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hekia parata

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Parata backs down on bulk funding plans

Demise of bulk funding a big win for teachers, learners and school communities

NZEI Te Riu Roa and PPTA congratulate the Minister of Education and Cabinet for making the right decision to reject bulk funding of schools.

NZEI President Louise Green and PPTA President Angela Roberts say taking bulk funding off the table is a big win for public education and for the thousands of teachers and school support staff who united in unprecedented numbers at more than 50 union meetings around the country in September.

PPTA President Angela Roberts says parents and educators had rejected bulk funding because they realised it was a cost cutting tool that would force schools to make trade-offs between hiring teachers and other costs.  Thousands of parents signed postcards to the Minister calling for better funding, not bulk funding during a national roadshow organised by the two unions earlier this term.

Angela Roberts says the win is good news for learners, as bulk funding led to fewer teachers, larger class sizes and narrower subject choices for students.

She says the two unions welcomed the opportunity to now focus on how funding could be used to improve equity.

“Now that the distraction of bulk funding has been removed we can begin the real work of developing an equitable funding model that works for every child,” she said.

However, Louise Green warned that ditching the decile system and replacing it with more targeted funding would not  help schools unless the chronic underfunding of education was also addressed.

“We call on the Government to take the next step — to increase school funding and restore funding to early childhood services, which has been frozen for six years,” she says.

Both unions’ National Executives are meeting this morning and the Presidents will make a joint statement at lunchtime.

What:               Joint media stand up by NZEI and PPTA Presidents

Where:             Thorndon Hotel, 24 Hawkestone St, Wellington

When:               12:30pm, Friday 18 November

Bye Hekia: No party, no celebration.

no-party-no-celebration

My devices were alight today with messages from colleagues, friends, parents and social media folk sending smiley faces, high fives and happy dance gifs. She’s gone burger, they said. Hekia Parata is outta here. At last we’ll be rid of her and her mad cap ideas. It was like New Year’s Eve or winning the World Cup – there were celebrations across the land.

I appreciated the messages – it’s good to see so many people were as dismayed with Hekia’s performance as Education Minister as I have been and equally glad that we will soon see the back of her.

But, the general feeling of jubilation and relief at knowing we’ll soon be out from under the shadow of someone who has systematically undermined teachers, support staff and parents – not to mention students – in her bid to forge ahead with her neoliberal plan for the New Zealand education system, is tinged with trepidation; who (and what) comes next?

Because much as Hekia has a reputation for being snippy and unapproachable, she isn’t the main problem. The larger problem – and the one that will very likely not change much, if at all – is that of the government’s policies themselves. And, as stated National Party  (and ACT) ideology, the neoliberal policies and direction remain much the same no matter who from the party is in charge.

If we truly want to celebrate – if we want to run around the house with pants on our heads cheering like we’ve won gold, quaff wine in celebration, and look hopefully towards a future where students are at the centre of all education policy decision making – if that’s what we want, we don’t just need a new Education Minister, need a new government.

Enroll here.

Dianne Khan, Save Our Schools NZ

Mum waiting over a month (so far) for response from Hekia Parata

hekia-mana-newsletter-1Andrea Matheson writes:

Today, as a Mana [Porirua] resident, I had the ‘pleasure’ (amusement) of receiving the Minister’s MANA MATTERS newsletter. It has a feedback section, in which I particularly like the comment:

“I’m always interested in hearing your feedback and learning more about which issues matter to you. I’d appreciate it if you could spare a few minutes to complete the survey below.”

Well Minister, I would appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to read and respond to the TWO letters I have sent you where I outlined very clearly what issues matter to me! So I really don’t think you ARE interested in hearing about what issues matter to me or anyone else for that matter!

And I’m intrigued by your statement in the letter:

“We are expanding the ORS and the Intensive Wraparound Service to ensure that every child is catered for, no matter their circumstances”

How, pray tell, are you planning to achieve that, when you have made it quite clear there will be no increase to the special education budget!?

Andrea’s full letter to Hekia Parata follows:

Dear Ms Parata,

I am very disappointed that it has now been a month or so since I sent you my letter regarding the proposed overhaul to Special Education funding and I have not yet had a reply from you. I had very high hopes that my words would make a difference – I guess I am a glass half-full kind of girl.

