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Dear Peter Hughes, we need to talk about discriminatory teacher pay scales…

Fair-unfair wagesAn open letter to Secretary for Education, Peter Hughes…

Dear Mr Hughes

I am sure you are aware that a group of devoted and experienced teachers have been receiving an appallingly unfair remuneration deal in this country for a number of years now. I am of course referring to teachers who completed their qualifications either before or during the period in which the degree qualification was phased into Teacher’s Colleges.

I’m also sure you will agree, that it reasonable that these teachers who are can often be equipped with over thirty years of experience (and that’s after completing three years of education with world-leading institutions to boot) should be able to earn the same as their equally dedicated and hard-working colleagues that have more recently graduated.

The current scheme is not just puzzlingly inequitable to a number of dedicated and expert teachers, but it also undermines the reputation of our education system. By instituting such a needlessly dichotomised strata, we are now implying that the teachers who completed qualifications during this period are not worth as much as teachers who have studied more recently. Which as you can imagine is pretty insulting to people that have dedicated their life to education.

To illustrate the issue, the following is a real life example of a teacher in this situation:

Teacher X graduated studied for three years at The University of Waikato and graduated with a Hamilton Teachers College Diploma with Commendation in 1981. She has been teaching for over 20 years and each year has completed professional development, which has been very relevant and useful and has included training in Reading Recovery, Literacy Leadership and specialised teaching in The Arts.

In a role at her previous school Ms X held a permanent unit for leading The Arts and a fixed term unit for Literacy Leadership. The permanent unit allowed her to progress to a higher pay scale, but still not to the same rate as a younger, more inexperienced teacher who also completed three years of study with the same or any other university (just at a later date when it was called a degree).

Ms X then moved to a new location due to a change in her husband’s career. She was appointed a position at a local primary school on the spot at her first interview due to her experience, expertise, and glowing references. Her new role included a unit to lead literacy with a focus on writing, but because schools have the autonomy to decide how units can be used, she discovered that all curriculum units at her new school are fixed term and therefore went back to the maximum salary on the Q1 scale ($56,177) plus the unit allowance.

You must agree that this is somewhat confusing when comparatively teachers with a three-year Bachelor of Teaching degree can earn $68,074 after only seven years in the classroom. Especially when you consider teachers in the same position as Ms X also completed three years at Teachers College. The younger teachers have done nothing wrong and should be celebrated for having the courage to undertake an increasingly thankless career that has become cynically devalued by a government looking to shift the blame for their own social failings onto their most dedicated public servants. But it simply does not make any sense whatsoever for us to divide our teachers along these lines, when they are all there for the same reasons and are all equally qualified to do this work.

I realise this is an issue that the NZEI has been attempting to address for years with no resolution in sight. The Advanced Classroom Expertise Teacher (ACET) allowance is not an appropriate resolution. While it might help a few selected teachers who are employed by schools which are supportive of the scheme, it does not really address the inequity and it will take a long time to be implemented. The other issue with the already problematic ACET allowance is that it does not help rectify the damage done to the reputation of the education system or educators who gained their qualification from this period, who received sound professional training.

The most logical and easy solution that would completely eradicate the issue would be for The Ministry of Education to simply recognise the qualifications of those in the position of Ms X, and who are still teaching, as the equivalent of the current degree credentials (which they are). I fail to see any explanation of why this has still not happened, especially considering the relatively small number of teachers this would affect in 2015.

Mr Hughes, addressing the discriminatory system for older experienced, effective and dedicated teachers who haven’t had the opportunity to complete degrees is long over-due. I strongly urge The Ministry to remember that these teachers, who despite facing substantial financial disadvantages when compared to several of their colleagues, have made a significant contributions to young lives in this country for a number of years. It is well beyond time that their professionalism, expertise, commitment and loyalty is acknowledged and rewarded accordingly.

I look forward to the day these teachers are given a fair go. In fact I look forward to the day when all teachers are given a fair go.

Regards

Bevan Morgan

England’s Academy schools – are they all they’re cracked up to be?

New Zealand has Partnership Schools, the USA has Charter Schools, and England has Academies.  They’re all much of a muchness, state schools passed off into private hands with the promise of educational improvement for students.  But are they all they’re cracked up to be?

In The Guardian, Michelle Hanson questions whether the promise matches the hype.

She asks:

“If a school needs perking up and fancies a uniform, Latin, Vera Wang tea sets and no national curriculum, fine – but why call them academies?

Why not just schools?

What’s the difference?

We pay for them. Not the sponsors.”

A headteacher who found himself out on his ear when his school was made into an Academy observes:

“They mostly seem to be run by dodgy, spiv businesspeople,” says Fielding, understandably bitter, because the school to which he had dedicated his life became an academy.

In came the sickening corporate mantras, the uber-swanky furniture, the slick management speak, squillion-pound makeover, and out went Fielding, along with everyone else in the NUT [National Union of Teachers], and any heart.

“I smell a rat,” says he, “but I don’t know what it is.”

Hanson thinks she knows what the rat is, and so do I: Money.

follow-the money

She observes that certain parties were quick to capitalise on the money-making potential of Academies :

Capita was fairly quick off the mark to spot “market opportunities” supplying IT systems as schools switched to academy status.

