This is a must read:
“This posting is just a brief introduction to something that, for the fabric of our democracy and the successful functioning of our school system, needs to be out in the open. Only some things can be confirmed in this posting – the degree of collusion between the education ministry and Whale Oil has yet to be established and the level of insidiousness.”
Read the whole thing here: The ministry of education and Whale Oil: an introduction.
“Tom Parsons, president of the Secondary Principals Association, is a strange one. There is something oleaginous in his relationship with the government, a complete suspension of individual will. Does he have a military background or something? His loyalty to the National Government is unhealthily submissive. If education benefited from mindless loyalty, Tom Parsons’ approach would be wildly successful.
There he was on national radio being interviewed by Guyon Espiner, accusing NZEI, principals, and teachers as being political for opposing the IES – what a cheek. It is Parsons who has been political.”
“We are concerned about the lack of democracy in these processes.”
“We are concerned that the changes are for political purpose rather than for sound educational reasons based on evidence.”
“We are concerned for the future of education in New Zealand.”
Below is a message sent home from Fergusson Intermediate to parents, explaining the very real concerns regarding IES (Investing in Educational Success). It explains the concerns of many, and is well worth reading and sharing with your teachers, BOTs and parents so they, too, can consider the consequences of the proposals being mooted.
At the last Board meeting the Board discussed and passed the following resolution.
That the Board
These concerns arise as the Government forges ahead with its hastily announced initiative to spend $359m on education with ‘Investing in Educational Success’ (IES). None of this $359 million to be spent over the next four years around the new roles will go into new resources for schools such as extra teachers or teacher aides improving teacher pupil ratios or even into general programmes of quality professional development for existing teachers and principals where it could have done great good. Instead the money will mainly go towards salaries and allowances for those teachers and principals who are willing to be selected for, and prepared for, the new super roles and then willing to take them up, creating a new level of public servants within education.
We are concerned that this money is not being appropriately spent on areas where there is evidence it would have an impact.
As we have seen of this Government, the way these changes are sold to us does not necessarily relate to the actual outcomes. They would have us believe that appointing Executive Principals to oversee 10 schools (while still doing their job in their own school) and Expert Teachers to go into other schools 2 – 3 days a week (while still doing their job in their own school) will improve student achievement. There is no evidence that this will work and we fail to see how removing a Principal from the running of their own school, or a teacher from the classroom for 2 days every week, will have any benefit for the students of that school and very possibly could be detrimental.
We are concerned about the effect on our students.
It appears that these Principals and Teachers will be appointed based mainly on their National Standards results – the unproven, unreliable and flawed system that this Government has introduced to measure one school against another.
We are concerned about the weight given to these unreliable measures.
Boards of Trustees, and those they represent – our community, have not been consulted, yet the management structure and the way in which staff are employed will change significantly under this initiative. We will lose the ability to staff our school as we believe best meets our needs. We, because of our success, would be penalised by losing our good teachers and management 2 – 3 days a week with no compensation. We, as the community, are the consumers of this service, by far the biggest sector within education, with the good of our children, and tomorrow’s children, at heart, yet we have had the least input.
We are concerned that there is no ‘community’ voice, and that schools will lose their autonomy and individual character.
In addition to the IES changes the Minister has stated ‘The most successful funding systems narrowed the gap between high-achieving rich kids and under-achieving poor kids by strongly incentivising pupil progress (NZ Herald, March 16, 2014). We are concerned that changes to how schools are funded won’t be around the need of the school or its students but rather the academic results. This would see high decile schools most able to meet achievement targets and therefore meet ‘incentives’ for funding, while lower decile schools with poorer resources, less able to achieve targets, penalised – effectively the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
We are concerned that this competitive model will create greater inequity in education.
As part of the ACT/National Confidence and Supply agreement (the tea cup meeting), the Government has initiated a review of the Education Act next year, already stipulating what will and will not be reviewed. They will not allow ‘matters that are currently the subject of Government initiatives, National Standards or new school types (Charter Schools) to be reviewed. However, it will review governance and management matters with a view to creating ‘increased regulatory flexibility’.
We are concerned that they will only review what they want to change – the Governance and Management model that is the key to Tomorrow’s Schoolsand that this could spell the end of a community voice in education. We are concerned that there is no opportunity to review the most recent and drastic changes to our education system.
We are concerned about the lack of democracy in these processes.
We are concerned that the changes are for political purpose rather than for sound educational reasons based on evidence.
We are concerned for the future of education in New Zealand.
We ask that you make yourself aware of the changes afoot. Think about not only today’s students, but those in 10 and 20 years time – your grandchildren, and their ability to access a quality education. Will the world that they live in give equal education opportunities to those less fortunate? Will we as parents and a community have a say? Will our children be on a treadmill from preschool onwards? Will we be growing great citizens?”
Read the rest here: Reuben and WALTS.
Below is the Networkonnet Manifesto, the only comprehensive education manifesto I have seen. Please read it and see if it meets your own vision for what our education system should be. If it does, please either sign it here (below in the comments) and I will forward those comments to Kelvin, or click through HERE and sign it directly on the Networkonnet site.
