Charter schools rated just as effective as reducing class sizes

July 11th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Now this is very interesting. The meta-meta study of 50,000 studies of 139 factors influencing education outcomes had at 106th with an effect score of 0.21. At 107th was with an effect score of 0.20.

So reducing class sizes has much the same impact as charter schools – a mild improvement.

So how on earth can Labour be vowing to abolish charter schools, yet put hundreds of millions into reducing class sizes?

The answer is the former policy results in fewer teachers in unions, and the latter results in more teachers in unions.

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94 Responses to “Charter schools rated just as effective as reducing class sizes”

  1. Daniel (216 comments) says:

    Labour’s plan is obvious – get a mild improvement by reducing class sizes while getting a mild reduction in education by abolishing charter schools. Net result is we spend hundreds of millions of extra dollars to achieve nothing.

    I’m pretty sure Labour are planning to use this approach to every aspect of government spending.

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  2. freedom101 (510 comments) says:

    I’m surprised that charter schools did not do a lot better. Is this because the study looks at the potential impact on the *average* student? We know that charter schools are aimed at the most under-performing children. Maybe if the study looked at only under-performing children then charter schools might be right at the top of the list?

    Labour’s inconsistent policy position regarding class sizes and charter schools is not surprising. They gave up evidence-based policy a long time ago. Now it’s about appeasing unions, scratching itches etc. If it’s good policy, that’s by luck, not design. These days the Labour party is a hazard to shipping and if they get into power they will seriously damage New Zealand in all sorts of ways.

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  3. kiwigunner (230 comments) says:

    Yeah right! I’m sure the policy makers at Labour HQ are spending a lot of time on ensuring an increase in the PPTA and NZEI. Probably all they ever think about. This is much more likely than them hoping to make a difference for children.

    When will you ever learn?

    1. Hatties list is not to be read in isolation so Charter Schools alone are 107 – class sizes alone are 106 but , and please read carefully, reduced class sizes facilitate and encourage many of the top 100 whilst Charter Schools may do some of them but not to any extra level than State Schools.
    2. Hatties research has largely been discredited as many of the meta analysis’s are limited and not entirely relevant to the claims made by Hatties list.

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  4. I Say Look Here (57 comments) says:

    Not to mention control. It’s not just about getting more teachers in unions, and thereby generating more revenue to be donated to the party. It’s also about control of the way our kids are educated being centralised in the hands of the self-annointed Ones Who Know What’s Best For the People.

    Mind you, as Charter Schools get more established they really need to be pushing themselves up the list in a bit of a hurry, don’t they? 107th is not exactly a ringing endorsement of the concept.

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  5. Bill Courtney (162 comments) says:

    But here is what the man himself had to say (source: NZ Herald, Dec 2011):

    “For education researcher Professor John Hattie, the fine print won’t matter much anyway – he sees the whole exercise as a politically motivated waste of time and effort.

    The former Auckland University academic, who now works in Melbourne, made headlines last year when, after initially advising the Government on a national standards policy, he rejected the outcome as a good idea gone badly wrong.

    Professor Hattie’s international expertise lies in analysing the evidence of what makes children learn better. He ranks charter schools 114th out of 150 factors surveyed and says it measures 0.2 on his effectiveness scale, which ranges between 1 and 0.
    His data include a Stanford University study – heavily quoted by teacher unions this week – which showed only 17 per cent of US charter school students did better than their public school counterparts, 46 per cent were about the same and 37 per cent did worse.

    The main reason for the lack of improvement, says Professor Hattie, is that contrary to many parents’ belief, school choice has relatively little effect on students’ achievement. The biggest differences occur within schools, not between them.

    Charter schools run into the same practical and financial problems as any other school, says Professor Hattie, as US businessmen hoping to turn a quick profit have discovered.

    The main aim of the Act initiative, he believes, is to break the perceived hold of the teacher unions.”

    Try again, Mr. Farrar.

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  6. gump (1,664 comments) says:

    @DPF

    “So reducing class sizes has much the same impact as charter schools – a mild improvement.”

    ———————-

    You posted four days ago that class sizes were the 106th ranked factor on educational achievement.

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2014/07/experts_say_class_size_has_little_impact.html

    And now you’re saying that Charter schools have a similar level of impact as class size.

    Remind me again why we’re supposed to be supporting charter schools?

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  7. All_on_Red (1,650 comments) says:

    Ha I was going to say Bill Courtney in 321 but he bet me to it!
    What a cock

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  8. dime (10,137 comments) says:

    Bill – you really should disclose that youre head of some anti national hate group when you post. not just a “concerned parent” or whatever you portray yourself as.

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  9. mikenmild (11,798 comments) says:

    So you don’t know what he portrays himself as? How about just responding to his argument?

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  10. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    DPF: “So how on earth can Labour be vowing to abolish charter schools, yet put hundreds of millions into reducing class sizes?”

    Using DPF’s logic:
    So how on Earth could National have attempted to increase class sizes (until there was a backlash and Parata & Key had to back down), yet put millions into charter schools?”

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  11. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    The answer is the former policy results in fewer teachers in unions, and the latter results in more teachers in unions.

    Funnily enough, the above stands up equally well (or ill) as an explanation of National’s policy…

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  12. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    mikenmind, all dime does is make sarcastic or just outright nasty comments – you must have read enough of his posts by now!

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  13. MikeG (425 comments) says:

    “So how on earth can Labour be vowing to abolish charter schools, yet put hundreds of millions into reducing class sizes?
    The answer is the former policy results in fewer teachers in unions, and the latter results in more teachers in unions.”

