Voters reject Labour’s class size policy as best use of money

July 23rd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealanders would rather money was spent on improving teaching standards than on reducing class sizes, a Herald-DigiPoll survey reveals.

has become a political battleground before September’s election, with both major parties promising to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on it.

Asked about their priorities, more than 60 per cent of those polled said they would spend money on trying to improve teaching standards rather than cutting class sizes.

Labour has included reducing class sizes in its election policies.

Another of its policies, a promise to pay schools which do not ask parents for donations, gained support in the poll.

National has pledged $359 million for a scheme that would pay the best teachers and principals more.

Labour countered by promising to use that money to instead hire 2000 more teachers and reduce class sizes.

Asked about those policies, 61 per cent of those polled said the money was better spent on trying to improve teaching standards.

Thirty-five per cent thought it should be used to cut class sizes.

Excellent. Voters understand quality is more important than quantity.

Tags: , ,

36 Responses to “Voters reject Labour’s class size policy as best use of money”

  1. redqueen (563 comments) says:

    Labour’s in trouble if they can’t even catch a break by proposing to throw more people and money at a ‘problem’…maybe voters have actually started to learn that quality matters, particularly if we’re to achieve higher standards of living…

    Vote: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. freedom101 (504 comments) says:

    I wonder what voters think of all the other loopy policies on offer this election, such as the Conservatives’ 35% flat tax rate on incomes above $20,000? It would be amazing to see how many people suddenly earn $20,000 and not a cent more! And what happens to the company tax rate? What about Winston’s $3 billion GST cut? If Winston could only account for the missing $158,000 …..

    Vote: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. kiwigunner (230 comments) says:

    Good try. the question is ridiculous and doesn’t cover the whole policy. Labour aren’t saying that they will only employ more teachers this is one of a raft of education plans. A survey predicated on a dodgy question of 750.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 16 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. wreck1080 (3,917 comments) says:

    Thats not to say quantity is not important though.

    Just think, the kid who is stuck on a maths problem but the teacher has no time to help as the other 20 of the other 30 kids are also stuck.

    This is why I have been using Khan academy for my child. It is brilliant, watch a video or 2 and rewind if you don’t understand something. Then, do some exercises . If you get 5 right in a row you get to pass on to the next level.

    The only problem is that it takes time to learn things outside school hours. And, kids don’t have much free time.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. ciaron (1,434 comments) says:

    such as the Conservatives’ 35% flat tax rate on incomes above $20,000?
    Really? where do they say that?

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. doggone7 (805 comments) says:

    kiwi gunner : “…this is one of a raft of education plans.”

    The question might be ridiculous and that is one of a raft of education plans but the debate has been reduced to political slogans. The anti Labour crusade being led by the likes of David Farrar latch on to any simplistic, instant coffee mantras, like “quality is more important than quantity” and throw them around.

    Their greatest weapon in spreading their message is the failure of our past education systems which have the masses lacking discernment and critical skills. And ironic that today Whale Oil says that parents are not “village idiots”. His propaganda and Farrar’s use of catchphrases and headlines relies on zealots continuing the messages they put out and spreading the nonsense to the masses – the village idiots. The ease of the manipulation proves that to be the case.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 15 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. Tarquin North (298 comments) says:

    Forget about class sizes, the headline should just be “Voters Reject Labour” – so much easier and more economical. I see they want to re-open the Napier to Gisborne line and the Hillside Workshops. Cunliffe is either paying for his union support or he should plant a bug on Mc Carten and find out who he is really working for.

    Vote: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. mister nui (1,028 comments) says:

    Really? where do they say that?

    They don’t. It is implied, because they have not costed their policy of making the first $20,000 tax free. To main fiscal revenue neutral, they will have to make the tax rate 35% on everything over 20k.

    I am sure that this is not what they want, but they need to cost their policy adequately and show how they will do it, otherwise, it’s very much like Labour/Greens policy, just a soundbite.

    I’m a big fan of making the first 25k tax free, but there is a shitload of stupid spending that I would give the ass, such that this can be done…. Interest Free Student Loans, WFF, Everything Maori etc. etc.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. Bill Courtney (161 comments) says:

    Well said, doggone7.

    I wonder how many people have actually read Labour’s education policy document, which runs to 34 pages? It is so easy to characterise this as a “quantity v quality” debate, but there is far more to it than that.

