How we urgently save a lost generation to truancy

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Covid has exposed the bleeding gums of our inequality.

Truancy is soaring and we MUST immediately introduce massive funding for a total community overhaul right now or we risk losing an entire generation to the spoil of ignorance and ill routine.

It is an abomination that children must choose between getting a job to support the Whanau and education.

Covid has exposed the bleeding gums of our inequality.

We either invest now or build bigger fucking prisons!

Schools must be radically refunded as community hubs!

Free healthy breakfasts and lunches in every school utilising school gardens and local community gardens.

Massive investment into social services provision inside Schools.

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Free adult education classes back at School’s after hours to utilise community spaces and make them welcoming and use them as a means to access social services alongside new skills and basic human interaction that many in the Community simply yearn for.

Active Truancy outreach units that work with Whanau proactively to help get kids to school focused on using food parcels and aid packages to engage family, it’s not to be used as a threat of legal action because punitive shit simply won’t work here.

We have to make schools essential community hubs and properly fucking fund them!

We are at serious risk of losing an entire generation here, it’s not their fault a pandemic ruptured at this time in their life, we urgently need to resource schools and see them as an extraordinary resource with which to build around to provide social cohesion infrastructure at a time when economic recession could be driving economic anxiety much higher.

We need leadership and a vision of the next step in our building back from Covid. A radical multi billion dollar expansion into our school culture and system can be easily funded by a Financial Transaction Tax, so let’s not pretend this isn’t possible or viable.

It is.

We need bold vision. We need it now. Our kids deserve better than what we are giving them. 

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54 COMMENTS

  1. As a friend of mine said, if Labour cannot do this then what’s the point of a Labour Govt?

    While the children suffer, under cover of COVID Labour are inplementing fundamental changes to the way New Zealand is being governed. I can’t fully judge their merits but I do know these changes have been poorly sold and as a middle-aged white male with a young son I willingly admit to the fear and anger to which Martyn often refers.

    Doomsday predictions of a National/ACT govt asideI, I, for one, will not forgive them.

    • ” if Labour cannot do this then what’s the point of a Labour Govt ”

      The point is it is not Labour , it is a impersonation of what Labour used to stand for and that is against everything the capitalist empire and all its evils imposed on our hard working people and their families.

      LINO worldwide is a softer version of the same neo liberal economics still marketing itself as to the left of the countries Tory party but in reality is nothing more than a well meaning market alternative promoting things like FPA which will actually only lightly reform the current neo liberal friendly Labour laws which after the last change in 2000 with the Labour relations act away from the repressive ECA of 1991 prompted the business roundtable to begin a viscous right wing campaign against the Clark / Cullen / Alliance government.

      The lost generation is the cost of the ” the no alternative ” market economy.

      We all care for our children but are willing to vote for the same regime that will only make slaves of them.

      The sleepy Hobbits haven’t realised this yet.

  2. The fact that families are stuck living in motel rooms because of a deliberate underfunding of social housing certainly isn’t helping.

    • Ae John. When you have 27,000 people going stir crazy living in motel rooms and piling on debt that they will never be able to pay back, $365m+ per year. With no end in sight and no houses of any meaningful quantity been built.

      This investment will ensure that there will be a steady stream of poor impoverished homeless generations to come for the next 50 years or more.

  3. Sorry Martyn, the NIMBYs surrounding the schools would block such worthy changes for several years.
    ‘Won’t some-one think of the car parking’ to mis-quote the Simpsons.

    We have to protect house prices as a first priority (sarc).

  4. Wow……….So essentially what you’re saying is night classes where you learnt a life skill like home economics, basic computing skills or home mechanics instead of getting a student loan and doing a beauticians course or sports nutrition course at the local polytechnic that will realistically net you sweet F A in the real world
    And placing school truancy officers in the community who actually asked what are you doing and why are you playing hooky!
    It just won’t work Martyn! It just seems to make to much common sense to initiate a community project that worked well in the past.

    • Mark Bowie “ It just seems to make too much commonsense to initiate a community project that worked well in the past.” Indeed. Contemporary governments’ determination to dismantle social cohesion and replace it with division, is chillingly exemplified by Sepuloni and co’s decision to jettison the Children’s Commissioner without even saying why, and replace them with a committee from the failing Dept of Education concerned only with pushing its own screwball agendas.

      It’s not easy being a parent, and government groups who act in lieu of parents such as schools, need to be n the same side and pull together in the kids’ interests or say why they won’t. Don’t hold your breathe waiting.

