More on Education and OIA

June 30th, 2009 at 1:19 pm by David Farrar

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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53 Responses to “More on Education and OIA”

  1. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    Ahh the basic good governance principles of disclosure and transperancey unkown to Mallard or any of the Socialists and only a little better known to the Nats.

    Why dont these bozos just wake up to the facts that they are our employees We pay them therefore we call the tune.

    Why dont the Principlas want us to know. Because it would shine the spotlight on them and show up their deficiencies thats why.

    The Education and Health sectors have been protected and sheltered for far too long.

    Time to turn over the rock and see whats underneath

    If they are so confident they would volunteer the info we seek

    But they know that we know that they are incompetents and so they hide away.

    Come out come out and reveal yourselves you half arsed wankers.

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  2. RightNow (6,798 comments) says:

    Trevor is showing his cowardly side (and probably the hypocrite side too, I’d also like to know why he didn’t send his kids to their local school). If schools have poor standings in ‘league tables’ then it’s up to them to get their act together. I suspect Trevor is more concerned that schools will have to teach the basics to survive, and won’t have enough time left to indoctrinate future socialist trough feeders.

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  3. burt (7,948 comments) says:

    DPF

    An obvious one is the side effects for different drugs. Clearly the drug companies would like to have no accountability for adverse side effects related to specific pharmaceuticals. It would be much better for drug companies if adverse reactions were only made public based on ‘over the counter vs prescription medications’. Actually that might be unfair on DR’s as people might make unreasonable decisions about it being safer to choose only over the counter medications because adverse effects from prescribed drugs are more likely to be recorded.

    No bugger it: Apply the “in the best interest of the administrators” test here as well and don’t even let people know if a drug has adverse side effects – it will only make people choose another drug if they know the one they are using is not satisfactory and we can’t have that sort of thing going on can we.

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  4. Grant Michael McKenna (1,156 comments) says:

    Follow the South African example and suppress crime statistics.

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  5. Inventory2 (10,161 comments) says:

    Look for the fun to start at Q8 this afternoon:

    “8 Hon TREVOR MALLARD to the Minister of Education: Will she support a law change to ensure that school level test data is not made available for publication; if not, why not?”

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  6. cctrfred (41 comments) says:

    Why stop with Government depts? It’s clearly inappropriate for the Opposition to ask questions of the Government during Parliament, as that could result in information being made public. I suggest the Opposition should wait in respectful silence while Ministers tell them what they need to know.

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  7. Kimble (4,397 comments) says:

    This is obviously part of Labours on-going HITS strategy*.

    What we dont know, cant hurt us.

    Once this strategy is fully implemented they can start work on operation HUTA.

    *heads in the sand

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  8. Rob Salmond (260 comments) says:

    Slow claps here for DPF, for running another really dumb “by the logical extension of their argument, Labour are a bunch of morons” argument. These “logical extension” or “slippery slope” arguments are disingenuous at best, and often belie an inability (or at least an unwillingness) to confront the argument **as it has been mounted**.

    Here, for example, is what a “by logical extension” argument about National might look like:

    “By logical extension of their call for tax cuts, National would keep cutting taxes until there was no tax at all. That would mean no police and no currency, and then we would be in a fine pickle. National is therefore, by purely logical extension of their stated arguments, a pack of anarchic dunderheads.”

    See how silly that mode of argument looks now?

    On the substance, I am undecided about whether publishing league tables of schools is a good idea. On the one hand, I’m for open government all else equal. On the other hand, the evidence from places that have tried shaming poorly performing schools (No Child Left Behind Act in the US, for example) doesn’t show strong benefits for the kids previously stuck in low quality classrooms, and may actually lead to vicious circles for those schools where those kids with the wherewithall to get to another school do exactly that, leaving the remaining unfortunate kids to suffer along with the slowly dying school.

    What happens when the principle that you like (open government) gets you, in this particular case, a policy outcome you do not like (the least fortunate kids getting left behind)? I think that is a legitimately difficult question. But according to your post, DPF, you seem to think it is all wonderfully straightforward and simple. I think you are not looking at the problem hard enough.

    [DPF: Rob this is not about the Govt publishing league tables. It is about amending the OIA to suppress information held by the Government that parents, the media or a member of the public may want to access.

    As I pointed out arguments can be made that allowing individual hospital statistics to be published can also lead to bad policy outcomes.

    This is not a hard decision. It should not be a decision at all. Fretting about bad policy outcomes fails the threshold to suppress information by a country mile.

    But I congratulate Labour for showing us the areas it really is concerned about. Combine this with their opposition to state house tenants buying the homes they live in, and the next election will be a wonderful mismatch]

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  9. Brian Smaller (4,017 comments) says:

    And just letting those poorly performing schools carry on with no-one knowing about them helps how Rob?.

