National’s support for reinstating the American charter school model shows not only that the privatisation bias that Bill English pursued over recent years is alive and well, but also that they are struggling to develop sound Education policy.
As far back as the 2008 general election, National committed to “increasing educational choices”. But everyone knows that the phrase “School Choice” was first coined by economist Milton Friedman and is the code used to drive the privatisation movement in the USA. The pure form of the privatised market model is vouchers, but in practice the charter school model has been adopted as the most practical privatisation route in most States.
The irony is that there is a wide variety of choice already available in the New Zealand public education system. One leading American commentator, writing in the Washington Post, made the remark that “…the most aggressive school choice system in the world is probably New Zealand”.
Surveys over many years by the NZ Council for Educational Research confirm that around 90% or more of New Zealand parents feel they send their child to the school of their choice. This high degree of satisfaction with choices available is underpinned by the variety of schooling options available, both within the State system and across the State-Integrated model.
Every State and State-Integrated school is governed by a parent-elected Board of Trustees, under a charter, the defining document that sets out the school community’s Vision and Values. It is this inconvenient fact that requires “charter schools” to be called something different in New Zealand!
The State system includes the set of schools operating as Kura Kaupapa, under s. 155, and the set of Designated Character schools under s. 156. These schools are complemented by over 330 State-Integrated schools, with religious character, such as Christian values or even Muslim values, as well as a variety of teaching philosophies, such as Montessori or Rudolf Steiner.
Indeed, anyone who tries to claim that New Zealand has a “one-size-fits-all” public education system is either very poorly informed of the variety of options available or is being deliberately misleading.
As a former Minister of Education, Nikki Kaye knows this only too well. So, we can conclude from this release that she has just nailed her colours to the mast of the privatisation movement.
National hid behind the ACT Party first time around and needed the support of the Maori Party to get the initial charter model legislation through the House. The convenient marriage of the ideology of privatisation and the ideology of self-determination was therefore born.
Given that the formal evaluation of the charter school model, carried out by Martin Jenkins, failed to draw any genuine conclusions as to the impact of the model to date, National is clutching at straws to claim that the model has already proven to be successful.
And we know from the financial statements of the Sponsors that this has been a lucrative business for them to enter. Bill English rushed to change the funding model after only one year but the first and second round school Sponsors have scored well out of the policy and away from the watchful eye of the Auditor-General.
No wonder they don’t want to let it go!
Labour has launched several reviews across multiple fronts to try and get to grips with the challenges of reinvigorating the New Zealand public education system after 9 years of flawed policies, such as National Standards.
It is early days yet but National’s knee-jerk reaction to bring back an American model that doesn’t even work there reveals how shallow National’s approach to developing Education policy is proving to be.
– Bill Courtney, Save Our Schools NZ
In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s election year, and that means it’s time to look at the various political parties’ education policies.
So, because we are helpful souls here at SOSNZ, here’s a handy alphabetical list of NZ political parties with links to their education policies online (or, where no education policy is yet published, a link to their general policy page):
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party Education Policy – none on party web page. Other policies are here.
Conservative Party Education Policy – none on party web page. Other policies here.
Maori Party Education Policy – not on party web page. Other policies are here.
United Future Education Policy – none on party web page. Other policies are here.
Last week Metiria Turei of the Green Party took over the Feed the Kids Bill that Hone Harawira had introduced to Parliament. If passed, the Bill will provide government-funded breakfast and lunch in all decile 1 and 2 schools.
Metiria explains, “Hungry kids can’t learn and are left trapped in the poverty cycle when they grow up. Let’s break that cycle, lunchbox by lunch box. We can feed the country’s hungry kids, if we work together.
“My Bill is at a crucial stage of its progress – part way through its First Reading – and may be voted on as early as next Wednesday 5 November.
“The way the numbers stack up in the new Parliament the Bill will be voted down unless we can persuade the National Party to change its position and support it going to Select Committee. National have been talking a lot about child poverty since the election, and supporting my Bill is one way they can start to address it.
“You can help me persuade the Prime Minister to let the public have a say on this important issue by emailing John Key, asking that National support my Bill at least to Select Committee.
“We need to broaden and build the public debate on addressing child poverty, and submissions on this Bill to a Select Committee will help achieve this.
“Because of the potentially short time frame, you’ll need to send your emails as soon as possible and before Monday 3 November at the latest.”
Email John Key at email@example.com
Make a cuppa, grab a couple of bikkies, and take the time to watch this video before you choose where to put your vote on September 20th.