      • GA you have herein got to the heart of the matter by identifying “government groups who act in lieu of parents”. Most truancy is not so much ‘because children must choose between getting a job to support the Whanau and education’ but because many parents either don’t care enough or have lost control of their kids and don’t see THEIR kids attending school as THEIR parental responsibility (not the state’s responsibility). I do agree with Bomber’s suggestion of family incentives for school attendance though. That might make a difference

    • Mark Bowie This could work. Chris Hipkins is one of the few sensible Parliamentarians, and an ex-teacher. The biggest obstacle, as usual, is likely to be the Department of Education itself. A revised curriculum encompassing essential life skills could appeal without even trying to, and some kids will always accept that the boring stuff, is nevertheless useful, and this is where parental support can be invaluable. If the politically correct grads weighing down that dept can somehow be persuaded that teaching pre-schoolers to reference their vulvas, and urging bigger kids to question their gender identity, may not be the most useful classroom lessons, kids are also less likely to be prematurely sexualised.

      • gotta say when I was at school both sexes(whoaaahhh contentious already) did metalwork, woodwork, technical drawing, home economics (cooking) and needlework….and it didn’t hurt…and I can sew on a button and knock up a kinda spag bol.
        trouble is practical subjects cost money for kit and as we can’t even be bothered to fix leaky roofs in schools.

        • Went through a similar curriculum and learnt to cook.
          Must admit I wasn’t too good at metal work or woodwork.
          Yes boys and girls in the same class.( Both sexes!)

  5. Poor man’s Gordon Brown already squandered the money on corporate welfare and increasing the public bureaucracy. No money is left in the kettle given his best mate has to control inflation.

    This is all on our dynamic monetary duo. They have fucked New Zimbabwe for at least a decade.

  6. A whole generation have been thrown on the fire to keep the boomers warm. The obliteration of equality is shocking. The social contract is gone. It would be foolish not to expect more hatred towards older people from those that feel betrayed. This did not have to happen. Our leaders succumbed to greed and have failed the young.

    • Bullshit Mudfap….I cut wood to keep warm….All the so called boomers of my age have been against the Douglas reforms from day one….we watched Lockwood Smith dismantle a perfectly good apprenticeship scheme knowing that would bring a tradesman shortage…Mad Max Bradford doubled the price of electricity and told us it would be cheaper….Selling state assets left right and centre…Massive increase in unemployment…It was just horrible to have watch what was done to our wonderful country….We voted to stop it but that did not work….don’t fucking blame us mate….It was not all our fault..Just a couple of hundred very nasty , greedy back room crew at treasury…they are still there…slimy little pricks…weasel politicians following orders…no conscience..no empathy…..That prick Phil Goff…minister of mass sackings…Mallard….minister of mass school closing….Anyway….what have you young , spoilt brats done about it yourselves…I’ll tell you..sweet F all…get off your arse and do something for once……your to busy side tracked with fluffy nonsense…looking at your phones…..global cooling warming scams , the first thing that needs to be done about truancy is giving the mum and dad a fucking good kick up the arse….not cuddles…..where are they in all of this…??

  7. You’re so right to flag this issue Martyn: It represents another generation lost. Media has failed us again in their consistent underreporting.
    A generation of poor kids have had their future sacrificed at the alter of Arden’s lockdowns, whose objective was to keep a handful of boomers alive for another couple of years.

    Talk about misguided priorities!

    • You want homosexuality recriminalised, cops to gun down who they like, wages slashed, USA style healthcare imposed, now you think that COVID should be able to rip thru the population and let people die?

      No decency whatsoever.

      • Gosh Millsy you seem to live in a scary World of being the underdog with all the talk of US style of government. I do not see any actions from iether Labour or National to make you fear their power.

      • Um, that’s exactly what Jacinda’s doing.

        Because doing a real lockdown and getting that last Auckland outbreak wrapped up in two weeks would have been ‘authoritarian’, too mean for soft-handed ‘democratic socialists’- instead they faffed around for weeks without really restricting people from spreading the virus, to build support for dropping all restrictions.

    • Andrew Can’t really blame the lockdowns. This is just another generation of kids sacrificed, or neglected, or other. Prisons are full of illiterate or semi-literate crims, overwhelmingly the products of state care in one way or another.