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  10. RightNow (6,798 comments) says:

    Actually Rob the logical extensions DPF has used hold up to scrutiny while yours doesn’t. First, National stopped the tax cuts when they though it was appropriate. Second, Labour actually were the first to implement the tax cut, albeit for underhanded purposes – i.e. to try and make it hard for National to continue to campaign on tax cuts. Labour sold out their ideology to try and buy votes.
    Also there were many schools closed under Labour’s watch anyway. There is a precedent to closing schools, and frankly if a school isn’t performing then maybe it should be closed.
    Some children want to learn, some don’t. Those that want to learn shouldn’t be forced to suffer mediocrity because of those who don’t.

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  11. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    My kid’s school asesses them twice yearly for reading, writing, spelling and maths and they know exactly their reading, writing, spelling and maths ages. They even have graphs to show me where the have been for the past four years.
    Now I’m not sure why they need to do extra work to tell them what they already know. To be honest I don’t really care what all the other kids are doing or where the school ranks, all I can really worry about is that my kids are progressing. If the school has to spend more time testing and less teaching that is annoying.

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  12. burt (7,948 comments) says:

    Rob Salmond

    So far the only benefit you have noted for keeping the infomation private is for the schools themselves. Do the schools exist for the purpose of their own management or is there a bigger reason why schools exist.

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  13. insider (1,022 comments) says:

    It’s not much point giving this information if I can’t send my kids to the schools I think best for them. I’d like the choice please.

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  14. burt (7,948 comments) says:

    insider

    That is dangerous because poorly performing schools might close. We couldn’t have that could we. Imagine if it were possible to prove that not all schools and not all teachers are the same…. crikey in no time flat good teachers will want more pay than hopeless teachers then the great union facade of all teachers being equal will be exposed as the crock of shit it is.

    Sorry – you can’t have choice when monopoly state provision is in charge.

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  15. burt (7,948 comments) says:

    Brian Smaller

    And just letting those poorly performing schools carry on with no-one knowing about them helps how Rob?.

    It is status quo – that golden thing that Labour mindset aspires to.

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  16. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    Burt,
    If you need to rely on a test result (which is not objective and open to manipulation) to tell that your children are stuck in a poorly performing school, it is probably too late to save their education anyway.
    Just about every parent can tell which are the good teachers and which one’s are struggling. Most of the kids can too.
    Poorly performing school’s do close, the parents quickly work out that there are problems and go elsewhere, it happens all over the world. It happens in the private and public sector. The unions do not have much control over that.

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  17. burt (7,948 comments) says:

    bchapman

    I know how well my kids are doing based on the results they achieve in assessments. Unfortunately I don’t have the time or the training to compare them to other kids in an objective manner myself.

    But based on what you are sying, poor schools do close etc, I can’t see what all the fuss is about – surely Trevor seems to be trying to stop something from happening that is already happening…. why would he do that?

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  18. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    Rob Salmond and others are touchingly all trusting and ready to let the pollies and civil servants off the hook.

    And thats just what they are counting on.

    Some like myself have long campaigned for good governance in all sectors private and public.

    The private sector needs to be dragged into the 21st Century and it is slowly but not quick enough.

    Things like continous disclosure are a small start. We still have Weldon and his 20 minute insider trading nonsense to deal with and a Sec Com and Com Com who need a good kick up the arse to in turn kick up the arse the hopeless and crooked directors who inhabit the boardrooms of many PLCs and others.

    But back to the public sector. The nice cosy cabel needs to be broken and exposed for what it is. The toxic combination of the public sector Unions and the SSC working together to defeat the taxpayers legitimate quest for information has to be stopped.

    Their mutual arse covering needs to be exposed. Tell us truth and stop treating us with arrogance and contempt

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  19. Rob Salmond (260 comments) says:

    OK, a lot to respond to:

    DPF says: “it is not about the Govt publishing league tables.” He is right. It is about league tables being published. Who publishes them is immaterial. What matters is the effect publishing the tables, which is to create a stigma around poorly performing schools, making it even harder for them to actually improve their performance. That is why the move, if it is made, would have to be at the level of the OIA and not just a de jure government policy decision.

    He also says: “Fretting about bad policy outcomes fails the threshold to suppress information by a country mile.” Well currently the OIA disagrees with DPF is the policy in play is economic policy or commercial dealings (9.2.c and 9.2.e) or health policy (9.2.d). What makes education policy so obviously different from the other two escapes me.

    And then DPF prematurely celebrates an election win in 2011 where the pretend election is fought over the OIA and state housing, but not (say) superannuation. Enjoy your pretend and premature party, DPF.

    Brian S wonders: “And just letting those poorly performing schools carry on with no-one knowing about them helps how Rob?”

    Well the government, who pays the schools, would still know. So the claim about “no-one knowing” is false. And the government has a pretty good incentive to get overall education performance up, which they do one school at a time. That is how it can help.

    RightNow thinks: “the logical extensions DPF has used hold up to scrutiny while yours doesn’t.” If RightNow can find the part where Labour says “only national information for the entire Government be published in future” or that it should “be illegal to publish information about deaths in individual hospitals” or any of DPF’s other silly scaremongering, I’ll be pretty surprised.

    Burt suggests: “So far the only benefit you have noted for keeping the infomation private is for the schools themselves.” Actually no, my concern in my post was for the fate of the kids who go to poorly performing schools. Read my comment again, you’ll see it right there.