You state in your opinion piece on Stuff, dated September 25th that “I will work with any groups or individuals that are seriously committed to improving children’s learning and raising achievement.” Well, Ms Parata, we have been trying to get your attention for WEEKS now – parents as individuals and as part of wider groups, have written letters, organised education rallies across the country, commented on news articles, commented on your Facebook page (and been blocked for their efforts), spoken to the media, left messages on the Ministry’s phone line and signed petitions. These efforts have been plastered all over social media – you surely cannot have missed these actions by passionate, proud, exhausted, anxious parents who are praying that the dire situation of inadequate funding in special needs is rectified, and fast.

The lack of response has given me additional time to think of more important questions I need to ask you as well as provide you with some further thoughts that have arisen during this long wait.

In several articles I have read in recent weeks, you have stated that no child currently receiving funding will lose that funding. This implies that individuals such as myself only care about their own child/children and will be satisfied with this reassurance. BUT – I wrote to you expressing my concern about the education system as a whole – I am NOT an individual parent who likes to whinge, who only cares about the impact for her own child – I care deeply about what will happen to children who desperately need funding who do not have any to begin with. So whilst your statement on this point seems to imply that my son will not lose the ORS funding he currently has, he was NOT my only concern. I am not that selfish. Therefore your ‘reassurance’ is of no comfort to parents of children about to enter the school system without ORS funding or teacher aide support, or to parents like myself who care about the bigger picture in education.

Could you please outline any school visits you SPECIFICALLY made as a part of the ‘consultation’ process to help you create your cabinet paper on inclusion? For example, did you:

Visit and personally meet with a wide range of children who have additional learning and physical needs?

Spend time with them in their school environment to understand how crucial additional funding is to ensure their success?

Observe a wide range of learning and physical difficulties, eg: neuro-developmental disorders such as autism, GDD and ADHD, physical disabilities, genetic disorders and learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia etc?

Ensure that you saw the VAST differences between what a teacher, teacher aide, child and parents can achieve with adequate funding, versus a teacher and child who have no additional funding or teacher aide support?

Or was consultation done without the real-life context of what it is like to be struggling to meet the demands in the classroom without support?

How do you propose to support children in primary school who do not meet the criteria for ORS funding? There is currently not enough funding to support children with learning difficulties or disorders, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, ADHD, and autism. If a school cannot meet their needs through their operational or SEG grants, what becomes of these children? Are they supposed to struggle through their school years with little or no support? What will the outcome be for them when they have to enter society as an adult? It is a frightening prospect. We are meant to be a forward thinking and innovative country but at the heart of it, we are not supporting the children who are struggling through every day and having their confidence eaten away bit by bit. I am sure I am not the only person in New Zealand who strongly feels schools need targeted funding to meet the needs of children with these disorders if they do not achieve ORS funding (and we all know the vast majority of children with these disorders do not). We all know these disorders are on the rise Minister – what does your government plan to do about this issue?

We have repeatedly asked you how you plan to improve services to ECE without increasing the overall budget for special education. No satisfactory answer has come from you as yet. Instead we have to listen to radio interviews and read articles where the majority of journalists have not dug deeper to properly dissect the information that is being fed to them. But we as parents have a vested interest in the changes to funding and we know how to read between the lines. We will not be satisfied by the usual vague statements such as “The proposed changes that we’re making in education are all about putting our kids at the centre of the education system, lifting the educational success of every young New Zealander” and “Everything I’m working towards is about putting children and their achievement at the centre of the education system.” Are these statements intended to keep us quiet? I’m afraid they won’t. I guess the giant governmental PR machine may have underestimated our fortitude and determination.

Whilst we can appreciate the sentiment behind your statements, which I’m sure is genuine, you have not given us the answers we are seeking. How will you achieve better funding to students through ‘streamlining’ and what will streamlining look like? Until we get those answers we will continue to be noisy (deafening in fact).