“Leading academy chain” E-ACT had a culture of “extravagant” expenses, “prestige” venues and first-class travel and has been criticised for “widespread financial irregularities”; another academy superhead, Jo Shuter, snaffled up £7,000 of school money to pay for her 50th birthday.

Exam results

And yet for all that, England’s GCS exam results were lower this year, not higher.

It’s the same for A levels, too – in 2014 the pass level went down.

And England’s PISA results are nothing to write home about, either.

So What’s the Motive for Academies?

If financial irregularities are much more of an issue than when schools were run by local authorities…

and OFSTED (England’s ERO) is under investigation for giving Academies far more notice that they are visiting  than the half-day’s notice non-Academies get…

and exam results are going down…

… it’s kind of hard to argue that Academies have brought improvement.

At which point you really do have to start asking yourself what the real motive for Academies and the worldwide push for “charterisation” is.

You might want to start by asking who benefits from them, because it certainly isn’t the education system, teachers, taxpayers or students.

~ Dianne

follow the money

Brace yourself for a NACT onslaught on education

Fight the GERMIt looks very much like ACT’s one MP, David Seymour, will become Associate Education Minister.

You might wonder why this is.  You might think it’s a terrible move.  But from National’s point of view, it’s a clever move, and here’s why:

Firstly, National can point to ACT as the reason for dreadful policies like charter schools and the soon-to-become-real horror of a voucher system.  The hope is that ACT can take the party blame and National can deflect as much as possible.

The second, similar, reason is that by putting Seymour in an education role they hope that anger at unpopular policy will be pointed at him personally, much as it is with Hekia Parata at times.   The hope will be that people will focus on ACT’s 0.7% vote or that they have only one MP.

DO NOT FALL FOR IT.

That ACT got 0.07% and one MP is frustrating, but the fact is that ACT is in now and we must resist the urge to talk about the person and instead focus on the policy.

POLICY is what matters.

Every time a new policy is suggested, read it, consider it, ask what effects it may have, read the news, the blogs, talk to others about it.

Do not take anyone’s word for what might happen as a result of any new policy – not my word, not Seymour’s, not Parata’s, no-ones.

Think about it yourself.

Read, learn, question.

And if you decide the policy is going to damage our education system, I implore you to fight it.

Because this next three years is going to be one hell of a roller-coaster for education.

In the words of Bachman Turner Overdrive, You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.

 

 

Are ACT’s charter schools fiscally responsible? – PPTA

 

PPTA ACT cahrter schools flier 1

 

 

 

PPTA ACT charter schools flier 3

 

 

PPTA ACT charter schools flier 3

Beanbags: An Alternative Statement of Intent Possibly from the Minister of Education (or perhaps not)

hekia_parata_maniacleKia ora, Hekia here.  I have a feeling I’ve not been coming over too well in the live education forums so I thought I’d write to you all to outline my fabulous vision for NZ education Inc (USA).

You know, this Government is committed to raising achievement for five out of five students.

Unless they have special education needs or live in Labour supporting areas of Christchurch, because, you know, the embedded goal for all students is of the utmost importance to this government, but, well, oh look over there, some ultra fast fibre computery stuff.

We want to create a shift that places children and young people at the centre of the education system, because, you know, those horrid teachers don’t do that at the moment.

In fact I have it on excellent authority from some people who would like to run a few charter schools that the average Kiwi teacher actually eats children live with classic Kiwi dip.

It’s true.  A friend told me she got an email about it from a very reliable source with an unverifiable IP address.

So, you know, standards, targets, improvement, better things, strengthen the system, renewal, and stuff….

The performance of the education system for priority students – Māori students, Pasifika students, students with special education needs and students from low socio-economic areas – needs to improve rapidly.

But we can’t do anything radical like look at the teensy mountain of evidence that indicates that factors outside of school account for around 80% of a student’s chances of success.

beanbags 2 Because, you know, we can’t measure poverty.  Largely because we don’t want to.  Oooh, look over there, a 21st Century Learning Hub with beanbags!

We continue to work towards our Better Public Services targets of 98% of new entrants knowing where to put an apostrophe.  This will serve them far better than social skills or food. Or shoes.  Or heating. Or any of that other fluffy rubbish.

My main priorities continue to be delivering on the Better Public Services education targets so that I can use the data to put performance pay in place.  I know it’s proven to be unreliable and even lower student achievement, but who could pass up a chance to toy with those nasty teachers?

Did I mention the beanbags?

I am also forging ahead with my plans for the Greater Christchurch Education Renewal Programme.

This largely means shutting down schools in Loony Leftie areas and ignoring the people who live there, because, you know, they are, well, just not on side and seem to think schools are some sort of social focus for the community or something, which is just plain ridiculous.

I am so focused on ensuring the passage of the Education Amendment Bill, undertaking the review of the New Zealand Teachers Council and supporting my Ministerial Cross-Sector Forum that I am fair giddy with excitement.