    Burt also helpfully observes that Labour folk want to change the law because of their obsession with the “status quo – that golden thing that Labour mindset aspires to.” My how quickly memories fade. Last year people like burt thought Labour was hell-bent on radical social transformation etc. This is especially funny coming from burt, who likes to trot out old quotes to prove he has a long memory. Oops.

    Finally, a quick comment on the whole closing schools thing: The best solution when the government identifies a poorly performing school is for the school to **improve**, not for the school to close. Closure causes all sorts of inefficient churn. That is why Government should do everything it can to help a school improve before it brings in the wrecking ball. As I understand it, league tables (wherever they come from) make it more likely that a poorly performing school closes, and less likely that it improves. That is bad for the kids in those schools, and bad for the taxpayers who are forced to fund all that churn.

    Is open information worth that price? I honestly do not know. But I think it is a serious debate worth having, unlike DPF.

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  20. Trevor Mallard (245 comments) says:

    DPF when you get back I will take you to a couple of communities where massive measured improvements in literacy have happened where groups of schools have worked together, shared strengths, covered weakness through professional development. The young people benefited. We will all benefit.

    All this happened because the schools knew that the extensive testing information would not go into the local papers and cause parents to shift their kids from school to school based on information which at that time was snapshot and didn’t measure progress or value add which is the real test

    I believe, probably more that Anne Tolley, in the importance of testing on a national basis. Her approach will result in a sub optimal approach and an opportunity will be lost.

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  21. bobux (349 comments) says:

    Trevor

    Firstly, congratulations for being willing to front up and argue your position. I don’t usually agree with you, but I appreciate you taking the time to engage in debate.

    As I type this, I have in front of me a clipping from the Dominion containing a ‘league table’ of secondary schools in the greater Wellington region. If I’m not mistaken, you were Minister of Education at the time it was published. The newspaper presumably compiled it from information in the public domain. Somehow, the secondary education system hasn’t collapsed in turmoil as result of this information being available to parents.

    Why is releasing equivalent information on the primary/intermediate system such a problem? If you really think it is harmful, why didn’t you amend the OIA to prevent this information on secondary schools being released while you were in government? After all, you had nine years to think about it.

    I appreciate the example you provide, and the efforts of those involved. Sadly, we could both easily find a couple of other communities where the local school is a disgrace, and parents simply don’t realise how bad it is, because they have no obvious point of comparison.

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  22. Ross Miller (1,676 comments) says:

    More proof (if needed) of the now quite obivious irrelevance of Labour to the body politic and country generally.

    But to be fair to Mallard … at least we know where he is coming from. Not for him the wishy washy leadership exhibited by Phil who clearly is in want of a spine for the shivers to run up (with apologies to Bob Jones and Bill Rowlings).

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  23. RightNow (6,798 comments) says:

    Government should not be legislating against transparency of tax-payer funded schools. It is after all official information.
    Parents should be allowed to see comparative results from schools that are candidates for their children to go to in order to decide what is best for their children.

    FFS I already have to drive a lap of the city to get my kids to their early childhood facilities every morning so there is no valid reason I should take them to the closest school rather than the best practical option.

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  24. AG (1,795 comments) says:

    Anyone who thinks league tables and standardised testing won’t fuck up schools needs to watch the fourth series of The Wire. Seriously.

    [DPF: Wow that is a new reason to amend the Official Information Act.Because the release of the information has been shown by a fictional US TV series to be detrimental]

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  25. Rob Salmond (260 comments) says:

    Good point AG.

    Also, anyone who likes quality TV should watch all five seasons of The Wire.

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  26. Pat (76 comments) says:

    After watching Trevor submit his Question 8, I wonder if Goff is reconsidering whether they can afford to waste valuable questions on Trevor when he goes off half-cocked like that. A summary of his question to Tolley would be:

    Hypothetically will the Minister support my hypothetical bill to the house if I was to hypothetically present such a bill, and I seek leave to table a hypothetical bill that was most fortunately sent to my blog today by Rochelle-Googlebomb-Rees and I promise that tomorrow I will table my own hypothetical bill which may or may not be substantially the same and Point of Order Mr Speaker the Minister did not answer my very straight-forward question and that is the worst decision you have ever made in this house.

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  27. AG (1,795 comments) says:

    “[DPF: Wow that is a new reason to amend the Official Information Act.Because the release of the information has been shown by a fictional US TV series to be detrimental]”

    Why not? Most of the policy advocated in the comments on this blog seems to be drawn from a mix of Marvel comic books and Ann Ryand novels, so I’m already ahead of the curve!

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  28. Danyl Mclauchlan (1,066 comments) says:

    Wow that is a new reason to amend the Official Information Act.Because the release of the information has been shown by a fictional US TV series to be detrimental

    I guess it helps if you’ve seen the show – the school scenes were written by a former high school teacher, and shows that the poor inner city schools focus on ‘teaching to tests’, which means they don’t give the their kids an education, they teach them how to pass specific statewide tests so that the school will score well and continue to recieve funding. So (for example) they drop the maths classes and just teach English because that has a higher weighting in the rankings.

