The Destruction of New Zealand’s Public Education

By   /   March 18, 2014  /   28 Comments

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National and its cronies are set on a path to destroy New Zealand’s public education at all levels. The privatisation process is on full speed ahead. We have six months to stop it.

I’ve been absent from the Daily Blog due to ongoing health issues which make thinking and writing rather difficult; however recent events in education need to be addressed, so here goes.

 As I’ve been saying for several years, National’s education policies have nothing to do with education, regardless of their spin about ‘raising achievement’ for all. This will come as no surprise to ‘thinking’ people but man, there are many out there who are still unable to open their eyes to the reality.  

This includes far too many principals who damn well should know better.

Warning people – National and its cronies are set on a path to destroy New Zealand’s public education at all levels. The privatisation process is on full speed ahead. We have six months to stop it.

National’s path follows the USA model step by step, and Hekia’s latest brainstorm about funding schools on student achievement is no exception, straight out of the handbooks of her heroes Arne Duncan, USA Secretary for Education, and Michael Gove, British Secretary of State for Education. Gove, for example, has instituted the policy of closing ‘failing’ schools and replacing them with charter schools. Parata’s proposal to fund on results will mean that ‘failing’ schools will collapse, opening the way to charter schools.

Given the wealth of evidence that socioeconomic backgrounds are the biggest indicator of success at school, this means that richer areas retain some version of the present school system, while poorer areas get stuck with undemocratic, unrepresentative charter schools.  This, in fact, is exactly what is happening in England.

No sector is safe from the government’s agenda – just look at Joyce’s changes to university governance.

While I’m frustrated that I am unable to write at length expressing my own interpretations, there are some extremely capable bloggers who are hitting nails on the head. All of these come into the ‘MUST READ” category and should be shown to all those who still refuse to see. Or maybe print them out, roll into a very tight tube, and use this to hit the dimwits repeatedly on the head?

John McRae:

Hekia Parata and the Destruction of Public Education

 “I am not dealing in hyperbole or hysteria. As Hekia Parata revealed to the Herald on Sunday this week, albeit accidentally, she has a plan to take New Zealand schooling down the same disastrous path that the US has taken over a number of years.

It is a plan that was first hinted at in the ‘Step Change’ document that she co-authored with Roger Douglas and Heather Roy in 2010; a blueprint which said that the future for education was in the marketplace and in competition.

The Herald on Sunday interview shows that Roger Douglas’ vision, which has been introduced until now by small increments, is ready to be rolled out in full. The introduction of Charter schools, the silencing of teacher voice by the dismantling of the Teachers’ Council, the forced introduction of National Standards and the spending of millions on the PaCT data reporting tool, have all been small steps in preparation for this latest measure – one that will turn schooling into a competition between communities for government funding of their schools and children.’

John goes on to detail all the issues that show how determined the National led government is to irrevocably change public education.

A thought – were you ever asked if you wanted this level of change? There was nothing in National’s 2011 education policy to indicate this, even if the policy was released five days before the election. Ever wonder why this was the case? Anything to do with treating the electorate as suckers?

Canterbury University Professor Euan Mason, writing about the changes to university governance:

 Open letter to Hekia Parata (copied to Steven Joyce)

 “It is remarkable that New Zealand, with only 4.5 million people, has four universities ranked by QS as among the top 300 in the world. Several critical factors have brought this about, and foremost among them has been a determination to build them as democratic communities of scholars.  Your bill threatens to reduce them from top-ranked universities to third rate companies, and will certainly reduce their reputations and rankings.”

Read his full letter here.

Jolisa Gracewood on Public Address, has written a very comprehensive article, ‘School Bully” that outlines the trail that National have followed, are following, and will be following:

“That’s the trail of stale breadcrumbs – well, some of them anyway. Follow the path, children, deep into the corporate-education forest. All the way to the rotten gingerbread house. 

I mean, what could possibly go wrong? “

Jolisa says it all in this article – there’s nothing else I could add even if my brain was working properly.

For a detailed list of the attacks on public education by this National led government, read this blog by Southland Green Party candidate Dave Kennedy:

The Destruction of New Zealand’s Public Education System

“This government is destroying our amazing collaborative, holistic public education system that recently led the world. They are determined to implement systems that have failed spectacularly overseas. Professional knowledge based on evidence should lead education, not political ideology. What angers me the most is what is being denied to our most vulnerable children when they should be the real focus of spending and any systemic change.”

