Du Fresne on principal bullying

September 21st, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

writes:

I’m surprised more hasn’t been made of the contemptible schoolyard bullying reported last week by TV3 political editor Duncan Garner. Presumably it was overtaken by the much bigger drama unfolding around David Garrett and ACT.

An agitated Witana, an executive member of the Principals’ Federation, then turned on an extraordinary performance in front of Garner, gesticulating and speaking directly to the TV3 camera, saying things like “Don’t make me look terrible Duncan” and “Don’t make me dislike you.” He looked so emotionally unstable that Garner could have been excused for feeling slightly threatened himself – just as parents with children under Witana’s care might have been excused for wondering whether he needed to take stress leave.

And it is no surprise that so few teachers, principals or schools will speak publicly in favour of . They know what will happen if they do.

Interviewed for TV3 News, Newman (whom Kiwiblog’s David Farrar reports is seeking the Labour Party nomination for Whangarei) tried to skew the issue, suggesting that principals and boards of trustees were not being allowed to question and criticise education policy.

I’m not aware of anyone trying to deny them that right. The issue here is one of intimidation and harassment of a colleague who dared dissent from the union line.

Intolerance of minority or opposing views can be a deeply unattractive aspect of trade union culture, and it’s not the first time we’ve seen evidence of it in the teaching unions. Attempts to introduce bulk funding in secondary schools in the 1990s were sabotaged by blatant teacher intimidation of elected school boards and the worst shame of it was that the Bolger government was too gutless to intervene.

School that took it up were threatened with black-listing, and that their schools may become ungovernable.

My lesson from this, is that National’s error was to make bulk funding a choice. It should just have been announced and implemented.

I’d love National to have a 2011 education policy that fully bulk funds all schools, allows parents maximum choice in schools, and brings in full performance pay for teachers.

Whatever the background factors, nothing excuses Witana and Newman for behaving like a couple of gang enforcers. It’s intolerable enough that teacher activists should arrogantly defy an elected government, and in so doing place themselves above the democratic process that other public servants submit to; but it becomes even more offensive when they collectively monster anyone brave or rash enough to defy them.

The irony, of course, is that schools are supposedly united in their determination to stamp out bullying. It’s officially not condoned in the playground, but a different standard seems to apply in staff rooms.

Footnote: Several of the anonymous comments attacking Donnelly on the TV3 website clearly came from teachers, some of whom displayed only a primitive grasp of grammar and spelling. Herein may lie one of the reasons for the almost hysterical resistance to national standards

Heh well spotted.

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61 Responses to “Du Fresne on principal bullying”

  1. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    Excellent article from Du Frense.

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  2. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Just the usual leftist thugs who have no logical argument but plenty of threats smears and intimidation. I hope Anne Tolley sticks to her guns and I admire her as one of the few National politicians with the guts to stick to a task and not cave in when the left marshall their forces against her.

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  3. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Teachers, a special subgroup who consistantly fail to performa task for which they demand every increasing pay and no accountability while expecting to be able to dictate their jobs to their employer.

    Not really living in the real world are they.

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  4. DJP6-25 (1,389 comments) says:

    DPF For National to introduce bulk funding would require two things. They’d need to acquire some intestinal fortitude. They’d also need a reliable coalition partner. Let’s hope ACT are still around in 2011.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  5. ttibbs (22 comments) says:

    Isn’t his name ‘Du Fresne’? Kind of undermines your little joke at the expense of teachers when you can’t even get the guy’s name right…

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  6. adze (2,129 comments) says:

    What a pity in a time when so few men are attracted to the teaching profession, we have these two clowns (Witana and Newman) acting like petty thugs on national TV.

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  7. RightNow (6,995 comments) says:

    ttibbs : it doesn’t undermine Du Fresne’s joke though.

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  8. ttibbs (22 comments) says:

    Right Now: Agreed, but only because DPF isn’t a teacher.

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  9. Tom Gould (141 comments) says:

    Garner feeling ‘slightly threatened himself’? Yeah right. Donuts can take care of himself, and being a big swinging dick on TV, holds the power to destroy. Which he used to great effect on that poor schmuck Witana.

