaucratic stuff/ paperwork to take up teachers time.

    SUMMARY: “Tomorrows Schools” = a fraudulent DESTRUCTIVE policy & TOTAL FAILURE.
    (John Key, who is a a False Leader, of course wants to throw lots more money into it , to maintain the illusion . John Key himself cares about Nothing except 1)His own financial status 2)His own kids who go to private boarding schools overseas.

    • HINT: “Tomorrows Schools” was a policy introduced a long time before anyone heard of “Neo Liberals”.
      But Neo Liberals are the ones changing life for the worse. They want future generations to grow up unable to question/ reason & think for themselves so as to be perfect worker/drones. Hence “Tomorrows Schools” which is their ideology.”
      Neo Liberal ” represents the wealthy & privileged . They push their (false ) ideology to promote their own interests.
      Actually Neo Liberals (misnomer) = the Ruling Class today. It is actually Authoritarian. It is oppression of the working class, by ensnaring them in more & more rules/ statutes/ fines that makes life increasingly harder whilst they themselves are not affected..
      Meanwhile, of course private schools still provide a better quality education= more choices in life and so the social inequality gap is maintained and further enhanced. This is NZ today.

      • @Cassie Blake: “HINT: “Tomorrows Schools” was a policy introduced a long time before anyone heard of “Neo Liberals”.”

        That’s not so; Tomorrow’s schools was a policy change introduced by the Lange government in 1988. In case you’ve forgotten or didn’t know, the Lange government introduced the unfortunate citizens of New Zealand to the dubious delights of the neoliberal project when it came to power in the snap election of 1984.

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