Likewise, if you have suggestions for changes, please share them in as much detail as you can. The aim is to craft a manifesto that speaks to what the majority of teachers, academics, parents and students would like our education system to look like.
by Kelvin Smythe with Allan Alach
The manifesto is intended to gather signatures then, with media release attached, distributed to media, teacher organisations, and a range of interest groups.
At the moment, it could be widely understood that teachers have no specific budgetary or system demands beyond opposition to substantial parts of government policy.
For the sake of our children, our own ideas need to be heard.
The networkonnet manifesto is intended to jog the teacher organisations to set out such specific budgetary and system demands and to publicise them intensively and imaginatively.
Readers will note that the networkonnet manifesto is based on a philosophy expressed as governing ideas. The government is working to a philosophy, brought in from outside and economics: we need to work to ours developed from our education heritage and social democracy. The hammering of public primary schools – the scapegoating, the disenfranchising, and the financial and spiritual impoverishment, is not government whim but engrained ideological policy as part of global capitalism and a shift of civilisation. That policy needs to be confronted with our own set of cohesive ideas.
We urge readers to sign up and encourage others in your school and beyond to do so as well.
The manifesto is open to change and addition, but if you support the general direction, then we suggest you take the positive step of signing up in support.
Readers might be interested to know that one significant political party has called the manifesto a ‘great read’ and remarkably close to theirs.
Kelvin Smythe and Allan Alach
The key idea in the policy recommendations that follow is that the education system should be based on valuing variety – and fundamental to this, the idea of collaboration and shared knowledge development. It is not just accepting variety or tolerating it, it is valuing it – valuing it as part of living in a democracy and as the best means to help children’s learning.
Valuing variety would mean changes to regulations, allowing a wide interpretation of the curriculum – within broad guidelines – in school charters and evaluation practices. Eventually the curriculum would need to be revised to concentrate on principles and aims, leaving schools to decide how to interpret those – at the moment National Administrative Guidelines (NAGS) and the demands of the education review office (using national standards) exert a stultifying control of classrooms.
The Lange government, through Tomorrow’s Schools, introduced into education a philosophy antithetical to Labour Party philosophy. (Most Labour mps of the time find this hard to accept holding on to the idea that Tomorrow’s Schools was, in fact, about giving more power to schools.) While this neoliberal philosophy was diluted in the Clark years, it still remained and remains dominant.
In education that philosophy is expressed as managerialism.
As it pans out, the basic tenet of managerialism is that any issue in education, including the education effects of poverty – indeed, especially the education effects of poverty – can largely be resolved by management changes to do with the organisation and direction teachers. This always involves overstating the role of the teacher in learning so that when schools fail to overcome sufficiently the education effects of poverty, schools are blamed, providing an excuse for shaping schools into the political right’s own ideological image.
An implication in this top-down philosophy is that there is someone knows and that person who knows is a political leader informed by a certain category of academic.
The present education system is substantially a command one – a command one based on excluding teachers and parents from genuine participation in policy making, also on fear, control, propaganda, and corrupted statistics.
The education system needs to be democratised.
One very important effect of bringing in parents and teachers into policy making would be to broaden the curriculum to counteract the trend of an ever narrowing one.
A managerialist-based education system requires a curriculum that is amenable to command and control, also one that can be understood by politicians and bureaucrats – that curriculum is a fragmented one organised for measurement.
New Zealand primary education has a culture of being holistic, in other words, not fragmented for ease of measurement and control. (Many of the most important things in learning are immeasurable; in a measurement-based education system those things are neglected.)
A measurement-based classroom is possible in a holistic-based education system but a holistic-based classroom isn’t possible in a measurement-based system (an important point in considering an education system based on valuing variety).
The present primary school education system is governed by fear and bureaucratic command, and protected by propaganda and corrupted statistics.
The contract system is important to the government control of universities: a key way to restrict academic freedom of speech.
Within schools, the major source of fear and control comes from the education review office – it is unaccountable and used in a variety of ways to generate fear and ultimately obedience; it is really the review office that determines the nature of the curriculum.
The heavy use of statutory managers is another source of fear, control, and indirect propaganda.
People outside the education system have little appreciation of the extent and depth of the fear, control, and use of propaganda that exists within it.
Perhaps the key idea to be developed should be that just as a healthy economic system needs a free exchange of ideas so does a healthy education system.
And central to that is the idea of a shared view of the way knowledge is developed.
All parts of the education system need to be freed up so that all parts can share in the generation of knowledge: teachers, curriculum advisers, academics, parents, and government education agencies.
Teachers should be freed to colonise the curriculum (that is, make curricula work) and to establish their knowledge in the form of successful established practice.
Teachers and schools should function within fairly wide curriculum guidelines.
Academics sought for advice should come from groupings much wider than the current headlining quantitative academics; in particular, that means advice should also be sought from qualitative academics and curriculum academics with significant classroom experience.
More specific policies as an outcome of governing ideas
A call should be made for a grouping of countries to join together to develop an international testing system that functions transparently and concentrates on a broader view of the curriculum. (However, the government should stay in the present international system until that is achieved.)
The 359 million dollars intended for the government cluster policy should be spent directly on helping children in classrooms, not on giving large pay increases to a few teachers and principals.
In a whole series of ways, policies and increased funding to meet children’s special needs should be a priority.