    Brilliant conclusion – it’s all a conspiracy to get more Union members. With logic like that Farrar I don’t know why you aren’t the leader of the ACT party.

    btw, I haven’t seen any posts about the blow-out in costs for some of the NZ Charter Schools. They’re turning into a very expensive mistake.

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  14. ShawnLH (5,761 comments) says:

    No surprise there. Increasing the numbers of unionists in the State monopoly will not achieve anything of substance.

    What parents need and increasingly want is real choice, and schools that have to prove themselves, and not hide failed schools and failed teachers behind guaranteed state funding and union bullying.

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  15. Steve Taylor (211 comments) says:

    Perhaps we need to look at the longer term outcomes of Charter Schools (post-school), as opposed to intra-school?

    http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9433/index1.html

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  16. E. Campbell (91 comments) says:

    Just a quick point to note. What is defined as a charter school in the US is NOT the same as what a so-called charter / partnership school is here in New Zealand. US charter schools are more like NZ’s state school system, in that local schools are under local control and have relative freedom as to their curriculum and so on. New Zealand has had this since the Tomorrow’s School programme of the 4th Labour Government. US public schools are centrally run by school boards with very little autonomy, hence the separate charter school movement that offers greater choice and diversity. Again, comparing US charter school success to the NZ context is like comparing apples with pears. They are not the same.

    As for Hattie, his own research also says class size does make an impact, but only once the class size gets down to about a dozen students, a point often well made by the private schools without reference to Hattie. Also usually missing from the Hattie discussion is the single biggest factor in student success he has identified — the student’s own innate ability / DNA.

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  17. Steve Taylor (211 comments) says:

    Table 19, Page 81 is a useful summary here as well:

    http://credo.stanford.edu/documents/NCSS%202013%20Final%20Draft.pdf

    It seems the greater the learning gain there is to be made, the better charter schools perform, performance which itself is strongly influenced by the type of organisational structure (singular being more effective than multi-level).

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  18. Steve Taylor (211 comments) says:

    Hi E. Campbell, yes, these are indeed valid points, which is why I believe “practice-based evidence” needs to be compiled alongside each Charter School in NZ that is approved.

    In other words, what are the factors in THIS school that make it successful with THIS population under THIS type of organisational structure, and what are THESE students who are succeeding, nominating as to what is working for THEM, at THIS time.

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  19. eszett (2,432 comments) says:

    So reducing class sizes has much the same impact as charter schools – a mild improvement.

    So how on earth can Labour be vowing to abolish charter schools, yet put hundreds of millions into reducing class sizes?

    You could equally ask why is National spending so much time, money and effort on establishing Charter schools given they have such a minor impact?

    Why are you writing dozens of posts on the supposedly wonderful benefits of charter schools, yet none on the other 106 influences on education which have a larger impact than charter schools?

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  20. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    DPF: “The answer is the former policy results in fewer teachers in unions, and the latter results in more teachers in unions.”

    As has been pointed out many times – since the teacher unions have to negotiate with the government of the day, they do not contribute to any political parties. So your so-called “answer” is just plain wrong.

    A rather pathetic post DPF. What I presume is an attempt to discredit Labours policy of reducing class-sizes can easily be used to discredit Nationals policy on charter schools, given that they have the same impact on raising student achievement.

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  21. E. Campbell (91 comments) says:

    @Steve Taylor. Yes, agree with your points. If they work, trumpet why they work. If they don’t, the same. I’m just tired of the blind faith so many seem to have that charter schools will be (yet another) magic bullet to solve NZ’s educational woes. Yes, we do have a problem of a long tail of underachievement, as do most Western countries. However, we also must not lose sight of the fact that most Kiwi kids end up with a very sound education.

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  22. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    eszett, I ask myself the same question. DPF seems obsessed with charter schools, trawling through the internet to find any good news story (while ignoring the disasters of course), with very little comment about other educational initiatives.
    Go figure.

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  23. tom hunter (5,102 comments) says:

    I saw some references to “slippery” John Key the other day and was reminded of this quote from Bill Courtney in this thread:

    To reiterate, for the record, here are the findings from the major OECD study of teaching in 2005:

    “The first and most solidly based finding is that the largest source of variation in student learning is attributable to differences in what students bring to school – their abilities and attitudes, and family and community background.”

    Which bit of this can’t you understand, Mr Farrar? Why does every major country in the world, based on its PISA results, show an unbroken link between socio-economic status and student achievement? WHY?? Because the out-of-school factors have a much greater influence than within schools factors.

    Now Mr Courtney has made the same point with the same quote a number of times and not provided a link to the study concerned, but it’s not difficult to track down. His quote is found on page two in Box 2:

    Three broad conclusions emerge from research on student learning, The first and most solidly based finding ….

    What Mr Courtney did not mention was one little addition to his quote:

    Such factors are difficult for policy makers to influence, at least in the short-run.

    Not to mention:

    The second broad conclusion is that of those variables which are potentially open to policy influence, factors to do with teachers and teaching are the most important influences on student learning. In particular, the broad consensus is that “teacher quality” is the single most important school variable influencing student achievement.

    In other words the factors that Mr Courtney talks about are the ones that the OECD found are difficult to influence (for entirely practical reasons), while of the factors that can be influenced by policy, teacher quality and teaching quality are the most important in student learning.

    You’re rather slippery yourself Mr Courtney.

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  24. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    E. Campbell, agree.
    I’ve come to the conclusion that the tail of underachievement, which as you point out is common amongst Western countries, is because we take having a good education for granted and there is a sector of society that doesn’t value it.

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  25. kiwigunner (230 comments) says:

    It is especially strange because you get the feeling that even national don’t like them much. It is his obsession alone. And given he knows little or nothing about education he continues to write posts that expose his ignorance and provide an opportunity for those who do to highlight his, and the governments, pissing into the wind.