“The Wellington region of the New Zealand Post Primary Teachers’ Association / Te Wehengarua (PPTA) invited the main political parties’ education spokespeople to deliver their views to a live audience.
Here is the video clip of the well attended event.”
Findings in an independent analysis of the Government’s books, commissioned by the Green Party, reveal National is planning multi-billion dollar cuts to health, education, and environment spending over the next three years.
The analysis, prepared by Ganesh Nana of independent economic consultancy BERL, shows that National is stripping funding, in real terms, to the health, education and environment sectors to the tune of at least $3.837 billion over
the next three years.
“National’s election promises are being underwritten by major cuts to health, education and environment spending,” said Green Party Co-leader DrRussel Norman.
“National is being tricky with the books. This is a deliberate deception so National can claim a budget surplus when the reality is that hospitals will be under even greater pressure to cut services while every child in education will be worse off.
“At the time of the Budget in May, National brushed off criticism of these cuts saying they weren’t true. That was spin. National’s cuts to health, education and environment spending are real and damaging.
“National is attacking the elderly, the young and our environment with these funding cuts.
“BERL’s analysis shows National will cut health spending by 4.5 percent in real terms over the next three years. The cuts are actually 9.8 percent when you apply real health sector price increases.
“Education cuts amount to 1.7 percent over the next three years in total but are far more significant on a per pupil basis.
“In early childhood education (ECE) the cuts per child are 4.6 percent, 3 percent for primary children and 1.1 percent for secondary students.
“Environmental protection is cut by a massive 13.9 percent, leaving our environment vulnerable to further degradation,” said Dr Norman.
“In Government, the Green Party will maintain real levels of funding in health, education and the environment to protect against inflation and ensure vital services are not gutted.
“We will allocate $3.837 billion to health, education and the environment to protect these essential services for New Zealanders.
“The Green Party will reverse National’s cuts to our important services. Funding for our hospitals and schools and environmental protection will be maintained and inflation adjusted under the Greens.
“The Greens will use National’s provision for new spending to invest back into health, education and the environment to maintain real funding levels.
“Our plan to protect core Government spending is more than covered by existing budget provisions for new spending going forward and is affordable within budget parameters.
“Voters need to be crystal clear that a vote for National is a vote for spending cuts on health, education and our environment.
“Voters have a choice this election, re-elect National for big cuts to health and education, or protect the funding of our essential public services by voting Green.”
You have until 5pm this Friday (August 15th) to vote in your school on whether to:
Ballots are being held by NZEI worksite reps in each school this week.
Background information on what the IES may mean for you and your school, including quick videos (below) to bring you up to speed on the issues.
NZEI’s IES videos can be viewed here:
If you have any queries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 NZEI HELP.
As Health Minister Tony Ryall signed off on his long political career recently, he said about the health portfolio: “You work with quality people every day who are dedicated to the welfare of New Zealanders. I wake up most mornings, and I turn to my wife and I say ‘ugh. Imagine being Minister of Education’. That is a really tough job.”
The clear implication is that education sector workers are not ‘quality’ and it was an unfortunate comment for a government minister to make. It will have reminded people in the education sector that while the Key Government has been on a charm offensive this year, its longer-term pattern has been dismissal, denigration and blame.
Another reminder of how appalling the Key Government has been in relating to the education sector was Nigel Latta’s latest TV programme. The main thrust of the programme was that our schools and today’s education were good! It was a refreshing change from the Minister of Education’s usual crisis account and the sort of barb that Ryall has delivered.
One of the strengths of Latta’s programme was that he recognised some of the complexity of what teachers are dealing with. He started with how the education system is baffling to most people and illuminated it a little.
Perhaps the complexity of the education sector also partly underlies Ryall’s cheap shot. What constitutes quality is not straightforward here. Education is full of uncertainty and heavily influenced by context. It is sometimes informed by evidence but can rarely be evidence-based. Randomised controlled trial with your Year 10 class anyone?
Education is even more complex than Tony Ryall’s dress sense. It’s an area where there’s a little bit of truth in many point of views. It’s also an area where a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Educational problems often demand a cultural rather than a technical response from teachers.
As Professor Richard Pring of Oxford University has put it, ‘teaching as part of an educational practice must include deliberation about the end or values of teaching, as much as it does deliberation about the means or techniques’.