      Once upon a time we had community cops in town and suburban and rural areas who got to know the people, the kids, and importantly, the families and the local dynamics. They had a visible and often beneficial impact. They were abolished, I swear as a cost-cutting exercise, and the time could now be right for the Coster himself to bring them back. Tough for police having to babysit kids, but they’d probably be a better community investment than bringing in more Serco types trained as truant officers or similar.

      Lockdown affected many people and the olds had to be prioritised to stop them keeling over and clogging up hospitals; time now to ask the politicians to invest in the kids.

    • J S Bark. Funny you should mention Matariki. I’ve been thinking. I’ve been thinking about why they chose Friday to have a day off, and not Monday.

      There are few things more delicious to workers than not having to go back to work on a Monday.

      Some government departments experience higher drone absenteeism on Monday than any other day of the week- it wrecks their call centres, elongates torturous waiting times. However Fridays off, enable the well-heeled to push off to their holiday houses a day earlier, perhaps two days earlier, hitting the road 4pm Thursday. Hence Friday. Mean.

  8. the interesting time will be not the next election but the one after that as LINOs epic fail is followed by the nats inevitably disastrous re run of the 80s…where do people go then? and it’s not looking pretty.

  9. It is imperative that children go to school EVERY DAY. If parents can’t discipline them to get out of bed toget to school by 9am. How are these children going to discipline them selves as yound adults to get out of bed and get to work by 8am?
    That is a fundamental requirement for a succesful future.
    We have 180k on the “job seeker” benefit, we have employers across the spectrum looking for workers, farming, horticulture, construction, drivers, health care, even in cafes. Whats the problem in matching these up?
    Many of the job seekers cant organise themselves to turn up each day.

    A system which taxes those that work to give to those that don’t is doomed to colapase in time.

    Children must attend school, bring back the truancy officers of the 60s and 70s

    • Clifford J
      If there was a clear purpose for going to school and submitting to learning so that one could get useful diplomas that would get a job where you could work your way through and up – then kids would be going to school. But with orders to do so from uninterested people who don’t care about the whole meat mincer system ;that we live under, its no wonder there is no impetus to get up.

      And a lot of what is taught is theoretical, not life skills that are needed. For theoretical info there is the internet. For jobs there is persistence, ability to communicate and listen remember and follow instructions and not get huge putdowns but positives when things go right. Learning to read, and spending time discussing what is in the newspaper and what they think could be done better would be more use than the notional things they are taught. After learning to read, passing the driving licence, free would be another help. Give them a reason, shape the lessons to suit their style, ensure that they aren’t hungry, and education would happen more successfully.

      Shaping learning to fit the active,, kinesthetic style youngster would be another.
      These are the four main types of learning styles:
      Visual (learn through seeing)
      Auditory (learn through hearing)
      Tactile (learn through touch)
      Kinesthetic (learn through doing and moving)
      Children’s Learning Styles – AbilityPath
      https://abilitypath.org › childrens-learning-styles

      • Thank you GW. An interesting dissertation on the theoretical and important aspects of education.
        However the point that I was making was that habitual regular attendance at school is a prerequisite to regular employment.(qualification only determines the start position) Regular employment is a requisite to being at least moderately succesfull in life.
        The alternative is joining the 180k who seem to be permanently “seeking employment” but never actually get employed, for many this result in them living in distressed circumstances in perpetuity.

  10. The rot in North Shore and West Auckland set in about 10 years ago when some Henderson based trust took it over from a previous efficient service, but despite their non delivery, still get paid a small fortune in regardless. I know of many schools that gave up on their useless service pretty soon after.

    There is otherwise no government dedicated truancy enforcement so if you can’t be arsed sending your kids this school, so be it.

    The ultimate individuals choice, but made by other individuals who want to see their kids end up bigger loser’s than themselves!

    Where is our government on yet another major long term problem? Of that’s right, the Education Minister had been given another portfolio to keep him busy!

  11. For some of these kids, the school would prefer them to be chronically absent, as it is much easier for the teachers and other pupils if they are not there.

  12. Truancy was not caused by Covid. It has always been there, although has been exacerbated.
    Tales of kids having to work because their parents have lost employment are harrowing but not as widespread as the media would have us believe.
    As you say Bomber a generation is in danger of being lost.
    More money is not necessarily the answer as we constantly are in the top half dozen OECD nations in terms of education spend as a percentage of GDP yet still continue to plummet in world rankings.
    So who to blame?
    Solo Mums working every hour god gives them ?
    Missing Dads who couldn’t give a stuff?
    Time serving uninterested teachers?
    Kids who would rather be on play station rather than read a book?
    A Government that ploughs ever more money into education with seemingly no plan?
    Take your pick!
    A truancy officer in every school would be a good start but to make that work you need kids to become excited about going to school with inspirational teachers who can make them believe in themselves.
    In saying all that as a disclaimer I cannot recall even one inspirational teacher during my schooling and I really only enjoyed sport. Oh and of course during my high school years the opportunities posed by the opposite sex.

