As the curtain comes down on 2013 I have just a few questions:
- If it took a new school in Wellington a year to set up (principal and teachers working behind the scenes for 12 months before a student set foot in the place – heard them speak at a conference), how can the 5 new charter schools the government issued licences to just a few months back be ready for the 2014 school year with a school that will successfully deliver education to kiwi learners?
- Why won’t the government accept that the under-achieving 20% tail they keep talking about is actually the same 20% of kiwi kids living in poverty (according to the report by the Children’s Commissioner that figure is now 25%)?
- How can the government reconcile its continued calls for improved teacher quality with the regulation allowing charter schools to hire unregistered, unqualified staff to teach in their classrooms?
- Will the New Zealand public drop their love-affair with the bafoonering of John Key and vote in a Labour/Green government this time next year?
Here are the (my) answers:
- The current crop of charter schools will probably struggle in their first year. With only six months to set up all the systems required to run a school I doubt they will be able to deliver. Of course, the government will not allow them to fail as the UK government has just down with a free school in Crawley. They will either, a) throw money at them, or b) increase funding, or c) increase deliveries of brown paper bags filled with non-sequential $5 notes.
- It’s a lot easier for the government to vilify teachers and teacher unions for under-achievement. It’s far harder for them accept the socio-economic factors that even the OECD accept play a huge part in any under-achievement. If they accepted socio-economic influences on educational performance then they’d have do something like transferring the money they spend on universal superannuation for people who have saved for their retirement (and have extra houses, baches and cars and/or motorbikes and other houses) to making all rental homes healthy and dry. Or what about providing school meals or putting social workers and health nurses into every school under a certain decile to deal with the multitude of problems associated with (sometimes very extreme) poverty?
- The government can’t reconcile its call for improved teacher quality when it will allow any old Thomas, Richard and Harold to turn up off the street to teach in one of its flagship “partnership” schools. It is one of the many nonsense contradictions that permeates the hypocrisy of modern politics.
- You would hope that the 800,000 people who have been marginalised by said modern politics will turn out to vote next November. If David Cunliffe and the Labour machine can get out there and door knock and enthuse people about their vision for New Zealand, then people will be motivated to get off their chuffs and vote. I don’t know a single person who endorses John Key and his brand of uncoordinated triple-handshakes to disguise his government’s far right agenda using the decomposing carcass of ACT to sell the policies too unpalatable for the electorate.
Anyway you look at it, this government is a dog that needs to be euthanased.
On a brighter note, I only have one day left at school until my Christmas break. We are doing IVF (again) in the holidays so my time will be taken up preparing for that, preparing for the 2014 school year and, very hopefully, doting on a newly pregnant wife.
Of course, I’ll be attacked for having a thousand weeks holiday a year and only working 2 hours a day (see comments section of this post).
Child poverty report applauded: NZ Herald, Monday December 9 2013.
Speech to the Iwi Leaders forum: Hekia Parata, 28 November 2013.
Free school with ‘no workable plan to improve’ is first to be closed by DfE: The Guardian, 13 December 2013.
PISA 2012 Results: Excellence Through Equity: Giving Every Student the Chance to Succeed (Volume II)[Preliminary Version]: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, December 2013.
Utter nonsense spouted by idiots who know nothing about education: Whale Oil, 2 July, 2013.