Nevada v Uber

December 16th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

An amusing article on Medium about how the the state of Nevada is trying to cope with bad taxi drivers, rather than allow Uber in which allows people to rate their drivers, so future passengers can be guided by them.

Nevada has gone for:

  • Have armed cops randomly pull over taxis
  • Spend two years trying to get agreement on an information board at the airport
  • A spreadsheet on their website
  • A complaint form for people over charged $10 that you have to post in
  • A $6 million hardware and software package to allow the state to monitor taxi routes

Amazing.

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Surplus bye bye

December 16th, 2014 at 1:16 pm by David Farrar

Bill English has said:

The Government believes an OBEGAL surplus is achievable this financial year, despite Treasury’s latest forecast today predicting a $572 million deficit (0.2 per cent of GDP) for the year to 30 June 2015, Finance Minister Bill English says.

“These forecasts emphasise the unusual conditions the New Zealand economy is experiencing,” Mr English says. “Treasury is predicting solid growth, growing employment and low interest rates, which help New Zealanders to get ahead. But at the same time, falling dairy prices and low inflation are restricting growth in the nominal economy and government revenue.

“This is making it more challenging for the Government to achieve surplus in 2014/15. However we remain on track to reduce debt to 20 per cent of GDP by 2020.

The Government has limited control over revenue, short to changes to tax rates. But what they can control is spending. If they want to get into surplus they need to rein in spending more. They knew revenue forecasts are always risky, yet allowed spending to keep rising.

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Greens again call for cows to be culled

December 16th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Mr Groser said making a greater commitment up to 2030 would be “a big challenge” for New Zealand because 80 per cent of its energy already came from renewable sources.

“Once you’re that high it’s difficult to find low-hanging fruit,” he said.

There were other obstacles.

No solutions had yet been found by New Zealand researchers into reducing the emissions produced by agriculture.

Quite valid points. But the Greens have a solution.

Green Party climate spokesman Kennedy Graham rejected Mr Groser’s claim that there was no “low-hanging fruit”, saying that similar agriculture-based countries had reduced their dairy herds.

This is the Green Party policy – set a limit on the number of cows in NZ. We’ll cripple our economy for the sake of environment purity, despite the fact our total annual CO2 emissions is less than the daily around the same as the weekly growth in China’s CO2 emissions.

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Improving teaching

December 16th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

An interesting interview in the NZ Herald with Bali Haque. His background is:

Bali Haque is well known in education, having headed schools, a principals’ association and as the former deputy chief executive of the Qualifications Authority.

And

Mr Haque – a former executive member of the PPTA

So what does he see as a problem:

Mr Haque stresses that most teachers do a great job and that socio-economic factors are most important when looking at the “tail” of student underachievement.

But he doesn’t shy away from what he sees as problems within the profession. A big one is teachers he terms “free riders” – those he says refuse to work past 3.30pm, do nothing during their holidays and the very minimum required in class.

The collective agreement has provisions for incompetence – themselves often not acted upon – but not for the relatively few teachers who “hover in the only-just-competent area”, Mr Haque says. In the book, Changing our Secondary Schools, he argues that under the current collective such “free riders” will be paid much the same as those who go above and beyond.

We need to better reward the great teachers, motivate the mediocre teachers to improve, and weed out the teachers who are just not able to connect with students.

He says this should be addressed through a version of performance pay – not linked to one measure such as student achievement, but likely judged by the principal and possibly paid as an end-of-year bonus.

Principals should have more flexibility in how they pay their teachers.

also believes that teachers, through their unions, should look at reducing their holidays from 12 weeks to four or five.

The workload pressures that some teachers complain about are often self-inflicted, he says, and other professions work more flexibly to cope. Because most of the workload happens during the 38 weeks of term time, many teachers cope by working evenings and weekends, leading to stress.

Using some of the current holiday time to call all teachers in to school to carry out tasks such as planning meetings and professional development could go a long way to reducing the overall stress levels in most staffrooms, Mr Haque argues.

I can’t see the unions or teachers agreeing to giving up eight weeks holiday!

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NZ top for animal protection

December 16th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

World Poultry reports:

Just four countries – New Zealand, the UK, Switzerland and Austria – are deemed worthy of the highest ‘A’ rating in the Animal Protection Index issued by the UK-based World Animal Protection (WAP) organisation.