    When the reality is that New Zealand has one of the best education systems in the world. It’s teachers work hard for their children, the money spent on education is relatively modest, and parents and stakeholders generally support and value their work. No one in education says it is perfect, and there will always be problems from time to time – even in the best of schools and school systems. But what also needs to be remembered is that we were the best in the world when we had the best country (fairness/equity/employment/housing/health) in the world. We chose to go down the neo-liberal path – we have buggered society and now it shows itself in our schools.

    Want to fix the educational tail – fix the society the tail lives in. Maybe use the money we are wasting on Charter Schools and I understand $358m that was found from no where to buy a few principals and the odd teacher a new car.

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  26. Ross12 (1,456 comments) says:

    Labour seem to accept that the public think the charter school TRIAL is OK because in their policy the other day they mention “special character ” schools as their answer to charter schools. It is all smoke and mirrors because special character schools already exist –most integrated church schools are fall into this category. so who is kidding who ??

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  27. deadrightkev (539 comments) says:

    My preference would be no teachers in unions or principals in union affiliated associations.

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  28. Other_Andy (2,676 comments) says:

    Steve Taylor says at 4:55 pm

    Absolutely correct!

    That is why we shouldn’t have a one size fits all.
    That is why I like Charter Schools – choice!
    One isn’t necessarily better.
    And yes, they will sometimes fail, just like state schools.

    The other upside is that I (And I say this as somebody who has worked in the education sector for 30 years.) absolutely loathe the self serving teacher unions.

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  29. Rightandleft (670 comments) says:

    As E. Campbell has rightly pointed out we already have a charter school system in NZ and have since 1989. In fact we’ve been far more radical in bringing parents school choice, local control, flexible curricula and special character schools that anywhere in the US. So as Labour continues to support the existence of special character schools and the Tomorrow’s Schools framework it would seem they are supporting both charter schools and lower class sizes.

    Opposing Partnership Schools is an entirely different matter. They are a different form of charter school which cuts out local control by eliminating a board of trustees with elected parents and removes financial oversight by being exempted from the OIA. Opposition to one particular type of charter schooling isn’t going against the research.

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  30. kiwigunner (230 comments) says:

    Choice, Choice , Choice – Prof. Hattie on whom this post is predicated says that school choice has little impact on learning see 4:19 above.

    But if you want choice you can have your child attend a State School, a Private School, a Church based school, Home School, a Kura Kaupapa Maori, an all boys school, and all girls school, a contributing primary, a full primary, a High School from years 7-13, an intermediate, a middle school, bloody hell the education act even allows you to set up your own school if you get a handful of children together (though I’m not sure if anyone ever actually has).

    You have choice alright.

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  31. kiwigunner (230 comments) says:

    And as for our Charter Schools

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11278582

    Is this the choice you want?

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  32. Other_Andy (2,676 comments) says:

    @kiwigunner says:

    “Is this the choice you want?”

    Are you serious?
    There is a long list of state schools that have had problems or have failed.
    That that mean that we should now abolish state schools?

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  33. RRM (10,034 comments) says:

    So the charter schools you extol daily DPF are really no more effective than the smaller class sizes you endlessly dismiss? (Because labour is for them)

    Fascinating… :-)

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  34. kiwigunner (230 comments) says:

    Actually this Charter School was two weeks in when problems reared their heads and effectively a commissioner appointed. This, in a flag ship policy. And after funding equating to $20k per child was paid to it from our taxes and $1.8m in set up costs.

    It s on thing to have state schools that have problems – as I have said before – this happens in the life of most schools given time – but to have a start up so mucked up when all eyes are on it says a lot about it, and the government who so blindly and carelessly allowed this to happen.

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  35. Disaster Area (41 comments) says:

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, after all there are people on here who know more than me, but weren’t Charter Schools only introduced as the deal with Act? Were they part of Nationals policy prior to the last election?

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  36. Bill Courtney (162 comments) says:

    tom hunter: “In other words the factors that Mr Courtney talks about are the ones that the OECD found are difficult to influence (for entirely practical reasons), while of the factors that can be influenced by policy, teacher quality and teaching quality are the most important in student learning.

    You’re rather slippery yourself Mr Courtney.”

    What rubbish!

    The purpose of quoting the OECD’s study is to make it clear that student-related factors, such as the student’s own aptitude, their family and community background and so on, account for the greater share of the many different influences on student achievement. It’s a pity you can’t understand plain English, tom. It is important to understand and accept this observation, so as to understand that initiatives such as value-added evaluation of teachers are misleading, if the teacher is not even the most influential factor on student achievement.

    You are incorrect to infer that school and teacher-related factors “are the most important in student learning.” Wrong. They may be what can be influenced by Education Policy but you are choosing to ignore the most important finding in that study.

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  37. itstricky (1,904 comments) says:

    So how on earth can Labour be vowing to abolish charter schools, yet put hundreds of millions into reducing class sizes?

    And how on earth can you bash Labour for pushing a class size policy when you think charter schools are the best thing since sliced bread? Snore…DPF….snore… You’ve outdone yourself with the political rhetoric on this one, just admit it.

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  38. itstricky (1,904 comments) says:

    Oh, did I mention charter schools are No.107 on the list? Did we talk about that? What have ACT/National done to address Nos. 15, 16 and 17?

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  39. Steve Taylor (211 comments) says:

    There is a private boarding school in Epsom called Dilworth, designated as Decile 4.

    Almost every time the school undergoes a review, the MOE want to know why the Maori & Pacific Island students who go there are able to perform so well as to almost be “off the charts” in terms of NCEA performance.