First, there should be a substantial lift in support teacher numbers as well as moves to make support teacher staff better paid and to provide them with a greater sense of permanency.
Following that, there should be improved staffing ratios (gradually introduced) to give flexibility to schools enabling them to provide more individual attention to children’s learning needs, including some appointments for specialist learning (for instance, science, or maths, or Maori language, or drama) as set out as an emphasis in schools’ charters.
Also for improving home school relations (a priority).
An important idea to understand is that the government in implementing national standards ostensibly to lift learning in lower decile schools has used the opportunity to achieve its long-held objective of a narrow 3Rs curriculum for all children.
Improvements in staffing and support teachers and in other areas should be described as being there to help the learning of all children, not just the ones who are struggling (children of all abilities are being badly served by the present system).
A non-contestable fund to promote Maori language should be established to which schools can apply to fund part-time teachers, support teachers, and Maori language labs.
There should be improvement to special needs services including making RTLBs (Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour) more accessible and less bureaucratic. Their role should be extended to work more closely with families – an improved version of the former visiting teacher positions.
The SAF (Student Achievement Function) should be removed with money saved being allocated to other and wider forms of advisory support.
Reading Recovery should be increasingly well funded.
The best home-school reading programme for lower decile schools, one already in operation in miniscule way, is Jeanne Biddulph’s Reading Together programme which binds home and school together in a harmonious and joyful way.
A Committee of Inquiry into making education more collaborative for successful learning should be established – though this should not mean changes to education won’t begin immediately (Committee of Inquiry for Collaboration for Better Learning).
School charters at the moment are a major source of control and bureaucratisation – school charters should be freed to allow schools to develop programmes, within broad guidelines, that suit them. (As discussed above.)
The education review office needs to be staffed by teachers and principals of the highest quality; deliver its work in schools in a different way; and be made accountable (it should also be made fully compliant with the Official Information Act).
There should be a Review Office Appeal authority appointed to hear appeals from schools (a priority).
A cross-sector review office advisory board should be established.
The review office should concentrate on work in schools, not producing reports – those reports should be done by universities on the basis of proper research design.
The School Trustees Association should be restricted in its work to providing direct services to members (a priority).
The statutory management system should be restructured: a more comprehensive conciliation system before statutory management should be established and perverse incentives removed. In particular, the cost of statutory management should fall on the ministry not the school.
Schools and colleges of education should develop a better balance between general education courses and ones directly related to classrooms (though both should be considered equally important) – this might mean rehiring some academics who possess both academic and classroom knowledge.
As one part of the advisory function, a permanent advisory service should be re-established attached to universities to function within broad guidelines (a reasonably free advisory service is an important source of practicable knowledge).
The Teachers Council or its equivalent should be reorganised to reflect the policy of collaboration. As well, it should concentrate on the safety of children. (All teacher organisations are doing well on this one, so I am not elaborating.)
Teacher organisations should be represented as of right on policy, curriculum, and administrative groupings.
Charter schools should be funded and administered on the same basis as other privately-run schools and the money saved allocated to meeting the education needs of low decile schools.
National standards should be removed and with the money saved used to re-establish NEMP (National Education Monitoring Project) formerly based at the University of Otago – more money than before should be allocated and the previous directors asked to advise on its establishment, functioning, and staffing (NEMP was a collaborative institution much admired and appreciated by schools).
NMSSA (National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement) based at the University of Otago should be removed, with the money saved used in the re-establishment of NEMP (see above).
Clusters established on a voluntary basis should receive some government funding.
How to bring parents into education on a national basis is a difficult one: my suggestion is, on a regular basis, NZCER to undertake a survey and some research as the focus for parent discussion (within schools) – the outcomes of this discussion to be reported to a body to consider and sometimes develop matters further.
A broad curriculum should be encouraged in anticipation of the outcomes of the results of the Committee of Inquiry (see above).
An important part of that broad curriculum is an understanding that attention to the 3Rs is mutually supportive with attention to flexible thinking – a mutual supportiveness that should be acted on from children’s first days at school.
The greater freedom for schools to shape their curriculum within broad guidelines will have major implications for the work Colleges of Education, advisory services, and education review office.
The use and resourcing of computers should be approached carefully: there needs to be a broad-based permanent grouping set up to provide schools with guidance on computer use in schools (at the moment it is growing helter-skelter with the curriculum quality being given insufficient attention); also government money would seem to be better allocated for professional development and computer maintenance rather than for directly purchasing computers and other digital devices. (Free technical support is crucial, along with extensive ICT support through advisers.)
The curriculum area of mathematics should be given special attention: a curriculum committee to report in three months, meanwhile, conferences should be organised around the country and extra finance made available to schools working on innovative ideas. (Bobbie Hunter from Massey and University and Jodie Hunter her daughter are doing some excellent work in junior maths with implications for older children.)
The Novapay system, from computer programming to data gathering and Novapay reception, has inherent faults within it – a new system should be introduced (either that or funding for office staff both schools and Novapay reception, be substantially increased).
The Beeby statement I like is the one he made in 1942 following a meeting with the South Canterbury NZEI management committee: ‘There seems to be a common desire on the part of teachers to ask the Department for detailed instructions regarding such things as the changes that are taking place in infant education, rather than to embrace the freedom the Department has given and to participate co-operatively in the working out of up-to-date practice in the infant room.’