We as parents are striving 24/7 to raise children who can become happy, appreciated, well-understood and productive members of society. All we ask for is that you work with us to better understand their needs, and the successes they can achieve with better funding and more support. Please LISTEN to what we are trying to tell you.

We want to be listened to, we want to be heard. You say that you want to work with us – why are you not responding to our questions? Why are you deleting perfectly reasonable questions and comments from your Facebook page? As a passionate parent and advocate recently suggested, we see plenty of pictures of you planting trees and other lovely photo opportunities, but where are the photos of you working alongside children with additional, high or very high needs, trying to understand how teachers meet their needs with no funding? Where are the photos of you talking to parents whose children have been turned away from schools or stood down because there are no teacher aides to help the teacher support their learning and behavioural needs? Where are those photos Ms Parata?

I respectfully ask (again) that you respond to these thoughts and concerns with REAL answers. We WANT to be involved in the direction that these changes will go, nobody knows the needs of children with ‘special’ needs better than their parents. We want to give you the benefit of our guidance. I am not setting out to be a trouble maker. I have spent an hour and a half on this letter, an hour and a half I could have spent playing with my son. But I am forced into this situation because I need to fight to be heard. Please respect our combined knowledge and experience, there is so much that we could add to help you lead an education system that we can ALL be proud of.

With kind regards,
Andrea Matheson
Mum to a super special, endearing, pride-inducing and heart-warming wee lad.

Letter reproduced with Andrea’s kind permission.

 

The Power of One: a small, silent and very strong protest against Hekia Parata’s Global Funding plans

Hekia Parata made a somewhat surprising appearance today at Core Education’s uLearn Conference in Rotorua, prompting again comparisons of her ability to make herself available for certain types of education gatherings and not others:

  • Education industry events – tick
  • Education union events – cross

Still, this is not news, and her appearance this morning was not a total surprise, despite not being on the programme.

At least one person left the room in silent protest.

p7

Some asked questions…

p16

And one, SOSNZ’s very own Melanie Dorrian, made a one-person, silent and very powerful protest.

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This prompted a flurry of photos on social media

The protest invoked a lot of positive support from within and without the room.

Melanie, I have never been prouder to call you a colleague. You embody exactly what we want of our teachers and our students – deep critical thinking, a commitment to facts, a determination to hold people to account for their actions, and a social advocacy that puts others’ needs sometimes before one’s own.

To those who praised Melanie, took pics, shared your thoughts, sent her your support – thank you. I hope Melanie’s stance has illustrated clearly that one person can make a difference and your voice – every voice – matters.

Next time maybe you’ll bring your banner, too?

After all, you voted overwhelmingly to stand up to this nonsense.

betterfunding-1

You can follow Melanie’s own blog here.

 

Minister MegaLie and Carter the Cloaked Protector

 

We ended season one of Minister MegaLie Strikes Again with a cliffhanger:

Minister MegaLie released a mega-fib- POW!!! -during Parliamentary Question Time, almost flooring The Hipkins – KAPUTTTT!

Eagle eyed Activist Gal spotted the uber-whopper and challenged said Minister to confess to her super-falsehood – KAPOW!!!

Super Special Ed launched a mighty roar: “Justiiiiiice – we demand truth!” – PZZANG!

Minister MegaLie held off Activist Gal and Super Special Ed with her La-la-la Blinkers of Steel – OOOF!!$!

[Silence]

Monster Media walked away and didn’t look back – ARGHHGGGGH!

The Hipkins was struck mute – ZZZAP!

Super Special Ed wept furiously, as the silence rang in their ears – WAHHHGHGGGH!

Teach-A-Trons throughout the land held their breath – EEEEK!

Activist Gal hoped for a hero…

[Fade Out]

Season Two: Minister MegaLie and The  Cloaked Protector

[Fade in to see Mighty Martin on the top of The Beehive]

Mighty Martin launches her email of shame into an angry Wellington wind – BAZINGA

hekia-lie-tracey-martin-priv

Carter the Cloaked Protector flinches and skulks backwards slowly into the Carter Cave – FLRGHGH!

[Tumbleweed and the sound of crows]

Carter the Cloaked Protector unearths an ancient text, The Scroll of Unaccountability WHOOA!