WAP’s overall rankings are based on a wide range of indicators relating not only to farm animals, but also to animals in captivity, pets and animals used in scientific research.

The Animal Protection Index findings are presented on an interactive website atwww.worldanimalprotection.orgwhich assesses standards, policies and legislation in some 50 countries around the world.

Animal protection rankings are made from A = highest, to G = lowest.

Australia is a C, US a D. Good to be one of just four countries with an A rating.

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Two hostages dead in Sydney

December 16th, 2014 at 8:25 am by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

Police confirmed three people have died and four others were injured during the police operation that brought the siege at Lindt cafe to an end just after 2am today after more than 16 hours.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione confirmed two hostages and a lone gunman were killed and a total of 17 hostages were held throughout the siege.

Terrible that two innocent lives were lost, but am relieved that it wasn’t much higher. The Police did the best they could in a very difficult situation.

There was no word on the fate of the gunman, earlier identified as 50-year-old self-styled sheik Man Haron Monis.

Monis was known to police and as a self-styled preacher of Islamic State on bail for accessory to murder, as the gunman who was holding 15 terrified hostages in Sydney’s Lindt cafe.

On bail!

The 49-year-old, originally from Iran who lived in southwest Sydney, had previously sent offensive letters to the families of dead Australian soldiers, calling them ‘murderers’, The Daily Telegraph says.

He had a sawn-off shotgun and was a fringe Islamist, The Australian and Sky News reports.

I think countries such as Australia, and NZ, need to have much more stringent immigration criteria – I don’t mean banning people on the basis of their religion, but asking prospective migrants a detailed set of questions to ascertain if they hold extreme views, and would be happy living in a secular country.

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key says it would naive to think that an attack similar to the Sydney siege couldn’t happen in New Zealand.

Three people, including the gunman, are dead after the Martin Pl siege ended in a volley of gunfire shortly after 2am local time this morning (4am NZT).

“I think you have to say yes,” Key said. “There is always that risk, there’s that risk everywhere in the world. There’s the risk that there’s a person who is somehow attracted to the teachings and kinds of messages and propaganda that these people are peddling.” …

Key said the events in Sydney only showed how dangerous IS was, even if it wasn’t directly involved. 

“As I said, they’re extremely well-resourced, we believe they’re the most highly-resourced terrorist group in the world. 

“They’re using the internet in a way that’s never been seen before, to build this outreach capacity and to target the very sort of people that we’ve seen in Australia overnight; to tap into people and to use them as a domestic terror threat type of organisation,” he said. 

“I don’t think we should stop the things that we’re doing. I think we should continue to standup to ISIS and actually, it just demonstrates how dangerous they are.” 

The gunman at the centre of the Sydney siege is among a number of homegrown terrorists being targeted by IS, Key said.

The attack was an act of “cowardice”, and New Zealand’s hearts went out to all Australians, he said.

“It’s a terrible tragedy isn’t it? Our hearts and thoughts go out not only to the families of the victims and the hostages, but actually to all Australians. 

“Australia’s our nearest neighbour, they’re our greatest mates, we consider ourselves to be very similar in the way we go about our lives. 

“I think Australia will be really hurting, and indeed the world is as we see some people lose their lives in an utter act of cowardice, and so close to Christmas,” Key said on Firstline. 

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Koch a social liberal

December 16th, 2014 at 8:13 am by David Farrar

ABC News reports:

Reclusive billionaire David Koch, a powerful donor in American conservative politics, says he’s a “social liberal.”

“I’m basically a libertarian, and I’m a conservative on economic matters, and I’m a social liberal,” Koch told ABC News’ Barbara Walters during an interview for her special “The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2014″ that airs at 9 p.m. ET Sunday on ABC.

Koch, who supports abortion rights and gay marriage, said he isn’t concerned with candidates he supports who don’t share some of his views. He said his primary concern when choosing a candidate to support is their fiscal policies.

Koch is demonised by some of the US left as he is a major donor to fiscally conservative candidates and causes. He is also one of the world’s biggest charitable donors having given over $750 million to cancer research, the arts etc. He has also donated $185 million to MIT and $100 million to a New York hospital.

His beliefs include:

  • Repealing victimless crime laws
  • Gay marriage
  • Legal abortion
  • Stem-cell research
  • Opposes war on drugs

I agree with him on a lot of issues!

