Education unions criticised by parents and principals

December 12th, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

The School Trustees Association, which supports the standards, is upset about a letter from and the Principals Federation trying to influence boards.

President Lorraine Kerr has written to the groups, branding the action as irresponsible and unprofessional.

“It is hard to escape the conclusion that the motives behind your letter are in the main political,” she wrote.

“We believe your letter is irresponsible and unprofessional in inciting boards to place themselves at risk by acting simply as the principal’s mouthpiece.

“We have made every attempt to respond to the matters regarding in a thoughtful and pragmatic way. However, by taking the action you have in your letter, you have made it abundantly clear that you have no genuine interest in pursuing an informed and professional discussion of the issues.”

That is a damning letter for one professional group to write about another. Totally deserved though.

Stephen Blair, principal of Tokoroa North School, accuses the Principals Federation of turning the issue into an ideological debate.

“They have accused the Government of basing policy on ideology yet their opposition is based on ill-informed scaremongering,” he said.

And the national standards policy is so mild. It is not about one big standard test. It is just about minimum consistent standards and reporting.

I say bring in bulk funding, performance pay for teachers and vouchers and give the unions something to really complain about!

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73 Responses to “Education unions criticised by parents and principals”

  1. s.russell (1,588 comments) says:

    Bulk funding, performance pay for teachers and vouchers are all good ideas. But it would be best if the Govt can first educate the public about the real motivations of those who oppose these moves. Fortunately, the NZEI seems keen to help with that.

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  2. the deity formerly known as nigel6888 (859 comments) says:

    Yeah DPF, but we are going to have to wait for a National Government before we do anything so radical as provide information on school performance to parents.

    As S Russell points out, lets hope this is a cunning plan to have the unions demonise themselves.

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  3. getstaffed (9,189 comments) says:

    There is already a little-publicised mechanism for allowing performance based pay to be implemented. Schools are allocated a number of Management Units (MUs) which can be allocated to teachers based on additional responsibilities they take on. They are worth circa $4k p.a. and the allocation is at the discretion of the principal, usually with some input from the Board if it’s a vacant teaching position being filled. So in a small school the deputy principal may have one and the numeracy and/or literacy lead teacher(s) may also be given one.

    There are approx 10,000 MUs for NZ primary schools (recently up from 2000) and approx 20,000 for NZ secondary schools, the idea being apparently, the secondary school teachers work harder than their primary peers. This is an assertion that I challenge BTW. MU’s per school are calculated based on roll size.

    So creating more MU’s would be a simple way of giving schools more discretion in the rewarding of excellence, but it’s probably not as transparent as a full performance review system.

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  4. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    I hope Anne Tolley wins this one.

    In a part of the letter not pasted here, Lorraine Kerr asks why there is still a big tail of underachievement.

    For me, it’s much simpler. If today’s schools and today’s teachers are so crack-hot why is it that 20 percent of our school leavers are functionally illiterate?

    In one sense I don’t have to worry. Others’ illiteracy or inability with the English language often means work for me. My children are past school age. But I have grandchildren, and I worry for them.

    My son went to school knowing how to write and spell his name; he knew his alphabet. He could count to 20.

    If I hadn’t caught on early to what was going on, he would have lost it all in his first six months because arriving at school knowing those things, his teacher told me, was Bad For Him. He was ahead of all the others, and that would have affected his ‘socialisation in the classroom environment’.

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  5. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    I say bring in bulk funding, performance pay for teachers and vouchers and give the unions something to really complain about!

    I agree. But to be fair, let teachers/schools refuse students who’re getting no support from their parents or are disruptive or not interested in being at school. If you want schools to be more like the private sector, you can’t force them to take crap customers.

    I’m not a teacher but it seems that many expect teachers to be perfect and compliant robots. Take all kids, plenty of whom have no support from parents and in some cases a parent-instilled contempt for learning, school and authority and educate them all. And be criticised for the kids who have no chance, mostly because of their parents. At the same time you can have no opinions or input into the system. And certainly don’t have a union or any profession bodies. If you do, anything they suggest will be condemned as self-serving. You’re robots remember.

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  6. reid (16,179 comments) says:

    Lange’s “Tommorrow’s Schools” introduced both School Boards and also gave vent to the PC Psychobabble movement which has decimated education standards by preaching that competition was bad.

    The damage that has done is incalculable and demonstrates the insidious agenda of the left. Who ever heard of the PM appointing himself as the Education Minister?

    It’s ironic that the very mechanism he introduced has now become the weapon that will destroy the anti-competitive model. Too bad it’s taken this long for parents to wake up to the reality. Too bad that Liarbore will reverse it when they get back into power.

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  7. Repton (769 comments) says:

    I say bring in bulk funding, performance pay for teachers and vouchers and give the unions something to really complain about!

    Perhaps you could do performance pay based on the relative abilities of students before and after. i.e. measure their abilities when they enter your class, and when they leave, and pay based on that.

    So the best pay is available to teachers who can take kids who don’t care about school at all and get them to do well..

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  8. slightlyrighty (2,506 comments) says:

    While the concept of MU’s sounds good, is it related to performance? It seems from GetStaffed’s description these MU’s are awarded on the basis of responsibilities assumed and not performance in a current role.

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  9. freedom101 (490 comments) says:

    Education vouchers would be fantastic and in a few short years no one would want to go back to what we have now. However, this policy does not fit with National’s creeping incremetalism and fine tuning of Labour’s socialist legacy.

    If you want real progress best just to skip to Australia right now where 30%+ of pupils go to private schools versus around 3% in NZ.