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  10. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    When was the last time Garner saw his dick Tom?

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  11. Nick R (508 comments) says:

    Another day, another anti-teacher post. Is anyone counting these? Interesting that striking teachers are copping it here, but not the resident doctors. Oh well, I guess they will get the treatment soon enough if they don’t toe the Government line.

    Any minute now, DPF will put up something about how he wants good teachers to get paid $100k a year. By who, I’m not sure. I’d never vote for a trustee who wanted to pay teachers that much, it’s plain irresponsible.

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  12. k.jones (210 comments) says:

    we’re off track now…

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  13. k.jones (210 comments) says:

    back on track now –

    Nick R – the resident docs comparison is a good one – why the difference?

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  14. Tom Gould (141 comments) says:

    Murray, just before he started hanging with big Jezza, I guess.

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  15. Bed Rater (239 comments) says:

    Labour had nine long years to get its shit together and replace traditional teachers with hyper-intelligent robots, it didn’t happen then so we’re stuck with the alternative.

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  16. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Thanks Tom, that’ll help with digesting lunch.

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  17. Put it away (2,880 comments) says:

    tibbs – What is the connection, do you expect spelling of French surnames to be taught in NZ schools ?

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  18. Auberon (873 comments) says:

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Principal-lets-rip-at-Education-Minister/tabid/309/articleID/176271/Default.aspx

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  19. YesWeDid (1,050 comments) says:

    I find DPF continued attacks on teachers and their union distasteful. Todays half baked, fact free rant is just another example.

    I know how hard teachers work and the passion they have for the job because I am married to a teacher.

    [DPF: I don’t attack teachers. I have said many times I think the top teachers should be paid $100,000. I do attack union thugs who bully fellow principals like they are waterfront workers]

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  20. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “I know how hard teachers work and the passion they have for the job because I am married to a teacher.”

    Maybe you are married to a teacher, but seeing you raised the issue of facts, what evidence is there to demonstrate that you are a good judge of “hard work and passion”.

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  21. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    I find yes’s continued use of retoric and extemist lanuage to be without merit and his efforts to drum up support for a group of self interested unionists who exploit chidlren as leverage to be beyond pathetic.

    Its all a matter of perspective isn’t it.

    I know a lot of teachers who are really pissed off that idle ones get paid the same as them but the union tells them to shut up or else. I also know a lot of teachers who refuse to strike because they actually give a crap about their reposnibilities to their students.

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  22. YesWeDid (1,050 comments) says:

    @Redbaiter, what evidence is there that you are actually human?

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  23. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “@Redbaiter, what evidence is there that you are actually human?”

    Given that you’re married to her, do you think this allows a completely objective opinion?

    (BTW, what happened to RIP. I thought you were in desperate need of some device to help control your compulsion to read Redbaiter posts. If you need any help with setting it up, please let me know. Happy to help)

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  24. Poliwatch (335 comments) says:

    Yeswedid – I too am married to a teacher and I agree that they work hard (until the school holidays of course) and with passion (they tend to flair up in the staff room).

    But that does not mean that they are doing the right thing in the education of our children.

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  25. adamsmith1922 (890 comments) says:

    Karl du Fresne, lower case d, (see his blog http://www.karldufresne.blogspot.com/) not Du Fresne, so ttibbs, you are wrong. DPF was wrong in his post heading using Du, but correct when he used ‘du’ elsewhere. After all I assume he can spell his own name correctly on his blog!

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  26. E. Campbell (91 comments) says:

    Given that it is bandied around constantly, if we introduce performance pay what is the best model to do so? Anyone know how it has gone in other countries?

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  27. Tom Gould (141 comments) says:

    YesWeDid, a fact free rant by Farrar? That’s unfair. All his facts are carefully invented.

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  28. nzphoenixnz (6 comments) says:

    Oh wow, bulk funding for all schools. Of course! Even though its proven to be a failure for lower decile schools, I guess you wouldn’t be sending your kids there, especially if National also instituted a voucher system, so you wouldn’t have to worry about them would you
    I do not support any union bullying or whatever has gone on here, but there are major problems with national standards, a policy that was developed while National had been in opposition a long time and to which it has foolishly clung since being elected government. National standards do absolutely nothing to achieve National’s stated goal of improving educational outcomes for those most likely to be failing in the system. Rearranging deckchairs on a school report card isn’t what those kids need.

