More on Education and OIA

NZPA reports:

Mr Mallard today suggested a change could be made to the Amendment Bill currently before a select committee , or a separate bill could be drafted.

“I see it as a really good way of unblocking a problem that we’ve got,” Mr Mallard said this morning.

Quality information was important, he said, but it did not all need to be made public.

He did not think individual school information needed to be published.

“At the moment privacy reasons means that individual children or individual teachers information can’t be made public but school information could be.

“I think if we restricted that that would mean only national information was published so that we could test the system.”

The school information would be available for the Education Ministry and Education Review Office.

“So if there were major anomalies of schools going off the rails educationally that information would be easily available.”

This is such a wonderful idea by Trevor, I think we should take it further. We spend $6 billion in schools yet the rationale is that only the Education Ministry and ERA need to be able to access information on individual schools.

So lets extend this to the entire Government. It is unfair that the media sometimes publish unhelpful stories about a Government agency based on information released under the . This can lead to undermining confidence in that agency.

So using ’s logic, I propose that only national information for the entire Government be published in future. Only Treasury and Ministers need to know individual agencies information.

So if you ask under the OIA how many staff at your agency earn over $100,000 – then the only response will be “The Government in total employs 7,201 staff who earn over $100,000” rather than listing it for each agency.

There is no need for us, according to Labour’s logic, to know the details of each agency. We can trust Treasury and the Government to take action if there is a problem.

There are other ways Labour’s new principle can be implemented. It is unfair that death rates in hospitals can be compared. This is unfair to larger hospitals that take on the more critical cases. So in future it will be illegal to publish information about deaths in individual hospitals. The Ministry of Health will collect this data and they will act on it if any hospital goes off the rails.

It also seems to me it is unfair that people can compare the levels of rates between different local authorities. A simplistic comparison is bad as different Councils provide different facilities. So again taking Labour’s principle forward, Councils will no longer reveal what their level of rates are. The Department of Internal Affairs will monitor Councils and let us know fi any go off the rails.

There are so many examples. It is also unfair to prison guards at a particular prison that their escape rate can be compared to other prisons. After all it does not take into account different security classifications.  To prevent the public from making an ill informed comparison on a league table, we will not publish individual prison escape levels.

Readers might like to post in the comments more examples of what should be removed from the OIA under Labour’s new principle that the publci are too stupid to know and compare, and that the important thing is the Government Departments have the information for their use.

UPDATE: Someone has emailed me a copy of Labour’s OIA Bill. It only allows schools to share information with the Ministry of Education and the ERO. This means that schools would not be able to give NCEA information to the NZQA!

Also Labour’s bill bans schools from voluntarily releasing their overall achievement data. It is a giant Orwellian step backwards and reminds us all that Labour is concerned about the teachers unions, and not parents or students. The bill says:

Despite any other provision of this Act, organisations including, but not limited to schools, the Ministry of Education and the Education Review Office, must not publicly release school level assessment information.

This makes school level assessment information more secretive than security information held by the SIS. You see the SIS are allowed to decide what information they release. Labour’s bill would see the Government and schools lose any discretion over publishing assessment information.

National should run full page advertisements in every newspaper with copies of Labour’s bill, explaining how Labour wants to ban the publishing of school assessment information. I’m seriously – they should hit some donors up for $100K and it will knock Labour down a good 5% or so. I suppose there is no need when they are 20% ahead, but this is a huge blunder by Labour.

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