Of course, I am consulting with all relevant stakeholders so that I can use their submissions as kindling in the wood fire at my wee bach in Titahi Bay. Saves a fortune on paying for it at New World, and Nikki and I have such a giggle reading them beforehand.  Consultation, listening, no pre-conceived ideas, and other exciting words.

We are aiming for a greater use of public data and information, because we’ve heard there’s gong to be a good market for all of that as soon as the TPPA paperwork is signed, sealed and delivered to my good friends in charge of creating costly testing regimes that earn them lots of money.  It’s all for your own good, because I say so.

Our response to the recommendations from the Select Committee Inquiry into 21st Century Learning Environments and Digital Literacy was the same as it is to all such select committees, insomuch as we will listen then forge ahead with whatever we planned to do in the first place.

Our Government is committed to supporting the profession through a range of initiatives such as criticising them continuously, refusing to listen to their feedback via select committees, taking away their right to elect a representative or two to their own professional body, and of course, mocking them whenever possible. It’s good for them. Creates backbone.

Greater choice for parents, families and whānau is super really very, like mega, important.  Not actual choice, just using the words “greater choice”.  That’s the important bit – to keep saying it, so that people think they are actually getting it.  People are so very easily lead along, just ask my friend Judith.  Greater Choice.  See.  Very important.

beanbags 1Over the next 10 years, we are investing up to $1,000 million to toy with the education system across greater Christchurch. We will support new and innovative teaching, and buy beanbags and primary-coloured desks and stuff.  Ooh and lots of open plan.

No new funding for the kids themselves, though.  But hey, beanbags, what’s not to like?

The priorities set out in this Statement of Intent represent my wish to fulfil my own potential by hanging onto my job long enough to get something overseas, maybe ambassador or something, so that I am nowhere near when it all hits the fan.

Because, lord above, the last thing this government wants is any of the “accountability’ silliness.

Ministerial Statement of Responsibility

I am satisfied that I will get away with it.  After all, it seems like John’s got his hands full at the moment.

Toodles,

Hekia P.

Suggested changes to the NZ Education Act – what is afoot now?

target schoolsThe Considering Education Regulation in New Zealand report has been released today and provides much food for thought.

It is clear from reading the report that Taskforce members were far from agreed regarding what changes might be needed to the Education Act.

The report acknowledges that “[t]here was widespread nervousness among respondents about the possibility of any desired goals and outcomes being framed too narrowly,”  and stresses that there was “strong agreement that if goals and outcomes were to be developed for the education system, this must take place through wide consultation.”

The taskforce seems to have dealt with the issue of disagreement by concluding that it is essential there is widespread consultation before any changes are made.

Sounds great in principle.

Sector Consultation

It should be heartening that Ms Parata also acknowledges that “[a]ny review of the Act would require an extensive consultation process with the education sector and with parents,” shouldn’t it?

And yet…

… are we not now all too familiar with what she means by consultation?  Namely, go through the motions, don’t listen to much if anything at all, and then do what she planned to all along.  (Indeed, I am expecting Websters to update their dictionary entry for “consultation” accordingly this year, since it is now so widely understood that this is what it means.)

So promising consultation doesn’t give any comfort that sector views will be heard and acted upon or allay any concerns, sadly.

Double speak?

I took a moment to consider what is meant by Murray Jack, Taskforce Chair, when he comments in the report’s foreword that:

“… the Taskforce has concluded that there is a strong case to review the Act to provide a greater focus on student outcomes and more explicit roles and objectives

“A greater focus on student outcomes…”  Hmmm.

What, do teachers not currently aim to advance students?  Focus on it more how? And what outcomes?  Are we perchance only talking about things that can be measured in a test?  That seems to fly in the face of other comments in the report which made clear that “[r]espondents did not want a focus on just literacy and numeracy, but felt that these needed to be set within a holistic concept of student achievement.”

Holistic or focusing on test scores – which is it to be?

More explicit roles and objectives?

Also, I cannot help but wonder whether this “greater focus on student outcomes” and “explicit roles and objectives” might be somehow heralding performance pay, perchance?

After all. National Standards and the PaCT system are all set up and ready to rock and roll for just that purpose, despite the Minister assuring us that’s not what they’re for.

Something about that has left me uneasy.

outcomes outcomes outcomes

There are a number of other statement in the announcement that ring alarm bells:

“[The Taskforce] recommended a number of regulatory changes to ensure enough flexibility in the education system to keep pace with the ever-changing environment.”

What exactly does that mean?  How does the current legislation shackle schools?  Does the legislation as it currently stands truly stop schools from keeping pace with “the ever-changing environment”?

Or are we to read this as “we need to make the legislation privatisation-friendly, so we can shoe in more charter schools and the like.

Again, three years of following this government’s carry-on in education means that any such ambiguous statements lead to fretting about what’s going on behind the scenes.  I’d love to think it was just me and my paranoia, but so far my concerns have sadly been valid.

BOTs

Boards of Trustees get a wee mention in the report, which comes to the conclusion that in order to determine whether BOTs are doing a good job, they too need to be subjected to “reliable and valid measures of [the identified] characteristics … to assess their contribution to student achievement.”  (p.13)

Truly, it seems the taskforce believe if it can’t be measured, weighed or put in a pie chart is doesn’t count for a thing.