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  29. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “Rearranging deckchairs on a school report card isn’t what those kids need.”

    Let me guess. What those kids need is a stronger teacher’s union right?

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  30. nzphoenixnz (6 comments) says:

    wow Redbaiter the world isn’t just one or the other. I agree that there are problems with the system paying teachers regardless of quality. But I consider national standards at best to be ignorant, at worst irrelevant

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  31. kiwi in america (2,508 comments) says:

    YesWeDid
    Please identify what portions of David’s post are “fact free”.

    Vouchers have proven to be successful in many school districts in the US including very low income ones like in Washington DC where average test scores for charter schools in the poorest areas that benefitted from vouchers went up over 30% in 2 years along with a big drop in violence. Of course the NEA (US’s version of the PPTA) wouldn’t have a bar of such parental freedom and leaned on Obama and presto the vouchers were canned over the protests and objections of poor black families who benefitted.

    Last week teacher unions poured $1 million of union dues money into the Washington DC mayoralty race to support Vincent Gray defeat sitting mayor Fenty who appointed Michelle Rhee 4 years ago as Chancellor of DC Schools (local Superintendent). Gray campaigned to remove Rhee. Her crime? Setting up a proper assessment system to evaluate teachers (to replace the previous system that awarded glowing top marks to 90% of teachers), firing the useless ones and paying the good one well above average salaries. She also appointed hard nosed successful principals from New York to the two most notoriously violent high schools with dramatic reductions in on-campus violence and increases in test scores.

    The PPTA use whatever tactics they can to prevent similar accountability so the threats made to principals that don’t tow the union line fit a pattern of resistence to almost any meaningful reform. National Standards are not some magic wand over the education system but anything that improves reporting back to parents and let’s them know where their kids and the school sits against their peers and other schools should only ever be a threat to mediocre teachers and principals.

    The left trots out Sweden as their nirvana and yet Sweden has used school vouchers with excellent results for some years now.

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  32. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “But I consider national standards at best to be ignorant, at worst irrelevant.”

    Some people consider otherwise. They’re called management, and they’re paid to manage.

    Let’s face it. The NZ school system is a Marxist basket case. You only have to look at any curriculum to observe that. I had the displeasure of viewing a curriculum from a Ponsonby school not long ago and the amount of left wing indoctrination that passes for education is utterly horrifying.

    The whole damn system needs a clean out and it starts with removing the power of left wing unions, continues on with removing the stinking communists in Wellington who orchestrate the whole sorry disaster, and ends with the privatisation of the education system.

    Public education was a worthwhile concept until it became a political tool of the left. They have destroyed it as they destroy everything they get control of. Now privatisation is the only real option.

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  33. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    The union shiny arses are filling their pants, they see the writing on the wall . Their tactics smack of desperation, the status quo must be guarded at all costs. Time for the teachers to be judged. Time to show the union it’s irrelevancy in today’s world. Time for the teachers to grow up. Teachers supporting the union are either shit scared they will not measure up or are to stupid to realise they could benefit greatly by being individuals, other then members of a brain dead collective.

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  34. ttibbs (22 comments) says:

    Adam Smith: Late again. DPF had spelt it ‘Frense’ which is why I pointed out the error when I saw it. DPF has since corrected it. You can nod off again now.

    Put it away: No, but I do expect people to be able to copy something correctly.

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  35. lilman (966 comments) says:

    I saw that interview and all I can say is what a reject, seriously is that the best performance by a half-witt I have seen for along time.

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  36. andretti (130 comments) says:

    I have a good friend who is a teacher (I think a bad one by the way he describes both work and students).
    He is vocal in his condemnation of National standards and does not want bulk funding,as I think he knows he is bloody useless.
    What really made me laugh is the other day he was saying how the mechanic that repaired his car fucked it up.I told him that he cant have it both ways,if all teachers are good why not all mechanics,doctors surgeons and whatever.
    Just shows how completly stupid their argument is,self serving at best corrupt at worst.