A New Zealand academic who understood much about the complexities of education is honoured with an annual lecture. Professor Emeritus Graham Nuthall (1935-2004) was famous for a series of studies in the subtle classroom interactions that influence learning.
My address for the Annual Graham Nuthall Lecture next month will be on National Standards, an area where this Government is allowing its enthusiasm for data and targets to damage teaching and learning in primary and intermediate schools.
Most educators remain concerned about central elements of the National Standards policy. This leads to what I suspect is Ryall’s main problem with the education sector, that it has continued to dispute much of the Key Government’s approach to education.
One response is to ask why there isn’t more outspokenness in the health sector also.
Many of Ryall’s ‘quality people’ have just announced they are going on strike for better pay. And anecdotally there are plenty of problems with health practice being distorted by targets and funding arrangements.
Actually it’s important that teachers and other education sector workers see themselves as playing a genuine part in making education policy. Education policy cannot just be implemented in linear fashion, it gets translated and reinterpreted at every level. Teachers don’t simply comply with policy and neither should they if we want a good education system.
Contestation of education policy serves valuable purposes. It circumvents and undermines bad policy. Tony Ryall might look down his nose at those in the education sector but like those in health, they are very dedicated to the welfare of New Zealanders.
And if they can stop a Government imposing bad policy – legend!
About the Author: Martin Thrupp is Professor of Education at the University of Waikato.
So, two things come to mind when I see this pic:
1. Be careful what you say in public as hypocrisy is not a good look.
2. Paula’s right – don’t vote for f*@# wits.
If anyone can shed further light on this letter, which is apparently to Vic Uni’s student mag, do let me know!
UPDATE: And eagle eyes reader spotted this rather excellent article: http://thestandard.org.nz/key-not-sure-which-bennett-he-appointed/
– and the money was shuffled from other areas of education, so others lose out.
Originally published in The Dominion Post 20/5/14
Within a month, unless the two teacher organisations have united, and on an agreed programme, teachers will find themselves near powerless, and at the fate of Hekia Parata, Peter Hughes, John Key, John Hattie, Andreas Schleicher, Core, Cognition, and overseas multi-nationals. For this to happen, Phil Harding will probably need to be pushed aside. But that is up to him.
My ministry source tells me that the ministry coffee talk is all about how Hekia Parata and representatives of Nga-Kura-a-Iwi (Iwi Education Authority) seem to have worked together to harass Judith Nowotarski, president of NZEI.
Delegates at the conference were taken aback at the way Pem Bird and Hekia combined to to put Judith down.
What was that all about delegates asked?
The issue in question was the protest by NZEI in Auckland and Wellington against pay inequities of support staff in schools and the wider community.
Hekia set the tone, saying that ‘she was disappointed with the protest timing, especially given NZEI’s involvement in the organisation of the summit …’
Then a cold threat: ‘We will continue to try to work together but it does take two.’
I interpret this as utu from the National Party section of Ngati Porou. And I connect this behaviour to her behaviour to protect Edie Tawhiwhirangi over the kohanga reo scandal.
In respect to that scandal, I wish the matter had been exposed earlier so it could have been resolved better. Edie is a remarkable person (as an aside I played golf with her but she didn’t find me in great form that day) and deserved some kind of protection, but not the arrogantly absurd clumsy partisan way Hekia went about it.
Co-chairwoman of Nga-Kura-a-Iwi, Arihia Stirling, in a matching arrogantly absurd clumsy partisan way, chimed in about the NZEI marches, saying it was an ‘inappropriate time to be airing dirty linen.’
What? At a conference about inequity and its effects on education performance? Do we still live in a democracy? Or is it now democracy as defined by the National Party section of Ngati Porou?
However, Arihia, at least you agree in a roundabout that it is ‘dirty linen’. As a result, perhaps you could inform Sir Toby Curtis also of Nga-Kura-a-Iwi that the link between inequity and child performance is not ‘lame or dodgy’.
Oh, and Arihia, seeing you recognise the existence of inequity as dirty linen, meaning your criticism was really just the timing of the protest, can we expect you to be a prominent member on the next march about inequity and its effects on education?
Arihia goes on to say: ‘It’s wrong to do this now, we don’t have people in the streets, we don’t have people bleeding at the hands of the education sector … it’s poor judgement of the leadership of the union to do this at this time.’
Arihia, there weren’t people bleeding in the streets when the foreshore and seabed hikoi took place, either. And if you’ll excuse me saying – Maori, and good on them, are past masters at picking the right moments to make their hikoi point. Why shouldn’t they be? They feel strongly about their cause. As do NZEI marchers about theirs. Do you feel strongly about inequity Arihia? Or has something superseded that?