    National loves to play the “quality” slogan but how many people can remember what the two quality initiatives were the last time they tried, in the 2012 Budget? Where are those proposals now?

    Finally, look at the PPTA release on the UMR poll:
    http://www.ppta.org.nz/resources/media/3050-kiwis-want-smaller-class-sizes

    Parents aren’t stupid. That’s why we want smaller class sizes so teachers can more capably deliver better quality teaching practice and more individualised learning for our kids.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 18 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. freedom101 (504 comments) says:

    ciaron – the Conservatives have released a policy of a $20,000 tax free threshold, but have not said where they will raise the revenue to pay for it. The tax rate necessary to raise the revenue to cover the policy would be a flat tax of at least 35% and maybe up to 40%, depending on how much rearranging of personal affairs takes place to take advantage of the tax free level.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. Andrew (84 comments) says:

    Okay… so nobody sees any problem at all with this question?

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. ciaron (1,434 comments) says:

    mister nui & freedom101,

    So, the truth is they don’t say that at all but 35% is what is required to stay neutral based on assumptions which may or may not be applicable.

    It is something I find most unpalatable, when any party says “we will do X”, with absolutely no follow through on the how…

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. Maggy Wassilieff (394 comments) says:

    @ wreck1080…. if two-thirds of the class are struggling with a maths problem, then the concept hasn’t been clearly taught.

    A decent teacher would have twigged within a few minutes of checking back with the pupils that most hadn’t got a clue how to proceed.
    Time to call the class to attention and give better direction as to how to tackle the maths problem. That could mean a new lesson revising basic facts… or it could just be checking that you (the teacher) hadn’t confused the kids.

    Class size is irrelevant in this case….. Teacher’s ability to convey information and demonstrate techniques is key.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. Brian scott (3 comments) says:

    There is nothing in Labour’s $100 per student policy that prevents parents at a school setting up a trust that asks for donations from parents, and passing this on to the school. The school itself has not asked for donations. It would make sense for all schools to adopt this tactic, even decile 10 schools, as rather than replacing donations, it is actually an additional income stream (less a proportion of parents who choose not to donate to the trust, though they previously donated to the school).

    The Labour policy also does not help low income parents with children at (high) decile schools that do not opt into the scheme, while helping high income parents at low decile schools that do opt in. However, if Labour really wanted to target assistance to low income parents, then they could have simply raise benefits and working for families, which may not be politically acceptable to the middle class, although this would eliminate the bureaucracy costs of monitoring school compliance, and the potential use of trusts that Labour’s policy will generate.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. doggone7 (805 comments) says:

    Maggy Wassilieff

    One of the nubs of the problem. All the rabbiting on about not having the ‘one shoe fits all’ approach, all the stuff about individual attention, all the stuff about every kid being different, all the stuff about going to private schools for the small class sizes and it seems that “a decent teacher” would teach to the class, call them class to attention when someone one hand’t twigged and i presume teach to the kids in the middle.

    “Class size is irrelevant” so put 60 kids in each class and teach them all as if they’re the same? A decent teacher would survive. What about the kids? What about the brightest, fastest? What about the intellectually impaired?

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. Maggy Wassilieff (394 comments) says:

    @ doggone… I don’t think anyone is talking about class sizes of 60 here in NZ. Although I know Asian students who sat in such sized classes and most progressed through their subjects ok.

    If a teacher has failed to get an idea across to two-thirds of the class, I doubt that wandering along spending a minute or so with each confused individual is going to clarify matters.

    Think back to your schooling days… could all your teachers get concepts across easily to you?, what happened when you were confused? How much extra teacher time did you get if the class reduced in size by 3-5 people (perhaps when some were away sick)?

    A teacher should easily be able to incorporate a range of intellectual abilities in a class…. that is part of a teacher’s basic training.

    (Seriously intellectually impaired and severely disturbed pupils require specialist teaching., I believe….. but there are times and situations when they can be involved in mainstream classes).

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. doggone7 (805 comments) says:

    Maggy Wassilieff: “I don’t think anyone is talking about class sizes of 60 here in NZ.” Why not? Enough people are saying class size doesn’t matter. Think of the money we’d save if we immediately took class numbers up to 40+. Let’s get rid of the useless ones we keep hearing about and give their kids to the excellent, ‘quality’ ones we hear about.