    The schools answer is invariably the same: “We expect them to do so, and they expect themselves to do so”

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  40. itstricky (1,904 comments) says:

    . Not to mention control. It’s not just about getting more teachers in unions, and thereby generating more revenue to be donated to the party. It’s also about control of the way our kids are educated being centralised in the hands of the self-annointed Ones Who Know What’s Best For the People.

    Not to mention control. It’s not just about getting teachers OUT of unions, and therefore destroying them. It’s also about control of the way our kids are educated…

    Isn’t this great, we could go on all night!

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  41. tom hunter (5,102 comments) says:

    It’s a pity you can’t understand plain English, tom.

    That’s ironic, given your next statement:

    You are incorrect to infer that school and teacher-related factors “are the most important in student learning.” Wrong. They may be what can be influenced by Education Policy but you are choosing to ignore the most important finding in that study.

    I did not infer it, it’s written there by the OECD in black and white. You’re cutting off the quote again, so here it is – again – from your OECD report,

    The second broad conclusion is that of those variables which are potentially open to policy influence, factors to do with teachers and teaching are the most important influences on student learning.

    I’ve put it in bold so that you can see that there was no need for your silly little “Wrong”, plus your “clarification”. There was no need for you to clarify what was already clearly spelt out.

    … you are choosing to ignore the most important finding in that study.

    Have you got a reading disability?

    Let me spell it out for you- again. According to the very OECD report that you trumpeted, the education factors you want to focus on (…the most important finding in that study …) are the very ones that cannot be affected by education policy. The most important education factors that can be affected by education policy are the very ones you want to ignore.

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  42. doggone7 (833 comments) says:

    DPF:

    “So how on earth can Labour be vowing to abolish charter schools, yet put hundreds of millions into reducing class sizes?
    The answer is the former policy results in fewer teachers in unions, and the latter results in more teachers in unions.”

    McDonalds is to fine dining what those comments are to intellectual, rational comment.

    Anyone genuinely believing those sentiments cannot be considered a serious political commentator except by those vacuous, partisan or lacking knowledge.

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  43. Scott Chris (6,177 comments) says:

    Charter schools rated just as effective as reducing class sizes

    Aha! I agree. Both are conditionally effective.

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  44. doggone7 (833 comments) says:

    Steve Taylor: “There is a private boarding school in Epsom called Dilworth, designated as Decile 4. Almost every time the school undergoes a review, the MOE want to know why the Maori & Pacific Island students who go there are able to perform so well as to almost be “off the charts” in terms of NCEA performance. The schools answer is invariably the same: “We expect them to do so, and they expect themselves to do so.”

    1 Are you suggesting that at other schools where Maori & Pacific Island students don’t do well it’s because of lack of expectations?
    2 Perhaps you could explain the special nature of Dilworth for the benefit of those who don’t know. Including of course the process the boys go through to be selected to attend the school.

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  45. DMS (54 comments) says:

    I try to get a balanced view of political bloggers in NZ. I compare Kiwiblog which has 40 up to 100 responses to comments. The Standard has 300 or more. How does that reflect on your following?

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  46. Bill Courtney (162 comments) says:

    tom,

    What I was trying to state – whether I made it clear or not – is that out-of-school factors are GREATER in their influence on student achievement than within school factors. That is finding no. 1. Agreed?

    Finding 2 is the common sense one that WITHIN the school, the most influential factor is the teacher. Besides, what else is it really likely to be. Agreed?

    So, why am I slippery?

    Obviously the OECD shies away from the politically sensitive topic of how we could change the conditions in which kids live and yet these have so much bearing on their life outcomes.

    I like Diane Ravitch’s quote:
    “Schools and society are intertwined. We must improve schools and do lots more to improve the lives of children and their families. If we ignore poverty, all our school reform efforts will fail.”

    That’s my stance and I stand by it.

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  47. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    To be fair to DPF, he makes good points on most things.
    But education issues (and charter schools in particular) is his Achilles heel and he says a lot of stupid things. I think it is because he only has an ideological understanding of the issues.
    It only takes a visit to a school or to go on a school camp as a parent helper to realise that teachers work extremely hard for the amount of money they get.

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  48. Johnboy (17,092 comments) says:

    Good grief. After a hard day out in the real world I tune in to KB and click the Charter Schools button and what do I see?

    Bill Courtney and his Mini Me fighting another rearguard action for the teecher unions!!

    What a fucking surprise! :)

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  49. Bill Courtney (162 comments) says:

    Come on Johnboy, I thought an SC educated “all round man” could do better than that, surely?

    Hope you had a successful day out on the farm over the hill.

    Regards
    Bill

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  50. Ross12 (1,456 comments) says:

    DMS @7.38

    You would not be making such a stupid comment if you looked at the stats for NZ websites.

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  51. Johnboy (17,092 comments) says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdOCWUgwiWs&feature=kp

    A tune to cheer all you old dinosaurs Bill! :)

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  52. Johnboy (17,092 comments) says:

    Nice to see your finger so quick on the trigger though. Even if it’s only defending your patch instead of fighting for children’s education like you guys keep bullshitting us that you do! :)

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  53. big bruv (14,166 comments) says:

    Bill Courtney

    If the teachers unions are so concerned about the education of our kids why are they so ideologically tied to the Labour party?

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  54. Johnboy (17,092 comments) says:

    They’ve spent 80 years trying to turn the nations sprogs into socialists bb and they get really pissed off when all the intelligent kids grow up and vote National! :)

    Poor old Bill is like the Tuatara. An anomaly from the age of Dinosaurs! :)

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  55. doggone7 (833 comments) says:

    Johnboy: “They’ve spent 80 years trying to turn…”

    How many years did they spend trying to turn your sprogs into socialists? How specifically, and what did you do about it?