Readers should know that this little clique (with some others) has done a deal with Hekia to set up iwi schools, as a form of charter schools, to be lavishly funded, lightly supervised, and to be paid on ‘performance’.
The only problem is what to do with Kura kaupapa Maori. If only they would disappear in a puff of smoke.
Oh, happy days.
Education today in Aotearoa.
From all this, the lesson to be learned by those in teaching, is the absolute need for unity.
The policy on clusters set out by NZEI in their newsletter of April 2, 2014, is an excellent starting point – why not unite on that or something like it?
If the teacher organisations don’t unite then they will be picked off or made irrelevant. (In regard to the latter, they should know how that feels.)
~ by Kelvin Smythe
As it’s election year, you will want to know the education policies of the people clamouring for your vote. The rhetoric and mainstream media reporting doesn’t always give a clear picture. Mind you, policies sometimes don’t either… but it’s still a good idea to read, think and discuss them.
After reading, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are. Is there anything more you would like to ask? Anything you want to challenge? Anything you’re pleased to see, or think is missing? Also, feel free to add your comments or links to additional party policies at the bottom.
While education for many children is among the best in the world, we have a well-known “long-tail” of underachievers, who become the next generation of under skilled, unemployed, disengaged citizens. After 70 years of state controlled and mandated education, we have a situation where around 20% of our children left school last year unable to read or write sufficiently to fill out a job application.
Specific Policy Points
Labour on dyslexia and learning difference
The Labour Party stands for an inclusive education system in which every New Zealander is given the opportunity to achieve to their full potential. We recognise that everyone is different, we all learn at different rates, and we all have different strengths and abilities.
Every school a great school
Every New Zealand child has the right to attend their local school and to have any individual learning needs they may have catered for at that school. Labour wants to ensure that every school is a great school, and every teacher a great teacher. We will invest heavily in teacher professional development, including programmes that equip teachers to cater to the diverse range of learning needs our students have.
Equal opportunity for all
Labour is increasingly concerned about the growing inequality within our education system. No one should have their options limited because of the part of society they are born into. Labour is committed to addressing the issue of child poverty.
Equal access to support
We have been vocal in raising concerns about unequal access to Special Assessment Conditions for NCEA candidates and have made clear out commitment to ensuring that every student gets the support they need, regardless of what school they attend. No student should be denied access to SAC because their parents are unable to pay for the specialist assessments required to apply for it.
A change to special education funding
Labour is concerned that the current funding system for special education relies too heavily on individual learners meeting the criteria imposed by the system, rather than the system catering for the individual needs of each learner. We want to turn that around so that every student with an identified learning need gets the support necessary for them to achieve to their full potential.
National’s unrelenting focus is on raising achievement for all our students. Most of our kids are successfully getting the qualifications they need from school and going on to enjoy the opportunities a great education provides. But our plan is about getting all of our kids achieving education success and raising achievement for five out of five.
We believe high-quality education is vitally important. It provides the opportunity for any child from any background to get ahead and make the most of their life. Research and experience show that providing an intensive package of support for students with complex needs in their local schools results in better outcomes for students.
National’s aim is to achieve a fully inclusive education system with confident schools, confident parents, and confident children. We want to see all schools demonstrating inclusive practice.
The wraparound service approach supports the findings in the Special Education Review 2010, the Government’s key themes for special education, and the Ministry’s commitment to achieving inclusive practices through improved systems and support as outlined in the Positive Behaviour for Learning action plan. This plan focuses on supporting parents and providing teachers in all schools with the skills and knowledge to deal with behavioural issues.
UPDATED – Latest policy as at 5/9/14 is HERE: http://nzfirst.org.nz/sites/nzfirst/files/manifesto_2014_final_version_3.pdf
New Zealand First is very aware of the current lack of support for students with the educational challenges faced by those with Dyslexia. And while there have been some steps towards providing support for these students at NCEA level. It is our view that not only should these supports in the later educational years be strengthened but that these solutions must be delivered down into the earlier education years.
New Zealand First is a strong advocate for “front ending the spend”. And I am currently working on a policy presentation around enhancing the collection of School Entry Assessment data so that children with educational needs can be identified earlier and provided with these supports, along the lines of the Finnish education system, earlier rather than later when damage to self-esteem has already taken place.
