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The Green Party

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Pasifika languages in education

pasifikaThe Green Party have called for bilingual learning for Pasifika ECE and primary school children.  As a foreign-born teacher, I would love to have some quality learning in Pacific languages and in Te Reo.  The two courses I tried (in my own time) were woeful and I got no professional development in the schools I worked in.  Surely, it’s logical to support teachers to support students by giving *us* the education *we* need as well.  It will benefit us all.

The Green Party says:

If we are serious about making school more effective for Pasifika kids, then it is logical to consider bi lingual Pasifika education in New Zealand schools.

Researchers have proven that the first years of schooling are much more successful when kids are taught in their mother tongue. Add to that the fact that many Pasifika languages are in danger of dying, parents want more childhood centres and schools to offer their kids bilingual education, and it looks like a fairly compelling case for bilingual Pasifika education options.

Well, I would have thought so. But the National Government sees otherwise.
The Education and Science Select Committee Inquiry into Pacific languages in ECE heard from many experts who called for a special recognition of Pasifika languages in schools and ECE but without undermining the primacy of Te Reo Maori the first national language of this country.

Several languages, including are Cook Islands Maori, Tokelau and Niue are now seriously at risk. These are languages spoken in the Realm Islands, places that are constitutionally part of New Zealand and whose people are citizens of this country. Their languages are thus our languages. Other islands such as Samoa and Tonga also have a strong history in relation to New Zealand and a right to have their language education needs considered.

In rejecting these recommendations, the National MPs on the select committee failed to recognise that we are a Pacific island in the great ocean Te Moana nui a Kiwa.

It’s not good enough to put the onus completely on Pacific communities themselves to save their own languages as the Education Minster has done. A state investment is needed as well.

The Green Party is 100 percent in favour of prioritising Te Reo Maori, but we also need to embrace multilingualism as an educational benefit.. There needs to be a National Languages Policy to support the benefits of language learning before year 7 in Primary school.

It’s a shame we have to fight the Government on this when we should be united in supporting heritage languages and in celebrating our Pacific identity. The rest of the world is multilingual and proud of it while we can barely embrace Te Reo.

One academic told me that we turn the children who start school bilingual into monolingual people by the time they leave. What a waste.

 What do you think?  Good idea?

Government error hides true size of child poverty

PovertyThe Government is continuing to fail our kids who are in poverty by not even
measuring the size of the problem correctly, the Green Party said today.

The Government has today admitted that it got its calculations wrong when
measuring child poverty and inequality. The new figures show that there are
285,000 children living in poverty, not 265,000 as previously claimed, and
that the GINI inequality index is not improving.

“There is no reason that 285,000 children should be living in poverty in
New Zealand. This Government has failed to even measure the problem
correctly, let alone do anything to fix it,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria
Turei said today.

“National has been trumpeting its supposed progress on child poverty but it
turns out that was all due to the Government doing its sums wrong. It’s not
the first time that National’s numbers have turned out to be dodgy, and it
makes you wonder what else they’ve got wrong.

“It’s past time for National to wake up to the tragedy of child poverty
that is playing out in homes all across our country. Child poverty has gotten
worse under National, rising from 240,000 in 2007 to 285,000 in 2012.

“There is no excuse for 285,000 kids to be living in poverty in a modern,
wealthy country like New Zealand. Those 285,000 kids are victims of the
choices that governments make – like National’s decision to borrow for
tax cuts for the rich at the same time as cutting Working for Families
payments.

“The Greens will do better for our kids. We will extend Working for
Families, we will invest in nurses in schools, we will set standards for
warm, healthy housing, and we will raise the minimum wage towards a living
wage for all workers,” said Mrs Turei.

The National Standards Dilemma

Parents and teachers continue to report their dismay at National Standards and how it is narrowing the curriculum, how some children are being overlooked in favour of others, and how the stress of it all is even upsetting Year 1 students.

This is from Russel Norman, Leader of The Green Party.

Over the weekend I got a first hand account of the disastrous impact of “national standards” on poor kids’ education. I spoke with some young teachers at a low decile primary school. I have known them for some time. The kids at the school are really struggling and most are failing the standards due to things like transience, poverty, lack of food etc. The principal and teachers are getting it in the neck from central govt because their kids aren’t making the standard.

So now they have been forced to focus their efforts on the small number of kids who are close to meeting the standard but just below it. If they can get this small number of kids over the line then they will get a tick from the government. But what it means is that those kids who are well below the standard get less teacher attention than ever before, and those very small number of kids well over the standard also get neglected.

In practical terms, one of the teachers has a class of well over 30, none of whom are over the standard but less than 10 of whom could make it. So now this teacher is being directed to put his effort into the small number of kids who might make it to the detriment of the rest.

How is this good for our kids and our society? And it is very demoralising for the teachers who went into the profession, and specifically into low decile schools, to make a difference.

We need to support our teachers to be great not force them to neglect our most vulnerable. And we need the Green party’s community hubs program to give kids the basics so they have a chance to get a good education.

Source

This is not what education should be about.

The trouble is, this government will not listen to teachers or principals, not even to Professors of education.  The only people that can force an end to this is parents.  Together, parents can force a rethink.

don't panic - organise

The Greens’ education policy aims to hit child poverty head on

The Green Party have unveiled their education proposals, and they clearly aim to address head on the issues facing those students living in poverty.

child poverty has many parentsMetiria Turei stressed that “10 per cent of New Zealand children were living in poverty, poorer kids had three times the rate of hospital admissions from preventable illnesses and were up to 50 per cent more likely to become a poor adult and perpetuate the poverty cycle” and that this needs to be addressed in order for children to have the best chance of success.

This view is upheld by the OECD, and the latest PISA study made clear that equality, health care and safety were the hugest factors in a child’s chance of future success.  Having good quality teachers a big factor in the classroom, but is not the greatest factor overall.

John Key fudged that point in his speech last week. He acknowledged that quality teachers a big factor in the classroom (but without any stress on “in the classroom” so that it was read by many to mean that teachers have the biggest influence on success full stop), and he then went on to say that we don’t have increasing poverty and inequality in NZ, refusing to accept that there is any link between poverty and lower educational success.

This is rubbish, and he knows it.  There is a mountain of research and analysis that shows the link very clearly. *

It’s good to know that the Greens acknowledge the link and intend to do something concrete to address it.  This is the Greens’ plan, as reported at Stuff:

The Greens have unveiled a new policy which would see schools in lower income areas turned into hubs which would meet all the health, social and welfare needs of poor families.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei announced the policy in a speech to party faithful at Waitangi Park in Wellington this afternoon, saying inequality was increasing in New Zealand and the best way for people to escape the poverty trap was through education.

“Education remains the most effective route out of poverty. But school only works for children if they are in a position to be able to learn,” the party’s policy statement reads.

“Many kids come with a complicated mix of social, health and family issues, often related to low income, that need to be addressed before they can get the most out of school.” Read more here.

And this is the NZEI’s response to the proposals:

Green Party education proposals will make a big difference for children

NZEI Te Riu Roa says it welcomes the Green Party’s proposals to tackle the impact of growing inequality on children’s education.

National President, Judith Nowotarski says the proposal to develop health, welfare and support service hubs in lower decile schools goes right to the heart of tackling the biggest problem we face in our education system – poverty and inequity.

“International evidence clearly shows that poverty and inequality are by far the biggest obstacles that children face in education.

“This proposal directly targets these real issues and, if adopted, would make a big difference to the education outcome of thousands of children in this country.

“Policies such as this would ensure that many more children in this country get the opportunity for a good education – something that teachers and school support staff have been calling for, for a long time.”

However, Ms Nowotarski says inequality and poverty are now much more spread throughout the community so NZEI wants to see policies that target children from financially disadvantaged backgrounds at all schools – not just lower decile schools.

She says the education sector looks forward to working with the Greens in further design and implementation of the policy.

Which of the these plans do you think would have the most positive impact on tamariki’s chance of education success, and on mental and physical wellbeing, and will give them a better chance overall?
~ Dianne
The link between poverty and lower education success – further reading:
http://www.education.auckland.ac.nz/webdav/site/education/shared/about/news-and-events/docs/tekuaka/TeKuaka01-2013.pdf
http://dianeravitch.net/2013/12/05/daniel-wydo-disaggregates-pisa-scores-by-income/
http://www.weac.org/News_and_Publications/13-12-03/PISA_test_results_reflect_effects_of_poverty_in_U_S_Van_Roekel_says.aspx
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