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  37. Mr Noisy (27 comments) says:

    It’s quite pointed (and fitting) how du Fresne describes them as ‘teacher activists’, as opposed to ‘activist teachers’…

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  38. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    @Red – while I don’t believe the whole education system is a Marxist basket case, the curriculum is definitely wide enough for teachers to spin their own political leanings into just about any subject.

    There’s also some wet, progressive nonsense in the curriculum too. When this document was being re-drafted a while back teachers were asked to provide feedback the final draft – thus satisfying the consultation’ requirement. The draft section on Official Languages apparently claimed that English and NZ Sign Language were official languages. Quite a few teachers questioned this saying Maori should be included. Here’s how the final, post-consultation wording reads:

    Te reo Maori and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) are official languages of New Zealand. English, the medium for teaching and learning in most schools, is a de facto official language by virtue of its widespread use.

    Sleight of hand – yes? This abject nonsense casts doubt on the rest of the curriculum for me. Principals would do better to focus their ire at this nonsense, rather than bullying those that are working to improve their school’s education delivery.

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  39. Tauhei Notts (1,746 comments) says:

    Kiwi In America
    Your posts on this blog are the best.
    Please take time to continue blogging.

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  40. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    Karl du Fresne writes:
    I’m surprised more hasn’t been made of the contemptible schoolyard bullying reported last week by TV3 political editor Duncan Garner.

    I’m not surprised. It was one person!
    I suppose while this industrial action is going on (and it isn’t going to go away) we are going to get our daily dose of teacher bashing by DPF and other right wing bloggers.
    Is this what is coming to? How sad (and kind of pathetic). Isn’t it funny how teachers are accused of not being able to think for themselves because they support their union, and yet we get Tolley’s lapdogs parrotting government spin without even checking the validity of it.

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  41. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Oh get over yourself bc. I hear more industrial action is planned for the 14th of October, shit what a brave bunch of gits you are. I’ve read teacher comments on Kiwiblog on how they work their sorry butts off during school holidays, what utter bullshit. If you were true to your words you would be striking next week but of course you aren’t, you are full of it. Can’t strike on the holidays can we, to busy getting paid for sweet piss all. Please tell me why you can justify a 4% increase in pay while New Zealand continues to borrow 230 million a month, what greedy pigs.

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  42. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    @ssb – small point… it’s ~$NZ230m per week !!

    @bc – um, who are Tolley’s lapdogs? Oh, no don’t answer that: it’s anyone who doesn’t sing from the union song sheet. Now bc … tell us about yourself. Are you a teacher? Are you a principal? Are you an union member? Are you a union rep? In your own time …

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  43. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    Are you real side show bob? Do you know how industrial action works?

    Now about the so-called $230 million a week. My understanding is that Bill English is bending the truth somewhat with that figure, much like Tolley is doing at the moment with the “average teacher’ salary of $71000, and the 4% + 4% + 4% pay rise figues as well.

    But even if that figure is correct, it’s beside the point. It is how the government decides to spend the money, not that it has to spend more. After all there was plenty of money to bail out South Island finance companies.

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  44. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    DF, a couple of times now I’ve commented on the impossibility of performance pay in a public education system, in terms of practicality. You keep on going on about it, but I want to know exactly HOW it would work and HOW we, as a country, could afford it.

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  45. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Yeah I know how industrial action works. Do you understand how public relations work ?. One would have thought that if the cause was so just one would be walking out the door tomorrow, it seems not. You and those of your ilk make a mockery of the hard done by teachers line, go on then, strike don’t wait. But what I really want to know is where do you think the money comes from ?. I’m a farmer, we don’t get a 4% pay rise every year, some years we do some years we go backwards. How long do you think it can all keep going before it falls over like a house of cards ?. You can kiss your pay rise goodbye then. If it’s any conciliation I agree with you, the government should not have bailed out SCF but you fail to see one very important fact, companies on the government guaranteed scheme paid an insurance premium for such an event so a fair bit of this money will not come from borrowing “230 million” a week.