    It’s easier for Muhammad to go to the mountain than to wait for John Key to do anything….. Why wait for a 2025 ‘aspiration’ when you can go there in 2010?

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  10. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Lorraine Kerr asked: “If we already know which students are at risk of not achieving then why does the tail of underachievers still exist?

    It didn’t take me long to find out the why. I just went to the people who do know, her own principals (please click the link and be informed instead of misled) and this is what I found:

    Underachievement is typically referenced to New Zealand students’ results on international tests. In 2005/6, a sample of just over 6300 Year 5 students from approximately 240 schools took part in PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) along with children in 39 other countries. The mean reading score for New Zealand Year 5 students (532) was significantly higher than the international mean. However, relative to other higher performing countries, a notable sized group did not reach the PIRLS lower international benchmarks: Maori boys, Pasifika boys, Pasifika girls, and Year 5 students in lower decile schools. NEMP,
    which uses considerably richer approaches, also shows that students in these subgroups are substantially overrepresented in lower achievement.

    And the latest OECD education reports consistently point to the same findings and offer the solution as being additional resources devoted to those subgroups, but not at the expense of those already achieving satisfactorily, but even more importantly, address the factors that feed this underachievement – child poverty, unemployment, poor housing, child abuse etec etc.

    As it is, and pointed out by the OECD, New Zealand’s schools achieve outstanding results on one of the lowest actual spends in the OECD.

    If I can access all this information with a few clicks of the mouse, what does Kerr do all day?

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  11. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,871 comments) says:

    Luc, does your precious ‘international mean’ take into account girls who live in Afghanistan? Let’s have the list of 39 countries please.

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  12. radvad (734 comments) says:

    “I say bring in bulk funding, performance pay for teachers and vouchers and give the unions something to really complain about!”

    Hear hear

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  13. maxwell (52 comments) says:

    Listening to Frances Nelson (President 0f NZEI) on Nine to Noon yesterday it seemed obvious to me that the teachers opposition to standards is ideologically based and could be condensed into four words – “Labour good, National bad.”

    Still, the teachers are not without choice, they can

    (1) go on strike/boycott the standards and take their chances with their Boards of Governors, parents and the Ministry

    (2) comply through gritted teeth and campaign for the return of their beloved Labour government

    (3) find another job that pays $64,000 after 4 years, has 12 weeks holiday and no performance reviews
    (i’m told teachers start on 38,000, and after 4 virtually automatic increments are on 64,000 after 4 years)

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  14. Robert Winter (100 comments) says:

    So the people who do the job, are the professionals in the field and who think that the standards idea is bad (as do the Hatties and pretty much anyone with any knowledge of pedagogy (and 90 odd per cent of the 70 per cent of Auckland principals who voted)), are to be branded as irresponsible and ideologically and politically-motivated if they make their points openly – as opposed to those who call for absolutely apolitical and objective vouchers, standards measurement, bulk funding and the running of schools like businesses. Very balanced, indeed.

    I suggest that we encourage Mr Key ansd Ms Tolley to begin an immediate, truncated training programme for all those who feel that they know better than the professionals to train in tecahing and let them become the next cohort of teachers. On the basis of much of their commentary, they would undoubtedly find it a doddle!

    [DPF: The professionals should indeed be professional and do their job. No one has said they should not have a view. But they are planning strike action to stop the standards and also trying to get schools to refuse to implement them. They should stand for election if they want to get to set policy]

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  15. kowtow (8,114 comments) says:

    I heard Lange on National radio some years ago talking about his legacy and saying one of his greatest achievemnts was Tomorrow’s Schools as it had helped to empower women and here was me thinking it was about childrens’ education.

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  16. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Adolf, why can’t you do a bit of research yourself, or is it too much to ask that you actually sight information that will inform you out of your misplaced ideological views.

    Here is the list of countries participating in the 2006 PIRLS survey, but to make it easy I will list them for you:

    * Austria
    * Belgium (Fl.)
    * Belgium (Fr.)
    * Bulgaria
    * Canada
    * Chinese Taipei
    * Denmark
    * England
    * France
    * Georgia

    * Germany
    * Hong Kong
    * Hungary
    * Iceland
    * Indonesia
    * Iran
    * Israel
    * Italy
    * Kuwait
    * Latvia
    * Lithuania

    * Luxembourg
    * Macedonia
    * Moldova
    * Morocco
    * Netherlands
    * New Zealand
    * Norway
    * Poland
    * Qatar
    * Romania

    * Russian Federation
    * Scotland
    * Singapore
    * Slovak Republic
    * Slovenia
    * South Africa
    * Spain
    * Sweden
    * Trinidad and Tobago
    * United States

    If you want to seek more information this is a good place to start, and provides links to Ministry of Education reports on the survey. The survey highlights where extra attention should be focused. Since even according to Tolley 80% of students are achieving at least satisfactorily, it is clear that additional resources should be devoted to these areas, not into yet more analysis to tell us what we already know.

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  17. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Maxwell, if you think teachers are on such a good wicket, why don’t you become one?

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  18. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    Luc: that’s fine, and you can quote all the research, international or otherwise, you like.

    As I said before, the issue for me is very simple — that 20 percent of our school-leavers are functionally illiterate.

    Now, since I have a niece who is a teacher and who tells me she would stack up very well in any standards (but I have had to explain to her the proper use of apostrophes), I know that not everything is simple.

    Some children grow up in houses where there are no books. They grow up in houses where (and I think this is more important) their parents (or whoever looks after them) simply don’t care. I grew up in a large family where it was simply unthinkable to my mother that her children could not read.