Don’t mention the “P” word

“The Taskforce noted that evidence from the OECD suggests governments can prevent school failure and reduce dropout using two parallel approaches: eliminating system level practices that hinder equity; and targeting low-performing, disadvantaged schools. From the evidence reviewed, the Taskforce concluded that good regulation and effective governance are elements of high-performing systems that support priority students.  Ensuring that they are aligned with other schooling policies and practices can help New Zealand achieve its educational objectives.” (p. 13)

I totally agree we all need to ensure schools are run well and teachers should encourage all students to aim high.  But to ignore the roles poverty and home environment have in the chances of a student succeeding is a failure to address the whole issue and an insult to both the students and staff living that reality day to day.

The bigger picture

I wonder what exactly is meant by “targeting low-performing, disadvantaged schools”?  Targeting for extra help?  Or targeting for a change principal?  Or being changed into a charter school?

Again, if a school is low performing, it may indeed need help and support, guidance and so on, but if all of that is done within a system that is blinkered to the realities of the students and the community that school is in, then it is not considering the whole picture and cannot be expected to adequately respond to the situation.

So, if improvement is really wanted, we do indeed have to mention the “P” word and get real about the big picture.

I await the unfolding of this next phase of the reform agenda with interest, apprehension and a large gin and tonic.

~ Dianne

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Sources:

Considering Education Regulation in New Zealand:  http://www.minedu.govt.nz/theMinistry/EducationInitiatives/~/media/MinEdu/Files/TheMinistry/EducationInitiatives/Taskforce/TaskforceReport.pdf

www.minedu.govt.nz/trasp.

http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/report-education-regulations-released

 

Deregulated schools – warnings from abroad

charter schools by Tom ScottNext time someone tells you charter schools are about choice and that privatising the education system is a good move, you might want to point them to the other sides of the story.

Look at the job the power companies have done – Privatisation is not necessarily better for the consumer.

And in this case, the consumers are our children – the next generation.

And whilst some politicians and businesses are all for a privatised education system, teachers and parents are not.  Ask yourself why that might be?  Last time I looked, teachers and parents weren’t in it for the money…

Look to what has happened and is happening in overseas public education systems that have been ‘reformed’:

 

Sweden

“The Swedish school system is often cited by Michael Gove as a model of best practice. However, like America its experiment with for-profit education has had disastrous consequences.

In May, JB Education, one of the largest for-profit education providers in the country went bust leaving the future of 10,000 pupils in limbo.

Ibrahim Baylan, the education spokesman for Sweden’s opposition Social Democratic party, says closures should come as a warning to the UK not to slavishly adopt the Swedish model, where private companies can set up profit-making free schools, paid for by the state but with little government oversight:

“Before you do something like this you have to really, really think about how you set up the system. The system here is not working as it’s supposed to work. Nobody could foresee that so many private equity companies would be in our school system as we have today.””

 

USA

“Despite consuming billions every year in taxpayer-funded student loans for-profit universities have a terrible record of success. Only one in five students graduate, and students at for-profit colleges are much more likely to default on their loans.  This is partly a result of their recruitment practices, with for-profit colleges often targeting people (including the homeless) who simply do not have the financial resources to pay loans back.

The US’ experience of allowing for-profit companies to run schools (often described as the CharterSchool movement) has also been mired in controversy.

Former Under-Secretary of Education, Diane Ravitch, who served under George Bush and Bill Clinton and was an initial supporter of Charter Schools, came up with the following summary:

“Charter schools are leading us to having a dual school system again. We’re going back to the period before Brown v. Board of Education, but the differentiation in the future will be based on class instead of race.

“Corporations aren’t going to put more money into the school, they’re only going to make money. This should make people in America angry. There ought to be a public uprising about this effort to destroy public education.””

 

England

Academies and charters - taking public schools“In a new report, the Public Accounts Select Committee questions the role of the Education Funding Agency with regard to school funding. The Chair of the Committee said:

“[The Agency] needs to do more to address potential conflicts of interest in academies.

We were concerned that individuals with connections to both academy trusts and private companies may have benefited from their position when providing trusts with goods and services. The Agency has reviewed 12 such cases but it is likely that many more exist and have gone unchallenged”.”

 

New Zealand

Be very clear that what is happening in New Zealand is part of the global education reform movement (GERM) and is not isolated.

Worldwide, education systems are being broken up and handed over to businesses so that your taxes can go into private hands.  Education does not improve, Students do not fare better.

A fragmented, secretive, and privatised system is not the best way.

 

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Source: http://educationnotforsale.org/about-the-campaign/

 

Networkonnet: directions for primary education as a basis for budget and election year demands

no moneyThis 2014 budget is one of the worst in recent history – especially for election year.

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.

Yet the president of NZPF has virtually nothing to say.

Where is the programme of budgetary needs and system changes the NZPF should be demanding? Surely, a programme of budgetary needs and system changes carefully set out and widely distributed is a fundamental role of a teacher organisation – but it seems to be a fundamental role unfulfilled.