Some excerpts from comments made by readers on the initial posting of what is now the networkonnet manifesto
Bruce Hammonds said:
The 2007 New Zealand Curriculum introduced by the last Labour government needs to be emphasised – it is highly regarded by teachers. National is about standardisation and competition while Labour needs to focus on personalisation and collaboration.
The 2 per cent increase in the school operations grant after taking inflation into account, the needs of present-day education, and the increase in immigration, is actually a cut; the small allocations for the ‘Reading Together’ programme and digital literacy (a little over $4 million altogether) are miniscule in scope though well directed; and the small increase for support teachers pathetic.
As we know the $359 million for the cluster programme (for secondary and primary and over four years) will do nothing for children, indeed it will represent if it occurs, a plunge to an education cataclysm. The budget also points to a possibly less than 1 per cent rise in salaries for teachers – compare that to the wrongness of the salaries for expert teachers.
Now this is a rather alarming turn of events:
MOE are desperate to have columns all adding up nicely, so helpfully suggested a way to make my reading achievement data look tidy…
Date: Friday, 9 May 2014 12:38 PM
Subject: National Standards data
A little while ago I sent the spreadsheet of national standards data to my MOE office as required. Some of the columns to do with ethnic group achievement levels did not tally. I checked my school assessment data carefully and confirmed the numbers in each ethnic group at each level, but this would still not tally with overall ethnic group numbers. The overall numbers did tally to my school roll at the time, so there is a ‘glitch’. I believe the glitch is to do with the priority ethnic group system the MOE uses which places students as Maori if they indicate at any level that they are (a student listing themselves as Asian, Pakeha, NZ Maori will automatically default to Maori for instance).
I received a phone call and email today from MOE regarding certain ethnic columns not tallying with ethnic totals. I told them I knew that, but the individual ethnic totals in each level (‘well below’, ‘below’, ‘at’, and ‘above’) tally with my school assessment data. MOE are desperate to have columns all adding up nicely, so helpfully suggested a way to make my reading achievement data look tidy. They suggested I take the three Asian students in the ‘below’ column and place them in the ‘above’ column. That would eliminate one red tag. I pointed out that I did actually have three Asian students in the ‘below’ category. That, however, was of no interest to the MOE person who indicated that it would balance things up.
After the phone conversation I requested guidance via email on what it was suggested I do. I received an email back from MOE with the stated suggestion confirmed as above.
What they are suggesting I do is in fact manipulate my data to make it fit. In this case it would make my data look better as I would now have no Asian students in the ‘below’ category and three more Asian students in the ‘above’ category….
Read the rest on Networkonnet
What a weekend.
Both my computer went down and then my website became unworkable. (If the posting alert come out strangely: the cc not working, or some other matter, I would appreciate you getting in touch with me. I sent out this posting alert last night but only a few worked.)
I now have Windows 7 installed; Allan Alach has put up a new website – and is now associated with me on our new venture: www.networkonnet.wordpress.com
I am quite excited about it all.
Networkonnet and Allan and I are now ready to be there for the children of New Zealand and their teachers (as we see it) in the years ahead.
There are two postings up:
Who can teachers rely on? This posting sets the scene back in 1990, then has an article I wrote in 1990 in the first issue of Developmental Network Magazine. How did my predictions work out? Back then I was a pretty lone voice.
Who can teachers rely on?
Ernie Buutveld delivers: When a person of his stature speaks out, we should all listen intently
He speaks for an informal cluster of Marlborough principal of his deep concern for the education directions of the government and of the importance of last Friday’s moot. As I report briefly in this posting it was a slanted shambles.
The informal cluster that was a regular event for the Marlborough principals concerned could, in the absence of NZPF being properly organised at the centre and it seems in regard to the moot in many districts, could be an idea for groupings of principals throughout New Zealand to organise against the government’s cluster proposals.
Why don’t you ring up some like-minded principals and meet to discuss, lobby, and act against those proposals?
All the very best,
Within a month, unless the two teacher organisations have united, and on an agreed programme, teachers will find themselves near powerless, and at the fate of Hekia Parata, Peter Hughes, John Key, John Hattie, Andreas Schleicher, Core, Cognition, and overseas multi-nationals. For this to happen, Phil Harding will probably need to be pushed aside. But that is up to him.
My ministry source tells me that the ministry coffee talk is all about how Hekia Parata and representatives of Nga-Kura-a-Iwi (Iwi Education Authority) seem to have worked together to harass Judith Nowotarski, president of NZEI.
Delegates at the conference were taken aback at the way Pem Bird and Hekia combined to to put Judith down.
What was that all about delegates asked?
The issue in question was the protest by NZEI in Auckland and Wellington against pay inequities of support staff in schools and the wider community.
Hekia set the tone, saying that ‘she was disappointed with the protest timing, especially given NZEI’s involvement in the organisation of the summit …’
Then a cold threat: ‘We will continue to try to work together but it does take two.’
I interpret this as utu from the National Party section of Ngati Porou. And I connect this behaviour to her behaviour to protect Edie Tawhiwhirangi over the kohanga reo scandal.