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General Debate 16 December 2014

December 16th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Laila quits her membership

December 16th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Laila Harre facebooked:

Today I have officially stepped down as Leader of the Internet Party. I have also resigned my membership.

It is no surprise she has resigned as leader, but to resign your membership also can only be read that she never actually believed in the principles of the Internet Party. It was just a vehicle for her to try and get more MPs for Mana.

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Mayor Goff?

December 15th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Background noise about a mayoral bid has become something of a drum roll in recent weeks. And while he claims to be surprised, the 61-year-old former Labour leader is also flattered.

“I’m genuinely surprised that so many people from such a broad cross section have approached me,” Goff says in his office at Parliament this week. …

“Frankly, it’s not particularly the lifestyle that I want to choose and that’s why I’ve said no, at this point, to it. When pushed I’ll say I’ll consider it, but I’ve got to say that’s not my preference.”

Later, he says he will look at the candidates that are emerging then make a decision. The implication? That if nobody else from the Left emerges to depose Len Brown, then Goff may step up.

Penny Hulse is known to be interested but won’t stand if Brown insists on standing again.

What kind of mayor does Goff want?

One who is “fiscally responsible”, he says, who “doesn’t rate people to death”, tries to do more with less, while creating a “socially inclusive city”.

Sounds good to me.

Brown “will look at what the polling is telling him and make a decision on that basis”, Goff says.

Brown has been embroiled in controversy since the revelation he conducted an extramarital affair in the chambers of the town hall, but Goff says recent criticisms of the hidden wardrobe and bathroom in the mayor’s new office were “unwarranted attacks”.

Brown “works really hard as mayor”, Goff adds, and “right now people should just let him get on and do the job he’s been elected to do”.

Sounds to me like Goff will challenge Brown, but not right now.

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Australian Greens targeting academics

December 15th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Dirty Politics in Australia with the Australian Greens conducting a witch hunt against academics who have ever done work for the  Institute of Public ­Affairs or the Centre for Independent Studies:

THE notorious US anti-communism campaigner Joe McCarthy would be proud — the Australian Senate has adopted his tactics in pursuit of independent think tanks.

Instead of “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the United States?”, a Senate estimates committee is asking whether particular academics and specialists are “connected” with the Institute of Public ­Affairs or the Centre for Independent Studies.

Incredible.

“This is outright McCarthyism,” IPA deputy director James Paterson said. “It is pretty much ‘Are you now or have you even been a member of the IPA?’ ”

There’s a twist in this story.

The person who asked the question was South Australian Greens senator Penny Wright, who raised it at an October hearing.

“I am interested to know if any of the reviewers who were appointed are connected with the Institute of Public Affairs or the Centre for Independent Studies?” she asked.

The Weekend Australian contacted the senator’s office yesterday seeking comment on why the organisations were singled out and whether she was investigating connections to any other organisations.

Senator Wright’s adviser said the senator was too busy to respond, having “back-to-back meetings” and “two human rights events” to attend.

Human rights, not including freedom of association it seems.

They found the questions insulting, seemingly suggesting that publishing with these highly regarded organisations devalued their expertise.

CIS executive director Greg Lindsay said: “We are an organisation of the highest standards that publishes Nobel laureates, leading academics from Australia and around the world, as well as high-level politicians from all major parties. I’ve never heard of Senator Wright — who is she?”

Great retort.

Both the IPA and CIS support free markets, individual liberty and limited government.

Mr Paterson said Senator Wright’s question was a “classic example” of playing the man rather than the ball. “It is deeply revealing about the Greens’ attitude to political disagreement,” he said. “Are the Greens senators hunting down the political affiliation of all those who contributed towards developing the national curriculum, or just those they disagree with?”

The lead author of the original history curriculum was Melbourne University historian Stuart Macintyre. His connections were not pursued by the Greens. Professor Macintyre was once a member of the Communist Party.

Heh.

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Hostages in Sydney

December 15th, 2014 at 12:45 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

AN ARMED man is holding several people hostage at a cafe in Martin Place in Sydney.

There are hostages standing with their hands up at the windows in the popular Lindt chocolate shop, which has two or three entrances. There is also a black and white flag being held up in a window. It is believed to be the Black Standard, a jihadist flag.

Terrifying for the hostages, and also for everyone in Sydney. Hopefully the situation will be resolved with no hostages killed. If it is a terrorist attack, which seems the case, it is a grim reminder how close to home it is all getting.