These are perilous times for school education; these are terrible times for schools wanting to address satisfactorily the real needs of children.

In my view, as suggested above we are on the precipice of an education cataclysm.”

via Networkonnet: directions for primary education as a basis for budget and election year demands.

Academics Worldwide call for the end to PISA tests

We are deeply concerned that measuring a great diversity of educational traditions and cultures using a single, narrow, biased yardstick could, in the end, do irreparable harm to our schools and our students.

Dear Dr Schleicher,

We write to you in your capacity as OECD’s (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) director of the Programme of International Student Assessment (Pisa). Now in its 13th year, Pisa is known around the world as an instrument to rank OECD and non-OECD countries (60-plus at last count) according to a measure of academic achievement of 15-year-old students in mathematics, science, and reading. Administered every three years, Pisa results are anxiously awaited by governments, education ministers, and the editorial boards of newspapers, and are cited authoritatively in countless policy reports. They have begun to deeply influence educational practices in many countries. As a result of Pisa, countries are overhauling their education systems in the hopes of improving their rankings. Lack of progress on Pisa has led to declarations of crisis and “Pisa shock” in many countries, followed by calls for resignations, and far-reaching reforms according to Pisa precepts.

We are frankly concerned about the negative consequences of the Pisa rankings. These are some of our concerns:

While standardised testing has been used in many nations for decades (despite serious reservations about its validity and reliability), Pisa has contributed to an escalation in such testing and a dramatically increased reliance on quantitative measures. For example, in the US, Pisa has been invoked as a major justification for the recent “Race to the Top” programme, which has increased the use of standardised testing for student-, teacher-, and administrator evaluations, which rank and label students, as well as teachers and administrators according to the results of tests widely known to be imperfect (see, for example, Finland’s unexplained decline from the top of the Pisa table).

In education policy, Pisa, with its three-year assessment cycle, has caused a shift of attention to short-term fixes designed to help a country quickly climb the rankings, despite research showing that enduring changes in education practice take decades, not a few years, to come to fruition. For example, we know that the status of teachers and the prestige of teaching as a profession have a strong influence on the quality of instruction, but that status varies strongly across cultures and is not easily influenced by short-term policy.

By emphasising a narrow range of measurable aspects of education, Pisa takes attention away from the less measurable or immeasurable educational objectives like physical, moral, civic and artistic development, thereby dangerously narrowing our collective imagination regarding what education is and ought to be about.

As an organisation of economic development, OECD is naturally biased in favour of the economic role of public [state] schools. But preparing young men and women for gainful employment is not the only, and not even the main goal of public education, which has to prepare students for participation in democratic self-government, moral action and a life of personal development, growth and wellbeing.

Unlike United Nations (UN) organisations such as UNESCO or UNICEF that have clear and legitimate mandates to improve education and the lives of children around the world, OECD has no such mandate. Nor are there, at present, mechanisms of effective democratic participation in its education decision-making process.

To carry out Pisa and a host of follow-up services, OECD has embraced “public-private partnerships” and entered into alliances with multi-national for-profit companies, which stand to gain financially from any deficits—real or perceived—unearthed by Pisa. Some of these companies provide educational services to American schools and school districts on a massive, for-profit basis, while also pursuing plans to develop for-profit elementary education in Africa, where OECD is now planning to introduce the Pisa programme.

Finally, and most importantly: the new Pisa regime, with its continuous cycle of global testing, harms our children and impoverishes our classrooms, as it inevitably involves more and longer batteries of multiple-choice testing, more scripted “vendor”-made lessons, and less autonomy for teachers. In this way Pisa has further increased the already high stress level in schools, which endangers the wellbeing of students and teachers.

These developments are in overt conflict with widely accepted principles of good educational and democratic practice:

No reform of any consequence should be based on a single narrow measure of quality.

No reform of any consequence should ignore the important role of non-educational factors, among which a nation’s socio-economic inequality is paramount. In many countries, including the US, inequality has dramatically increased over the past 15 years, explaining the widening educational gap between rich and poor which education reforms, no matter how sophisticated, are unlikely to redress.

An organisation like OECD, as any organisation that deeply affects the life of our communities, should be open to democratic accountability by members of those communities.

We are writing not only to point out deficits and problems. We would also like to offer constructive ideas and suggestions that may help to alleviate the above mentioned concerns. While in no way complete, they illustrate how learning could be improved without the above mentioned negative effects:

1 Develop alternatives to league tables: explore more meaningful and less easily sensationalised ways of reporting assessment outcomes. For example, comparing developing countries, where 15-year-olds are regularly drafted into child labour, with first-world countries makes neither educational nor political sense and opens OECD up for charges of educational colonialism.

2 Make room for participation by the full range of relevant constituents and scholarship: to date, the groups with greatest influence on what and how international learning is assessed are psychometricians, statisticians, and economists. They certainly deserve a seat at the table, but so do many other groups: parents, educators, administrators, community leaders, students, as well as scholars from disciplines like anthropology, sociology, history, philosophy, linguistics, as well as the arts and humanities. What and how we assess the education of 15-year-old students should be subject to discussions involving all these groups at local, national, and international levels.