 To close, here is the full text of a posting by teacher Mike Boon, a cry from the heart of a dedicated teacher objecting to the ideologically driven destruction of New Zealand’s world renowned education system.

 Hekia Parata (and National) – You are disgusting

If you want proof that this National government cares not for anything other than themselves and their ridiculous and defunked ideology you need look no further than the headline I’ve just read in the New Zealand Herald – or as I like to call it, the National Party Daily Newsletter.

School funding shakeup looms…

…it said in big letters.

Ok, I thought. I wanted it to mean that the education system would actually be funded at levels where we would be able to deliver a 21st century education to 21st century learners.

Then I read the first paragraph.

The Government is looking to fund schools according to the progress their pupils make, the Education Minister has revealed.

And in one single sentence the Herald on Sunday has announced our fantastic education system, the education system that developed a curriculum that was the envy of many other countries around the world, is doomed to become an utter joke.

We will become an a system like the United States of America where students with special needs are excluded from schools because their “results” are not up to the high standards set by the Education Ministry and the minister.

As any teaching professional knows, student learning is not a linear process. No child moves through their years at school achieving at a constant rate. Some years, as things click into place, “progress” as measured against stupid bloody standards, may look, for want of a better word, slower than everyone else. That is just the “normal” children who don’t have specialised learning needs.

Yes… that’s right. Specialised learning needs. If you have any of these and you have to travel through an education system with any kind of nationally set standards, then you are deemed a failure right from the start of school until you exit – possibly too early and without qualifications because your learning needs are not catered for by the narrowed and weakened curriculum that standards of this nature give us.

So what happens when you link either a) teachers’ pay or b) school funding to the performance of students?

This, this, and this.

In short, schools pressured by media and government bureaucrats will, in turn, pressure their teachers to such a degree that they will be massively overworked and stressed. When you have a situation like that, bad things start happening.

Schools begin to “fiddle” with their standards results. If your funding was about to be cut and your school would lose a teacher because your students were not achieving at the desired rate, what do you think would happen. Fraud is wrong but it happens everywhere (except banks – no banks are free of even the slightest hint of fraud).

This policy, or as I am dubbing it, this shit-storm of dick-headery, will ruin our education system. Teachers will leave, schools will fail, and, ultimately, New Zealand students will be worse off.

One of the key problems with the Global Education Reform Movement is that it takes so long to show its abject failure. The United States, which has been “reforming” for the greatest length of time, is only now seeing a ground-swell of protest from parents against the corporate takeover of their public education system.

The most unfortunate and saddening thing about this whole business is until kiwi parents (i.e. voters) start seeing their kids harassed and stressed by high stakes testing, until they see their child’s love of learning disappear quicker than you can say “Parata did this,” until they start seeing education policy impact on their daily lives, it is unlikely that we will see any change from the current direction.

People will only vote against a government if they are directly affected. Not everybody has a special needs child. Not everybody lives in a lower socio-economic area. Not everybody is a teacher. Until such a time as the majority of parents are affected by this policy, a change is unlikely.

Unless National get voted out in September because everyone realises how utterly corrupt and devoid of vision they are for anyone not running a business, farm or Chinese dairy conglomerate, then their arrogance to implement any policy they see fit will continue unabated.

Sad but true.

Mr B.

Post Script: I refer you to my previous blog posting Dipping my hands into the elephantshit to explain how the minister will ”strongly incentivising pupil progress” as the minister puts it.

Sources: 

School funding shakeup looms: Herald on Sunday – March 16, 2014

How charter schools choose desirable students: Washington Post – February 16, 2013

Teachers indicted in biggest standardized testing scam in U.S. history: Washington Examiner – April 2, 2013

Secret Teacher: why our working hours just don’t add up: Guardian – 15 March, 2014

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28 Comments

  1. Mike says:

    The root cause of National’s privitisation agenda is that basically that party loathes teachers. It always has. Can anyone think of any National Minister of Education that has ever had the confidence of the majority of the country’s teachers? National loathes teachers because teachers are well educated and their job involves teaching ethics and values, including ones that National regards as dangerous and subversive – liberalism, socialism and the right to protest. Privatising schools (including charter schools) is a logical step for a right-wing party wanting to take control of education so that these dangerous left wing elements can be weeded out. It has nothing to do with making sure our kids are better educated. It has everything to do with turning out young adults who do what their National Party mentors tell them.

