There is much consternation about The Herald withdrawing an education article part way through the day this week and refusing to respond to questions about why that was.
So why was it withdrawn, we wondered? Political pressure? Who knew?
With no real explanation, suddenly, the next day, there was a pathetic (and badly written) “clarification’ in the Herald”
But even that doesn’t say the facts were wrong. Just the intference.
And yet reading the released OIA documents, I feel most people with decent reading skills would infer the same.
But don’t take my word for it, take a look at these excerpts (or better still, read the whole OIA request here) and judge for yourselves:
and more ‘war room’ talk…
It seems to be a lot of back and forth and a lot of people involved for something the Ministry is now saying wasn’t an issue, doesn’t it?
It is worth noting that all of this toing and froing includes a whole lot of media staff and not so many education staff. You’d think sharing the undiluted, unspun truth would be better all round …
So was there undue influence or not?
And just how much spin does it take before the spin become untruths?
The Education Amendment Bill (2) has passed meaning the dissolution of the New Zealand Teachers Council this year to be replaced by EDUCANZ, a body that will be entirely made up of members hand-picked by the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata.
This is not democracy.
Currently, teachers get to vote on their representation on the Teachers Council: That will be over.
Currently, teachers register every three years: It will become an annual registration, all paid for by teachers.
Currently, teachers are bound by a Code of Ethics: This is to be placed by a Code of Conduct written by the hand-picked members of EDUCANZ, and is likely to attempt to gag teachers from speaking out against education reforms they consider damaging to children and the education system as a whole.
Be under no illusion, this is a full frontal assault on educators.
We Must Stand United
This assault must be met head on by a united PPTA and NZEI. They must stand shoulder to shoulder saying no. There must be no wavering; this is a time for solidarity of purpose.
The New Zealand School Trustees Association should support teachers in this action and be staunch in doing so.
Whether the New Zealand Principals Federation (NZPF) or Secondary Principals’ Association of New Zealand will stand shoulder to shoulder, too, is debatable. I would hope they would show the courage.
Standing up to the changes this Bill imposes is no small feat and would not be undertaken lightly. But there comes a time when every one of us must say enough, and this is that time.
We must be united.
PPTA and NZEI, we are looking to you for leadership, guidance and strength.
Many of us who have read it are very concerned about the Education Ministry’s Statement of Intent.
The foreword is an exercise in deduction as, like all of the Minister’s communications, it’s hard to get past the waffle and jargon in order to see what is actually meant.
But this is vitally important that educators and parents DO read and understand it, because this document outlines what the Minister is intending to do next to our education system.
When I first read the Statement, I was torn between horror at what is implied in it and amusement at the circumlocution and waffle. In fact, I immediately wrote my own parody of the Statement, using about 50% of Hekia’s own words and adding my own spin.
It amused me, briefly.
But that amusement didn’t last long.
In actual fact, the Statement of Intent is very concerning.
Catherine Delahunty picks it apart today in this article, and asks some very salient questions about the Ministry’s intent, in particular regarding Early Childhood Education (ECE).
For those of you that don’t know, the Ministry’s Early learning Information System (ELI) is “an electronic monitoring system that requires ECE centres to record children’s enrolment and attendance.”
Delahunty points out that the Education Ministry says it will use its Early Learning Information System:
“to help identify particular trends and the effectiveness of children’s learning…”
Delahunty then asks,
“What on earth do they want 3 and 4 year olds to ‘learn’ and more particularly, what are they planning to measure about the effectiveness of that learning?
There has for a while now been real worries in the ECE sector that National may want preschool kids learning their ’3 R’s’ too. This appears to be a strong signal that we could have National Standards for pre-schoolers.”
I agree, it does appear to signal the Ministry is moving towards measuring the academic achievements of preschoolers.
This is worrying.
There are HUGE concerns from the ECE sector and from parents regarding the push towards standardising learning (and, heaven forbid, testing) for preschoolers.
It’s bad enough that the focus on data and on national and arbitrary standards is being entrenched in primary schools, but to it is even worse to be forcing formal learning on 2,3, or 4 year olds. The move is not supported by the research and in totally unnecessary in terms of good learning.
Ask yourself, why the focus on data and on national and arbitrary standards – what does it achieve?
Has it raised student achievement elsewhere?
The answer is no. But it has created a very lucrative market in testing materials and it has allowed for performance pay for teachers, neither of which benefit the students. Quite the opposite, in fact.
“We know that quality parent-led and teacher-led ECE based on a holistic curriculum is the best for small children”
Similar sentiments were echoed by Chris Hipkins (Labour) and Tracey Martin (NZ First) at the Tick For Kids ECE forum in Wellington last week.
The focus on reading and writing, and the obsession with pass marks, is narrowing our education system and crippling both teachers and students.
It is not a positive move.
It will not improve educational outcomes.
It is not supported as good practice by research.
So just what is the motive for doing it?
Sources and further reading:
The Ministry of Education’s Statement of Intent 2013 – 2018 (which sets out the key elements of how the Ministry will contribute to the delivery of Government’s priorities for education.)
Press Release: Quality Public Education Coalition – QPEC.