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  56. kiwigunner (230 comments) says:

    And like magic on Scoop today…

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/ED1407/S00065/educating-disadvantaged-children.htm

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  57. Johnboy (17,092 comments) says:

    Charter schools must be shit. What a silly idea trying to promote excellence above mediocrity in institutions of learning!

    Next thing is we will have folk wanting to gain further education at Oxford, Cambridge or Harvard instead of Waikato! :)

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  58. lolitasbrother (751 comments) says:

    I am in Thailand. Children here must go to special schools to learn, and pay extra money for same teachers, who can not earn living. I see it every day. All they kids want to do is to speak English with me, and I try my best.
    The village kids know the rules, speak English or die

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  59. Steve Taylor (211 comments) says:

    Hi Doggone7,

    Yes, I am indeed suggesting that expectations make a difference.

    The recent improvement in Selwyn College would seem to me to be a good example.

    Recruitment for Dilworth is based on need coupled with an assessment by the Dilworth Trust Board as to whether a boy they select will make the best use of the whole-of-school-life scholarship that is awarded by the School.

    Academic ability and / or sporting ability are secondary to this first premise, and these priorities lie within the original will of the founder of the school, James Dilworth.

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  60. Jinky (189 comments) says:

    DPF. Once again your headline is misleading. You point out that reducing class sizes is more effective than charter schools. That is why it’s at 106 on the list and not 107.

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  61. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    I get what you are trying to say Steve, but picking Dilworth to make your point is not a good example.
    Dilworth can pick and choose who goes there, so the students are pretty focussed and self-motivated to do well. State schools don’t get that luxury.

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  62. Johnboy (17,092 comments) says:

    They can probably pick who gets to teach there as well bc. State schools have to accept the shit they are given! :)

    And pay them all the same as well of course! :)

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  63. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    Wrong again, johnboy.

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  64. big bruv (14,166 comments) says:

    “Dilworth can pick and choose who goes there, so the students are pretty focussed and self-motivated to do well”

    Good god!….Kids from poorer homes who are offered a chance to better themselves and take it?

    We really cant have these kids seeing the results that hard work and dedication can bring can we.

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  65. Johnboy (17,092 comments) says:

    Not if it gets in the way of equality for outcomes relating to teachers paypackets bb! :)

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  66. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    Don’t be a prat, big bruv. I’ve got nothing against Dilworth. I think it is a fantastic school that provides a wonderful opportunity for kids from less advantaged backgrounds to excel.
    I was just pointing out that Steve’s choice of school to make his point wasn’t a good one.

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  67. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    Recruitment for Dilworth is based on need coupled with an assessment by the Dilworth Trust Board as to whether a boy they select will make the best use of the whole-of-school-life scholarship that is awarded by the School.

    Well, yes, it works very well. So, all we need to eradicate failure in the state school system is to have them select the pupils they think will do best – it should work very nicely and we’ll kick Finland’s arse in the PISA rankings. Mind you, there’ll be a shitload of kids no school will want to touch with a bargepole, but if we set up an appropriate gas chamber/crematoria system that would be easily taken care of.

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  68. tom hunter (5,102 comments) says:

    So, why am I slippery?

    It’s an oft-used debating tactic to supply partial quotes or soundbite versions of more complex and subtle arguments that greatly mislead from the original.

    But in this case you’re almost in a class of your own. You took a report which focuses entirely on teachers from beginning to end – it’s sub-title is ATTRACTING, DEVELOPING AND RETAINING EFFECTIVE TEACHERS – and selected the only paragraph that did not deal with that but with other factors.

    One sentence out of one, brief paragraph out of a 12 page report. And just to add insult to injury you excluded the next sentence that placed the first one in context – such factors are difficult for policy makers to influence, at least in the short-run. – which completely changes the impact of the first sentence, as I’m sure you very well knew when you repeated it here on more than one occasion.

    That is why you are slippery, Bill Courtney.

    Of course I could have an alternate take on you – and this is bolstered by your mis-reading of clear and concise statements above – which is that your brain is so calcified into a mono-maniacal focus on solving poverty and other societal problems ahead of educational problems, that you simply scan every education article you can find looking for mention of those other problems, even if it’s only one paragraph.

    And even then you mis-read:

    I like Diane Ravitch’s quote:
    “Schools and society are intertwined. We must improve schools and do lots more to improve the lives of children and their families. If we ignore poverty, all our school reform efforts will fail.”

    But the OECD did not even mention poverty. They wrote of the students … abilities and attitudes, and family and community background … , which means they’re talking about a hell of lot more complex issues than just poverty. Again the latter is your obsession and as such it leads you to write nonsense such as the following:

    Obviously the OECD shies away from the politically sensitive topic of how we could change the conditions in which kids live and yet these have so much bearing on their life outcomes.

    The standard leftist implication that groups like the OECD are frightened of wealth re-distribution or other socialist schemes that are “politically sensitive” but would make things better for the kids and their education.

    No. The OECD shies away from these factors because they don’t know of any agreed-upon, demonstrably successful ways of solving them, even pure poverty itself, let alone all the other factors external to school that affect the conditions in which kids live. At this point I’m reminded of a commentator who used to post here as Grumpyoldhory, a fairly socialist sort, who bluntly said during one education debate, that the only way to save a lot of poor little Maori kids was to simply remove them from their families. I sympathised with his motivation but pointed out that it simply was not going to be possible, the violation of people’s civil liberties being merely the start of the objections.

    That’s my stance and I stand by it.