    • Gosman says:

      Perhaps if the left did not attempt to use the education system to indoctrinate children in leftist dogma National would have a more favourable view of teachers.

      • framu says:

        now your just smoking crack

      • Kingi says:

        Gosman says that the “left” attempt to use the system to “indoctrinate children in leftist dogma”. Do you have even a shred of credible evidence for that colossally stupid generalisation?

        • Gosman says:

          Ummm…. I was responding to Mike who basically stated the following

          “National loathes teachers because teachers are well educated and their job involves teaching ethics and values, including ones that National regards as dangerous and subversive – socialism …”

          Mike obviously thinks teachers are engaged in teaching socialist values perhaps you should direct your question to him.

          • framu says:

            well you obviously agrre with him – and were asking you

            does national hate the teachers union? – yes
            do teachers teach things like co-operation? – yes
            do teachers tend towards co-operative models? – yes
            does the national party and others of the same persuasion regularly and stupidly equate co-operative models with socialism? – yes

            its high time you debated as an adult and not a troll. You know EXACTLY what im talking about here – youve admitted your purpose before – so cease and desist or go back to the kids table

          • Aaron says:

            Gosman, do you have a job? Surely only someone on the dole would have the amount of time you have to sit around winding people up

            • Tory troll, taking time off from organising $5,000 a head fund-raisers while middle and lower NZ are struggling to cope and put food on the table and pay the rising power bills…

            • Aaron – unfair on the unemployed. Generally they are far more wise and worldly than middle class twats like Gosman and fellow Nat/ACT sycophant, Intrinsicvalue.

          • Mike says:

            Gee Gossy, you see to be the only one who missed the sarcasm in my words. Everyone else got it and understood my point. For your benefit, I said that teaching involves teaching ethics – and socialism is an ethic as much as capitalism and fascism. If you don’t like it, tough bikkies, it still exists and won’t disappear just because you disapprove.

      • Allan Alach says:

        It pays to know what you are talking about before opening your mouth or writing. Produce the evidence to back this up or otherwise the emptiness of your statement will be there for all to see.

      • Pete says:

        Tell us exactly what some teacher(s) did to attempt to use the education system to indoctrinate your children in leftist dogma.

        When you’ve done that do the same about kids of your friends.

        Then after posting those, list a few examples of what your kids had to put up with which could be interpreted by some as attempts to use the education system to indoctrinate children in the dogma of the right.

        Please be very specific for us who think you are posting rubbish. Thank you.

      • Gosman says:
        March 18, 2014 at 9:13 am

        Perhaps if the left did not attempt to use the education system to indoctrinate children in leftist dogma National would have a more favourable view of teachers.

        No doubt you can provide some decent, irrefutable examples of said “indoctrination”?!

        (In which case, said indoctrination appears to be failing miserably with National being elect5ed into power in 1990, 1993, 1996 (debateable), 2008, and 2011.)

    • Hekia Parata’s agenda of trying to “tweak” of Decile Funding is a slap in the face of every Maori and Pasifika parent and child. Decile funding tops up poorer schools’ resourcing to compensate for the lower wages, minimum wages and benefit-funded parents who statistically are brown-skinned. How the hell can the Maori Party support an odious dismantling, or Tory re-jigging of Decile Funding to cover up the inequitable funding given to Charter (Partnership) Schools?

      What is worrying is that co-author of Step Change, Roger Douglas, is back like a ghoulish Spitting Image muppet, and we know from experience that everything he touches turns to shit, then gets sold off. He did it when he and his odious ilk infiltrated Labour pre-1984. So again, Douglas pretty much is co-authoring selling the State Asset – Education. Create League Tables and then set up white-flight, lowered funding to under-performing schools. Once the death-spiral of poor schools is entrenched, ride in with uber-funded Charter Schools to divert more money out of the public purse and into the grasping hands of the likes of Douglas, Prebble, Banks, Richwhite and the moneyed US and UK Academy-brigade.

      I agree wholeheartedly with Mike’s assessment of the NACT block. “Privatising schools …is a logical step for a right-wing [block] wanting to take control of education so that these dangerous left wing elements [that read and contribute to Daily Blog] can be weeded out. It has nothing to do with making sure our kids are better educated. It has everything to do with turning out young adults who do what their National Party [slaveowners] tell them. ”

      The Maori Party need to listen to the left and the teacher unions who have fought her system of funding was resoundingly defeated. Otherwise the “have/have-not” gap will grow wider and even less will Roger-Douglas-trickle-down to Maori and Pasifika once Hekia knee-caps and “rogers” decile funding….