    It’s a fictional show but it’s a realistic depiction of the problems created by the Bush Administrations No Child Left Behind Policy.

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  29. big bruv (13,454 comments) says:

    FFS!

    The Wire, The West Wing….the left’s attempt to rewrite history or massage the facts by any means possible.

    No doubt these fucking idiots also think that Coronation street is reality TV.

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  30. burt (7,948 comments) says:

    Rob Salmond

    Burt also helpfully observes that Labour folk want to change the law because of their obsession with the “status quo – that golden thing that Labour mindset aspires to.” My how quickly memories fade. Last year people like burt thought Labour was hell-bent on radical social transformation etc. This is especially funny coming from burt, who likes to trot out old quotes to prove he has a long memory. Oops.

    Is that people like me or me Rob? So far you have had a shot at the messenger but didn’t address the message – How Labour of you. Who do you work for again?

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  31. wreck1080 (3,787 comments) says:

    mallard is a fraud.

    a few years ago, he promised that as the education minister that by 2008 he would limit new entrant classes to 15 per classroom.

    last year, my boy started school with 30 in his class. Admittedly , there were 2 teachers, but only because there was a disabled kid in the class.

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  32. Rex Widerstrom (5,307 comments) says:

    I was board chair when it went through the painful process of closing one of the secondary schools in the area due to falling rolls. Trevor handled it extremely well and I’ve nothing but praise for him when it comes doing everything he could to ensure adequate – even generous – resourcing, sometimes upsetting officials in the process.

    But when it came to deciding which teachers stayed and which were let go, everyone – but especially the Minister and the Ministry – held its breath. For striding into the selection committee came the representative of the PPTA, to ensure that things were “fair” and that decisions were made on important considerations – like length of service (and, I suspect, “pull” in the union). Mentioning “merit” and “competence” were, it was made clear, akin to swearing in church.

    One of the local branches made sure I got the message by penning an insulting and borderline defamatory rant, targeting me personally, to the local newspaper.

    To be fair, the actual PPTA rep was a reasonable fellow, and I managed to clean out most of the dead wood I had my eye on, though not without having to compromise on several non-teaching appointments.

    Having worked closely with Trevor I believe he genuinely wants to build a better education system… but not at the expense of poorly performing teachers, because come election time they’re the majority of the people knocking on your door and stuffing your mailbox while wearing a red rosette. The unions know this, and are quite open about threatening a “strike” at the next election if they don’t get their way. Indeed I was hired by one in Australia to deliver just that message to its (Labor) government employers.

    Labour introduced “Tomorrow’s Schools” which – whatever its other faults – put parents in nominally in charge of their local schools. Having had a couple of decades of operation to observe, they know full well that the greatest frustration for board members is that they are at arm’s length from the teaching staff. Not only can they not hire and fire, let alone set pay or even offer bonuses, they receive no data on the performance of their employees.

    Whereas an argument can perhaps be made that a teacher in a high decile school has a “head start” over his or her colleague in a low decile area, there is no such argument to be made over two teachers at the same school. If one is not attaining the pass rates of another, then clearly the first teacher needs training, assistance and, if that fails, transfer or sacking.

    But until the teacher unions are decoupled from the Labour Party (and I can’t ever see that happening) Trevor and his colleagues will continue to try to erect a shield around poorly performing teachers. After all, there’s only so many leaflets they can deliver on their own.

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  33. Rob Salmond (260 comments) says:

    burt: “Is that people like me or me Rob? So far you have had a shot at the messenger but didn’t address the message – How Labour of you. Who do you work for again?”

    burt I do not have the energy to trawl through your 3,216 comments on this blog to see whether you ever said Labour had a policy agenda. I think you probably did, but who really cares.

    And I think I addressed almost everyone’s message (including yours) in my second comment, in addition to taking pot shots at a couple of silly remarks (including yours). Perhaps you disagree with that assessment. OK.

    Since you ask, I work for U of Michigan.

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  34. Trevor Mallard (245 comments) says:

    Rex – I want the information to be made available to those who can either help or deal with teachers who aren’t making the grade. To do that we need two things teacher buy in -not that hard to get but being lost by Tolley, and a good system that measures progress. They exist, we have invested a bundle in them but Tolley is not promoting them prefering instead a simplistic one level per age standards approach. Just not responsible if we want to lift standards as you know from Wainuiomata. Progress there has been great.

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  35. Trevor Mallard (245 comments) says:

    And as for poorly performing schools look at my record of closing those where they were not needed or putting in statutory management or commissioners where necessary. And can’t you remember my relationship with the PPTA – it was not at all flash. The best thing they ever said about me was that they knew where I stood on issues.

    And the NZEI were always good at helping move teachers out of jobs following competency proceedings. They don’t want to teach with incompetent colleagues.

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  36. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Look, this information should not be held secret, but in reality it is only the tip of the iceberg regarding secrecy and misinformation emanating from the education system.

    Despite a proliferation fo flowery reports produced from much the same sources as have identified Cuban Health and Education systems as exceeding average global standards, most people know that education in New Zealand has been in a seemingly unstoppable state of decay and degeneration for three or four decades.