The Scroll of Unaccountability gives Carter the Cloaked Protector the power to bury Minister MegaLie’s heinous deeds once and for all – MWAHAHAHA!

hekia-lie-david-replyjpg

Super Special Ed let loose a might roar – RAAAARGGGGGH!

Teach-A-Trons arm for battle – KRANGH!

Activist Gal looks to camera and says

“Without you – without your voice – without your power and your vote – this evil will prevail…”

“But together… Together we are strong. Together we are mighty.

“Together We Can Get Justice!”

“Stronger Together”

The crowd beings to whisper.

More start to listen…

Staunchly, Bravely, Intrepid Souls join the chant…

“Stronger Together”

“Stronger Together”

Stronger Together

[Fade Out]

.

.

~ Dianne Khan, SOSNZ

https://www.facebook.com/events/184302395332651/

What National Has Done To Education in 2016 (so far)

id-100435177It’s been a year of non-stop changes and proposals. Some call it a war on free public schooling in NZ – indeed it feels like a continuous battery of skirmishes with little to no break between attacks.

If the Minister is purposefully undertaking psychological warfare to break teachers down, then she’s doing it well, because we’re worn out; We just want to teach.

So far this year, NZ public education has faced:

  • COOLs – out of nowhere and with no consultation at all, Hekia Parata announces plans for online charter schools for 5-18 year olds.
  • Global Funding – a raft of proposals to bulk fund schools, including giving schools a set payment to fund teachers with the provision for schools to spend that money any way they want (including not spending it on teachers).  This means government would cease to guarantee to maintain teacher/students ratios at current levels.
  • Special Educational Needs – the Minister has proposed significant changes, but appears to have largely ignored the information collected at select committee. It was confirmed that there will be no additional money for SEN, despite a real issue with under-funding. There are proposals to divert current funding towards early childhood education and reduce funding for 5-18 year olds. Proposal to stop ORS funding at age 18 rather than 21. (And Hekia lied in the house saying the proposals have support where none exists.)
  • Operations budget frozen – schools’ operations funding is frozen despite a hike in power and water bills, meaning a net loss of funds to schools. This means less money for things such as libraries, equipment, specialist classes, and teacher aides.
  • Teacher Education Refresher course – ill-thought-out and inappropriate targeting of teachers for retraining costing $4k (and no student loans available for the course) causes huge amounts of stress for teachers and put pressure on schools as it gets harder to find relievers.
  • Charter Schools – two more, despite the current ones missing targets set by Ministry of Education
  • National Standards – the ‘National Standards: School Sample Monitoring & Evaluation Project 2010-2014‘ report was published and reported that “evidence strongly suggests that [Overall Teacher judgements (OTJs)] lack dependability, which is problematic as OTJs are a central element of the National Standards system”.  Despite this, National Standards are still being pushed and continue to be used by government as if they are reliable.
  • Pushing PaCT – schools being pressured to adopt the Progress and Consistency Tool for National Standards. This includes workshops that give school staff very biased  and one-sided information. There are still concerns PaCT is being pushed in order to later use the data for performance pay, despite research and experiences showing  that teacher performance pay does not improve student outcomes and in some cases lowers it.
  • Education funding diverted to private sector – proposal to give a larger portion of the education budget to charter schools and private schools, leaving less for public schools
  • Untrained Staff unsupervised in classes – Minister proposed a law change to allow untrained ‘teachers’ to work unsupervised in public school classrooms (this while at the same time forcing trained teachers to spend $4k to upskill if they are deemed to have not done enough classroom teaching over the past few years).

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things – there have been so many – so please comment below if there’s anything that needs to be added.

Meanwhile, look after yourselves – there’s still one whole term to go and, as we know, a lot can happen in a few short weeks.

~ Dianne

PS, more added below!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Update: Defunct group, NZ Special Education Association, confirms Hekia Parata did not consult them

Thousands of people have read my post about Hekia Parata fabricating support from a mystical “Special Education Association”, and most were just plain dismayed that a Minister would openly make up information to justify her plans for special education. However, a few hardy trolls souls dredged up whatever support they could for the Minister, saying that there is indeed an New Zealand Special Education Association (NZSEA) in Canterbury and they probably did support the plans. (This despite Hekia writing on her Facebook page that when she said she had the support of the Special Education Association what she mean was some people generally support her plans). Most people know and accept that Hekia lied – but, you know, some poor devils just wont face those kinds of facts.