In respect to that scandal, I wish the matter had been exposed earlier so it could have been resolved better. Edie is a remarkable person (as an aside I played golf with her but she didn’t find me in great form that day) and deserved some kind of protection, but not the arrogantly absurd clumsy partisan way Hekia went about it.
Co-chairwoman of Nga-Kura-a-Iwi, Arihia Stirling, in a matching arrogantly absurd clumsy partisan way, chimed in about the NZEI marches, saying it was an ‘inappropriate time to be airing dirty linen.’
What? At a conference about inequity and its effects on education performance? Do we still live in a democracy? Or is it now democracy as defined by the National Party section of Ngati Porou?
However, Arihia, at least you agree in a roundabout that it is ‘dirty linen’. As a result, perhaps you could inform Sir Toby Curtis also of Nga-Kura-a-Iwi that the link between inequity and child performance is not ‘lame or dodgy’.
Oh, and Arihia, seeing you recognise the existence of inequity as dirty linen, meaning your criticism was really just the timing of the protest, can we expect you to be a prominent member on the next march about inequity and its effects on education?
Arihia goes on to say: ‘It’s wrong to do this now, we don’t have people in the streets, we don’t have people bleeding at the hands of the education sector … it’s poor judgement of the leadership of the union to do this at this time.’
Arihia, there weren’t people bleeding in the streets when the foreshore and seabed hikoi took place, either. And if you’ll excuse me saying – Maori, and good on them, are past masters at picking the right moments to make their hikoi point. Why shouldn’t they be? They feel strongly about their cause. As do NZEI marchers about theirs. Do you feel strongly about inequity Arihia? Or has something superseded that?
Readers should know that this little clique (with some others) has done a deal with Hekia to set up iwi schools, as a form of charter schools, to be lavishly funded, lightly supervised, and to be paid on ‘performance’.
The only problem is what to do with Kura kaupapa Maori. If only they would disappear in a puff of smoke.
Oh, happy days.
Education today in Aotearoa.
From all this, the lesson to be learned by those in teaching, is the absolute need for unity.
The policy on clusters set out by NZEI in their newsletter of April 2, 2014, is an excellent starting point – why not unite on that or something like it?
If the teacher organisations don’t unite then they will be picked off or made irrelevant. (In regard to the latter, they should know how that feels.)
~ by Kelvin Smythe
There have been many potential such cases but this is the one that has come through; the one that has stayed the perverted course –because Marlene Campbell has shown the courage of a lion not to fold. Might I say, I don’t criticise those who did. The pressure to do so has been close to unendurable.
Let me say loud and clear the case against Marlene Campbell is a put-up job, has been engineered, opportunistically taken advantage of in an attempt to crush an outspoken educationist and to put fear into the system.
The general public and the media have been unable to truly grasp what has been going on in education.
Even in education itself there are those who won’t link the dots. They recognise that particular acts of political and bureaucratic bullying and bad faith are occurring, but won’t link them together to recognise that this government in education has been autocratic, anti-democratic, bullying, persistent in lying and distorting, and reliant on fear and propaganda to hold sway. They won’t conceptualise because to do so would challenge them to some kind of action, pose some kind of moral dilemma.
New Zealanders are loath to believe that an agency of state and its political leaders are not acting in good faith – especially in something so precious as education. They have not grasped, are finding it difficult to believe, that in the five years of the National government, terrible things have occurred.
In the advent of a change of government, there needs to be the equivalent of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to heal the past and allow bureaucrats and others to come forward to present some of the terrible things they have been instructed or pressured to do.
Let us see how this works out in the political and bureaucratic persecution of Marlene Campbell.
One important idea to hold onto throughout is that if Marlene has been at fault in any way, that fault has been largely manufactured, in that if it occurred at a school in any other circumstances, it would not cause a blip. In other words, the bureaucracies have gone on a fishing expedition with Marlene Campbell – but pulled in nothing of significance. Yet the financial cost to Marlene Campbell, the children at the school has been hundreds of thousands, then there has been the devastating distraction to the tenor of the school – also the cost to the taxpayer.
I don’t want to get submerged in detail so I’m going to concentrate on key junctures.
Perhaps I should add one more observation before I begin: what sort of principal is Marlene Campbell? Well, how can I say this? She is very modern. You would expect the ministry to be delighted with this, it’s all there knobs and all. Marlene Campbell is clearly willing to listen to policy directions, but just as clearly she wants to do it with a sense of free will –that seems to have been at the centre of why she has been so outspoken – she’s a modern Southern woman who won’t be pushed around. She’s a strong individual.
Key juncture one
In June, 2012, the school’s regular ERO visit took place. On the second day Marlene Campbell was told that ERO intended to use the review to investigate anonymous complaints that had been made against her. Marlene Campbell asked for details so she could respond but was refused them; she was steamrolled, the matter was then simply reported to the ministry recommending an investigation.
Predetermination laid bare,
This was a put-up job. The matter was really a carry-on from the Ann Tolley regime. Hekia Parata and the ERO and ministry bureaucrats, though, proved only too willing to continue this terrible thing.
The moment the Marlene Campbell complaint letter arrived at the ERO, the opportunity was seized by the bureaucracies as manna from heaven – and the dye was cast; the letter was quickly passed onto the ministry, being well practised in what to do.