3 Include national and international organisations in the formulation of assessment methods and standards whose mission goes beyond the economic aspect of public education and which are concerned with the health, human development, wellbeing and happiness of students and teachers. This would include the above mentioned United Nations organisations, as well as teacher, parent, and administrator associations, to name a few.

4 Publish the direct and indirect costs of administering Pisa so that taxpayers in member countries can gauge alternative uses of the millions of dollars spent on these tests and determine if they want to continue their participation in it.

5 Welcome oversight by independent international monitoring teams which can observe the administration of Pisa from the conception to the execution, so that questions about test format and statistical and scoring procedures can be weighed fairly against charges of bias or unfair comparisons.

6 Provide detailed accounts regarding the role of private, for-profit companies in the preparation, execution, and follow-up to the tri-annual Pisa assessments to avoid the appearance or reality of conflicts of interest.

7 Slow down the testing juggernaut. To gain time to discuss the issues mentioned here at local, national, and international levels, consider skipping the next Pisa cycle. This would give time to incorporate the collective learning that will result from the suggested deliberations in a new and improved assessment model.

We assume that OECD’s Pisa experts are motivated by a sincere desire to improve education. But we fail to understand how your organisation has become the global arbiter of the means and ends of education around the world. OECD’s narrow focus on standardised testing risks turning learning into drudgery and killing the joy of learning. As Pisa has led many governments into an international competition for higher test scores, OECD has assumed the power to shape education policy around the world, with no debate about the necessity or limitations of OECD’s goals. We are deeply concerned that measuring a great diversity of educational traditions and cultures using a single, narrow, biased yardstick could, in the end, do irreparable harm to our schools and our students.

Sincerely,

Andrews, Paul Professor of Mathematics Education, Stockholm University

Atkinson, Lori New York State Allies for Public Education

Ball, Stephen J Karl Mannheim Professor of Sociology of Education, Institute of Education, University of London

Barber, Melissa Parents Against High Stakes Testing

Beckett, Lori Winifred Mercier Professor of Teacher Education, Leeds Metropolitan University

Berardi, Jillaine Linden Avenue Middle School, Assistant Principal

Berliner, David Regents Professor of Education at Arizona State University

Bloom, Elizabeth EdD Associate Professor of Education, Hartwick College

Boudet, Danielle Oneonta Area for Public Education

Boland, Neil Senior lecturer, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand

Burris, Carol Principal and former Teacher of the Year

Cauthen, Nancy PhD Change the Stakes, NYS Allies for Public Education

Cerrone, Chris Testing Hurts Kids; NYS Allies for Public Education

Ciaran, Sugrue Professor, Head of School, School of Education, University College Dublin

Deutermann, Jeanette Founder Long Island Opt Out, Co-founder NYS Allies for Public Education

Devine, Nesta Associate Professor, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand

Dodge, Arnie Chair, Department of Educational Leadership, Long Island University

Dodge, Judith Author, Educational Consultant

Farley, Tim Principal, Ichabod Crane School; New York State Allies for Public Education

Fellicello, Stacia Principal, Chambers Elementary School

Fleming, Mary Lecturer, School of Education, National University of Ireland, Galway

Fransson, Göran Associate Professor of Education, University of Gävle, Sweden

Giroux, Henry Professor of English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University

Glass, Gene Senior Researcher, National Education Policy Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Glynn, Kevin Educator, co-founder of Lace to the Top

Goldstein, Harvey Professor of Social Statistics, University of Bristol

Gorlewski, David Director, Educational Leadership Doctoral Program, D’Youville College

Gorlewski, Julie PhD, Assistant Professor, State University of New York at New Paltz

Gowie, Cheryl Professor of Education, Siena College

Greene, Kiersten Assistant Professor of Literacy, State University of New York at New Paltz

Haimson, Leonie Parent Advocate and Director of “Class Size Matters”

Heinz, Manuela Director of Teaching Practice, School of Education, National University of Ireland Galway

Hughes, Michelle Principal, High Meadows Independent School

Jury, Mark Chair, Education Department, Siena College

Kahn, Hudson Valley Against Common Core

Kayden, Michelle Linden Avenue Middle School Red Hook, New York

Kempf, Arlo Program Coordinator of School and Society, OISE, University of Toronto

Kilfoyle, Marla NBCT, General Manager of BATs

Labaree, David Professor of Education, Stanford University

Leonardatos, Harry Principal, high school, Clarkstown, New York

MacBeath, John Professor Emeritus, Director of Leadership for Learning, University of Cambridge

McLaren, Peter Distinguished Professor, Chapman University

McNair, Jessica Co-founder Opt-Out CNY, parent member NYS Allies for Public Education

Meyer, Heinz-Dieter Associate Professor, Education Governance & Policy, State University of New York (Albany)

Meyer, Tom Associate Professor of Secondary Education, State University of New York at New Paltz

Millham, Rosemary PhD Science Coordinator, Master Teacher Campus Director, SUNY New Paltz

Millham, Rosemary Science Coordinator/Assistant Professor, Master Teacher Campus Director, State University of New York, New Paltz