UPDATE: The flag says:

There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of God’

It seems it is a jihadist flag, not an ISIS flag. The distinction may seem small, but I’d say less likely that the hostages will be publicly killed. Let’s hope.

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Internet Party may stand again in 2017

December 15th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom says his party could still make another bid for election in 2017 despite its merger with the Mana Party coming to an end.

Mana Movement leader Hone Harawira confirmed at the weekend that the two parties had formally split after failing to win a seat in the last election.

The Internet Party will soon be leaderless as Laila Harre plans to stand down and its main backer, Mr Dotcom, says he has run out of money fighting his extradition to the United States.

But the internet entrepreneur suggested yesterday the movement was still alive, saying he “would not be surprised if the Internet Party has another go” in 2017.

He did not want to comment further as he was focused on getting the US branch of his party up and running for the US elections in 2016. The US Internet Party will be backed and run by American citizens, but Mr Dotcom is likely to play some role.

Dotcom’s plans have changed from NZ domination to global domination – an Internet Party in every country maybe!

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Labour dumps euthanasia bill

December 15th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A bill which would legalise voluntary euthanasia has been dropped by Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway at the request of his leader Andrew Little.

Mr Lees-Galloway had been canvassing support for his End of Life Choice Bill before deciding whether to return it to the private members’ bill ballot.

But Mr Little confirmed yesterday that he had told Mr Lees-Galloway not to put it in the ballot because it was not an issue Labour should be focused on when it was rebuilding.

“It comes down to priorities at the moment,” Mr Little said. “We are very much focused on … jobs and economic security.

I think this is a real pity, as I suspect if it had remained in the ballot and been drawn, that it had the numbers to pass.

Mr Little said Labour was still a socially progressive party under his leadership.

“It’s not about avoiding controversy but it’s about choosing the controversies that are best for us at this point in time. That stuff on euthanasia, it isn’t the time for us to be talking about that.”

I would have thought just after an election is the best time to be considering issues such as this, rather than closer to the next election.

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US politics cartoons of the week: 15 December 2014

December 15th, 2014 at 9:32 am by Lindsay Addie

As usual two cartoons lampooning both sides of the political divide in USA politics.

The first makes fun of John Boehner and compares him to Moses!

gary_varvel_gary_varvel_for_12122014_5_

© Gary Varvel – Found at Real Clear Politics

 

The second refers to the cover of the 23rd October edition of Rolling Stone magazine and also this extremely glowing appraisal of President Obama by Paul Krugman.

michael_ramirez_michael_ramirez_for_12092014_5_

© Michael Ramirez – Found at Real Clear Politics

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General Debate 15 December 2014

December 15th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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2014 Kiwiblog Awards Winners

December 15th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Over 1,300 votes were cast last week in the 2014 Kiwiblog Awards. The results are:

  • 2014 Press Gallery Journalist of the Year – Katie Bradford wins on 35% followed by Fran O’Sullivan 34% and Andrea Vance 31%
  • 2014 Minor Party Politician of the Year – David Seymour wins on 44% followed by Tariana Turia 29% and Sue Bradford 28%
  • 2014 National Party MP of the Year – John Key wins on 40% followed by Bill English 34%, Steven Joyce 17% and Amy Adams 9%
  • 2014 Labour Party MP of the Year – Kelvin Davis has a crushing win on 79% followed by Stuart Nash 12% and Damien O’Connor 9%
  • 2014 MP of the Year – an easy win to John Key on 85% with Hone Harawira on 16%

 

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Mana and Internet Party split

December 14th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

3 News reports:

The Mana Movement has split with the Internet Party as the pair’s controversial coalition comes to an end.

A letter has been sent to the Electoral Commission to formally close off the Internet Mana relationship after a disastrous election result.

The Mana Party were warned by many not to do it, and they paid the price. Without parliamentary funding, or funding from Dotcom, they will find it difficult to get back into Parliament. Making 5% is pretty much impossible, and Davis is likely to work hard at retaining his seat.

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US election results almost final

December 14th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

There’s just one race yet to be officially called (Arizona 2nd) but assuming the recount confirms it as a Republican gain, here’s the records broken in the 2014 mid-terms.