    But that’s what we have schools for — where the state requires that we send our children to be educated. And since we put our children into their hands every day we expect our teachers to do their job.

    Why do we make excuses for teachers if they’re not up to the job? What use is a mathematician who can’t do maths? What use is a scientist who cannot tell the difference between O2 and CO2? How long would I have lasted in journalism if I couldn’t string a sentence together, and with every word spelt correctly?

    I sent my children to a particular state school after I asked around about which people thought was the best. Going on other parents’ experiences I decided on one. Mind you, if I’d known that my son was going to be unlearning everything he had learned I might not have bothered. But, as it happened, the kids did well there

    I did the same with their secondary schooling.

    This is what parents do. They ask around. They sound out. They don’t want to hurt their kids’ chances by sending them to a school with teachers who are not up to the job.

    Why can’t parents know which schools to avoid? We avoid doctors who’ve had a bad reputation. We avoid service-providers who we’ve heard don’t match the hype.

    Why can’t we do the same with schools?

    What’s the problem?

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  19. Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left (783 comments) says:

    ” that 20 percent of our school-leavers are functionally illiterate”
    where did you get that from?

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  20. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    Short Shriveled:

    You have me there. It is a figure that has been quoted a bit in the last few years.

    In other words, I’ve been quoting others.

    You’re welcome to prove me wrong.

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  21. Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left (783 comments) says:

    well it seems a bit unrealistic
    1 in 5 can’t read…. is that what you mean?
    or does ‘functionally’ illiterate mean something else???

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  22. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    “Functional illiteracy is a term used to describe reading and writing skills that are inadequate to cope with the demands of everyday life. This is contrasted with illiteracy in the strict sense, meaning the inability to read or write simple sentences in any language.” ~Wikipedia

    I would have to disagree with the 20% figure, but would agree with a 20% innumerate rate.

    Still according to Wikipedia a UK study found over 40% of 16yo school leavers are functionally illiterate so maybe you misheard the original stat.

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  23. Graeme Edgeler (3,279 comments) says:

    Tokoroa North School

    Woo! Yeah!

    That is all :-)

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  24. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    None of this would matter if there was proper school choice. If the government didnt have a monopoly on state-funded education, teachers and principals wouldnt have nearly as much power. Their naked self interest wouldnt be costing your kid a good education.

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  25. Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left (783 comments) says:

    Cheers Kimble

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  26. greenjacket (449 comments) says:

    The figure of 20% is from Education Review Office, 2005. It refers to children who are basically completely estranged from education – illiterate and innumerate.

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  27. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    Thanks Kimble, and Greenjacket.

    Green, I knew I’d heard it from somewhere ‘official’.

    Thumb-up for both of you.

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  28. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    The use of the term “functionally illiterate” is misleading. Level 1 NCEA is made up of 8 core credits. All 8 must be gained to attain level 1, so it is actually quite a high bar. It’s common for kids to get credits without necessarily achieving Level 1.

    But for those kids, while schools may be able to be effect some improvements with differing teaching methods, the general cause of failure to gain the full 8 credits rests outside the boundaries of the school in the home and community environment. This is well recognised in academic education literature, and in fact proven by the fact that some 80% achieve the Level 1.

    If you read through the OECD bar charts, you will find country comparisons of 15 year olds in English, Maths and Science and out “tail” ie the proportion who fail to achieve the lowest level, is one of the shorter ones. If one in five were functionally illiterate we would do very poorly in these international comparisons; instead, we do very well.

    It seems that we set high standards for ourselves then beat ourselves up over them!

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  29. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    greeenjacket. I can’t find that in any ERO report. Can you provide a specific link? The 20% figure actually refers to students that don’t attain Level 1 in literacy and level 1 in numeracy. We do better in numeracy. The information is readily available on the NZQA website.

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  30. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    Luc:

    Do you have children at school?

    Or have you had children at school?

    Have you helped out at school, and seen 11-17 year olds who are functionally illiterate?

    What do you mean here, please?: “But for those kids, while schools may be able to be effect some improvements with differing teaching methods, the general cause of failure to gain the full 8 credits rests outside the boundaries of the school in the home and community environment.”

    ?

    No child should get to the seventh form functionally illiterate? How can that be allowed? The standards are supposed to find that out, and early, and rectify that.

    Why are teachers so opposed to that?

    I am surprised that teachers appear to want to defend that.

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  31. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    trype, you have lost me – kids getting to the 7th form functionally illiterate? Perhaps you should be asking the teachers you work with but it would seem you are singling out kids with very specific needs eg dyslexic. These kids are very small in number and I am reliably informed that it is increasingly difficult to get help for these kids.

    I have seen four children through their schooling, and now have a one year old to usher through as well in upcoming years, and I have close connections to teachers. So the quality of the system is of concern to me. However, I prefer to rely on research and analysis to guide my thinking, and I find that sadly lacking on this site. Demonising teachers and professional educators is simply ignorant.

    There is nothing wrong with the concept of assessment standards in general, although the academics say the suggested NZ standards have major flaws, but they should be trialled first. As an example, Austria is in the process of introducing assessment standards, devised by experts with input from parents and teachers, after scientifically supervised trials since 2005. There is buy in from teachers and parents and are highly likely to work well.

    It’s strange how on a right wing blog dedicated to accusations of Stalinism etc etc that there is such widespread support of a system devised by bureaucrats and imposed from on high!

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  32. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    If the government didnt have a monopoly on state-funded education, teachers and principals wouldnt have nearly as much power.