    The problem is institutionalised. Internal reports have shown concern that teacher training produces incompetent dolts who can’t spell or do maths and know nothing of history. For example, Tina Voordouw, principal of decile-one Rongomai Primary in Otara, said about one in five new graduates she hired were “disastrous”. How can these knuckle draggers, so poorly educated themselves, ever teach our children??

    The history of the decline is easy. In what the Italian communist, Gramsci, prescribed as a Marxist agenda – i.e. “The long march through the institutions”, the education bureaucracy here, as in Britain, Australia, and other countries, became infiltrated by those who saw it primarily in politicised terms – as an area where the middle-class, or “higher socio-economic groups”, had an unfair advantage over poorer sectors.

    So, instead of working to make a quality education more widely available to all our own, Left-leaning educationists worked to remove genuine standards. Anything which offered a so-called advantage to the clever, the supposed middle-class, the hardworking, must go.

    As a consequence, secondary schools are now awash with the kind of unknowingly left wing meatheads who proliferate here on Kiwiblog, many who can’t even read, speak coherently, probably can’t write a cursive script, or manage basic arithmetical skills.

    Basically, then, all throughout the schools, the curricula became the tools of those who captured and used them to advance their own Left-wing ideologies. Rather than to pass on the body of knowledge and disciplines which distinguishes the educated from the uneducated.

    As it became more and more obvious how worryingly ignorant New Zealand youngsters were, a new catch-cry of skills being important, rather than knowledge, came to the fore.

    So, knowledge was out – skills in. However, junking subjects like history and geography has meant children emerging from our schools with an almost total ignorance of facts – that foundation of knowledge which they could once use to evaluate the now politicised content of their courses.

    Education is a joke in New Zealand, breeding generation after generation of mush brained whitebait who have no idea how to think critically. They are patently unable for example to filter out even the most extreme rubbish of what the ideologues tell them is fact.

    Most think “from each according to ability to each according to need”, comes from NZ’s Bill of Rights. The drooling idiot writing here as Mickey Savage thought his namesake was the author of the phrase.

    There is no solution to this problem in the near future. Malalrd and the like posture as interested in improvements, but they really just want to throw more petrol on the bonfire of social destruction.

    It would take a complete social breakdown before education could ever be wrested from the poisonous fatal and clammy grasp of the political zealots who control it.

    Forget NZ’s education system. Its is totally worthless until some catharsis falls upon us, and even then, it may not recover.

    In the meantime, dance about with deck chairs as partners. The iceberg can’t be too far away.

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  37. dog_eat_dog (757 comments) says:

    Trevor;

    Surely the fact that there are now school zones means that the only thing that publicly released results changes is that parents have some indication of how effective their local school is. This is also a matter of community accountability, who have to put up with the externalities of schools.

    Furthermore, how would you know hat the system is working, and how would your constituents know, if that information is suppressed? Does this mean we should discount education as a political issue, as we would not be able to evaluate the viability, necessity or success of any proposed changes? Does this also mean that the PBRFU results will be suppressed? Does this mean election results are suppressed? They are essentially a nationally generated report card, after all.

    I can’t see how this makes any sense on a local, educational and political level.

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  38. AG (1,795 comments) says:

    So to summarise, reddy …

    “Bloody young people (grumble, mumble, grumble). Don’t know nothing (mumble, grumble, mumble). We’re all going to hell in a handbasket, and its all the faults of the commies (mutter mutter mutter).”

    See how much shorter that is?

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  39. Silas (1 comment) says:

    I agree with Rex’s comments above. PPTA is much more effective at defending poor teachers than NZEI. As a BOT member for 13 years, teacher performance and academic results could never be commented on in the same sentence. Trevor sort of alludes to this also in his comment about the PPTA. I think that Tolley is on a hiding for nothing and for no advance in educational performance by this confrontation. If National really want to make a difference they should take away zoning and allow parental and student choice. After a state education myself and for that of my daughters plus my experience noted above, I am no longer an advocate for state education as I once was.

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  40. Ross Miller (1,676 comments) says:

    Trevor … if the last nine years was the best that it gets then really we have cause to worry.

    You (Labour) are totally beholden to the NZEI and the PPTA. They are your foot soldiers. When they say jump your only response is ‘how high sir’. You and I know that you deal to them at your peril and that is why your mouthings cut no mustard.

    You are their puppet proof positive why your every utterance needs to measured agaionst the performance (or more succinctly the non-performance) of the public education system when Labour was in power.

    BTW … I enjoyed the total hypocracy of a certain senior Labour member (still there) who decided that that local State school in his electorate was not good enough for his boy and instead sent him to a leading private school. Something akin to do what I say rather than do what I do … clearly Labour’s principles are only for the great unwashed.

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  41. Buggerlugs (1,609 comments) says:

    Slow claps here for DPF, for running another really dumb “by the logical extension of their argument, Labour are a bunch of morons” Yes, Rob, you are.