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  46. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    @transmogrifier – We’ll ask the teachers to draft up a scheme. The good ones will jump at the opportunity, the useless ones will object .. and, well, that’s a good initial piece of information.

    Seriously, pay-for-performance isn’t possible with the union in the way. Their objective is to have teachers helplessly dependent on their advocacy, and their raison d’être is threatened by any change to this. Break the domination of union and beneath the surface there are 1000’s of very good teachers who want to lift their game and be recognised for it.

    @bc – How are you getting on with your bio? I shared all about me yesterday. I’m keen to know how you fit into this educational landscape.

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  47. lofty (1,317 comments) says:

    krazykiwi, if I may…. bc’s bio, primary teacher (not quite up there for 2ndry but maybe intermediate), Union member, lazy leftie who relies on the collective power to protect the job, (oh thank god for unions who only want fees, not performance) not able to, or have the courage to stand up and take personal responsibility. so on and so on.

    The left is strong in this country because NZrs are inherently lazy, it is so much easier, and no strain to rely on the collective to cover our deficiencies. God forbid they have to take risks in life.

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  48. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    ha ha lofty – not even close. In fact 0% correct (I guess that would be a not achieved).

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  49. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    krazy – I think making education private is the only way performance pay will work. Good teachers will have a high demand from parents of students, and thus the school that employs them can afford to pay that teacher more. If we are going to have state funded education, performance pay is a pipe dream, because it puts far too many blocks on the usual incentives and disincentives. I mean, if the quality of teaching suddenly increased, would people across the country suddenly be willing to accept a tax increase in order to pay them? Of course not, if only for the simple (and understandable) suspicion of what the government actually does with tax. So the only way to balance the books is to have super low salaries for mediocre teachers. Trouble is, once the education system is saturated with the number of quality teachers we can afford, there is little to no incentive for potentially excellent teachers to enter the system at the ground floor. You’d be fighting for a fixed number of positions, not really knowing how you stack up till you get there, and thus you are going to be wary of the potentially low pay. Hence I can’t really see it helping with recruitment at all. Education has a revenue cap, so to speak, so new workers can’t generate new “wealth” through simply being good at their job. Instead, they will have to rely on out-ranking colleagues. Watch the morale of the faculty dive in this situation; if there is one thing i have learnt in the 1 year on the job so far, a teachers job lives and dies on a healthy working relationship with other teachers. I work in a fantastic faculty, and it makes work a whole lot of fun.

    I don’t know

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  50. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    Ye gods sideshow bob – you farmers are the biggest moaners on this earth!
    If there’s too much rain you moan, if there’s too much sun you moan.
    If the dollar goes up you moan, if the dollar goes down you moan.
    You have the gall to moan about the supposed bullying of the teachers union but Federated Farmers are the biggest bullies of them all.
    You have the gall to moan about teachers taking industrial action, but this is the first time teachers have taken industrial action in 9 years. I’ve lost count how many times farmers are clogging up the motorways with their tractors driving to parliament.
    Now I’m actually ok with the protest action (the moaning gets on your nerves after a while though). But honestly, the hyprocrasy is showing!

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  51. blazeoflight (19 comments) says:

    Some compelling logic here, for sure.

    For example: Witana (and to a lesser extent, Newman) = bad, therefore teachers = bad and national standards = mightily good!

    But there are a couple of disconnects there, it seems to me.

    For those of you swayed by Kiwi in America’s enthusiasm for the Chicago (and going national) example, I suggest you do your own research. All is not as well as KIA would have you believe. For example, schools in lower socio-economic areas are closed and the pupils redirected to more remote charter schools that apply onerous conditions almost guaranteed to drive out those kids. Often, the best and most dedicated teachers voluntarily work with these kids, but in Chicago they are being fired willy-nilly for choosing vocation over career.

    Then KIA goes on to say that anything that supports better reporting to parents is only for the better. Anyone can agree with such a self-evident statement, but two things spring to mind: the Department of education could just enforce reporting standards without National’s Standards and the parents who get the least out of reports and teacher/parent interaction aren’t going to get any more informed.