    I think they would have more power, as would parents. There would be more private schools and if I was running one, why would I want to have kids whose parents have let them down in terms of pre-school education and attitude? What business needs bad customers? The education system would be more like US universities where they take the best and brightest students.

    And slowly NZ would move towards a society where people do the best for themselves. Rather than having kids, neglecting their education and dumping them into school and blaming the teachers for “not giving us any opportunities”.

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  33. Andrew W (1,629 comments) says:

    Snap Graeme, I was there till about ’74, my kids left early in the 3rd term when we moved.

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  34. kowtow (8,114 comments) says:

    Here’s a link with 20%

    http://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/opinion/84360/standards039-aim-stop-gaps-early-education

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  35. the deity formerly known as nigel6888 (859 comments) says:

    ITs a lot worse that Luc is prepared to admit:

    “The 2006 results from the International Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey show that 40-50 percent
    of working age New Zealanders have literacy, language, and numeracy skills below those thought
    necessary for full participation in society and the economy. Raising workforce literacy, language
    and numeracy is a key area of action under the Skills Strategy.”

    Oh thats from the TEC briefing to the incoming Minister. Or you could just talk to any employer.

    NZ has been desparately failed by the education unions. Sure some kids do just fine, but there is an enormous and growing tail of kids who are simply falling out of the system after 10 years “formal education” who simply do not have the skills to participate.

    This is why TEC is funding all those adult literacy courses. It is why the employers are screaming, and it is a fairly significant reason why NZ’s economic performance is so poor- according to the OECD there is a strong correlation between literacy and numberacy and productivity.

    But for the Luc’s of the world, the ideology of national bad, labour good is far more important than evidence.

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  36. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    “There is buy in from teachers and parents and are highly likely to work well.”

    Unfortunately there can be no buy-in from NZ teachers unions, they ARE the Labour party. So when National is in power they are always going to oppose everything proposed regardless of merit. And when Labour is in power, well, there is no point changing the status quo is there? And thats the best case scenario.

    If you’re looking for a group that has been subverting democracy for years by bankrolling a political party for “favours” to the detriment of NZ as a whole, you arent looking for a group of businessmen, lefty.

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  37. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    Luc:

    You’ve introduced things I never mentioned.

    Example: I wasn’t talking about dyslexics. I have a niece who is dyslexic. She has never been functionally illiterate. Nor was I talking about children with ‘special needs’. I was not ‘singling out’. I said earlier that often there are factors other than school — such as homes without books, and I said ‘worse’ was children who get no encouragement with reading from their parents.

    Nor have I ‘demonised’. My case is that 20 percent of our school-leavers are functionally illiterate. I don’t know how teachers and schools cannot be as appalled as me about that. Any teacher should be able to pick straight away if a child is not picking up what is being taught. For heaven’s sake! If they can’t read, they can’t understand. If they can’t write a simple sentence they cannot communicate effectively. It is not hard to see a spelling mistake.

    In case you haven’t noticed … I am on the children’s side. Literacy is their ticket to opportunity, and it is precious. Why shouldn’t they have the best? I’m not sure, on the whole, that they’re getting it.

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  38. reid (16,179 comments) says:

    I grew up in a large family where it was simply unthinkable to my mother that her children could not read. But that’s what we have schools for — where the state requires that we send our children to be educated. And since we put our children into their hands every day we expect our teachers to do their job. Why do we make excuses for teachers if they’re not up to the job?

    Tripewryter, unfortunately, teachers can’t do their jobs if parents don’t care. The best teaching will and teaching skills in the world can’t make a difference if the kid goes home to a dysfunctional home. Except in the odd movie where that doesn’t actually count in real life.

    This is what we (society) have been required to tolerate in the name of political correctness and it’s well past time that someone called that attitude for what it is: complete bollocks.

    Unless and until we fix the home life for our ‘slow-learners’ then things won’t change they’ll only get worse. That’s been the pattern for decades now, because no politician has the guts to call them out and name them as bad parents.

    It’s not about money and it’s not about being “alienated from their cultural roots.” It’s about attitude, plain and simple.

    Until someone in power finally gets that simple truth and does something about it, nothing will change.

    Education is not a problem for households with educated parents, it’s only a problem for those which don’t have at least one.

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  39. jaba (2,118 comments) says:

    ” It is just about minimum consistent standards and reporting”.
    I can’t understand the lefts problem .. there is one word above that says it all .. minimum.
    If the plan was that once a student reaches the minimum they go home for the rest of the year then yes, I would oppose it as well.

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  40. Viking2 (11,338 comments) says:

    When new entrants need teachers to show then how to wipe their bums and not wet themselves, to not be frightened to ask to go the the loo, to have breakfast and lunch, then they will begin to be able to teach the kid.
    This is real life for new entrant teachers in some schools. Those same kids cannot read, count, clean their teeth etc.
    Its about home life and parenting skills and that’s where the effort is needed, for by the time the kid is 5 years old the poor habits are established.Failing that these kids need a special class where all these little things can be taught so that the negative influences can be overcome. ( The Catholic Priests know the story; give me a boy till 5 and I will have the man for life).
    Now we can argue its not the states role to do this and we could agree except for the real life scenario that these tots need help and without that help they become tomorrows crime wave.
    We can blame all sorts of people and so on but in the majority of cases we need to look at the system that operates around these families. Welfare systems create this and I think that Lindsay Mitchell does a fine job on her blog of establishing the truth of that. http://lindsaymitchell.blogspot.com/

    So like acorns that become oak trees we need to start little and help those that are too small and young to help themselves.
    More kids at preschools (good ones), more parental education, and make welfare dependent on parents partaking and achieving in these programs. Not response, no benefits. end of story.