  • Republicans net gain in Senate of nine seats to 54 seats. Democrats 44 and Independents two.
  • 1st time Democrats have lost the Senate in a sixth year mid-term since 1918
  • Largest mid-term gain in the Senate since 1958
  • In the House the Republicans had a net gain of 12 seats to 246, with Democrats on 188
  • Largest House majority since 1928
  • Democrats under Obama have lost 75 House seats – the highest in US history
  • Democrats lost three Governor races to two Republicans and an Independent making it 31 Republicans, 18 Democrats and one Independent
  • Republicans gained control of 11 state chambers to control 69 in total, and Democrats just 30
  • Republicans control 29 state legislatures (both chambers) and Democrats just 11 – their lowest since 1860
  • Including whether they hold the Governorship, the Republicans have control of all branches of state government in 24 states, and the Democrats just seven

If the Republicans in 2016 can win the presidency and hold the Senate, they will be more dominant in US politics than at any other time in recent history.

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Guest Post: Partnership Schooling – Year 1 – A Chink of Light.

December 14th, 2014 at 8:23 am by David Farrar

A guest post by Alwyn Poole:

Whenever anyone in New Zealand talks of making a difference to the lives of children and their families then the topic of education is not far away.

 I began thinking about the NZ education system as far back as 1988 when I took some Education options while completing and Economics degree (I hadn’t thought education  much when I was at school as I was too busy playing cards in class or running around on the sports fields when I shouldn’t have been). The massive preoccupation with the content of  the Education papers was with the under achievement of Maori and Pasifika children and the subsequent over-representation of those groups in statistics of social ill. Given the left wing bias of the lecturers and the material presented the claim was that these outcomes were semi-intentionally generated to perpetuate power structures within society and serve Capital. It almost goes without saying that the “high flying” academics proposed nothing of effect/worth to change anything. There are still a lot of these hopeless finger pointers in NZ today pretending they have something to say about education.

A quarter of a century later much has changed in the world. New Zealand is materially better off. Around the world rates of poverty are in decline, people live longer, opportunities are expansive. The variety of careers has broadened immeasurably. The understanding of how children learn and how it can be enhanced has improved exponentially. Information technology and the availability of high quality learning resources – at very low cost – has exploded.

A quarter of a century later much is the same. Maori and Pasifika children and those whose families are on lower incomes are over represented in underachievement and qualifications statistics. So are those with defined learning difficulties even though we now know how to do a lot about those (although sometimes parents also have to have the trust, knowledge and courage to stay with a programme).

The other thing that is the same is that academics and those on the political left would rather point out and perpetuate problems than openly evaluate every possibility of solving them. Maybe it is their power structures that now feel a little threatened in the field of education and they have circled the wagons.

Twelve years ago the Villa Education Trust (VET) was established. It was done so because there is a need to provide innovative models to produce excellence in Education. It was also done because after the Economics degree I did a teaching qualification, a masters degree specialising in programme design for teaching high ability children, a sports management diploma, traveled overseas to look at ideal models, taught at 3 high quality schools in NZ, did system wide study of NZ schooling, talked to anyone who would share their ideas and read widely about how to assist children and young people to develop knowledge, attitudes and skills. The VET was established after massive hours spent on model and curriculum design. It was established through my wife and I deciding that the reward of making a difference to the education of children was worth the risk of selling all we have to start a Charitable Trust.

In 2003 the VET began Mt Hobson Middle School (www.mthobson.school.nz). It is a private Year 7 – 10 school for 48 children (12 per class). It teaches the NZ curriculum through core classes in Maths, English, Science, Social Studies and Technology. The children also have an hour of guided independent time each morning working on fully cross curricula topic based projects – e.g. Architecture, Flight and Space, Oceans (that set the context for the school). They do 8 projects a year – learn a massive amount in terms of self management, research and academic product skills. They also develop their knowledge base superbly. The afternoon programme is activity based – Art, Music, Sport, Community Learning, Community Service. We work with a broad group of children – from those with fantastically developed all round abilities looking for extension to those who have areas to overcome to set them up for Year 11 and beyond. It is demanding and effective. We have significant data and case studies of generated change and improvement. We also continue to innovate – for instance – a complete rethink going into 2015 with many new start aspects in response to further changes/understandings in education.