    In the 19th and 20th centuries hundreds of thousands of teachers went into the most godforsaken, poverty-stricken holes in the West, and elsewhere in the world, because they thought that teaching skills to kids was the best way to get them out of their desperate traps. It’s a damn good thing they did not have your stance and stand by it or they would have given up at the start, throwing their hands in the air and demanding that the state build decent houses, provide free food and medical care and jobs, or at least some welfare, before they attempted to teach the kids.

    Pathetic.

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  69. tom hunter (5,102 comments) says:

    Mind you, there’ll be a shitload of kids no school will want to touch with a bargepole, but if we set up an appropriate gas chamber/crematoria system that would be easily taken care of.

    Clap…….clap…….clap.

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  70. itstricky (1,904 comments) says:

    I was just pointing out that Steve’s choice of school to make his point wasn’t a good one.

    Of course, Steve’s choice of school also scales out to everyone in society, doesn’t it… … … .. what’s that? It doesn’t? Why not?

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  71. Bill Courtney (162 comments) says:

    tom,
    Here’s Professor David Berliner. Obviously, he just doesn’t get it either:

    Chapter 9:

    Sorting out the effects of inequality and poverty, teachers and schooling,

    on America’s youth

    David C. Berliner

    Arizona State University

    What does it take to get politicians and the general public to abandon misleading ideas, such as “Anyone who tries can pull themselves up by the bootstraps,” or that “Teachers are the most important factor in determining the achievement of our youth”? Many ordinary citizens and politicians believe these statements to be true, even though life and research informs us that such statements are usually not true.

    Certainly people do pull themselves up by their bootstraps and teachers really do turn around the lives of some of their students, but these are more often exceptions, and not usually the rule. Similarly, there are many over-weight, hard-drinking, cigarette-smoking senior citizens. But no one seriously uses these exceptions to the rule to suggest that it is perfectly all right to eat, drink, and smoke as much as one wants. Public policies about eating, drinking, and smoking are made on the basis of the general case, not the exceptions to those cases. This is not so in education.

    For reasons that are hard to fathom, too many people believe that in education the exceptions are the rule. Presidents and politicians of both parties are quick to point out the wonderful but occasional story of a child’s rise from poverty to success and riches. They also often proudly recite the heroic, remarkable, but occasional impact of a teacher or a school on a child. These stories of triumph by individuals who were born poor, or success by educators who changed the lives of their students are widely believed narratives about our land and people, celebrated in the press, on television and in the movies. But in fact, these are simply myths that help us feel good to be American. These stories of success reflect real events, and thus they are certainly worth studying and celebrating so we might learn more about how they occur (cf. Casanova, 2010). But the general case is that poor people stay poor and that teachers and schools serving impoverished youth do not often succeed in changing the life chances for their students. America’s dirty little secret is that a large majority of poor kids attending schools that serve the poor are not going to have successful lives. Reality is not nearly as comforting as myths. Reality does not make us feel good. But the facts are clear. Most children born into the lower social classes will not make it out of that class, even when exposed to heroic educators. A simple statistic illustrates this point: In an age where college degrees are important for determining success in life, only 9 percent of low income children will obtain those degrees (Bailey and Dynarski, 2011). And that discouraging figure is based on data from before the recent recession that has hurt family income and resulted in large increases in college tuition. Thus, the current rate of college completion by low-income students is now probably lower than suggested by these data. Powerful social forces exist to constrain the lives led by the poor, and our nation pays an enormous price for not trying harder to ameliorate these conditions.

    Because of our tendency to expect individuals to overcome their own handicaps, and teachers to save the poor from stressful lives, we design social policies that are sure to fail since they are not based on reality. Our patently false ideas about the origins of success have become drivers of national educational policies. This ensures that our nation spends time and money on improvement programs that do not work consistently enough for most children and their families, while simultaneously wasting the good will of the public (Timar and Maxwell-Jolly, 2012). In the current policy environment we often end up alienating the youth and families we most want to help, while simultaneously burdening teachers with demands for success that are beyond their capabilities.

    Detailed in this chapter is the role that inequality in wealth and poverty play in determining many of the social outcomes that we value for our youth. It is hoped that our nations’ social and educational policies can be made to work better if the myths we live by are understood to be just that, simple myths, and we learn instead to understand reality better.”

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  72. Bill Courtney (162 comments) says:

    tom,
    I also note that you did not respond to my simplified analysis that makes it clear that there is a finding 1 and a finding 2. Why?

    I disagree totally with your assertions. The clear and unequivocal statement that the OECD makes about Finding 1 sets the scene for the rest of the report, i.e. whatever we want to do with education policy, teachers etc. MUST acknowledge that the most solidly based … etc. Again, how on earth does that make me slippery?

    For a graphic, see the opening slide pack DPF used in the opening link and refer to page 24 of the pdf file.

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  73. Zapper (1,033 comments) says:

    So reading this thread I see tom hunter completely taking Bill Courtney to school (how ironic), and Bill Courtney flailing around, throwing insults but making no headway against tom hunter. Classic.

    Even more classic, is that Bill Courtney is backed up by the suspiciously named “bc”. Come on bill, if you’re going to have an alter, at least be more creative with the name.

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  74. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    Sorry zapper, I don’ t know who Bill Courtney is, never met him. Might be time for me to choose another name!

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  75. itstricky (1,904 comments) says:

    Zapper, where are the insults from Bill?

    Let’s see, if I create an anagram of your first name, double up the letters, subtract five letters alphabetically from each, put them backwards, do a little rain dance, remove three letters, capitalise them all, I think it spells ‘TOM’ = you’re tom hunter in disguise!

    So, back to topic. What’s No. 107 on the list again? And why is the Government spending money on it instead of Nos. 15, 16 ,17?