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  41. Repton (769 comments) says:

    http://www.socialreport.msd.govt.nz/2006/knowledge-skills/adult-literacy-skills-english.html

    Excerpts:

    Results from the first international literacy survey in 1996 show that 54 percent of New Zealand’s population aged 16–65 years had prose literacy skills at Level 3 or above, 50 percent had document skills at Level 3 or above and 51 percent had quantitative skills at Level 3 or above.

    Level 3 is a “suitable minimum for coping with the demands of everyday life and work in a complex, advanced society. It denotes roughly the skill level required for successful secondary school completion and college entry”

    New Zealand’s prose literacy rate of 54.2 percent was close to the OECD median of 53.5 percent, and placed New Zealand seventh out of 17 OECD countries.

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  42. Pete George (23,420 comments) says:

    I agree mostly Viking, but did you really mean to say The Catholic Priests know the story; give me a boy till 5 and I will have the man for life.? That sounds a bit dodgy, depending on how you meant it.

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  43. TripeWryter (715 comments) says:

    It’s not about money and it’s not about being “alienated from their cultural roots.” It’s about attitude, plain and simple.

    Reid:
    Yes.

    Pete George: Actually it was St Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. And I think the age was 7.

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  44. Pete George (23,420 comments) says:

    Thanks, this sounds better:

    “Give me the boy until he is seven, and I will give you the man.”

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  45. Fisiani (1,021 comments) says:

    National have made a point of keeping their promises to the voters. Despite being given a hospital pass economy they have kept the vast bulk of the voter bribes inherited from Cullen’s treacherous scorched earth policies in the lead up to the election. they have promised the parents of New Zealand that they will be able to know how well their children are doing in simple English.
    It is a simple equation . Bully boy trade unions protecting the incompetent teachers versus the government and people of this country wanting a decent education for all. Labour are supporting the unions.
    This is political manna from Heaven.

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  46. jcuknz (704 comments) says:

    It was also that clued up woman, ex-prison supervisor?, who said look at the first years of a childs life and you can tell who the problems will be. I think she could tell after only three years, was it?

    It is so strange that the education unions are so protective of their patch as it is. They do a good job of getting the 80% through but without a need for a twenty percent manual dumb working class these days the country cannot afford to have any functionally illiterate, apart from those who are medically unable to make it.

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  47. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    It was “give the boy until he is seven and I will give you the man”

    And Its very true. Most peoples future is pretty much set by the time they are about this age. Certainly by the time children go to intermediate only blind freddy wouldnt be able to sort them out. You can tell who will succeed by working hard, You can tell who are naturally bright (and they can go either way), You can tell who have the personality to do well even if they arent bright, you can tell who are those who will work for thiungs they like, you can tell who are lazy, you know who are the liars and you know who always blame others. You can also tell who will get to know the justice system pretty well!

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  48. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    trype

    Please define ‘functionally illiterate’, the source of that definition and please present the basis for your assertion of functionally illiterate Year 13s (without identification of school or students, of course).

    I have a very recent and close experience with Year 13s, eg a house full close to exam time for extra study, and I just disbelieve what you say. These days, Year 13s are impressive kids.

    I presented ‘dyslexic’ as an ‘e.g.': i.e. ‘for example’. It’s an example of special needs kids, and that is the only circumstance I can envisage that would justify your accusation of functional illiteracy in that group of students.

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  49. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    In reply to all this crap about “give me the boy until he is seven and I will give you the man” bullshit, I would recount an old NZ Herald interview with a very experienced prison officer who said (talking about adult prisoners) ” put one good man in with nine bad men and you will get ten bad men; put one bad man in with nine good people and you will get ten good people.”

    I believe the prison officer.

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  50. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    jcuknz (317) Says:
    the woman is Celia Lashlie.
    who was undermined by LiarLabour and the LUC’s of this world when she gave a speech referring to a composite blue eyed blond boy who was going to jail and would possibly murder someone later on in life.
    The attachment theory is the one that sets the level of Social Disfunctionalism which essentially says the first year of a child’s life sets them up for the rest.
    Each year thereafter builds on the next and makes it harder but not impossible to turn them around, by 11 it is all over for most of them.

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  51. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    the deity formerly known as nigel6888 (609) Says:
    December 12th, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    I can’t find affirmation of your assertion, even here

    Can you please provide the link? Bear in mind that Adult Literacy is not related to NCEA achievement of our kids and includes a large cohort of immigrants for whom English is a second or even third language.

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  52. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    MikeNZ

    Celia did not admit till later that it was a composite and, quite frankly, she has been discredited.

    The simple fact is it is never too late to rehabilitate people: just look at all the adult Born Again Christians!

    Or just ask Brian Tamaki.

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  53. cubit (356 comments) says:

    Why is it that everytime I hear a representative of the NZEI comment on any issue the approach taken is always negative? Since Nov 08 they have not had a single positive comment to make on anything. I suspect even a 25% increase in pay would be seen as negative.

    And by the way why are the spokespeople always so sour, uninspiring and negative? Hope these attitudes don’t move through to their teaching.

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  54. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    I think malcolm has had the most perceptive comment of the thread. Everyone is clamouring for choice, being able to send their kids to the schools where they are to receive the best education, and that is a natural desire and I totally agree.