Given that background in 2013 we gained permission from the New Zealand government to take the developed model to Manurewa and begin South Auckland Middle School (SAMS: http://www.southauckland.school.nz/). We had looked for this kind of opportunity before but under past legislation it was not even close to feasible (NB Labour party). We were allowed an establishment period of four and a half months and an establishment fund of $1.3 million dollars (compared to a two year lead in for a State School and at approximately 5% of that model’s establishment cost). We are funded at a decile 3 level on a per student basis each year and, like State schools, have a guaranteed fund during the establishment period. We were not given a zone and there was no certainty that anyone would come. We attracted high quality staff even though the PPTA took out ads in the Education Gazette telling teachers not to work for us (very sporting of them – must have made their members proud). We leased premises and outfitted them to facilitate the tried and tested model from Newmarket.

After a year is is worth thinking about the progress:

- A full SAMS roll is 120 students. In Year 1 our Year 7, 8, 9 were all full with waiting lists. We have averaged seventeen Year 10 students coming in for a year or less to re-boot their education.

- We are full for 2015 and have substantial waiting lists.

- The children have thrived on the day structure and have worked very hard through the academic mornings.

- The children have excelled on the Projects and produced some remarkable work – both individual tasks and completed projects.

- We can evidence significant progress in the basics of all 5 core subjects in our morning programme.

- To ease the financial pressures of families we provide uniform and stationery (and do not ask them for per annum donations) and have a Community Liaison Manager who is working hard at getting to know and to help solve the external pressures that impact on learning.

- We are significantly under local school averages for truancy, disciplinary actions and transience. 

- We have a very good ERO report and have students able to eloquently express their experiences: http://www.southauckland.school.nz/dir/index.php/admissions/what-students-say/

- Like MHMS will be SAMS will be better in 2015 than in 2014 because when you see areas of needed change in education smart educators make the changes.

We are able to make many of our choices, such as a student:teacher ratio of 15:1 through receiving our funding in bulk. We don’t carry large infrastructure items, our Principals/Academic Managers teach large programmes, and we keep much of what we do simple in terms of resourcing.

The long established Mt Hobson model and the immediately evidenced success of SAMS earned the Villa Education Trust the opportunity to begin Middle School West Auckland (http://www.westauckland.school.nz/) which will grow to 240 students from a beginning in February of 2015. Again – our establishment period is short but we already have a remarkable staff in place under former St Peter’s College Deputy Head James Haggett. Great teachers want to work in an innovative situation. We are setting up quality facilities and have a good level of enrollments coming in. We are confident that this will also become and outstanding academic school.

To ensure that all we do is cutting edge I had the privilege of travelling to New York City and spending 3 days meeting with a group of the very best educators I have ever met – who happen to be running sets of simply outstanding Charter Schools that are changing the lives if under-served children and their families. These were the top organisations such as KIPP, Achievement First, Uncommon Schools, Success Academies. Their success is clearly evident and given that we have visited them and Charter Schools in Tampa, Jacksonville and Andre Agassi’s school in Las Vegas the dishonesty of the teacher unions in NZ and the political Left for saying that this is a failed model overseas became crystal clear. As the Stanford Credo report 2013 stated: (http://credo.stanford.edu/documents/NCSS%202013%20Final%20Draft.pdf

Black students in poverty at charter schools gain 29 additional days in reading and 36 additional days of learning in math.Students in poverty, English language learners, and special education students all benefit from attending charter schools as well. 

On Friday December 12 I was a guest at North Shore’s Vanguard Military School’s first prize-giving. The testimony of the children, the evidence of academic success, the pride of the parents and the job satisfaction of the staff was clear to all.

As I think back to the readings of systemic failure thrust upon me in 1988 through to misguided people today stating that schools can achieve nothing because of socioeconomic disparity – I see a light in the tunnel that is not just a train coming the other way. There is growing hope of a genuine means for Partnership Schooling to be a part of systemic change and a quiet revolution in the provision for children who are otherwise not doing well. Like all changes and challenges it will not be smooth at every stage or with every establishment – but for the children and families that need innovation and choice the necessity to persevere and enhance the model is clear.

For those who doubt and have genuine interest in the well being of the young people of New Zealand our doors are very open and we are willing to collaborate and share our experiences. For those that criticize from a distance – have some courage and come and see.

 Alwyn Poole
(VET Board member, Principal MHMS)

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General Debate 14 December 2014

December 14th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Will US Drone attacks now come under closer scrutiny?

