Does NZEI want to ban calorie labels?

Audrey Young at NZ Herald reports:

Almost 59 per cent of respondents approve of publishing of the material, either by the Ministry of Education or the media or both. But 36.4 per cent believe comparisons between schools are unfair.

That’s a useful finding, but is also somewhat beside the point. Even if the majority did not support league tables, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t happen. The majority do not get to decide what information the minority are allowed to have. We live in a free and open society where all government data can be accessed by citizens, except for a few exceptions such as security issues.

But NZEI president Ian Leckie confirmed last night he had written to schools advising them not to release the information to the news media under the Official Information Act.

“It is unreliable information, it potentially disadvantages the education system.”

Any country that used league tables had gone backwards, he said.

He likened ranking schools by league tables to ranking the value of by calories.

Now let take that comparison. Let’s say it is true. That it is just as silly to rank schools by league tables as it is to rank by their calories, rather than taste and protein also.

Now what Leckie is effectively saying that the Government should ban the publication of calorie values on all food. He is saying that because some people will make inappropriate decisions based on the calorie values, then everyone must be denied information on the calorie value of different foods.

Now that is insanely stupid right? Of course it is. But that is the exact argument he is making with school assessment data. He is saying that no parent should ever be allowed to know a school’s assessment data, because some parents may make inappropriate decisions on them.

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