    • Pat Taylor. I had two good teachers, who I still remember with awe and much respect. Right now, government need to look at returning to the old system of teachers’ college students being paid while they train, rather than people going into big debt- debt to the money-grubbing government to pay for their own training.

      This could attract genuinely interested people who opt for other careers simply because they need to generate income. Any such change is unlikely to come from the PC bureaucracy which dominates the Education Department, but must come from government itself learning to think more broadly than they do. It’s just another example of something which worked well in the past being dumped for venal reasons which don’t necessarily produce better outcomes, or even better teachers, or more teachers. I’d have incentives for persons adept in currently lacking areas such as maths and science, and broaden the whole basis of recruitment anyway, as the Brits, and I daresay others, traditionally did and I hope still do.

  13. In spite of a health epidemic and people now dying of Covid in NZ, with huge wait lists for hospital care and education at breaking point, another 110,000 migrants have been given a fast tracked visa, that allows another 14,000 migrant children to come to NZ (when we have a health and education and truancy crisis), half of the incoming children don’t speak any English.

    Exclusive: Teacher shortage could get worse due to immigration influx
    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2022/06/exclusive-teacher-shortage-could-get-worse-due-to-immigration-influx.html

    NZ used to be one of the best places to live, but now the neoliberals and woke demand that NZ keeps wages lower and state services overloaded with more migrants to fuel low wages and high consumption. Many arrivals have poor English so they will struggle as they compete against the rest of NZ on low wages and benefits, but still given free NZ citizenship and residency even though social services in NZ like health care, education, pensions, justice, housing and social security are already overloaded and we the government is increasing NZ debts.

    NZ woke strategy seems to be the same as the Natz strategy, to continue to have NZ being the third highest per capita already for immigration, and we take the world’s underqualified people with hunger games style competition for low waged and administration jobs while NZ professionals leave in droves due to high case loads that are being dramatically increased.

    Luckily (sarcasm) the neoliberals when it all turns to custard, demand private practise be subsidised, who manage to make everything double the price while our media and woke, cheer it all on.

    Just look at the cost of new build rentals. Feel good that new builds like these are not taxed like the cheap rentals (sarc) and often overseas buyers can buy them and not pay the taxes now put on the cheaper rentals.

    One bedroom 53m2 ‘penthouse’ for only $825 – no carpark and no natural light. Did someone not tell them that the median wage in NZ after income tax is $861.50 per week?

    Ockham opens 14th Auckland apartment building: zero car parks at The Nix
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/ockham-opens-14th-auckland-apartment-building-zero-car-parks-at-the-nix/QP7ESI2H2VU5P3AFEBG6G5MGBM/

    Private rentals has the average price for 1 bed in city centre is $385. https://www.crockers.co.nz/property-management-auckland/auckland-rental-prices/april-2022/So private rentals still half the price of business led rentals.

    Woke and Lefties keep destroying NZ’s social services like education via endless demand! I’m sure you will appreciate that bakers and teachers assistant when you need that heart surgery, hip surgery or are in that vehicle accident and find out that the nursing assistant and endless, low waged, unqualified staff everywhere in NZ, can’t help you but will require NZ social services care, as everyone else.

    A generation of NZ will not get a quality education, as our priorities are not based on helping existing children in NZ, but helping private practise destroy NZ’s social services.

    Not just education in crisis by this approach, housing, pensions, justice, social welfare, Oranga Tamariki, education, environment etc

  14. drug reform – it’s too easy to drop out and aim to be the next wannabe gangster. workers rights reform – it’s too easy to be enslaved and aim for riches in the gig economy. immigration reform – it’s too easy to fly in as indentured labour and aim to be the next hospitality baron.

    when our kids are surrounded by gangsterism, is it any wonder they want to drop out and follow the money.

  15. Education in NZ is just using its Rogernomics to it’s natural end. Education as a quasi business making money off children and youth by pitting local children against foreign children who can pay more and thus are considered more valuable by neoliberals, schools and universities.