ERO made no judgements as to the merits of the complaint because that might well have contaminated it with the odd fact or two; the intention, I suggest, being to keep the complaint free of detail so the ministry could provide its own, to be magnified beyond belief, mountained to a molehill, imaginatively reconfigured.
How on earth could anyone respond sensibly to an anonymous complaint, by definition absent of context, expressed in general terms?
This is unconscionable.
Key juncture two
Peter McDonald was appointed limited statutory manager. He did two things.
First, he announced almost immediately and without consultation that the only way to solve the matter was for Marlene Campbell to leave. Just like that.
Predetermination laid bare.
Of course, Marlene Campbell refused.
Secondly, a teacher at the school who had, following due process, been demoted by the board of trustees with the agreement of NZEI, was reappointed to a senior position. Just like that.
Are you flabbergasted?
Then, amazing goings-on for a year and a half.
Key juncture three
McDonald in the year and a half that followed, in sinister mode, tried to find fault in Marlene Campbell’s behaviour; find facts, as I see it, to fit a pre-determined judgement – but failed.
The chairperson of the board of trustees and the board then became totally exasperated at the cost and terribleness of the situation so, to force the ministry’s hand, resigned. In doing this, the chairperson reiterated his utmost confidence in Marlene Campbell, declaring her a most wonderful and exceptional principal.
McDonald seems to have panicked. Out of the blue, he accused Marlene Campbell of a specific instance of bullying. (This was, of course, later utterly disproved.)
He put her on leave.
Four days later his term as LSM ended, to be replaced by a commissioner.
Key juncture four
The appointment of commissioner was the signal for frantic efforts to dig the ministry out of the hole it had dug itself into. That hole, however, only became a concern to the ministry when Marlene Campbell didn’t capitulate.
The commissioner said she would finish the investigatory process before the start of the school year. She failed to do so.
Marlene Campbell was dismissed on March 6, 2014.
This is all so terrible and unjust that it is difficult to take in. So gross have been the actions that some actions also serious, but to a lesser degree, can gain an element of acceptance, which they shouldn’t.
Throughout the one and a half years, the bureaucrats have, almost without exception, refused to provide details of allegations – particularly unreasonable given that on the very few occasions when they have been provided, they were proved to be nonsense. The only charges remaining are unsubstantiated generalisations.
Significantly, in her final report, the commissioner pulled back from some of the allegations previously offered as the reasons for Marlene Campbell’s suspension and made some attempts to correct gross procedural errors.
The ministry case, by these very actions, lies in shreds.
Clearly, the delay in presenting the final report involved a going to and fro about how the report could backtrack without making the LSM, the ministry, and the commissioner look complete idiots. The final report failed, because they do.
Think of the harm all this has done to the fabric of education, indeed, New Zealand society – the tearing at the threads.
It is pure Kafkan in its terribleness – and it’s here in our little country.
The motive was malice; the process travesty; the outcome horrendous.
The politicians sat back, confident that no harm would come their way. Their plan had worked before, why not with this prime target? Send in ERO complete with anonymous letter murmuring mysteriously about matters needing investigation and then quickly hand over to the ministry to enable it to appoint a statutory manager who could proceed to take outrageous advantage of the assumption of good faith in authority. The process from there is well established: the principal muzzled; the statutory manager goes fault fishing; the principal’s position destabilised with occasional releases of information to various directions; the cost of the statutory manager is used to turn the school against the principal; time is prolonged in the hope that new elections would bring in anti-principal trustees; and, failing all that, wait for the huge legal cost to make the principal have to excruciatingly balance fighting for justice against welfare of his or her family.
But with Marlene Campbell things didn’t work out per usual. Hence the current situation. This dogged and brave principal deserves our help and support.
I accuse the ministers and ministry of ‘false accusation and misrepresentation of justice’ from ‘lurid obsession.’ An overstated analogy? I say given the New Zealand context it isn’t, and given the elements of injustice involved, worth pondering. Anyway, if you were Marlene Campbell would you be splitting hairs?
The government and the education bureaucracies have declared deep and unrelenting antipathy to the idea of public education. When is the penny going to drop?
When are we going to unite on enough is enough?
by Kelvin Smythe
If you wish to help Marlene fight this, please give to her legal fees fundraising here.
Read also: https://saveourschoolsnz.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/marlene-campbell-needs-our-urgent-support-by-kelvin-smythe/
While there are some admirable people appearing at the festival they come from a very narrow band of what New Zealand education is about, says Kelvin Smythe:
“There will be no dissonance at the festival only a sheen of commercialism and one side of education on smooth display.
“There will also be people there from naivety: gulled if they think this travesty is about education or a festival.
“I felt nauseated at the dishonesty of the programme and the purposes of the festival.
“Heading it, of course, is that academic tricky-dicky John Hattie.
“Cognition and Core are being positioned, as part of wider government policy, on contract, to take over many of the roles of the ministry.
“This positioning is being undertaken as part of the government’s cluster and executive principal policy.
“Cognition and Core are to move into the clusters with their own employees also with the expert teachers as part of their armoury.
“Those planning the policy are confident the razzle-dazzle from Cognition and Core will be too much for parents, boards of trustees, and principals to combat – anyway they won’t have any choice.