Oliveira Andreotti Vanessa Canada Research Chair in Race, Inequality, and Global Change, University of British Columbia

Sperry, Carol Emerita, Millersville University, Pennsylvania

Mitchell, Ken Lower Hudson Valley Superintendents Council

Mucher, Stephen Director, Bard Master of Arts in Teaching Program, Los Angeles

Tuck, Eve Assistant Professor, Coordinator of Native American Studies, State University of New York at New Paltz

Naison, Mark Professor of African American Studies and History, Fordham University; Co-Founder, Badass Teachers Association

Nielsen, Kris Author, Children of the Core

Noddings, Nel Professor (emerita) Philosophy of Education, Stanford University

Noguera, Pedro Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education, New York University

Nunez, Isabel Associate Professor, Concordia University, Chicago

Pallas, Aaron Arthur I Gates Professor of Sociology and Education, Columbia University

Peters, Michael Professor, University of Waikato, Honorary Fellow, Royal Society New Zealand

Pugh, Nigel Principal, Richard R Green High School of Teaching, New York City

Ravitch, Diane Research Professor, New York University

Rivera-Wilson Jerusalem Senior Faculty Associate and Director of Clinical Training and Field Experiences, University at Albany

Roberts, Peter Professor, School of Educational Studies and Leadership, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Rougle, Eija Instructor, State University of New York, Albany

Rudley, Lisa Director: Education Policy-Autism Action Network

Saltzman, Janet Science Chair, Physics Teacher, Red Hook High School

Schniedewind, Nancy Professor of Education, State University of New York, New Paltz

Silverberg, Ruth Associate Professor, College of Staten Island, City University of New York

Sperry, Carol Professor of Education, Emerita, Millersville University

St. John, Edward Algo D. Henderson Collegiate Professor, University of Michigan

Suzuki, Daiyu Teachers College at Columbia University

Swaffield, Sue Senior Lecturer, Educational Leadership and School Improvement, University of Cambridge

Tanis, Bianca Parent Member: ReThinking Testing

Thomas, Paul Associate Professor of Education, Furman University

Thrupp, Martin Professor of Education, University of Waikato, New Zealand

Tobin, KT Founding member, ReThinking Testing

Tomlinson, Sally Emeritus Professor, Goldsmiths College, University of London; Senior Research Fellow, Department of Education, Oxford University

Tuck, Eve Coordinator of Native American Studies, State University of New York at New Paltz

VanSlyke-Briggs Kjersti Associate Professor, State University of New York, Oneonta

Wilson, Elaine Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

Wrigley, Terry Honorary senior research fellow, University of Ballarat, Australia

Zahedi, Katie Principal, Linden Ave Middle School, Red Hook, New York

Zhao, Yong Professor of Education, Presidential Chair, University of Oregon

Petition: Have your say before New Zealand’s education system changes

A petition has been started protesting the government’s fast-tracking of a policy that will see $359 million spent on changing the management structure of our education system in New Zealand without proper sector and parent consultation.

The petition is not an SOSNZ initiative, but I fully support it.

sign the petition

The petition says:

The Government is fast-tracking an initiative that will see $359 million spent on changing the management structure of our education system in New Zealand.

It goes on:

It would be a shame if this was lost because of an initiative that is pushed through without prior consultation with those who will be directly affected.

It asks:

Why not consult teachers and principals who know what is most needed to support children’s learning, as to what they believe will be the best use of this money?

Why is the voice of parents and Boards of Trustees not being heard about what their schools need to ensure all children get a chance to succeed?

It quotes a letter from four NZ principals, that was shared on SOSNZ:

“While acknowledging the commitment in making New Zealand’s education system second to none, pumping $359 million into schools without transparency and meaningful engagement with the sector is throwing the money away. We urgently ask that the government first lift its constraints already placed around the funding and secondly, consider without prejudice, the overwhelming evidence around what can best be done to support our children and ultimately our society as a whole…

Rather than inject a large single resource at the top via salaries, we say give the money to the kids as early as possible in a real effort to effect long term change that will benefit children, families, and society as a whole.”  (whole letter here)

It says:

Your signature is valued and much appreciated to raise our voice, so that we can have a say in how our schools are managed.

You can read the whole petition here, and sign if you agree.

sign the petition green button

Join the Dots: What government is doing to NZ education

This explains what government policies are doing to public education in Aotearoa.  It outlines the huge and fundamental shifts being put in place and what the oppositions are. It is a must-watch.

What is going on?

Our public school system is being set up for privatisation and a hugely competitive model.  This push is being made via many measures, such as the proposed new lead teacher roles, charter schools, National Standards, performance pay, value-added models for funding, getting rid of the Teachers’ Council and replacing it with EDUCANZ, and so on.

Any suggestion that there is to be consultation with the education sector is misdirection.  The parameters are set, people on panels and committees are hand-picked to push them through, and teachers and parents have little to no voice at all.

Who should watch this video?

It’s a must-watch for all teachers, principals, and support staff.

If you missed your Paid Union Meeting (PUM) or left it unclear or confused, then this is essential viewing.