    But in making their argument, people with this desire often try to remove the choice and power and freedom of the teachers and schools themselves. It’s never expressed, but if it was a proper business model, then many schools would be refusing entry to a great number of students for both behavioural and economic reasons – after all, what business would survive by being forced to take customers that a) don’t have enough money to pay for the services received and b) are likely to disrupt the quality of the service to the paying customer causing those quality customers to go elsewhere?

    I’m not against the standards at all, and in fact think there should be clear progression for students to follow and for parents to be able to check on. It’s just common sense to me. However, I’m a teacher, and I’m frankly amused at how patronising most people are with regards to my job. I assume its because most parents assume teaching is something anyone could do, and thus is a profession staffed with low quality individuals who couldn’t do anything else with their lives. And with this erroneous impression as a starting point, it’s little wonder that these type of important issues descend into the demonization of teachers whenever they have the gall to have an opinion on any aspect of what they do for a living.

    In other words, instead of a discussion along the lines of “I disagree with the teacher’s union because…” which is fine and clear and an argument that I would certainly make, around here it becomes “Teachers suck and don’t know anything and are selfish and trying to corrupt the kids and can’t teach (except for that male “best friend” who leaves the profession in disgust)…”

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  55. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    Well said, Transmogrifier. I just re-read my comments and they sound very harsh against kids who don’t do well at school (calling them “crap customers” etc). That was unintended. In the majority of cases I’d say those kids are the unfortunate victims of their own parents or have out-grown school and would be better off in an apprenticeship or work. Not bad kids, but just bored at school and not interested in academic learning.

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  56. Pete George (23,420 comments) says:

    Transmogrifier, I think you teach older kids? If you get barely illiterate students at that stage how hard is it to turn things around for them? Do you have the time or resources? Or by then are they a bit of a lost cause?

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  57. Max Call (212 comments) says:

    I know for a fact that a significant percentage of phone calls (maybe around 25%) made to homes regarding students who are misbehaving or not performing are met with attitudes of ‘That’s your problem, you sort it out’ or ‘I can’t control them’. This is at a high decile secondary school in a ‘nice’ suburb.
    These are the same students I see roaming around at all hours.
    These are the same students whose parents never come to parent-teacher interviews.
    National Standards will not matter to these parents.

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  58. Viking2 (11,338 comments) says:

    There are three kinds of people in this world. Ask any salesperson.
    Men, women and school teachers.

    transmogrifier; To some extent you are correct but the old adage of ‘oh the gift that God did give us to see ourselves as others see us” is food for thought.
    There are many fine teachers but for some reason too many of them have abdicated their own reponsibiltiy to manage their own affairs.
    They allow the failers and the bullies that infest the union movement to control their lives rather than overturning that feudal system and achieving what they really could achieve.
    It amazes me that I can hire labourers with more employment savy than most trained teachers. People who have theoretically been trained to handle the daily lives of children and young adults but yet are so lacking in self cinfidence that they have to have a union to determine the pay rates and working conditions.
    even more insidious is that they are manipulated by those same people.

    And that really is the problem. Replace those class rulers from the unions with bulk funding and individual contracts and watch to pumpkins turn to princesses.
    There is no war for them to wage anymore as apart from working hours and hourly rate almost everything else is governed by legislation.
    When teachers get that they will become much more valued and they will earn the respect they deserve rather than what their union reps earn for them.

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  59. Manolo (13,517 comments) says:

    The teacher’s union is led by lazy Labour Party puppets.

    They will do whatever it takes to do less work, increase their pay and the relentless indoctrination of NZ children. As someone rightly said it: “they are true child molesters of the mind”.

    The union bastards deserve to be treated with the contempt they deserve.

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  60. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    PG: I’m in high school, and by the time they get to me, it is pretty tough for the individual subject teacher to have a marked impact on lifting levels (especially in a mixed class), but any decent high school will have a program for students who are way behind, and any decent teacher will find a way to keep those students interested and involved in the subject, try to encourage them to prize literacy as a worthwhile goal, and wait for the literacy program to do its job.

    I think once I’m a bit more experienced (and have a good foundation of lessons, resources, activities and know exactly how the year is planned out), I would have more time to spend on students falling between the gaps (catch up sessions, creating more individualistic worksheets etc), but at the moment it is tough to keep track of all of them, especially as you only see them 4 hours a week and especially if you have other, more pressing classroom management issues to deal with.

    In a perfect world, primary school would take care of literacy and numeracy primarily, and high school would then use that as a base from which to teach more specific content based on what the students are interested in. But we don’t live in a perfect world.

    In my short time in the profession, I’ve seen some Y13 students with remarkably poor writing skills and inability to even present information in an appealing way with a computer, which is a simple function of a lot of subjects no longer marking things like grammar, structure, spelling, or presentation. This I don’t like.

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  61. Brian Harmer (686 comments) says:

    Pete George (2678) Says:
    December 13th, 2009 at 8:40 am

    “Transmogrifier, I think you teach older kids? If you get barely illiterate students at that stage how hard is it to turn things around for them? Do you have the time or resources? Or by then are they a bit of a lost cause? ”

    Assuming you meant “barely literate,” I encounter this particular tragedy among “kids” aged between 18 and 50 … people who come to university, motivated by the belief that a degree or diploma will be somehow beneficial rather than the learning opportunity on offer.

    Good on them for aspiring to get on in the world, but I wish they would see that opportunities to acquire knowledge and learning how to apply it to real life are the best reasons for being in education.

    A regrettably large minority of students are incapable of expressing coherent ideas. My time is fully allocated towards the learning and teaching associated with the subject matter of a given course. I am definitely not resourced to undertake remedial literacy measures.