    “If a teacher has failed to get an idea across to two-thirds of the class, I doubt that wandering along spending a minute or so with each confused individual is going to clarify matters.” What if eight of the 36 kids in the class don’t get it? Is it the teachers fault if that big a group kids don’t get it first time round? They’ve pitched it too high. So they pitch it lower and slower. Then what about the brightest and fastest?

    “Think back to your schooling days…”
    In my schooling days and where I went to school ADHD hadn’t been invented. Foetal alcohol syndrome hadn’t been invented. Drug affected parents hadn’t been invented. Kids didn’t come from solo homes. Kids didn’t come from homes where no-one was working. Shut up or you’d get whacked ruled. Punished at school = punished at home. Numbers left school at 15 to go into manual jobs.

    “A teacher should easily be able to incorporate a range of intellectual abilities in a class…. that is part of a teacher’s basic training.”
    Are the intelligentsia and the most affluent of the country encouraging their own children to take up teaching knowing that the basic training is going to give them the whole range skills to do a great job? “…easily be able to incorporate a range of intellectual abilities …” flows nicely off the tongue but the reality is probably different than a glib comment like that.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. RJL (146 comments) says:

    Nice try DPF. You really are pathetic.

    Increasing the quantity of teachers does improve the quality of teaching. That is the whole point.

    As is well documented in education research and is well known by everyone who can afford to send their children to a private school.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. Maggy Wassilieff (394 comments) says:

    @doggone…. I did not mean a teacher’s training should incorporate lesson-planning for a range of abilities to be taken as a glib comment.

    It is one of the basic tasks a teacher should perform. Whether they do or not seems to be the luck of the draw.

    Now I’m with you that I wouldn’t be encouraging my children to go teaching. I tried it for seven years…. loved the teaching, loved the boys… not so keen on the bureaucratic b.s.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. burt (8,271 comments) says:

    Voters reject Labour’s class sizeNZEI’s increase our membership numbers policy as best use of money.

    There – fixed that for you.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. Jinky (185 comments) says:

    Has the election happened already? If it hasn’t then who are the voters referred to in your post David? You run a polling company so I think you are being deliberately misleading in referring to them as voters. Don’t try so hard to promote all things National it’s annoying and counter productive. Pushing charter schools as you have done when they are marginally less effective at improving pupil perfomance than reducing class sizes was bad enough but now claiming that 750 people polled by the New Zealand Herald are “voters” rejecting Labour policy is OTT. National are way ahead. there’s no need for such desparate spin tactics. Relax man!

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. OneTrack (3,107 comments) says:

    rjl – “Increasing the quantity of teachers does improve the quality of teaching. That is the whole point.”

    Never mind the quality, feel the width.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. itstricky (1,831 comments) says:

    How come you didn’t lead/title this post with the following?

    Labour has included reducing class sizes in its election policies.

    Another of its policies, a promise to pay schools which do not ask parents for donations, gained support in the poll.

    More than 50% support, according to the graphic.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. burt (8,271 comments) says:

    itstricky

    Ok, so the state school provision monopoly funding model is so badly broken it can be used as an election bribe without reference to fixing the model. Labour are going to give schools a choice of towing the party line education is free for $100/student payment or they ate not. That’s the standard of Labour’s policy. It’s disgraceful.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. itstricky (1,831 comments) says:

    Burt.

    Sorry, I don’t understand. Could you rephrase?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. itstricky (1,831 comments) says:

    Voters reject Labour’s class size policy as best use of money

    DPF, remember that class size is No.106 on the list, and Charter Schools are No. 107.

    I look forward to the blog post entitled “Voters reject ACT’s Charter School policy as best use of money”

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. burt (8,271 comments) says:

    itstricky

    How are Labour helping the school funding issues? They are going to give schools a choice of taking an extra $100/student per year. Effectively caping funding. Parents might find this appealing, why wouldn’t they. But what is actually achieved ?

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. doggone7 (805 comments) says:

    itstricky

    My advice is don’t try to explain it. You can talk as much as you like to a stone on a beach. It will not hear you.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. itstricky (1,831 comments) says:

    Parents might find this appealing, why wouldn’t they. But what is actually achieved ?

