Another Week, Another Blunder(s)

This week in New Zealand has been most interesting… on a number of levels.

Firstly, the ability of Hekia Parata to perform her role of Education Minister adequately has again come into question. She appeared on the TVNZ political interview show Q&A last Sunday explaining the school closures in Christchurch and the publication of national standards. Her confusing performance was summed up very well by Q&A producer and Pundit blogger Tim Watkin with his How to Pass National Standards – according to Hekia Parata.

Many in the blogosphere are now becoming increasingly critical of what they see as Parata’s ‘evasive’ talk when being taken to task by the media. This was highlighted to hilarious effect by the Campbell Live team after Parata gave a key-note address at the Post Primary Teachers Association conference where she made sarcastic comments about teachers and ended up talking about the importance of teachers pronouncing student names correctly. The irony for Parata was her pronouncing the word ‘pronouncing’ incorrectly (for the record, she said ‘probdnouncing’). The attending secondary teachers were suitably annoyed. Here’s the 3news item on her appearance, and here is the One News item.

Apart from the debate on national standards, a lot of recent talk has been about charter schools – a deal that popped up after the coalition deal between National and John Banks ACT following the election last year. This week a lovely summary of what charter schools for New Zealand was put up on YouTube. Charter Schools – things we need to know is delivered by University of Auckland Associate Professor Peter O’Connor. He made many excellent points but most salient comes 7 minutes in where O’Connor asks why we would want to adopt a system that is used by countries BELOW us on the OECD PISA rankings chart. He also talks about how teachers are presented by the proponents of charter schools as trying to defend a failing system rather than protectors of quality education.

Let me also mention the arrival to New Zealand of Finnish educational guru Pasi Sahlberg. I put up a conversation last week where he outlined the Finnish public education system which is 3rd on the 2009 PISA rankings (just looking on their website now there is another PISA framework assessment due this year. It will be interesting to see if New Zealand has moved from their current ranking of 7). He was interviewed by Kim Hill on her Saturday morning show where he outlined in detail how Finland took 40 years to get to where it is now – ranked 2nd in the OECD using a fully funded public education model focussed on equity for all learners and employing highly qualified, masters graduate teachers. Dianne from the Save our Schools NZ blog page went to see him talk on Friday and has summarised his talk in two parts – Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.

Finally this week have a read of this blog post from Frankly Speaking about Hekia. Lots of juicy words. Summary – if the proposed reforms were so good, she should be willing and eager to front up and talk to all media about them all the time.

Good afternoon class.

Mr Boon.

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