So I did what seemed best, I emailed the apparently defunct NZSEA to double check that they are indeed no longer a group and check whether they did or did not support Ms Parata’s plans.

In plain English and to be very clear, I asked the NZSEA whether they are the Special Education Association to which Hekia Parata referred when she said to Chris Hipkins during Question Time in Parliament on 23rd August 2016:

“I can tell the member that the Special Education Association tells me they want to be able to measure progress…”

The answer is no, they are not.

The NZSEA’s reply, received at 9.45am today, said:

Kia ora Dianne,

Thank  you for your email.  It is timely as I am about to write a letter to the editor disclaiming any association between NZSEA and the Minister’s statement she gave last week. She has never consulted with NZSEA on any matter associated with special education, in the past or now.  

Unfortunately, the NZSEA is currently on the process of winding up so it will be interesting to see if the Minister refers to the group again.  All the best in your quest. 

Ngā mihi 

Gaye

Chair

New Zealand Special Educaiton Association (NZSEA)

Over to you, trolls.

~ Dianne

Hekia ‘Special Education Association’ – more screenshots surface

This is what Hekia  Parata said in the House on 23rd August 2016:

Hekia Hansard 23 aug 16

We’ve already seen how Hekia justified her statement to Melanie Simons.

This is what she said when Glenis Bearsley questioned her:

Hekia - glenys - SEN quHekia - glenys - SEN qu 2

Anyone else see a pattern forming here?

~ Dianne

 

 

Lies: Hekia Parata fabricates a ‘Special Education Association’ that she says backs her plans

In parliament this week, Hekia Parata was asked who, if anyone, supports her plans regarding special education, and she replied with a smug grin that they are backed by the Special Education Association. It’s all there in Hansard:

Hekia Hansard 23 aug 16

Hmm…. Special Education Association? Who are they, I thought.

I asked on Twitter.

I asked people who are very close to special education, like Giovani Tiso and Hilary Stace. Nope, they’d not heard of it either.

Others asked too. I tried Facebook. I tried Googling. I’m good at Googling. But nothing.

And it wasn’t just me trying to find out. Members of a special education group on Facebook – a group that know a lot about this area, between them – were also trying to find out. What did they get? Zip. Diddly. Nada. Not a thing.

Oh wait – we tracked down a small group of people (like, 4-6 people, it seemed) at the University of Canterbury that might be the Special Needs Association! was this it? No. And anyway, that small band of merry folk are disbanding.

Was it the Special Educational Principals Association (SEPAnz?) No. Not them, either.

So people went to ask Hekia Parata’s Facebook page…. Melanie, for example…

hekki special education association

It turns out Hekia made the association up!

IT DOESN’T EVEN EXIST!

I can’t even … I mean, really?

She just lied?

Seriously, she named this organisation in Parliament as backing her plans, and she now says it  just means “all those involved in the delivery of special education” that she’s spoken with.

Utter and total tosh. The sector is dismayed by the proposals. Many are outraged. Parents are both angry and frightened.

By the way, when Melanie pointed out Hekia’s words were misleading, her post was deleted from Hekia’s Facebook page and Melanie was banned from it. This is common practice on that page, where only cheer-leading is allowed, not citizens asking reasonable questions. (My tip – screenshot everything).

Silence anyone that finds you out. What a wonderful, open democracy we live in. Tui.

Hekia Parata has stooped to a new low. She has lied. Openly and blatantly.  I do hope the media and opposition MPs take this further. A Minister cannot and should not just make things up to pretend their plans have support.

~ Dianne

EDIT: Another person questioned Hekia – here are those screenshots.