    As for Mallard talking about ‘suboptimal’, I couldn’t think of a better expert on the topic. How does your report card for 22 years as a politician read? ‘Must try harder, disruptive, sent from the room on several occasions, lies, generally underachieves and blames others for this’….

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  42. dion (95 comments) says:

    Rex’s comment made interesting reading. It’s about time teachers showed some accountability for the results they produce – just like the other 90% of the workforce. If I performed consistently poorly, I’d be in a dole queue.

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  43. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    Two things:

    1. Paying teachers differently according to performance won’t work. There is no accurate way to establish what makes a good teacher – test scores won’t do it (for example, teachers will teach to the test and nothing else, or teachers will refuse to teach lower band classes, or teachers will dissuade lower ability students from ever attempting standards etc), student evaluations won’t do it (students don’t always rate teachers according to the criteria we would like them to), and having established great teachers going around sitting in on classes and judging the teachers won’t work (because they should be in the classroom themselves, or else the whole point of the exercise is lost). Also, during my training, at all the schools I witnessed the simple fact that an effective department depends totally on collegiality and co-operation among the teachers, and the simple fact is that as soon as teachers are judged personally ito decide what they get paid, the sharing of resources will halt (why give away your best material when it can be used to boost your pay over others?) and petty jealousy will be rife (yes, yes it will. Hang out in a staffroom sometime)

    However, there are a lot of poor teachers out there, so we can’t just sit on our hands and do nothing. That’s why, if it were up to me, I would make official registration more rigorous and link that to the pay scale. At the moment, when a teacher graduates from their course, they are provisionally registered and have to complete 2 years of supervised/mentored teaching before they can be fully regisitered. What I would like to see is the move from provisional to full registration be accompanied by a significant salary increase BUT make that move more difficult and subject to clear evidence the teacher has the skills for the job. If a provisional teacher doesn’t meet these standards, they remain provisional (and remain on the original salary) until they are able to improve their performance.

    2. If you don’t like The Wire, you fail at life.

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  44. Rex Widerstrom (5,307 comments) says:

    Trevor – thanks for entering the debate. Apologies this is so late, I’ve been out (+ the time difference)… my intention isn’t to challenge and run so I hope you come back and see this.

    I want the information to be made available to those who can either help or deal with teachers who aren’t making the grade.

    To whom do you allude? As the nominal employer of teachers the Principal bears responsibility for performance management – as does a CEO. But unlike a company board, who can monitor it’s CEO’s effectiveness through its reporting processes and at least pick up that something is wrong in the widget department and ask the CEO what measures are in place to address it, school boards are not just arms length from their teaching staffs, they might as well meet in the Cone of Silence. One can have professional assistance available to teachers without sacrificing accountability.

    To do that we need … teacher buy in

    I agree it’d be much easier that way, but my experience of teacher unions on both sides of the Tasman is that they expect poor peformance to be excused for far longer than would a parent and, when things become untenable, that they not only get to fix it internally but, most importantly, get to be final arbitrators of competence (the latest ruse practiced over here being a “College of Teaching”, populated with – surprise, surprise – ex union chiefs).

    As dog_eat_dog points out, the entire community deals with the externalities of schools. That community is represented on the board, and it is the board which should have the final say on the performance of teachers. And they should also have a portion of the teacher salary money paid to them as a fenced-off bulk grant to be spent at their discretion, guided by the Principal, on rewarding better-performing teachers.

    And can’t you remember my relationship with the PPTA – it was not at all flash. The best thing they ever said about me was that they knew where I stood on issues.

    You’re a practical, common sense MP and an excellent Minister with a genuine desire to do what’s best and I therefore strongly suspect you’d like to run amok through schools with a book of pink slips (for the bad ones) and a cheque book (for the good ones) the way most board members would after serving a year or two – because they know that’d see education take a quantum leap forward. Alas you and your colleagues are too reliant on union footsoldiers and union money to ever countenance such a thing and while you’re not afraid of the odd political bungee-jump, you draw the line at doing so with no rope :-D

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  45. Rex Widerstrom (5,307 comments) says:

    transmogrifier – you make valid points, but ones with which I disagree nonetheless.

    There is no accurate way to establish what makes a good teacher

    I’d suggest a combination of all the things you list (testing, student evaluations, peer and senior teacher evaluations) would combine to provide a reasonable picture. Of course one poor score shouldn’t be grounds for dismissal. Indeed no amounts of poor scores should be grounds for dismissal. They would be a signal, however, that that teacher needed intensive observation and perhaps assistance. The reports of their response to that process would then form the basis for any evaluation.

    an effective department depends totally on collegiality and co-operation among the teachers, and the simple fact is that as soon as teachers are judged personally ito decide what they get paid, the sharing of resources will halt (why give away your best material when it can be used to boost your pay over others?)

    Let’s try that another way. “An effective sales department depends totally on collegiality and co-operation among the salespeople, and the simple fact is that as soon as salespeople are judged personally to decide what they get paid, the sharing of resources will halt (why give away your best closes when it can be used to boost your pay over others?)”.

    Okay I admit that’s a bit of a strawman example but you seem to be implying teachers are the most venal of people. And even if they are, that’s still not sufficient reason to refuse to hold them accountable.