Anyone still out there that thinks there is not much going on in education at the moment, you owe it to yourself to watch, probably more than once.

You might also want to show it at school in a staff or union meeting, for discussion.

Parents, you may want to watch to help you formulate a list of questions to ask.

 

 

Moving towards businesses and profits as the motivator

Be clear that the shifts being put in place are huge and fundamentally change our education system, especially for primary school students.  No more the holistic approach – all that matters are standards, benchmarks and tests. And for many, profit.

If you are unclear just how drastic this is, look to the USA and England just as two examples of what is happening.  You owe it to our children and yourself to understand what is going on and to start asking questions.

LEARN MORE

Below are some links to get you going:

The Guardian – Education (England)

TeacherRoar Blog and TeacherRoar on Facebook (England)

The Anti-Academies Alliance on Facebook (England)

EduShyster – Keeping an eye on the corporate education reform agenda (USA)

The Network for Public Education (NPE) (USA)

Save Our Schools NZ on Facebook (NZ)

Stand Up For Kids – Protect Our Schools on Facebook (NZ)

There are thousands more.  Just Google ‘global education reform’ or ‘GERM’ or ‘privatisation of public schools’ and read away.

the joy of learning.

 

What’s the big problem with charter schools?

dollar deskIs it really that bad to have a few charter schools?  Can a handful really be a problem?  Why not just let them be, and go fight other battles?

Well, some days I do feel like giving up the ghost and letting government bring in more and more charters.  Battling Goliath is sometimes more than a bit wearisome for a little David such as myself.  But here’s why I fight on, and why you should, too.

Because charter schools do not improve the education system – in fact some are the worse schools in the country.

Charter schools take a disproportionate amount of funds from the education budget, like here for example.

Charter schools lead to increased racial segregation.

Charter schools are about privatisation of the education system, not about improvement.

The trouble is, the whole charter movement starts small and relatively uncontroversial which means people are easily swayed by the promises of great schools and a better education for students, but before you know it, it descends into this and this and this and this and this and this … oh the list goes on.

And who is behind all of these reforms?  You should read How billionaire-funded ‘ed reform’ groups push charters, vouchers to learn just how rich fat cats buy up politicians’ votes and push through the reforms they want.  They want you to think they are fighting for a better education system, but the truth of the matter is they can and do make a lot of money out of charterisation, and the public is being sold a line. And sold out.

This interview on MSNBC news sums it up perfectly

Education should not be about siphoning off the tax dollar to companies like Pearson and KIPP.  Money is in short enough supply, and as much as possible should go to resources and good teachers, not for profits and administrators.

Charters are not the way forward.

Our students deserve a hell of a lot better.

Sources and further reading:

GCSE shame of ‘flagship’ academies as it is revealed six of the Coalition’s schools are among the country’s worst

http://www.msnbc.com/the-ed-show/watch/the-biggest-education-problem-effecting-kids-184771139804

http://www.itv.com/news/anglia/update/2014-03-10/uks-first-for-profit-school-inadequate/

http://www.itv.com/news/west/update/2014-03-10/investigation-underway-into-running-of-school-in-bath/

http://www.itv.com/news/anglia/update/2014-03-10/uks-first-for-profit-school-inadequate/

http://www.croydonguardian.co.uk/NEWS/11041672.Croydon_academies__weeding_out__GCSE_students_to_improve_grades/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2576460/GCSE-shame-flagship-academies-revealed-six-Coalitions-schools-countrys-worst.html#ixzz2vhHT41zY

https://saveourschoolsnz.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/charter-school-children-put-at-risk/

charter schools dividing communities since1991300

Teachers must not be blinded by the loaded promise of gold

No Joke - Kelvin SmytheKelvin 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.

Bill Gates, Murdoch, Pearson and other education chancers

Next time you hear someone moaning about public school teachers or the education system in general, take a minute to ponder who exactly is behind those words and what they might have to gain from them.

Because when we have huge media giants in charge of our TV news and our newspapers, our online information, and our publishing companies, and those same moguls have a fist in the education money pot, it’s safe to say they are not unbiased.  Quite the contrary.

Murdoch, Gates, Fox News, Pearson Publishing … these are not reliable sources of information about education.

Here is the key issue. These companies see success in terms of dollars and profit, not academic success and achievement. Education start-ups fail all the time, including ones backed by the giants like Pearson. Once investors start to see diminishing returns or trouble on the horizon they will pull the plug regardless of how well students may be performing with their product. Vetting new teaching methods for success takes years of research, observation and review. ” Source

Ask yourself:

Who is saying this?

Why would they say it?

Are they qualified to speak on this issue?

Do they have anything to gain?

Education not for sale

How To Distract a Nation …

John Key has a plan ... faint

Don’t be fooled, people.

While they catch our attention by outraging us with sycophantic statements and with pasta-based trivialities,they distract us from the real issue which is that they are systematically undermining our education system at every level.

Get informed and have your say.

No to charters, no to untrained teachers, no to league tables and National Standards, and no to giving our kids 2nd best.

Sign here to say

NO TO CHARTER SCHOOLS.

You only have until January 22nd to get it done.

 

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