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  62. MT_Tinman (3,092 comments) says:

    Brian Harmer, much of what you say could be fixed by Universities reverting to Arts-type courses only (i.e. courses where thinking is the priority rather than just part of the job) and leaving the mechanical-type stuff (engineering etc.) to polytech-type institutions.

    Transmogrifier, yours could be at least partially addressed by bringing back the requirement to attain a certain level of achievement before being able to advance within the education system at ALL levels i.e. failing pupils and making them redo years they do not achieve those standards.

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  63. Neil (576 comments) says:

    As a moderate conservative and a teacher I become exasperated at the comments about education in New Zealand. Everyone is an expert, we have all been to school with our good and bad experiences.
    I am not a fan of the NZEI or the PPTA. They are politically motivated and offer little in the way of support to parents.
    Equally, I am unimpressed of the rank ignorance,stupidity,rudeness and naivity of some of the bloggers on this site.
    Today we do not live in a society like 50 years when the norm was for kids to learn to read by modelling parents and then taught at school, sitting down and learning mathematics sequentially and above all accepting that they as students are not always right all the time.
    When I see bloggers spraying the “f” word around what confidence does that give me for the population.”Freedom”!!!!! Then we expect our kids to knuckle under and work with some enthusiasm. Any deviation from that is “naturally the fault of teachers”
    That’s why private schools and integrated state schools are so popular. They can “draft” off the haves from the have nots.
    In Invercargill for example, look for the results from Southland Boys and Girls, James Hargest where they can use demand as an excuse for enrolling the top students and then poor Aurora College which takes the also rans. No great academic lists, few bursaries and generally appalling comments from the population.
    I believe Anne Tolley is on the wrong track completely. Restoring our education system lies back at the pre-birth and early childhood level where parenting skills need to be taught to about four generations who have lost the art of bringing up children, abandoning children to the sex drive and the pleasure society.
    I’d love DPF to get into some entry school rooms of those 5 year olds to see what goes for child rearing at 5 years of age. Some of it, from privileged areas pretty good but appalling in others. To be honest, areas with high populations of Maori and Pacific Islanders are areas of national concern.To see 5 year olds exhibiting patterns of behaviour like children twice their age.And yet these blogger toe benders lash out at teachers, generally of middle class background. We now have an underclass starting school at 5 years of age ready to learn socilaisation skills which in good homes are taught by the time they are three. As for learning to read or calculate, what is demanded is certain degrees of socialisation.
    If teaching was such a cruisy job why is it that many people cry off it because of its inherent difficulty.
    BTW programmes like Tolley’s were introduced by GW Bush in 2001 and the success certainly has not reached my ears.

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  64. Johnboy (15,891 comments) says:

    So Neil the answer is obvious. Stop the darkies from breeding!

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  65. Manolo (13,517 comments) says:

    “Stop the darkies from breeding! ”

    That’s a novel idea. Didn’t the mayor of Wanganui say something along those lines?
    Black, white or whatever; skin colour aside, money should be offered to stop scum bringing more scum to this world.

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  66. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    Equally, I am unimpressed of the rank ignorance,stupidity,rudeness and naivity of some of the bloggers on this site.

    Rank ignorance, stupidity, rudeness and naivety are the four pillars of Kiwiblog comments :-)

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  67. the deity formerly known as nigel6888 (859 comments) says:

    Sigh. This is for Luc who is clearly also troubled by personal literacy issues, as it transpires that simple words like

    TEC – thats Tertiary Education Commission – google it

    Briefing to the incoming Minister – this is a little report they write every election where they try and encapsulate (thats a big word that means “explain” or “tell it to the (wo)man” for you Luc) the big issues in their policy environment, and their best advice about what to do about it.

    The document is here.

    http://www.tec.govt.nz/Documents/Publications/bim-2008-oia.pdf

    Try page 22 before you start pretending you know what you are talking about. Or as I suggested, talk to an employer, because you are clearly a teacher or bureacrat.

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  68. the deity formerly known as nigel6888 (859 comments) says:

    Sadly Neil you have a point.

    Bottom line is that when parents don’t care about education, then its pretty damn hard for even a good teacher to do anything about it.

    The truth that dare not speak its name is that we know precisely who these parents are, and precisely who the kids are. Sadly Celia Lashlie (sp?) was correct, we also know precisely what is going to happen with them.

    But its colonialist, or racist, or elitist, or classist to point it out. Bugger of it is, that the kids are the ones who will suffer. In a world where all the manufacturing jobs are in China, and they are too ignorant to work in trades or services, they will be permanently sealed into an underclass.

    Am I altruistic? Hell no. Gangs of unemployable youths running amok is not my idea of a country worth living in, particularly once I am old.

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  69. Komata (1,157 comments) says:

    FWIW

    Sadly, as has already been noted, we are now suffering the results of Lange’s ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’ , combined with the influx of the worst aspects of the US Afro-American gangsta/hip-hop culture, a culture enthusiastically embraced by both Maori and Pacific Island peoples, initially for the music and rhythm which resonated-well with their natural musical abilities.

    However, like Magpies, the culture and viciousness of the society which spawned hip-hop was also picked-up and quickly absorbed (especially by the young and impressionable) and as this society was one which held-to a viewpoint that it was cool to ‘stick-it to da man’ (specifically whitey), evolved in New Zealand into a unique culture which now effectively says that it is quite OK to acquire all the whiteman’s (or anyone’ else’s if you feel so inclined) goods by any means but working for them, that it is quite OK to be ignorant and illiterate, since it didn’t require much brain to acquire things – only a gun or a knife, and if you killed someone for his jacket, so. what – ‘not my problem man’. After-all the hip-hop heroes such as B.I G, Puff Daddy and their ilk did it and if they did, why can’t I?