    The flipside of any lack of co-operation is the determination to compete and to be the best at what you do. That’s not something I see amongst most teachers. Yet it’s a powerful motivation in any profession.

    What I would like to see is the move from provisional to full registration be accompanied by a significant salary increase BUT make that move more difficult and subject to clear evidence the teacher has the skills for the job. If a provisional teacher doesn’t meet these standards, they remain provisional (and remain on the original salary) until they are able to improve their performance.

    And once they meet the standard they have a job for life? In my experience most young teachers have a reasonable level of skill and a great deal of dedication. It’s when they get older and jaded that performance suffers.

    Similarly, the school I chaired was the school which, many years earlier, I’d attended as a student. There weren’t many teachers left over from that time but a couple who were were universally considered by students and parents to be damn good 20 years earlier and were still damn good – in fact even better – when I returned. That I couldn’t pay them any more than the worst of their colleagues (albeit that one was appointed Deputy Principal) annoyed the hell out of me… everyone knew these two teachers were exceptional, but it was somehow wrong to acknowledge it in any practical way.

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  46. burt (7,948 comments) says:

    Trevor

    I don’t think many people dispute you did a good deal of closing schools. The statistical blip passing through primary schools now hits secondary starting from next year. Hope you took that into account because a swell in secondary school class sizes is going to cause more havoc than it did in primary school. If I recall correctly you closed more secondary schools than primary schools, hope you got it right.

    Otherwise, dog_eat_dog pretty much summed up my position on this, where is the accountability under the way you would rather see it run? Who’s best interests are being served by not publishing this information? What chance have you got for buy in from parents when they haven’t got a clue about what is really going on? Which parents do you loose buy in from when you won’t tell them how your school is doing?

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  47. burt (7,948 comments) says:

    Rex

    I couldn’t pay them any more than the worst of their colleagues (albeit that one was appointed Deputy Principal) annoyed the hell out of me… everyone knew these two teachers were exceptional, but it was somehow wrong to acknowledge it in any practical way.

    This bit is really bizarre. How can it be that teachers who are trained to recognise that people come in all shapes and sizes, all with differing abilities and attitudes. They are taught to work with this and to extend capable students, support and encourage less capable students yet they forget all that and say they all the same – they want to be paid based on the grade they teach.

    I don’t get it. But I’ve got no illusion about why it’s hard to recruit primary school teachers – 9 years of Labour govt didn’t change much about how much teachers are paid. I bet the teachers would have liked pay rises proportional to what Mallard got over the same time.

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  48. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    Rex,

    I was addressing the concept of pay-for-performance only, rather than the monitoring of teachers over time, so I’m with you on keeping tabs on your teachers. I just think there is more to be lost than gained in terms of the education kids will eventually get in the classroom if you begin explicitly stratifying pay according to subjective measures. That’s why I think discrete graduated step in the pay scale is a better option, revolving around registration. Other methods of guaranteeing a certain level of teacher competence can be used – I just don’t think salary is a particularly good one considering the main point of all of this – improving classroom teaching.

    With regards your desire to see the teachers compete and be the best they can be in their profession, I suggest you try to be a teacher for a year, and see how the reports, grading, preparation, extracurricular activities, pastoral care etc all impact on what you can produce in the classroom. Even the best teachers (maybe especially the best teachers) rely on the support systems of colleagues, from working together writing units, sharing activities, meeting together to discuss individual student needs, organizing field trips for each other and so on. You start encouraging the every teacher for himself mentality, and in my opinion it will lead to less effective departments, more man-hours spent in soul-crushing paperwork, and less time available for creativity in the classroom and the students (where all the focus should be).

    As for the two excellent teachers, I sympathize with the fact that you want to reward them for great work, but I don’t see how that translates into proof that salaries need to be adjusted according to some sort of performance measure (I assume it would be more tangible than “universally considered to be damn good”) without proof that the best way to induce mediocre teachers to become excellent is to offer them more money, or that having a better maximum salary would attract the type of people likely to become excellent teachers who would otherwise pursue other fields.

    Personally, I would favour more rigourous teacher training with higher thresholds for acceptance, a more robust registration process with requisite salary increases, and looking at ways to reduce the avalanche of non-classroom related matters teachers have to contend with at work. Excellent teachers should be fast-tracked to HOD or mentoring positions with associated managment units (and resultant salary bumps).

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  49. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    Also, it would help if teaching as a profession was held in greater regard in New Zealand. Several of my classmates were Canadian, where competition for places in Teacher Training course is brutal, getting a full-time job happens only after you put in your time relieving for a couple of years, and the salary is handsome. High school teachers are respected over there, whereas, especially reading the comments in various threads on this blog, many Kiwis hold a dim view of both teachers and teaching as a profession (I see several times “teacher” has been used in a pejorative sense with regards Trevor Mallard, for example).

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  50. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    Oh, and just to make it three posts in a row – there is no way that information about schools should be hidden from the public. Nothing disinfects like sunlight, after all.