The issues behind the referral of the Te Kohanga Reo National Trust subsidiary to the Serious Fraud Office by the Minister of Education illustrate the growing complexities of where, how and by whom public funds are ultimately spent.
Recent trends in how public services are delivered have highlighted the problems that are more likely to arise because privately controlled and operated entities are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as public operations.
As the Minister, Hekia Parata said in her press release:
“The challenge remains in all of this for the trust to provide more transparency and accountability, and to do so in a way that allows the Government, the public and its movement to have confidence in it.’’
QPEC supports this principle. But QPEC also feels strongly that the same principle should apply to other instances where public funds make up the majority – if not all – of the income of a privately controlled entity.
This applies to charter schools, which, by definition, are publically funded but privately operated and fall outside of the full ambit of public sector transparency and scrutiny.
State and state-integrated schools have parent-elected Boards of Trustees that must hold open meetings and maintain open records, as our local body governments do. All such meetings are open to any member of the public to attend.
In addition, these schools are subject to the Official Information Act, whereas charter schools are explicitly exempt from the OIA.
The Minister of Education should be consistent and insist on greater transparency from her charter school experiment.
This Bill replaces the Teachers Council with EDUCANZ, and it is imperative you understand what changes that will usher in.
It is even more important that you send in a submission if you oppose those changes.
Thinking others will deal with it is as good as agreeing to the changes: If you think the changes are wrong, then you really do have to have your say.
Write and register your own submission here (the link is at the bottom of that page).
Do you want teachers’ professional body to be led by government appointees, have your voice silenced, have your professional status undermined, be replaced by cheap untrained labour, have LATs with criminal convictions in the classroom, and then pay for the privilege of all that?
If the answer is NO, then please make a submission.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Below are some links to get you going:
The Guardian – Education (England)
The Anti-Academies Alliance on Facebook (England)
EduShyster – Keeping an eye on the corporate education reform agenda (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.
and think parents are on your side.
and if you believe teachers agree
with what you are doing
and don’t feel taken for a ride,
a straight answer?
Have you lied?
Answers on a postcard, please.
Here, Chris Hipkins and Catherine Delahunty try to get a straight answer out of Hekia about proposals to change the way schools are funded:
Say NO to charter schools – make an easy submission here (takes one minute).
The Minister of Education has spent much of her time, notably on Q+A and during Parliamentary Question Time on 16th October and 17th October, dancing around questions and offering responses that fail to address the actual questions. Even the speaker of the house seemed exasperated on a number of occasions, trying to get a straight answer out of her. In my experience, people who answer in the kind of way Ms Parata does have one of two problems – they are either not very bright and do not understand what is being asked, or they understand only too well and do not want to give the answer.
3/10 For Accuracy
Just about everyone is aware that there were errors in the original information upon which closure/merger/relocation decisions were based. Now it transpires that even more errors have been unearthed. “It is concerning that new information is only now coming to light. This is information that should have been given earlier if school principals and their boards and communities were to have any meaningful dialogue with the Government” said NZEI President, Ian Leckie today.
Sorry, Did I Say Flexibility?
Despite all this, and despite repeated assurances from the Minister, Hekia Parata, that she is listening and the consultation is genuine, no flexibility will be given to Christchurch schools fighting for their survival. No opportunity for extra time, support or help in any shape, way or form in fact. Yes, that sure sounds like they’re listening. Sure sounds like they’re flexible.
A Shameful Roll-Call
Christchurch is suffering. That’s the fact of the matter.
The quakes have left behind huge ongoing problems and a stressed and exhausted people. Health and alcohol problems are on the rise as time moves on and issues are not resolved. According to an article in Scoop today, “Chris Mene said proposed school mergers and closures affected families in the ”most deprived and vulnerable areas.” and “Andrew Dickerson said the ”appalling performance” of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, the Earthquake Commission and insurance companies would take its toll on people’s mental wellbeing.” Andrew might well have added The Ministry of Education to that roll-call.
Just being upset or angry is not going to help. Action is needed.
The boards of schools in greater Christchurch proposed for merger or closure will have until 7 December to carry out consultation with their local communities and report back on the proposals. Find out where community consultation evenings are taking place – go along – see what you can do to help.
At Chisnallwood Intermediate, a community consultation evening is to be held in the school gymnasium on Wednesday 31st of October at 7 pm. They are asking for everyone to attend and support them. They have invited politicians, education ministry people, media, community boards, etc. It would be astounding to have a high community turn-out to canvass opinions and show the government that this matter is of huge and high importance to the community.
And if you know of further events, feel free to add details or links in the comments below.
Kia Kaha, Christchurch.
Links & Further Reading
Proposals for state primary and intermediate schools can be found on the Shaping Education website – http://shapingeducation.minedu.govt.nz.
Geotechnical information will inform future proposals for secondary provision in Christchurch. For more information, see Proposals for Future of Christchurch Schools [PDF; 90kb]
Principals denied more time to respond: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/7824735/Deadline-stands-Parata
Schools Grieving – Longstone: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/schools/7818675/Schools-grieving-Longstone
Schools all ears for Ministry talks: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/7810511/Schools-all-ears-for-ministry-talks