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  76. itstricky (1,904 comments) says:

    So reducing class sizes has much the same impact as charter schools – a mild improvement.

    No, because class sizes are No. 106 on the list and charter schools are No. 107. Simple primary school maths my friend. Not that lists from random Professors mean anything, because we know what those ivory tower quacks are like, don’t we? Oh, you started it by quoting the ivory tower quacks? Ah, I see. Oh do come back DPF and dig yourself out of the hole. If you don’t Unc’y John will be most upset and might not pay your salary next week.

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  77. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    A downtick for pointing out that I don’t know who Bill Courtney is?
    Ok then!
    (Nice one itstricky, love the rain dance bit)

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  78. bc (1,377 comments) says:

    Anyway night night, y’all.

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  79. Steve Taylor (211 comments) says:

    I have raised “expectations” as a key driver to success in the example of Dilworth.

    I am pausing to consider what might happen if “raising expectations” became a goal for all state schools?

    Perhaps this? http://unitec.researchbank.ac.nz/handle/10652/1871

    Or this? http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11232610

    Or even this? http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/10101640/Turnaround-report-thrills-teachers-board

    I would argue that Dilworth is an excellent example of what can be achieved when expectations are raised.

    I would not necessarily agree that successful Dilworth applicants arrive at the school focussed and ready to do well academically.

    The pupils are 9 – 10 years old when they come into the school – they are more interested in having fun and making friends.

    As students go through the school, they quickly realise that there are minimum expectations of disciplined conduct and behaviour, and this disciplined conduct and behaviour is well supervised, and globally enforced.

    Anchored in this environment is the core philosophy of the school: to produce “good and useful citizens”.

    Expectations matter, and it seems that boys from many different parts of NZ who all share a similar start in life of “straightened circumstances” are able to recognise and respond to these circumstances within the Dilworth environment.

    I wonder what might happen if State schools Leadership adopted a similar focus?

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  80. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    I have raised “expectations” as a key driver to success in the example of Dilworth.

    And as has been pointed out, this is a distinctly minor driver compared to the far more effective one of being able to select pupils who are likely to meet those expectations.

    I am pausing to consider what might happen if “raising expectations” became a goal for all state schools?

    Not much, in the absence of the ability to select pupils likely to meet those expectations. There’s a further problem: what happens when a pupil consistently and catastrophically fails to meet those expectations? At Dilworth, that’s fairly simple to deal with – at a state school with an obligation to take all comers, not so simple.

    That is the major flaw in this whole ‘get the state schools to copy the private schools’ approach – the ‘success’ of the private schools is in the quality of the student intake more than in anything the school does. Take the principal and staff of any of these private schools, put them a decile 1 school in South Auckland obliged to take all pupils in the area – see how they’re doing five years later. My money’s on them all having found other jobs.

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  81. Harriet (5,145 comments) says:

    “…..That is the major flaw in this whole ‘get the state schools to copy the private schools’ approach – the ‘success’ of the private schools is in the quality of the student intake more than in anything the school does…..”

    I’ll let you in on something Psycho.

    The immediate benefits of a private education finish when you leave the school. There is no extra tuition at uni.

    But as we know parents don’t send their kids to private schools for that. It’s about installing character into a student that matters, as that’s what keeps them going forward when they leave the school.

    Private schools simply set high achievable personal standards and expect the kids to meet them. And they give them sound reasons for doing so and encouragement also. They set the enviroment and children naturaly adapt to it.

    Their high academic results is simply a reflection of the character of the child – as not all ‘rich prick kids’ across the nation are geneticly linked so as to be continuosly above the national average.

    Parents know what they are paying for.

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  82. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    Parents know what they are paying for.

    Indeed – they’re paying to get their kid away from the plebs, and in some cases to get their kid a network among the people who’ll form NZ’s ruling class. Only a staunch irrationalist such as yourself could regard this as something scalable to a national level.

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  83. Harriet (5,145 comments) says:

    “……..they’re paying to get their kid away from the plebs, and in some cases to get their kid a network among the people who’ll form NZ’s ruling class. Only a staunch irrationalist such as yourself could regard this as something scalable to a national level……”

    The plebs are entitled to go to private schools. And all parents are entitled to have the children educated where ever they want.

    Then you throw in the most stupid notion that there is a ‘ruling class’ – then you go on to suggest that I think it can become a majority – via having more kids privately educated?

    I’m not that irrational.

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  84. Paulus (2,672 comments) says:

    I am neither an Academic Professor at some University or a Teacher so I suppose that I am not really qualified to comment.

    However, I have said before that if a child cannot speak properly, they cannot be expected to scholastically learn.

    Listen to young children speak (if you can understand the language they use) today – no wonder 20% of them fail.

    But what do I know, I am only a Father and Grandfather of well educated and balanced children, because they learnt to speak properly, thanks in the main to their mother’s daily insistence that they speak and learn to read as soon as possible.

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  85. doggone7 (833 comments) says:

    Johnboy:

    “State schools have to accept the shit they are given! (in regards to staff) is rubbish. They appoint from those who apply for jobs.

    You still didn’t answer “They’ve spent 80 years trying to turn…”

    How many years did they spend trying to turn your sprogs into socialists? How specifically, and what did you do about it?

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  86. Johnboy (17,092 comments) says:

    The most disgusting thing about the education system in NZ is that folk that regard themselves as good teachers feel they are so inadequate that they have to join a fucking union! :)

    Joining a union is the sort of thing that bloody inadequate retards do cause none of them have the ability to stand up on their hind legs and fight their corner for themselves! :)

    All they are really doing is denigrating their own abilities and putting power into the hands of the lefty bastards like Billy.