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  51. racer1 (354 comments) says:

    Redbaiter
    So, instead of working to make a quality education more widely available to all our own, Left-leaning educationists worked to remove genuine standards. Anything which offered a so-called advantage to the clever, the supposed middle-class, the hardworking, must go.

    Well they are either not doing a very good job (no job at all even?), or your wrong, parental income is still by far the best predictor of future income for kids.

    Redbaiter
    As a consequence, secondary schools are now awash with the kind of unknowingly left wing meatheads who proliferate here on Kiwiblog, many who can’t even read, speak coherently, probably can’t write a cursive script, or manage basic arithmetical skills.

    Strangely enough though they can prove assertions, which in one fell swoop makes every one of them smarter than you.

    Redbaiter
    Basically, then, all throughout the schools, the curricula became the tools of those who captured and used them to advance their own Left-wing ideologies. Rather than to pass on the body of knowledge and disciplines which distinguishes the educated from the uneducated.

    Here is the catch, it hasn’t. This is just not the case, being very right wing in my younger years, and now days taking every chance I can to ask friends’ kids about their schools, this is just made up batshit crazy paranoia. Produce a shred of evidence.

    Redbaiter
    So, knowledge was out – skills in. However, junking subjects like history and geography has meant children emerging from our schools with an almost total ignorance of facts – that foundation of knowledge which they could once use to evaluate the now politicised content of their courses.

    This again reinforces the fact free nature of your comment. Any one familiar with the nature of schools can instantly see that you are wrong.

    Redbaiter
    They are patently unable for example to filter out even the most extreme rubbish of what the ideologues tell them is fact.

    It may have been the case for you, but you are by far the exception to the rule.

    Redbaiter
    In the meantime, dance about with deck chairs as partners. The iceberg can’t be too far away.

    Your going to need to sort your act out a little here, claiming the iceberg isn’t far away just won’t cut it. Please amend your conspiracy with further unproven, batshit crazy, made up on the spot, evidence free assertions, to explain to us what the left is doing that will mean the iceberg will never quite hit, just loom threateningly in the constant near future.

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  52. Rex Widerstrom (5,307 comments) says:

    transmogrifier: A far-too-brief response to your well thought out response, but I keep getting rung up by people who have the audacity to expect me to devote my time to the work they’re paying me for :-D

    Excellent teachers should be fast-tracked to HOD or mentoring positions with associated managment units (and resultant salary bumps).

    Agreed wholeheartedly. And more drones should be employed to do the paperwork… something akin to the departmental secretaries universities have. Not a PA for every lecturer, but nor are support staff confined to a couple of people in the front office, a counsellor or two, and some teaching aides.

    That, of course, would not only, as you put it, make

    time available for creativity in the classroom and the students (where all the focus should be).

    but also give them time to complete all those performance measures with which I wish to burden them ;-)

    Finally, you state:

    I just don’t think salary is a particularly good one considering the main point of all of this – improving classroom teaching.

    but then go on to say

    Canadian… Teacher Training course is brutal, getting a full-time job happens only after you put in your time relieving for a couple of years, and the salary is handsome.

    I’d agree that the profession needs to be held in higher regard and I’d had an (albeit extremely brief) look at how they achieved that in Canada when I worked for a teacher union. They’ve certainly achieved higher status, and higher salaries, than in NZ and I think the standard of teaching is better… but partly as a result of the higher salaries, as you yourself seem to imply.

    But at least we can have a productive discussusion on this topic. Education is too important a topic to retreat behind ideological lines and start trading slogans and insults over, but that’s all too often what happens to the detriment of the system and all involved in it.

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  53. Red Sam (122 comments) says:

    “At the moment, when a teacher graduates from their course, they are provisionally registered and have to complete 2 years of supervised/mentored teaching before they can be fully regisitered. What I would like to see is the move from provisional to full registration be accompanied by a significant salary increase BUT make that move more difficult and subject to clear evidence the teacher has the skills for the job. If a provisional teacher doesn’t meet these standards, they remain provisional (and remain on the original salary) until they are able to improve their performance.”

    The eight term (or two year) advice and guidance programme for provisionally registered teachers (PRT) is fairly rigorous. There are one to two observations of classroom teaching per term, regular (often weekly) meetings with a tutor teacher, submission of planning and assessment (usually each term), and then release days to observe experienced colleagues and other schools. A PRT has five years to become fully registered, but if a tutor teacher and Principal do not recommend that a PRT becomes fully registered after two years (or the Teachers Council), then they must improve their practice to meet the criteria for full registration.

    One of the major problems of being a provisionally registered teacher in New Zealand is the huge inconsistency between schools in relation to the provisionally registered advice and guidance programme. However, that’s so-called ‘self managing’ schools for you!

    Further, once a teacher is fully registered, there are ongoing classroom observations and appraisals (often twice a year), as well as three-yearly visits to schools from the Education Review Office.

    Any notion of performance pay for teachers is ridiculous. How would this be measured? I have worked in both low and high decile schools. It’s far easier working as a teacher in higher decile schools. In New Zealand these schools are generally awash with resources, there are fewer behaviour and classroom management issues, and children tend to progress in their learning very quickly.

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