UPDATE: Update: Defunct group, NZ Special Education Association, confirms Hekia Parata did not consult them EVER

 

Hekia calls Seymour about unions… (satire)

texting meme a

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texting meme c

texting meme d

texting meme e

texting meme f

texting meme gtexting meme h

 

 

 

When is a consultation not a consultation? – Education Act Update Workshops

One gets the distinct feeling the Education Act Update is already written and these workshops are simply a merry dance to make us feel like we are being consulted…

la-la-la-not-listeningIt sounds cynical, I know, but after closely following the antics of Hekia Parata for the past few years, the only conclusion any sane person could come to is that her consultations are a sham and done only to fulfil the requirement to hold one, not to actually listen or learn or change anything.

I’m thinking of Christchurch, Salisbury, Redcliffs… of select committees and consultation with unions. I’m thinking of ECE reforms.

The plans are predetermined; consultation done in name only.

So why, you may ask, did I bother dragging myself to an Education Act Update Workshop this week? I could have stayed home and put the tree up. I know my 6 year old would have been far happier not to have to sit there for 2 hours – the iPad and the superb scones could only hold his attention for so long. But drag myself (and child) to the workshop I did, and here’s why.

It is important to make our voices heard.

It is important to hear what other have to say and to discuss issues with them.

And it is vital our views are recorded, in writing, on the Ministry’s wee feedback forms.

This is crucial even when the Minister isn’t listening. Perhaps especially when she isn’t listening?

If we don’t have a voice, the Minister can rightly say we don’t care what happens. She can say we agree with her plans – taking silence to be tacit approval. She can carry on with impunity, implementing her reform agenda. And that would be a disaster.

It must be on record that we stood up to this. It must be on record what parents, teachers, support staff, principals, whanau and students DO want. Because when the tide turns – and at some point it will – we must be able to point to evidence of what we were asking for and how things must change.

Our voices do matter.

A list of the workshops is here: please do go and be heard.

You can submit online here.

Wonka - not listening

 

Dear Hekia, I don’t want to be an All Black

Hekia Parata shared this meme on her Facebook page today, and good on her.  As all good Kiwis know, we must never miss a chance to link something – anything – to the All Blacks.

Hekia all blacks meme

However, the analogy is entirely faulty.

Does she propose we take just the top, say 15, students in the country and throw all we have at them. Fund them the most, give them the very best equipment, best medical care, best physiotherapists, best food, best buildings and sports fields, best transport, and all the positive support a country can muster?

But what about the other students? No, that can’t be what she meant.

Perhaps she meant the teachers are the All Blacks?

That might work, because we do and always have used data to inform us in our classrooms and schools, and we do try to improve and have fun. Excellent, that must be it.

Oh, wait… I presume The All Blacks don’t have to run their planned moves by the Minister, though? Or send their data in a couple of times a year for some civil servants to check over? Or get sudden edicts from the Ministry or Minister saying how they should play from now on. Hmmm… so the analogy falls apart again.

Of course it falls apart no matter which way you look at it, because it’s just a soundbite and means nothing.

Teachers are not the All Blacks. Nor are we the All Black captain.

We coach the ones who play well, the ones who don’t,

the ones with boots, the ones without,

the ones who would rather have a punch up than play to the rules,

the ones who want to play but are too shy or unsure,

the ones who think they are Richie McCaw when in fact they are more Ritchie Valens,

the ones who try so hard but never quite get to the top team,

the ones who blow your mind by making great leaps forward,

the hungry ones who can’t focus,

the depressed ones whose minds are somewhere else,

the ones going home to a warm dry house and the ones going home to mould,

the ones who can’t see the ball,

the ones who run the wrong way,

the ones who’d rather draw the ball or redesign it,

the ones who want to be an All Black

and the ones who don’t –

the ones who can be an All Black

and the ones who can’t.

What we are is the coach of all the teams – ALL of them – and we can’t and shouldn’t pick our players. We should teach the team we get.

So, if being an All Black teacher means picking only the very best, I’d rather be a little league coach any day.

~ Dianne Khan, SOSNZ

Education and social disadvantage are closely connected, says OECD report

It is worrying that in today’s NZ Herald Hekia Parata again conflates poverty and socio-economic status, and to further confuse matters throws in decile ratings as if the three things are the same. They are not.