      A mother, grandma and great granma’s opinion….

  2. JC says:

    Based on today’s Herald poll. I am more worried about the possible destruction of the Labour Party.

    • Tom says:

      It will hang around in some form or other. It’s hard to kill a political party under MMP.

      I think that it shows that the left just needs to pack it in for a while. The hysterical tone of this column doesn’t really help, and obscures the fact that most New Zealanders seem happy to vote for crap like this. Let them face the consequences of their own stupidity.

      Note that nothing stops well-educated left wing people starting their own charter schools, and this may well prove necessary in the future if you want your children to have anything resembling a proper education. In the meantime it’s probably worth thinking about preparing to pool resources with other like minded people so as to be able to compensate for the upcoming deficiencies of the current system.

    • More right-wing propaganda to de-stabilise Labour and raise profiles of the Colin Craig’s Moon-man Party, the “willing seller and willing buyer” Peter Dunne Party and the “love-thy-sibling” ACT Party. I saw the poll here at The Daily Blog the other and Labour and Green were winning by shiploads….. why the difference?

      It’s just as well Corrin Dann was in China on the election campaign, he would be apoplectic with glee at the Herald Right-Wing Poll (with an accuracy rating of +/- 34%). I definitely won’t be watching that smug RWP Paul Henry tonight – he will be more unbearable than the normal dikshit he ususally was/is…

      Just the opinion of a mother, granma and great granma who has seen many, many polls prior to elections. 200 days to a reality check for the RWP’s

      • poem says:

        Totally agree with you Christine, national have always used trumped up polls as part of their electioneering to destabilize Labour or hoodwink kiwis when national ate facing too much heat, like the American GCSB bill for example, when anti john key sentiment was running high and out comes a poll with john key most preferred at an unrealistic 62%, whats happening now apart from being an election year, Collins has inadvertently shown national’s self serving corrupt underbelly.

    • poem says:

      So a poll put out by the NZ Herald, an ardent national supporter, is credible is it? particularly with an election just 6 months away. Who said the poll is true?

  3. JonL says:

    most New Zealanders seem happy to vote for crap like this. Let them face the consequences of their own stupidity.
    Sadly, if it weren’t so serious in the long run, I’d tend to agree.

    • Tom says:

      Do you have any other suggestions that will manage to account for the fact that the NZ “establishment” don’t want a Cunliffe led Labour government and will deploy all their considerable power to make sure that doesn’t happen?

      Note that the media have more or less declared war on Cunliffe since the new year after skirmishes before that. It has been decided by the people who run the mass media that Labour will not get a chance to discuss policy and that Cunliffe will be undermined and denigrated at every opportunity. It’s got to the stage where I watch the news waiting for the next hit piece. Every single major mass media outlet is like this to some degree with TV3 and talk radio the worst.

      There’s no comeback to this. How are you supposed to campaign when you can’t get your message to the voters without some tory with a foghorn interrupting and shouting “tricky” all the time?

      About the only thing I can think of is withdrawing civic co-operation, and I’m not even sure that would work.

      History is full of times when the idiots take over. It doesn’t last forever. Hopefully this time they won’t blunder into a world war.

      • poem says:

        Yes, the media think they can win national the election. But they have underestimated the masses.

        • Tom says:

          I doubt that. They know exactly what the masses think and what buttons to push. They have the money to do that.

      • Stuart Munro says:

        We have to go around the MSM. By ceasing to serve the public they are well on the road to irrelevance.

        Pirate radio and samizdat had their day – this campaign only needs a similarly accessible platform for mass action.

        Housing, electricity corruption and asset theft should be generating significant civil disobedience campaigns.

        Don’t let the Gnatzis steal this election – it’s not just this year, but the whole future of our polity at stake. Over their dead bodies.

        • Tom says:

          We have to go around the MSM. By ceasing to serve the public they are well on the road to irrelevance.

          Anything you can afford to do, the National Party and it’s backers can afford to pay more for.

  4. Jack says:

    Looks like the Fourth Estate is working overtime in the NZ Herald these days.

  5. cassie says:

    (Don’t forget that “Tomorrows Schools” was the start of it.)

    There has ALWAYS been this agenda since way back then.

    The steps have been implemented v-e-r-y g-r-a-d-u-a-l-l y and
    S-l-o-w-l-y and spread out over years so that people didn’t notice until it’s too late.


 
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