    KIA also promotes Sweden as a good example of vouchers in schools, and it is, but parents have a real choice which does not penalise children in terms of standards and Sweden thought long and hard and consulted widely, and genuinely, before introducing the system. And it hardly needs mentioning, surely, that Sweden’s demographic and socio-economic profiles are markedly different to ours.

    KIA could also have mentioned that Austria has recently introduced a form of national standards, after a two year process of intensive consultation and trialling and that won the support of both teachers and parents – and that is not ideologically predicated on the demonisation of teachers so prevalent in this thread. I think you will find unionism in both those countries far more entrenched than here.

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  52. Rufus (676 comments) says:

    BC – i know – and when the “hypocrasy” doesn’t annoy me, it’s the hypocrisy that does it every time!

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  53. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    Oh no here comes the grammer nazi, there’s always one. Are all my apostrophes in the right place?
    I note that you don’t dispute my point though.

    (the rest of us have a life by the way)

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  54. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    @bc – I note that you’ve not found the time to disclose your bio. So… tell us about yourself. Are you a teacher? Are you a principal? Are you an union member? Are you a union rep? In your own time …

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  55. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    Does it really matter krazy? You don’t seem to be asking anyone else.

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  56. Maggie (672 comments) says:

    Having real difficulty in taking seriously a French farce in which the main characters are played by Karl du Fresne, Duncan Garner and David Farrar.

    Am expecting Barbara Windsor to run on stage any moment in just knickers and a bra.

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  57. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    @bc – Well it matters if one has any manners. You questioned my ‘second hand’ knowledge of the education landscape, and I replied with a full, honest bio. That you choose not to respond in kind just makes you look like you’ve got something to hide.

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  58. kiwi in america (2,508 comments) says:

    blaze
    The example I used was Washington DC not Chicago – Chicago schools are indeed a mess. A voucher system could be introduced into NZ with the same attention to detail and consultation as happened in Sweden – its just the PPTA won’t countenance even looking at it, the entire idea is dismissed and so no meaningful debate is possible. To tell this truth is not to bash teachers. Clearly Swedish and Austrian unions are not as blind, ideological and pig headed as their NZ counterparts because they were able to see the merits of well implimented voucher programmes and be part of the solution rather than a reactionary force against change.

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  59. E. Campbell (91 comments) says:

    (Sigh) After all the bluster, no-one was actually able to point to a successful performance pay model for teachers used overseas. Does one exist? Has any country successfully done it? Is it only a pipe dream? Vouchers don’t count, as that isn’t a teacher pay issue, but rather a funding model for schools, i.e. the funding follows the pupil rather than being distributed to schools.

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  60. kiwi in america (2,508 comments) says:

    E Campbell
    Many of the Swiss cantons and towns use a performance pay system for teachers but their system is radically different in that almost all taxes are levied and spent at the town and canton level and local voters decide at that level how their teachers are to be paid. Because good and not so good teachers are easily identified at that localized level, the task of paying on merit is made much easier – no costly national bureaucracy to worry about.

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  61. blazeoflight (19 comments) says:

    Good point, E. Campbell. I would love to hear of such a model, too.

    KIA

    I must again point out that you seem to apply rose-tinted spectacles to the issues of vouchers and standards. The Washington DC programme has not resulted in improved test scores, although there has been an increase in those attaining a high school graduation diploma, and the administration is closing it down even as Arne Duncan moves to apply his Chicago model nationwide. Somewhat contradictory signals, for sure.

    As regards Sweden, the number of private providers is still small, and is as yet not showing any improvement in academic standards. I would suggest that it would appear to be yourself who has a “blind, ideological and pigheaded” attitude of servitude to free market principles.

    And the NZEI (which represents primary school teachers here, not the PPTA) has always expressed willingness to adopt a standards system, but asked for similar consultation and involvement to that of Austria.

    New Zealand scores highly in international tests, and has a reputation for providing a broadbased education which is highly valued in most of the world.

    Ideologically based and personalised attacks should have no place in this debate. Unfortunately, the blog owner appears to set the tone.

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