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Political heavyweights go head to head on children’s issues

Key political figures will debate the rights and interests of children at a forum to be held at Ponsonby Primary in Auckland next week.

The event promises to be a lively one with Education Minister Hekia Parata facing off against a full complement of party spokespeople and candidates.

Those taking part alongside Hekia Parata include:

  • Jacinda Ardern (Labour)
  • Denise Roche (Greens)
  • Miriam Pierard (Internet Mana)
  • Tracey Martin (New Zealand First Deputy)
  • John Thompson (ACT President)

The event is being run under the banner of ‘Tick for Kids’; a collective that seeks to put the interests of children at the centre.

Spokesperson Anton Blank says, “We want New Zealanders to engage with politicians about issues for our children. These local events provide platforms for everyone to articulate these concerns to political candidates directly.”

With so many important politicians involved the debate is bound to be vigorous and wide-ranging, covering education, health, housing and child poverty.

“We know that the New Zealand public is concerned about increasing rates of child poverty,” says Anton Blank.

He states that the ‘Tick for Kids’ movement, which is less than a year old, is becoming an important non-partisan force in New Zealand and the engagement of politicians in ‘Tick for Kids’ events is proof of that.

When: Wednesday August 6th

Where: Ponsonby Primary School, 44 Curran Street, Herne Bay, Auckland

See event information.



For more information:


Education policy – it’s no joke

Sometimes the only thing that covers it is a meme:

No Joke - Kelvin Smythe

For more from Kelvin, see his blog here.


Nice Easy Solutions

I got a message via SOSNZ’s Facebook page today saying that the page was too biased and ran the risk Imageof becoming a place where people just shouted “Yeah, stuff ’em!” at the politicians rather than constructively debating.

I wrote back to the gentleman concerned (let’s call him Bernard) with these thoughts:

Dear Bernard, I totally agree that debate is needed and I really do encourage you to challenge what I say, share and comment on – I am learning as much as anyone and in no way think I have the answers. If yu look through, a ‘fan’ called Simon Vincent (who I do not know) joined and shared some alternative thoughts and I welcomed them. Please think about staying and sharing other thoughts than mine – that’s how you, I and others will be able to debate and think and learn. Dianne

Happy that I’d hopefully encouraged Bernard to come in the main page and debate with folk, I went off for my annual shower and teeth scrub.

While I was in the shower trying not to notice it needed a good clean, something that Bernard had said came back to me and started going through and through my mind.  He had accused the page of encouraging the notion that there are easy solutions, and quoted Mencken as saying

For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong“.

It began to occur to me that the quote actually suited my argument more than it suited his.

My very  reason for starting the page and this blog is to argue that there is NO easy solution, no simple way to improve things, and that by just shoving a standardized test in there or closing a school and opening another in its place with a different funding/governance model, you will not suddenly make children amazing students and shoot them into place as world class thinkers.  There are other things to consider – many many complex things.

  • poverty
  • children not eating well
  • whether children get help and support at home with basic skills and more
  • teacher retention
  • curriculum overload
  • how we group our students into classes
  • testing
  • and lordie knows what else…

Add to that the fact that how we humans learn is not easy or straightforward.  And there is not just one way.  Or even two, three or four.  Because people have myriad ways of thinking, learning, settling to tasks, and of being stimulated and encouraged.

It stands to reason, therefore, that how we educate is not easily streamlined or made perfect.

Bernard and I are agreed that there is no silver bullet.  I maintain that shoving in a standardised test, removing teachers from the classroom, adding paperwork and buzzwords, and simply swapping to another type of school is not necessarily the answer and owes as much (or more) to vote grabbing and political spin that it does to actually aiming to make genuine movement forward.

There is no easy answer.

But one thing I am quite positive about is this: to help find some things that may help, we need to debate and discuss and learn.  Come join in.


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