“Schools will be contracted to submit to Cognition and Core policies.
“A longer term aim is to have larger classes through highly computerised classrooms using programmes purchased through Pearson and other multi-national companies.
“This is your standardised, anti-democratic future – this is about the minds of the children of New Zealand being filched for ideological purposes.
“John Hattie has for long been connected with Cognition and, it seems, not averse to considering imposing policy on schools against their will (Inaugural speech).
“I am particularly disturbed at the use of children stage performing at such a dishonest happening; they are, in my eyes, being sullied.
“Also the arts.
“The whole thing has a decadence to it – a sense of the Gatsby.
“This is about business people seeking the main chance.
“It is not about education because education in a democracy should be about the free exchange of ideas.
“There is much to celebrate about New Zealand education but there is nothing to celebrate in this charade of excess.
“A charade brought you by two commercial companies and the ministry in venomous association.
“And now the ultimate: education money has gone into this festival obscenity – money that could have gone into helping children with special needs, more teachers to help children with their reading, more money to compensate at school for children’s home backgrounds – yet this money has gone into a mammoth propaganda exercise intended to put public schools more under the heel of those driven by imported education ideologies.
“They are dancing on the struggles of our wonderful public schools; celebrating their imminent demise with displays of reckless financial abandon – and smirking as Hekia did in parliament last week when talking of this terrible thing.
by Kelvin Smythe – for more of Kelvin’s thoughts, go here.
Kelvin Smythe once more hits the nail on the head, identifying that these latest proposals aim to bring in both performance pay and the entrenching of National Standards within NZ education. If those getting the extra pay do not jump on the National Standards bandwagon and promote it to others, they can say goodbye to the role and the money, and a more compliant puppet will be brought in.
Here are Kelvin’s observations:
“Because the education system is hierarchical, narrow, standardised, autocratic, and fearful – the new proposals will yield meagre gains. The proposals, if implemented within this education straitjacket, will have the appearance of a system suffering from ADHD.
The suggested proposals, because of the difference in the way secondary school knowledge is developed, structured, and presented will work somewhat less harmfully for secondary than for primary.
The proposals are a move by the government to buy its way to an extreme neoliberal and managerialist future for education – one part of these proposals is performance pay, the other, and associated, is a managerialist, bureaucratic restructuring:
There is performance pay to develop a cash nexus as central to education system functioning.
There is performance pay to divide NZEI and eventually destroy it (as we know the organisation), NZPF also.
There is performance pay and the wider proposals to divide NZEI from PPTA (PPTA is dithering).
The information I have is that there will be some obfuscation about the role of national standards but in practice performance pay will, indeed, be based on them.
There is making permanent the national standards curriculum by selecting expert and merit teachers on the basis of their demonstrated commitment to a narrow version of mathematics, reading, and writing and their willingness to promote it.
The proposals are intended to set up an extreme neoliberal and managerialist education system:
The executive principal for the cluster system will usually be a secondary principal, if one is not available, a primary school principal friend of the government will be employed.
This cluster structure will form the basis for the ‘rationalisation’ of schools when that process is decided for the cluster area.
The executive principal will be a part of a bureaucratic extension upward to the local ministry and education review offices then to their head offices, and downward to clusters, individual schools, and classroom teachers.
This executive principal will have the ultimate power in deciding expert and lead appointments.”
Read the rest of Kelvin’s insightful piece here.
This is no way to run education. If we treat the system and those within it this way, what on earth does it tell our students? That what matters in bowing down to money even when you know it’s wrong? That it’s okay to leave behind all that your expertise tells you, so long as you’re okay? That it’s every man for himself? What great lessons for life they are. Not.
We must insist our unions tread very carefully here, and not be blinded by the loaded promise of gold.
Sometimes the only thing that covers it is a meme:
For more from Kelvin, see his blog here.
If you do, you might want to go and add your vote to this poll: Why aren’t teachers represented on the Teachers Council?
Because as it stands, the only voices on there are hand-picked by the Minister.
The poll asks:
Do teacher members have to continue to put up with the various weird aggregations put together by the minister as somehow representing them, when they paid membership fees, and participated democratically, to be represented very differently?
The poll goes on to point out, quite rightly:
Everyone knows that the real purpose of the Teachers Council (whatever its current appellation or stage of development) is to bring in school and classroom measures that will be another controlling bureaucratic layer encompassing burdensome appraisals focusing on national standards and decisions about teacher competency
You have to have a voice.
Because, to be honest, if we as a profession don’t show that we want, expect and demand to have true representation on our own professional body, we can do nothing more than hang our heads in shame when our rights are eroded, more poorly-thought-out reforms are implemented, and any old person can rack on up and ‘teach’ our students.
Doing nothing is as good as saying what is happening to our schools, students and teachers is good enough.
As the poll states:
Many principals and teachers, having stood up bravely against national standards in their implementation, will be dismayed to see them introduced in a circuitous way through the Teachers Council; doubly offensive in being an organisation in their name – and which they fund.
Enough is enough.
Brent was an outspoken critic of national standards, astute, sensitive, but irrepressible.
Brent and his board of trustees after careful consultation with parents, stood out from national standards. There was strong agreement that national standards were not in the education interests of the Pembroke children.