    To destroy NZ education and NZ formally being one of the highest literacy countries in the world in the 1970’s, subsequent governments have filled the schools first with Rogernomics, now full of woke fuckwittery, such as the latest woke think/speak. Transgender and sexuality being the rage, open plan schools so that children and teachers are more likely to get sick, children can’t hear any more over the din of huge volumes of noise, many children no longer have one teacher teaching them and being responsible for their learning but a university style of self learning for children as young at 6 years old. None of this is proven, in fact it is the opposite. It is considered damaging to have multiple caregivers of children.

    With a s**t load more administrators and less on the ground help, reporting is more important than educating kids. 20% of NZ kids leave school illiterate and not numerate. You would think this would be a big priority right? But nope, the woke touchy, feely administration is on ‘reporting’ and ‘collaborating’ with the whanau, but when it comes to actually providing any real help in the form of extra teaching or professional therapy – no can do! All roads end in read/write technology and it’s the parents responsibility to fund and organise any other issue with private practise making a killing off teaching things that used to be available in schools but now basic learning is forced onto parents.

    Parents are increasingly expected to teach their children the curriculum while school time is spent on woke issues.

    While a large percentage of kids may be truant because of problems at home, I’m guessing that the growing truancy issue is also because the neoliberal / woke school system is not capable of educating a growing percentage of the NZ population – therefore kids vote with their feet.

    At a certain point, kids are so far behind, they just give up and don’t go to school. The prisons are full of inmates who are illiterate and fell through the cracks. Lack of education is a huge factor for kids to go into crime.

    • Savenz. Agree with everything you’ve said here, especially about primary school classroom situations being set up to hinder children rather than to help them learn and be comfortable and relaxed and at ease. There are children bombarded with noise and stimuli who become anxious, and parents back home can bear the brunt with resultant behavioural and health issues.

      There are long waiting lists for depressed and disturbed children needing psychological support, young primary school children talking about suicide. I know one.

      The open plan classroom scenario was established because it was cheaper building, not because of any thought out theory or philosophy.

      If anything, you may have understated the dynamics at play with our littlies. Babes in arms and toddlers booked into day care from 8am to 5pm mean children at a very tender age have less home time with their parents than many adolescents do, the bulk of their time home being utilised eating, bathing, sleeping. The major influences in their formative years are paid strangers, not necessarily the brightest people, less emotionally invested persons, perhaps immigrants. The negative effect of day care on the under-two’s and under-threes is well documented; and it is not some magical place, it’s another disturbing money spinner.

      Anyone seen the Minister for Children lately ?

  16. Schools are dead. They’re run by brainless, gutless, paint-by-numbers, checklist driven technicians. They are ruled by ‘accountability’, slaves to braindead approaches to please a public that they have caused to be brain dead.

    Sure, there are individual enthusiasts, people with philosophy and fire but the schooling system is driven by shit leaders, who want boring, toe-the-line non-thinkers with no imagination or charisma.

    We raved about wanting, needing, our best and brightest young people to be teachers, the most intelligent, creative, empathetic and personable. Those modelling and demanding excellence, the most understanding, striving for the best for our kids. Go into a system that needs mindless drones? Why would they? They don’t.

    Of course the reasons kids don’t go to school are many and complex. But start with the most critical thing. A principal of a big school I know had a mantra, ‘School should be the best party in town.’
    A place where needs across the board were to be met. Decile 4 usually, sometimes 5. Kids wanted to be there, parents wanted their kids to be there. Attendence dropping down to 90% in a week was serious.

    Kids and families don’t want to go to school, it’s not important to them, it’s difficult for them to be roused to try to be there? What are you going to do? Yeah, the usual redneck solution, beat shit out of them with a stick.

    How about using the stick to beat shit out of the people who’ve killed schools and kids learning.

    • Peter, Snow White & save NZ.
      Thanks for your good common sense posts.
      By the way who is the Minister for Children?

      • Bob the First. Who is the Minister for Children ? I’ll give you three clues.

        (a) He said that our pioneering Pakeha ancestors were crooks and land thieves who stuffed up his Pomare ancestry.( False clue, the Pomares have produced high achievers and outstanding role models.)
        (b) He blames the Pakeha Education system for Maori children not having optimum education outcomes even though Asian immigrants and various refugee kids ace it within the same system.
        (c) He seemed relaxed about Trevor bombarding kiddies in tents with obnoxious music and sprinklers on an already cold, wet, and stormy night in Wellington – if he did try to stop it then he needs to try harder. Cheers.

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