    Thank Christ I went to a private school staffed by non-union teachers that allowed me to think for myself! :)

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  87. All_on_Red (1,650 comments) says:

    “Indeed – they’re paying to get their kid away from the plebs, and in some cases to get their kid a network among the people who’ll form NZ’s ruling class.”

    This sounds like something an immigrant from the UK might say, because that’s how it works there. Oh wait….
    I went to three types of high school.1 year Single sex boys public, 3 years single sex boys private boarding and 1 year coed public. We had large classes and small classes. In the private school I remember one class of eleven of us, but the teacher was useless. Yet another we had over thirty but the teacher was great and we all looked forward to his class. Oh yes, those were the days we had male teachers.
    It’s teachers quality which is important not so much class size.
    Mind you I was from an era where we had a lot of ex servicemen teaching ( my father included) . In my seventh form year , the Principal was an ex submariner , my chem teacher was a fighter pilot and the English teacher won a MC in Africa
    I wonder what the ratio of men/ women is now.

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  88. Johnboy (17,092 comments) says:

    No teacher that feels they have any self-respect at all would want to join a union. They only do it because they feel forced to and the bloody government has a lot to answer for in that respect.

    We have had a National government since 2008 and they haven’t got rid of the teachers unions yet! What have Tolley and Parata been fucking around on? :)

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  89. Johnboy (17,092 comments) says:

    Shit. Low-level penetration flight under Minus’s radar surveilance seems to be working at the moment! :)

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  90. Johnboy (17,092 comments) says:

    Missile in tailpipe….ejecting now! :)

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  91. tom hunter (5,102 comments) says:

    I also note that you did not respond to my simplified analysis that makes it clear that there is a finding 1 and a finding 2. Why?

    Because even as the OECD listed “finding 1″, they made it clear that it was irrelevant to the paper concerned because those factors could not be influenced by education policy. Why the hell would I “respond” to something that the report addresses no further?

    It’s a good example of your monomania that you have to even ask this question of me. To anybody else it would be obvious that people writing a paper sub-titled “ATTRACTING, DEVELOPING AND RETAINING EFFECTIVE TEACHERS”, are not going to go off about social factors external to that. If they did they would have written an entirely different paper. Is this really so hard for you to understand?

    I disagree totally with your assertions. The clear and unequivocal statement that the OECD makes about Finding 1 sets the scene for the rest of the report ….

    Apparently it is too hard for you to understand. It only “sets the scene” in your mind. To follow your rationale would have meant the authors not wasting time writing the rest of the report.

    The funny thing is that you quoted from this report as an example of socio-economic factors affecting education – and I’ve no doubt people took it as such (I certainly did) through your repetition – only for me to find that the actual report is about something entirely different and that socioeconomic factors are referenced in only one small paragraph at the start.

    Since you are maniacal about socioeconomic factors in education I suggest you reference some reports that actually deal with that in detail. And it should be something more than Professor Berliner’s diatribe above, which you have also posted several times and which are filled with a number of assertions that don’t hold up. But I’ll deal with those the next time you post it.

    Finally, on a matter of schooling in blogs, would it kill you to learn some basic HTML so you can put stuff in quotes or at least italics and make your comments more readable?

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  92. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    It’s teachers quality which is important not so much class size.

    Agreed. To which we could add “…or school type.”

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  93. doggone7 (833 comments) says:

    Johnboy: “The most disgusting thing about the education system in NZ is that folk that regard themselves as good teachers feel they are so inadequate that they have to join a fucking union!”

    Wrong again. The most disgusting thing about the education system in NZ is that because they went through school, some people think they are educated. They leave school not realising the limitation of their limitations but persist in demonstrating it to others – regularly.

    Thank Christ I went to a private school staffed by teachers who allowed me to think. Who let me realise that what Descartes said about thinking was not necessarily about quality.

    Your consistent demonstration of what they talked about suggests you could have been the ideal educational prop and resource!

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  94. Rightandleft (670 comments) says:

    Once again Johnboy, you’ve proved what an irrational extremist you are. Obviously you’ve never been in a union, so how exactly you have become the authority on exactly how they function is beyond me. You are no better than communists who believe that anybody who opens a business for profit and has employees working for them is a morally bankrupt capitalist out to smash the working man. Businesses serve a purpose, the free market grows the wealth of our nation and should be nurtured, but unions have a place in that system as well. You can thank unions for your two day weekend and forty hour work week among other innovations we now take for granted.

    If you really think people join unions only because they are fools with no confidence in themselves then you don’t have much common sense. There is a power differential between an employer and their employee. Individually there is no way for an employee to just stand up to their boss and tell them they’ve got to fix the safety problems in their workplace, or provide them better wages or benefits. Sure they can make the case but they’re a hell of a lot more likely to win if they have the support of their co-workers rather than facing the boss all alone.

    It’s a proven fact that union workers earn more money and have better benefits than those who are non-union. It’s why business owners and business-friendly governments do what they can to weaken union power. And that’s the way it should be. The unions push for more and the employers push back and compromises that benefit everyone are made. I have a couple friends in the US who are Republican voting Tea Party conservatives, but they both still belong to the teachers union. I asked them why they joined, were they forced or bullied? Nope, they said it would be stupid not to join when the benefits like better health insurance, free legal representation and cheaper mortgage rates are on offer.

    So you can make plenty of legitimate arguments about unions getting too much for their members, or being too politically active, but the argument you’ve been making, that people are fools to join them where they exist, is just not a winner. And all your talk about the union telling people how to think just further reveals that you have no idea how teachers unions work. Your viewpoints seem to have been shaped by Hollywood movies about old-school mob-run unions for unskilled labourers in the US. Time to update your views a bit, educate yourself before you open your mouth.

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