July 1, 2011, the charter was submitted.
August 1, there was a letter from the ministry regarding a non-compliant charter and giving ten days to be compliant.
August 4-9, there were telephone conversations between the board chair and the ministry; statutory intervention was threatened.
Now for a happening that should be a moment of transcendent shame to the ministry and Tolley.
The school was well advanced in planning a fono for the district, partially ministry funded, to benefit the education of Pasifika children.
August 18, there is a call from the ministry threatening to remove the fono from school.
August 19, a charter meeting is scheduled by the ministry for August 22.
The school requests that the ministry stick to the board meeting timeframes and that ministry concerns be detailed prior to the meeting.
Next day the fono is withdrawn from school.
The school protests through the media, pointing out, amongst other things, food and other preparations were well advanced.
Ministry response added up to ha-ha; bad luck your school is not a safe environment.
A charter meeting is set for September 20.
September 20 – at the meeting, the ministry threatens to put in a limited statutory manager.
The board agrees to accept ministry ‘suggestions’ to meet charter requirements and for the principal to attend courses.
(In other words, the moral stand against national standards is over and, the school, having fought the good fight, is now willing to be compliant. But the ministry ‘suggestions’ are just part of the punishment, no-one knew the regulations better than the principal; he had to know them to stand out from them. The ‘suggestions’ are a figment to set up the cold and bitter vengeance to be inflicted. Making a stand against national standards being treated as if a criminal offence.)
No response from ministry regarding their offer to help with the ‘suggestions’.
September 29, a letter arrives from the secretary of education (Karen Sewell – so don’t swan around being the moral educationist Karen, now what would EDG have said Karen? – you know who I mean) putting in a statutory adviser.
27 October, at the signing of the contact, the adviser told the board it would be a long and expensive process.
The principal sends information to support the scoping report.
The statutory adviser was to appear only once at the school, and that was to sign the contract, she had no further contact with the school except for two phone calls.
November 9, the adviser withdraws saying there were a couple of board members she couldn’t work with. This ‘couldn’t work with claim’ came as a considerable surprise to the board. This extraordinary claim needs to be investigated, if not upheld, I think we can say a set up occurred.
November 11, a letter arrives from Kathryn Palmer, surely under instruction, saying she has written to the secretary of education requesting a limited statutory manager be appointed. Wow! What speed! Well done Kathryn admirable efficiency in the interests of the children of Pembroke School. (I want to say that Kathryn’s actions were surely done under instruction. How she responded within the ministry only she knows and her conscience.)
Board writes to Karen Sewell complaining of the process. Hard bickies.
December 13, a new adviser appointed, not a limited statutory manager as threatened.
During 2011 the charter was submitted six times but never found compliant. The charter, however, was quite straightforwardly compliant – the ministry was only playing games.
Cleave Hay was appointed as adviser: a person of admirable qualities, who only charged at the ministry stipulated rate and not for travel time. (A medal for Cleave.)
(Now you might think that the story is about to finally end with something of a cheery note amidst the squalid goings-on – but wait there’s more, a lot more.)
Cleave Hay had really nothing much to do but he turned up from time-to-time, as he was bound to do, almost as a welcome, though remunerated, visitor.
September 29, 2012 is the review date for the intervention, but somehow it is decided to wait until December – no doubt from ministry direction.
At the December meeting with ministry and Cleave, Cleave expresses yet again how happy he is with how things are going.
But the ministry insists the intervention remain until after the board of trustee’s election.
(The motive for this was no doubt to embarrass and undermine the principal and board of trustees in the election period.)
Cleave only attends two meetings in 2013 as he is very happy with board of trustee’s governance.
June 2013, Kathryn Palmer, obviously under instruction, my guess directly from Parata’s office, shifts the goalposts for the adviser’s reporting.
At the June meeting with board, the adviser reports once again how happy he is with the board.
But in the same month the ministry says intervention is to continue because national standards results for writing were not good enough (despite being where most decile 3 schools were).
In July, the board writes to new secretary of education regarding due process not being followed.
End of July, Peter Hughes orders the intervention to be lifted.
At no stage was the request for specific information detailing the risks to the school responded to.
Two and a half years of strife for what?
Where was everybody?
A media that understood?
The school trustees association?
The teacher organisations?
Where was the concern for the children and teachers who so bravely and staunchly continued to care for them?
This is a disgraceful story, amongst many other disgraceful stories to do with ministry interventions.
But there are many more disgraceful stories – stories emanating, for instance, from the behaviours and values of the education review office.
I call on schools and boards, also teachers in universities and those in education agencies, to come forward and tell them. Perhaps there needs to be a Truth and Conciliation process.
This morning we heard once again the mellifluous puerility of the minister, a contribution archetypical of the puerility that has been issued from the review office and ministry for over two decades to a largely accepting public.
Our education system is corrupted and rotten. A commission of enquiry is needed to clear the unworthy from the temple and restore truth, honesty, and openness to our system.
Society needs individuals and groups to take moral stands; it is uplifted and morally enriched by the accumulation. But they paid a cost.
We honour the courage and declare our thanks to the witness.
Read the whole article here.
And if you know of any more schools being treated this way, tell us or contact Kelvin via his page. Because this really does have to stop.