    Unfortunately the resulting culture (and it IS a culture) combined with the liberalism and deliberate destruction of traditional social roles and values which ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’ introduced into schools has inevitably meant that the negative aspects of hip-hop and such-like have become established – a fact not helped by the carefully-cultivated sense of entitlement of the treaty grievance group, resulting in the creation of a generation who are ignorant (and proud of it), have an overweening sense of entitlement to anything, and who believe that work is something that is for the olds and that theft, robbery and physical violence is a perfectly-acceptable alternative to work; so long as they can emulate their rapper heroes (and most of all their life-sty;es – ‘bling’ et al) anything goes. The means justifies the end!

    This is NOT to say that the ‘phenomenon of ignorance’ is exclusively Polynesian – it is just more heavily weighted in that direction.

    And the result of all this? Ignorance (it’s ‘cool to be dumb’) combined with reproduction means that a generation of semi-literates inevitably has children who are even less literate than their parents, while these same children grow up in a ‘family’ ( the word is used very advisedly) where the F-word is used in every sentence, where abuse (physical, emotional and sexual) is common and where even simple things such as the need to use pegs to hold clothes on a washing line are unknown. The ‘family’ unit is also one of transient ‘dominant males’ who move on after impregnating the mother and are never heard from again – or at least not until further children are required – or the parents meet-up again and sex over-rules everything, before the cycle repeats again, and again and again . .

    The government (of any political shade) of course, out of sympathy for the (repeatedly) pregnant mother subsidises her actions and provides money for a lifestyle which continues on and on and on . .

    And the children of such a situation?

    They arrive at school because they are required to attend, frequently not because the mother actually wants to give them an education, but because it gives her a break for a few hours (one less child to worry about), knowing nothing, caring less, already abused and invariably surrounded by a very, very strongly-constructed shell of hardness – a shell put-there by shear necessity – the need to somehow survive (often literally!) These kids know little about the world outside their ‘home’, but, curiously, are familiar with TV and whatever programmes their ‘parents’ watch (frequently porn) since TV is a great babysitter and can neither read or write and care little about this. They are also inevitably either very violent and anti-social or have learned to be silent, so just sit and shake with fear.

    Kindy and pre-school would of course be something that their ‘parents’ would know little about – especially as it would cost money anyway (a waste when compared to the amount of alcohol, weed, P etc that could be bought – or, just sometimes, food)

    What these new-entrants DO know about is how to survive; how to live in the ‘school of hard knocks’ which the average teacher (invariably female) of educated middle-class origins, would have no idea about, and if they did would probably be able to do little about anyway – they wouldn’t have a clue! Yet these same teachers have to somehow try to cope with the newly-arrived and try to teach them what tehy don’t already know – how to read (and the need to read), how to be clean (I kid you not), how to be ‘peaceful’ (this to a kid where violence is the norm), how to speak properly (without the F word – and others as well ), how to . . . (fill in the spaces) before turning the child out at the end of the day to go back to a way of life where these sorts of things are NOT the norm) and to have to confront irate ‘parents’ when the new-entrant child dares to start speaking and using its new-found freedoms (and knowledge) in a house where to do so could be literally terminal!!

    And so it goes on – and on, and on, yet the NZEI and NZPF do little to change this, while bleating piously about the need to protect the techers but NEVER about the need to protect the kids.

    Perhaps, if the unions were so concerned about their charges (the children that is – not the teachers), they should be teaching the parents and leading by example, since if you educate the ignorant (the parents) you must inevitably educate teh children.

    But hey, it’s not about the children any more is it – its all about the politics and sticking it to the government. The children are irrelevant and as for ‘professionalism’ . . . .?

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  70. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    [DPF: The professionals should indeed be professional and do their job. No one has said they should not have a view. But they are planning strike action to stop the standards and also trying to get schools to refuse to implement them. They should stand for election if they want to get to set policy]

    That’s just a ridiculous statement.

    So what you are saying is that any farmer or farmer’s daughter can run for parliament, get appointed education minister and micro-manage the education of our children. That being in defiance of pretty much every education expert and professional in the country. And imposing such a system that has demonstrably failed, or failed to yield mooted results, anywhere it has been tried – eg. the US, Britain, and Japan (a nation well-known for its outlandish liberalism – not – but which chucked out standards after only three years).

    Yes, it is the duty of our elected representatives to set policy and implement change, based on the advice of the very best experts and professionals in the field.

    If the farmer’s daughter happens to be Anne Tolley, she could go be the CEO of Fonterra next, since she knows everything. Obviously every dairy farmer in the country would welcome her with open arms.

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  71. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    Oh for fucks sake David, next you’ll expect the teachers to get rid of the cask(s) of country white (medium) from the staff room fridge.

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  72. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    Lets have a wee vote:

    Which handles here are Substandard trolls ?

    1) Luc?

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  73. Jim (407 comments) says:

    So what you are saying is that any farmer or farmer’s daughter can run for parliament, get appointed education minister and micro-manage the education of our children.

    Luc actually has a very good point here. It’s bloody similar to a complaint I once had. Helen Clark was a farmer’s daughter but she wasn’t education minister -something far more dangerous.

    But that’s representative democracy for you. Fortunately then, there are teams of domain experts to help these dullards out.

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