It is our view that it is inappropriate for any students family to have to privately fund an educational psychologists report in order for their child to access academic support for dyslexia. At a recent financial review of NZQA I raised the topic of digital independence from human reader/writers for our NCEA students. For example, a screen reader is an essential piece of software for a blind or visually impaired person which could be also be of use to those with dyslexia. Simply put, a screen reader transmits whatever text is displayed on the computer screen into a form that a visually impaired user can process (usually tactile, auditory or a combination of both). It does not take a large stretch of the imagination to see that this technology could be used to “read” for those with dyslexia. And the fact that there are several screen reader programmes that are free to the user and we see that cost now no longer becomes a factor. What about the challenge of writing for our dyslexic students – well voice recognition has been around for a very long time now and with many schools moving to a “bring your own device environment” a headset microphone and cool earphones should not even raise an eyebrow in a modern learning environment.
It is our view that National Standards has not identified anything new for these or other New Zealand students. New Zealand Teachers were already aware of those children who were having difficulty due to a variety of reasons. New Zealand First would have preferred to spend the close to $38 million budgeted to date for National Standards on the actual identification of children with challenges and providing the appropriate resources to support them participate to their best ability inside our schools. While current and recent governments have finally acknowledged that Dyslexia exists they have taken no concrete steps to assist these students as early as possible through the appropriate resourcing of schools to support these students with identification testing (as you are aware dyslexia has an enormous range and require very individual assessment) and digital resources so that the student, at the earliest possible time in their development, can learn alongside their peers with pride, can meet success inside an educational environment that supports their specific challenge while celebrating the alternative and creative perspective these same students bring to the classroom environment.
Should New Zealand First have influence after the 2014 election this is an area we would seek to invest in. (end)
So there you go – the main parties’ policies and statements on education. What are your thoughts after reading them? Anything more you would like to ask? Anything you want to challenge? Any other policies or information to add? Comment below.
If it inspires to you to ask more, or to share your thoughts, you can use these links to reach your local MP and the main NZ newspapers:
Click here for a list of New Zealand MPs’ email addresses
Click here for email addresses of NZ Newspapers
And last but not least … do remember to VOTE.
Sources and further reading:
Education about people, not profits
The National government’s agenda to corporatize and privatise the education system is becoming clearer by the day, Labour says.
“Not content with introducing privately run charter schools, the Government is now considering using Public Private Partnerships for all of the school rebuilding work required in Christchurch,” Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins said.
“Clearly there is no limit to the National Party’s profit-making ambitions when it comes to education. They’re even willing to use the Canterbury earthquakes as an excuse to corporatize and privatise schooling.
“PPPs will take the power away from local communities and hand it straight to private and corporate interests. They will see money that should be going into education instead being paid out in shareholder dividends.
“Decisions around school rebuilds should be based on what’s best for education, not what’s going to maximise profits for the private sector,” Chris Hipkins said.
Labour’s Associate Education spokesperson Megan Woods is concerned that local schools in Christchurch are being shut out of critical decisions being made around the rebuild.
“Hekia Parata made it very clear in Parliament today that the local Christchurch community will have no right of veto over the use of PPPs for school rebuilds.
“It’s yet another example of people in Christchurch having central government decisions imposed on them without ever having the chance to have a meaningful say.
“Our local communities in Christchurch could end up with new buildings they have little or no control over the use of. That is not right,” Megan Woods said.
Christchurch schools are being done over – even those will GROWING rolls are being closed or merged.
You need to ask yourselves why.
Why close so many schools when 15 schools are scheduled to be built?
And while you ponder what is really going on, watch this:
Thank you to Simon Kenny for sharing this with me.
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.
You only have until January 22nd to get it done.
Press clipping from the future…
“The new National-led coalition government today announced plans for a super-school in Auckland. Fresh off her resounding election win and the forming of a stable minority government with the United Dunne Party and Winston First, incoming Prime Minister Hekia Parata has announced another raft of changes for the education sector.
“I am very excited about these changes,” said Parata at a press conference this afternoon, “because they will improve education for New Zealand learners.”
Associate Education Minister Winston Peters, at her side for the two-hour press lecture, was in total agreement.
“These are changes to education,” said Mr Peters.
Following the success of the school mergers and closures plan for earthquake hit Christchurch during the last parliament, Parata has released plans for a new set of mergers and closures citing the fact that a mere 78,000 people were not in support of her plans.”
Read more here: Super-School Plans Announced.