Either she doesn’t know the differences or she chooses to ignore them, and I’m not sure which. Either way, she continues to mislead to public.

The Difference Between Socio-Economic Status and Poverty

Socio-economic status is far more complex than poverty.  SES takes into consideration a far wider set of factors such as parents’ education achievements, occupation, social status, neighbourhood and so on.

Researchers looking at the impact of SES on student achievement will look at such things as how many books a home has in it, what art work it has, whether there is a desk to work at, how many parents there are, even considering matters such as mental health, birth weight and drug habits.

SES is not merely about income. SES is not the same as poverty.

Expert Opinion on the Impact of Socio Economic Status on a Student’s Educational Success

The 18% in the early part of the PISA report that Parata likes to quote actually refers to the effects of poverty alone – not socio-economic status.  Remember, they are not the same thing. The same report  she misquotes goes on to say that the impact of socio-economic status is around 75%. That is in stark contrast to Parata’s assertions, is it not?

Stephen Machin, in his 2006 OECD report on Social Disadvantage and Educational Experiences, notes:

“The evidence from empirical research is that education and social disadvantage are closely connected and that people from less advantaged family backgrounds acquire significantly less education than their more advantaged counterparts.

This translates into significantly reduced life chances as individuals’ economic and social outcomes as adults are significantly hampered by lower education levels owing to social disadvantage.”

The fact is, whilst teacher quality is a big *in-school* factor for student success, the out-of-school factors – the socio-economic factors impacting the student every single day – have by far the biggest impact overall.

And if we are not addressing those adequately, we are merely tinkering at the edges.

~ Dianne Khan, SOSNZ

_________________

Sources and further reading:

Machin, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers No. 32 – Social Disadvantage and Education Experiences, 2006, p. 26

Hekia Parata: Socio-economic factors are often overstated, NZ Herald, 6/11/15

Does poverty impact student achievement? The research says yes.

Hekia Parata today wheeled out her favourite trope “decile is not destiny” in a bid to convince us that poverty has little to no impact on a student’s educational and life success.  She quoted (or misquotes or misrepresents, take your pick) OECD research, saying poverty only has an 18% impact on students. Source

Whether the Minister truly believes her own rhetoric, one can only guess, but it is safe to say that for most students the socio-economic background in which they grow up has a life-long impact on their chances of success.

And whilst we disagree on many things, I believe Ms Parata and I agree on this: the current situation isn’t good enough and needs to change.  So here’s some further research for her to consider:

  • Because of the socio-economic gap, there is an “enormous disparity in children’s home backgrounds and the social and cultural capital they bring to the educational table” (Benn & Millar, 2006 p. 23).
  • The “gap” is not restricted to one society (e.g. USA or NZ) or to one type of society (e.g. English-speaking); it occurs in every developed society. Students with good family resources out-perform those without (Biddulph, et al, 2003).
  • Most significantly, the OECD having studied 25 school systems (not including New Zealand) to determine the determinants of school achievement, found that, “the first and most solidly based finding is that the largest source of variation in student learning is attributable to differences in what students bring to school” (OECD, 2005, p. 2).
  • “The evidence from empirical research is that education and social disadvantage are closely connected and that people from less advantaged family backgrounds acquire significantly less education than their more advantaged counterparts.  This translates into significantly reduced life chances as individuals’ economic and social outcomes as adults are significantly hampered by lower education levels owing to social disadvantage.” (Machin, OECD Social, Employment and migration Working Papers No. 32 – Social Disadvantage and Education Experiences, p. 26 – Source).
  • Even the US Office of Education, despite its support for “accountability based programmes”, having reviewed the international evidence, admitted that it was clear that “most participating countries do not differ significantly from the United States in terms of the strength of relationship between socioeconomic status and literacy in any subject”  (Lemke, et al, 2002, p. 35).
  • When children attend schools which are widely different in social class composition, the gaps between the aggregate achievement of schools mirrors closely the gaps between the social classes which predominate in them.  Based on his research in New Zealand (and consistent with many overseas studies) Richard Harker has claimed that “anywhere between 70-80% of the between schools variance is due to the student ‘mix’ which means that only between 20% and 30% is attributable to the schools themselves” (Harker, 1995, p.74).