December 13th, 2014 at 2:27 pm by Lindsay Addie

 

Mural in Sanna, Yemen - (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Mural in Sanna, Yemen – (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

 

With the furore over the CIA interrogation techniques during the George W Bush administration still ongoing attention is starting to shift to using US Drones to attack and kill terrorists.

Lauren Fox from the National Journal discusses the various arguments.

As Republicans prepare to take leadership over the Senate Intelligence Committee, the panel’s oversight work will shift from spending considerable resources to ensure the release of the backwards-looking torture report to a committee that incoming Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said will deliver oversight in “real time.”

“We are not going to be looking back at a decade trying to dredge up things,” Burr said about his future on the committee, just before Feinstein released her report.

Members of Congress are divided over whether the president’s highly secretive drone-strikes program needs more congressional scrutiny. Some criticize the program’s legal rationale, while others have concerns about killing combatants who may have valuable information.

One issue is that a dead terrorist suspect isn’t as good an information source as a live one.

Details about how drones are used to kill terrorists remain unknown, a fact leaders on Capitol Hill harbor concerns about. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who is in line to be the next Senate Foreign Relations chairman, said it’s an area ripe for oversight.

“I have always wondered why there isn’t more concerns about how that is carried out, but I don’t think anyone would want to do that as retribution,” for the torture report’s release, Corker said. “I think people genuinely want our country to be secure, but at the same time it is pretty amazing that those kinds of decisions are made amongst such a small group of people.”

The Obama administration strongly defends the drone program. But the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is calling for more information to made available by the CIA.

“We could be going down the same road all over again, but with killing instead of torturing,” says Chris Anders, senior legal counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. “The kinds of people that were involved in the horrors of this torture report are still around. It is hard to believe they have become better managers or more careful about remaining within the law in subsequent years.”

Fighting terrorism is always a messy business and there is a fine line between what is morally acceptable and the steps needed to actually defeat the perpetrators of terrorist acts.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has released detailed data of US drone strikes between 2004 and May 2014. This article and the spreadsheet can be found here.

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Australia to vote on constitutional recognition for Aborigines

December 13th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

It’s more important to get constitutional recognition for Aborigines right than to rush it through, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott said yesterday.

Abbott has nominated May 27, 2017, as his preferred date for the long-awaited referendum – the 50th anniversary of the celebrated 1967 referendum on indigenous rights.

However, he warned that if the referendum to recognise indigenous people in the constitution failed it could set back the cause of reconciliation by decades.

“We’ve got to get it right,” he said yesterday.

“It’s more important to get it right than to rush it.”

The Prime Minister says no one wanted the first Australians to finally feel like first-class citizens more than he does – but he said it was better to take it slowly and ensure it succeeded.

“We shouldn’t be unambitious and we shouldn’t be over-ambitious. That’s the balance we have to get right here.”

Constitutional change must satisfy a majority of people in a majority of states.

If Abbott succeeds, he will be doing so against history. Only eight out of 44 referenda have passed in Australian history, and the last one to pass was in 1977. Eight since then have all failed. Seven failed to get a majority and one got an overall majority but not a majority in a majority of states.

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General Debate 13 December 2014

December 13th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Fairfax Ratings

December 13th, 2014 at 5:30 am by David Farrar

Fairfax score the front benchers:

  • John Key 8.5
  • Bill English 8.0
  • Steven Joyce 8.0
  • Andrew Little 7.5
  • Paula Bennett 7.0
  • Grant Robertson 7.0
  • Jacinda Ardern 7.0
  • Kelvin Davis 7.0
  • Winston Peters 7.0
  • Jonathan Coleman 6.5
  • Annette King 6.5
  • Amy Adams 6.0
  • Phil Twyford 6.0
  • Chris Hipkins 6.0
  • Russel Norman 6.0
  • Te Ururoa Flavell
  • Christopher Finlayson 5.5
  • Metiria Turei 5,5
  • Tracey Martin 5,5
  • Simon Bridges 5.0
  • David Seymour 5.0
  • Carmel Sepuloni 4.5
  • David Clark 4.5
  • Gerry Brownlee 4.0
  • Hekia Parata 3.5
  • Peter Dunne 3.0
  • Nanaia Mahuta 2.5

I should mention that I strongly disagree with a few of these ratings. Christopher Finlayson at the same level as Tracey Martin is ridiculous, and they seem to be judging Hekia Parata on her 2012, not 2014, performance and achievements.

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