What’s Going On Here Then?

If you’ve been reading about Hekia Parata this week you’ll know she’s appeared before the select committee in charge of education demanding people ask her questions about ‘partnership schools’ because that’s what they’re called apparently.

This is typical. Rather than answer questions, let’s get caught up in a world of random semantics. Never mind that you look and sound ridiculous doing it.

I was going to say something earlier in the week but I just couldn’t be bothered. Just when I think she couldn’t get any worse, she then turns out more and more outrageous politi-speak.

She has all the worst bits from all the politicians gathered up inside one beast.

Then there was this little item published by Stuff. In it Hekia is talking about the decile system used to rank schools based on the income of the people living around the school. It is a tool used to determine funding. The idea is that more funding is given to schools with a lower decile. Schools in richer areas can squeeze their parents for a few bucks here and there.

Hekia says she doesn’t like the decile system saying it…

was ”very clumsy” and too often used as ”an excuse and an explanation” for everything that happened in schools.

This isn’t a mistake. These words fit perfectly with the neo-liberal model of educational crisis. Teachers are useless. They are using the failings of their students’ families as an excuse for their own “clumsy” failings.

Parata is either lumping all teachers in the same boat or having a go at those working the coal-face in lower decile schools. Either way, our students are poor and it’s our fault.

Having highlighted the failings of teachers in this area the next step will be to offer some kind of reform. What do you think? Dumping the decile system? In favour of what? Vouchers? Equal funding for each student?

It doesn’t matter what the reform is, I suspect any change will actually lead to a reduction in funding for those students in lower deciles. Words like “choice” and “freedom” will be used to sell it to us. Those parents in the poorer suburbs of our cities don’t have the freedom of choice that the likes of John Key with their several houses and $50 million sitting in the bank. They are both working to pay their power and rent so their kids can stay warm.

Although if you live near Paula Bennett they are probably spending their dole money on booze, cigarettes and P. For their kids.

The above commentary only relates to the first part of the article. Following Hekia’s nonsense mention was made of some interesting research from the New Zealand Council for Educational Research.

The report revealed there was a growing disparity between schools in rich and poor areas.

It found schools in wealthy areas were raking in about $1100 more in funding a year for each student than their lower decile counterparts, while teacher morale had hit its lowest point in almost a decade.

That’s what really concerns me. If there is any “evening out” of the funding so each child gets the same, or a voucher goes to the parents, then this gap will only widen further (I was going to say something about the teacher morale bit, but I’ll leave that for another time).

So rather than thinking about how we can make things better for our poorest kids, Hekia blames the wrong thing. Yet again. Blaming the decile system for the educational underachievement of students attending lower decile schools is like blaming the Jim Hickey for the rain on your wedding day.

The have-nots have shit all at the moment. Might as well give them less. They’re used to it and don’t vote for us anyway.

Mr B.


Stuff – Wealthy Schools Get More Than Poor


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