    The schools stop having to pester parents. The schools stop having to label some students as “stingy” (that whole sticker scheme seemed just downright nasty). Some schools get more in return than they used to, meaning more resources. Schools can stop having to spend time accounting for donations. Some parents, who have lower incomes but live in higher decile school zones will benefit quite a bit.

    In general, they (Labour) are giving them (The Schools) back the funds that they (The Schools) should have in the first place. As much as one may dislike Cunliffe, that was a clever defence of the policy which says it all:

    “The proposal as I’ve seen it is simply shifting the burden to taxpayers,” says Education Minister Hekia Parata. Prime Minister John Key slammed the plan in Parliament. “Under tricky Dave they’ll still be paying their activity fee,” he said.

    Mr Cunliffe retored: “Would slippery John like to confirm why the education budget is 2.3% lower today than it was when he took office.”

    I don’t see how it is caping funding. If some schools want to solicit donations still, they can do that. That is a bit stupid, if you think all the time you’d spend gathering donations is wasted man hours.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  30. itstricky (1,831 comments) says:

    Nice try DPF. You really are pathetic.

    Increasing the quantity of teachers does improve the quality of teaching. That is the whole point.

    As is well documented in education research and is well known by everyone who can afford to send their children to a private school.

    And as verbally approved by that well known educational professor, Dr John Key.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  31. seanmaitland (500 comments) says:

    @itstricky – except the Education budget is not lower – you are blindly parroting something you don’t have a clue about.

    The problem with this site is that when you pull quotes out of thin air like that, people will actually check up on them.

    The government education budget in 2008/09 was $10.8b. The 2014 education budget is $12.8b.

    How is that fucking 2.3% lower?

    Try doing the maths on them apples.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  32. Disaster Area (41 comments) says:

    Two points: a survey of 750 people out of the 3,000,000 who are registered to vote. So it surveyed 0.025% of the voting population. This is why I don’t trust surveys. There is no information on age, ethnicity, income, political affiliation or even if they have children in education.

    Secondly, I wonder what the response would have been if the question was ‘Do you think National’s plan to remove the best teachers from their classrooms two days a week will improve standards?’

    Like any of the election policies, this is too complicated to be boiled down to a one sentence question.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  33. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    How do you measure the performance of the maths master at wellington college getting outstanding students through scholarship calculus v the maths teacher at Mana college trying to get NCEA achieved credits. Who’s the better teacher? How do you objectively measure it.

    I don’t have the answer but I suspect the proposed bonus scheme will benefit decile 8 9 and 10.

    I am all for performance pay but I don’t for a.second see.it working in the decide 1 2 and 3 schools where the bulk of the so called tail of under achievers are.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  34. itstricky (1,831 comments) says:

    The government education budget in 2008/09 was $10.8b. The 2014 education budget is $12.8b.

    How is that fucking 2.3% lower?

    Try doing the maths on them apples.

    One day, a Blue statistician woke up and said “The sky is Blue”, the next day a Red statistician got up and said “No, the sky is tending to Red when considering X, Y, Z and a standard deviation of 2.5″

    I wouldn’t be as naive to think that Cunliffe’s quote is taliored to specific statistics, but I also wouldn’t be naive enough to think that I could just Google a couple of numbers and pronounce that I knew everything there was to know about what colour the sky is, and why it is that colour, either. The real truth is often stranger than fiction and is often never found. For now, I chose to accept the Red statistician’s claim.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  35. doggone7 (805 comments) says:

    Mark: “How do you measure the performance of the maths master at wellington college getting outstanding students through scholarship calculus v the maths teacher at Mana college trying to get NCEA achieved credits. Who’s the better teacher? How do you objectively measure it.”

    It’s easy. How do I know? Because many on blogsites tell me it’s easy. There’s even a guy who is going to be an MP after the election who’s got it sussed. “What is the difference between the supply of education and the supply of hairdressing?” is his way of simplifying things for us.

    The strange thing is that when invited to answer your question specifically, with consideration for factors including the logistics and that awkward phenomenon, the human factor, they cannot outline a process. Performance being affected by the decile of school is something you obviously see as a factor while many others think that is irrelevant.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  36. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    It’s not that I see decile rating as a factor as much as the performance metrics in terms of pass rates demonstrates that it is. Is a teacher getting an 80% pass rate at a decile 10 school a better teacher than a teacher achieving 50% in a decile 1 school. I’m not sure it’s that simple.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote