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Political ideologues v children's education

, posted: 16-Feb-2010 18:13

A working group of MPs from National, ACT and the Maori Party has asked that parents of the 20 per cent worst performing and five per cent best performing students be given greater choice about how and where the child is educated and taking their Government funding with them.

ACT also released a much larger minority report which called for much greater freedom and choice for parents and children in the education sector.

Primary education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa President Frances Nelson said the Government should ignore the ideologically-driven report
which was a "convoluted mish-mash of ideas". "This would simply be a voucher system in disguise, driven by political ideology rather than what is best for children's learning," Ms Nelson said.
[Emphasis added]

Question: who here is motivated by "children's learning" and who is succumbing to "political ideology"?

I submit that NZEI is vehemently opposed to anything that might give parents the ability to vote with their feet and put their children in the "best school" they can (based on their own assessment). This might lead to the identification of "worse schools" and underperforming members of the NZEI. Hardly a question of children's learning being the main motivator.


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Comment by robscovell, on 16-Feb-2010 20:50

I have been on a school BOT for some years and I have an understanding of how the education system works.

The arguments about school standards are often along the lines of 'half our children are below average'. Think about it. Ability and performance in schools is more or less a bell curve. There will always be a 20% least and a 5% best performing cohort. To make specific promises about these kids in a way that seems to blame schools is meaningless and shows a misunderstanding (or a desire to misunderstand) the way the system currently works.

The reality is that politicians on both left and right have a lot of half-baked ideas about education and use it as a powerful political football.

Under the existing system, there are procedures in place to deal with underperforming or dysfunctional schools. The Ministry of Education closely monitors schools and has many remedies available when problems arise. Boards have highly experienced advisors to consult with in just about every situation. Performance assessment and professional development for teachers is the responsibility of every principal and it is the responsibility of the Board to see that this is done.

If individual schools show signs of serious failure, the Ministry can (and does) directly intervene, temporarily replacing the BOT.

We have a system that isn't broken. Sure, it needs constant tweaking, like any complex system, but like any complex system, large-scale changes have many unintended consequences.

Politicians need to have problems to fix so they can be seen as the big fixers. They are driven by the need to change things to suit their worldview -- otherwise they wouldn't be politicians. This is why we have a Civil Service -- to make sure that politicians can't do too much damage with their crazy 'new' ideas!

Oh, and it's ridiculous to say that parents don't have choice. They do. I have 3 different high schools I could choose to send my daughter to.


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David White
Auckland
New Zealand


Goon fan, .NET developer, contrarian seeker of truth