And a final sage word from David Berliner:

“People with strong faith in public schools are to be cherished and the same is true of each example of schools that have overcome enormous odds. The methods of those schools need to be studied, promoted and replicated so that more educators will be influenced by their success.

But these successes should not be used as a cudgel to attack other educators and schools. And they should certainly never be used to excuse societal neglect of the very causes of the obstacles that extraordinary educators must overcome.

It is poor policy indeed that erects huge barriers to the success of millions of students, cherrypicks and praises a few schools that appear to clear these barriers, and then blames the other schools for their failure to do so.”

If we truly want to improve the chances for those with lower socio-economic backgrounds, we must stop the soundbites, blaming and ideology and turn our minds to the wealth of quality research, which must then be read without agenda and applied honestly. Our students deserve nothing less.

Dianne Khan

SOSNZ

Sources and Further Reading

The Gap – EXCUSES, EXCUSES: SOCIAL CLASS AND EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT, by Massey University Emeritus Professor Ivan Snook

Berliner, David C. (2009). Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit.    http://epicpolicy.org/publication/poverty-and-potential.

Chenoweth,Karin. (2007). It’s Being Done: Academic Success in Unexpected Schools. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Ministry of Education (2009). National Standards and Reporting to Parents. Wellington: NZ Government.

Lemke,M et al (2002). Outcomes of Learning:Results from the 2000 Program for International Student Assessment of 15-year-olds in Reading, Mathematics and Science Literacy. Washington: US Office of Education

OECD (2005). Teachers matter: Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers. Overview. Paris: OECD.  http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/39/47/34990905.pd

Rothstein, Richard (2004). Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap. Economic Policy Institute, Teachers’College, Columbia University.

Tunmer, W. and J. Prochnow (in press). Cultural Relativism and Literacy Education: Explicit Teaching based on Specific Learning Needs is not Deficit Theory.

Wilkinson,R. and K.Pickett (2009). The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always do Better. Allen Lane, an Imprint of Penguin Books, London.

SOCIAL CLASS AND EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT: BEYOND IDEOLOGY. Ivan Snook Massey University, October 2009

Minister uses incorrect data to blame schools for achievement gap – QPEC

QPEC logo no borderQPEC co-convenor Dr Liz Gordon is calling for the Minister to use the correct figures on the achievement gap between the richest and poorest in New Zealand.

“The Minister uses the figure that 18% of the achievement gap is caused by socio-economic background”, says Dr Gordon.

“That figure came from a wrongly calculated OECD report, and is significantly out of kilter with the overwhelming evidence by the OECD itself that social factors are the key determinant of educational outcomes, across nations, across cultures, across schooling systems, public or private, large or small.”

Dr Gordon says that she does not know why the Minister continues to use a discredited figure.

“What does the research say? It says that children from high-education homes with more than 500 books, a bedroom for every child, a computer for learning and a range of other factors start school around two years ahead of those in the poorest, education-poor areas. Not only that, but the kids who are ahead in the race have all their ducks in a row to spring ahead even further.

“By age 15, the average literacy and numeracy gap between the 500- plus book group, and the fewer-than-10 book families, is over three years of learning using the OECD’s own index of learning.

“Those at the lower end have more barriers to learning than those at the top, and this is made worse by harder lives, worse conditions and fewer resources.

“In an NCEA system, where there are multiple routes and a number of pathways to achieving qualifications, the numbers of children from poor families achieving NCEA at levels 1 and 2 has expanded. This is because the changed system allows people with different abilities to turn these into qualifications. It does not mean that the wealth and resource gap has closed”.

“External factors such as high levels of child poverty (nearly every child in each decile 1-3 school, plus others, now lives in a family where there are never enough resources to meet all the family needs) and the flight from low decile schools (making those schools smaller and removing economies of scale) make these gaps worse.

“School resources and programmes, such as health-promoting schools, social workers, PB4L and other schemes work the other way, to close the gap.

QPEC wishes the Minister to accept the evidence for the huge socio-economic barriers to learning and work to design a system that will properly overcome these.

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