Monthly Archives: July, 2014

Novopay triumph for government

Today the National government announced the future plans for the troubled education payroll system Novopay. The system has had a rough ride since it was implemented almost two years ago.

At parliament today the Cabinet Minister for Fixing Up Really Bad Shit Stephen Joyce announced plans for the government to take over running the system from Australian company Talent2. Joyce laid out the plans at a press conference in parliament today.

“We are very excited about this new plan,” said Mr Joyce excitedly, “because we have gained control of the system so we can now begin to make some serious changes.”

Mr Joyce outlined the deal he had personally made with Talent2.

“We will take control of Novopay from Talent2 and they will pay us between $18 and $24 million. In return we will get full access to the software and hardware currently being used by Talent2 to run the system. Talent2 will be required to supply, absolutely free of charge, ongoing support because we still don’t know how the software works. For this free service the government will pay $9 million. Talent2 will also be penalised for any other issues that arise after the government takes over the contract. For this the government will pay $2 million for each error that Talent2 don’t know how to fix and $7 million for the ones they can fix. Also, for a small fee of $23 million, the government will get to use the words Talent2 as many times as we want during this press conference. Talent2.”

Joyce was adamant there were no winners from this process.

“Teachers have been left out-of-pocket. They have been mucked around waiting for pay, being paid too much, hardly being paid at all. The government have also suffered through this spending millions of dollars on software that they neither know the workings of or understand the workings of the software. Talent2 have also been big losers in this. They’ve had their contract cancelled and there’s the ignominy of being paid over $100 million. They will be very disappointed with that outcome.”

Mr Joyce says there was no way to foresee any of the issues created by the foreign-owned payroll and HR company set up by an actor. He also said it was important to remember the contract was negotiated under the last Labour government and the Greens are a bunch of fruitloops.

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Hosking hits back

Greetings and salutations to you all.

I’m broadcaster and National Party stalwart Mike Hosking and I just wanted to take a bit of time out of my busy Saturday eating Gruyère cheese and supping trim latte’s to speak on a few issues that have popped up this week.

There has been some concern expressed after the announcement that I would be hosting the TVNZ leader’s debate. The most worrying thing for me is because of my long-running association with John Key – introducing him at public function, heading around to his Remuera house for brie, laughing at the poor in Owairaka – people are worried I could be biased. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Everybody knows David Cunliffe is a terrible human being with a stupid red scarf and, I have detected, a slight lisp. Because everybody knows this, mainly due to the fact I spend 7 minutes out of each 22 in which Seven Sharp is broadcast derising him, it’s important to remember everybody knows this. Not having me host the leaders debate would lead to a break in continuity. The public would become worried. I would become worried. What would I do? Sit at home and watch a leader’s debate on television not hosted by me? That doesn’t make any sense at all.

You know, there’s only one thing I like better than watching myself on television, and that’s listening to myself while I appear on television as I ask pertinent and hard-hitting questions to a Labour leader while praising and fluffing up a National leader. The last thing National need this late in the election cycle is people like John Campbell asking John Key about Kim Dotcom or the poor or Hekia Parata’s abject failure in every way, shape and form.

Rest assured, I will give both leaders equal opportunity on my show. They will both have exactly the same chances and they will be in the studio for exactly the same length of time. What my producer does and how my vision mixer flips between the very handsome John Key and the incredibly shifty looking used-car salesman who leads the Labour Party is completely up to them. If it turns out that Cunliffe’s face ends up in that scowling grumpy freeze frame that the New Zealand Herald have been using for the last three months, then so be it. This is television baby, not knitting time at the CWI.

I’m looking forward to September 21st when we can put this whole sorry saga behind us and get back to the illegal whale sushi and 100-year-old sake that we’re all used to.

Mike Hosking – working for New Zealand.

Some thoughts on National’s Standards

Regular readers of this column will be well aware of my feelings towards National Standards, charter schools and other such data-driven middle management nonsense being imposed upon the public education sector by the various financial experts, economists, business and farming leaders heading our largest parliamentary party.

Of course, I’m not saying these people are utterly unskilled in what they do. You don’t make $50 million or accumulate vast tax-free property portfolios by being an imbecile. All I am saying is that making $50 million does not make you an expert in pedagogical delivery. Sure it makes you an expert in making money and if making money is what you want from your small children, reforming the education sector is probably the sort of thing you should go for.

So this week our million-dollar men and women released the latest National Standards data. I have pointed out before that data can be a wonderful way to measure something you need to reform, but it can also be used to point out: a) how stupidly unsuccessful your reforms actually are, and b) see what I said for point a).

How statistically insignificant the “increase” in the new National Standards data is I cannot say. Given more time and more statistical inclination I could possibly find out, but I won’t. Instead, here is a link to a story from Television New Zealand earlier in the week should give you an idea about what this government requires from we educationalists to create these statistically significant increases.

Many other stories on the standards release made mention of the performance of Northland, the West Coast and Gisborne. Stuff also pointing out Otago kids topped the tables. Huzzah for them! For a government that said National Standards data would never be used to rank schools and regions into league tables, they sure like ranking schools and regions into league tables.

Since the government love their rankings so very, very much, I went out of my way to make some of my own. I’ve put all the data into one table which I have then, quite helpfully sorted. Twice.

 

Table 1: National Standards achievement data against GDP growth and unemployment rates – by region (sorted by reading achievement rates)

Sorted by Reading

 

Table 2: National Standards achievement data against GDP growth and unemployment rates – by region (sorted by unemployment rate)

Sorted by Unemployment

 

And presto! Those table are pretty similar. Who’d’ve thunked it???? Of course, tighty righties reading this will point to Manawatu-Whanganui’s huge unemployment rate of 8% and their mid-table National Standards ranking (table 1) and say something like, “but look, that one is different so your argument is a load of effluent run-off.” Possibly, but that would be a load of effluent run-off.

And therein lies the issue. Poor socioeconomic prospects – few jobs, little prospect of future jobs – is directly linked to your chances of doing well in school.

Ignore poverty and you ignore the root cause of the issues you are trying to address. Mind you, the same people who ignore poverty are sniffing their ignore noses in the direction of global warming.

But then the educational reform movement is not actually about lifting achievement or outcomes for our poorest kids. If it was you’d see some kind of regional development strategy or something. At the moment the government seems more focused on getting a four-lane motorway built so they can get to their Omaha baches three minutes quicker on Labour Weekend.

Actually, that’s not fair. I think Bill English’s bach is in Dipton. Or a trust.

Ranking is a dangerous game. What will happen when the National’s Standards start to fall? Actually… come to think of it… I very much doubt the achievement results will fall under this government and their wonderful way with behind the scenes statistical manipulation or, if you prefer, which they sometimes do, up-front data misrepresentation through falsehoods.

Enjoy your data.

Mr B

Sources:

Ministry of Education told school to manipulate standards data – Labour: TVNZ – 23 July.

Otago children top the tables: Stuff – 25 July.

National Standards data (2013): Education Counts website.

Regional Gross Domestic Product: Year ended March 2013 (pdf): Statistics New Zealand.

Joint MSD/MBIE Quarterly Regional Labour Market Reports – At a glance: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

National Standards are awesome: Parata

Hello everyone!

I am the Minister of Education and I am more stoked than an illegal Christchurch log-burner. How exciting is a day like today when we can release a vast amount of information to our good friends in the mainstream media.

There are some important things to remember when you read stories about the release of this years National Standards information.

Firstly, over 400,000 children were put through their paces by thousands more teachers around the country. It’s a testament to the hard work of the visionaries we are in this government that we have data despite the fact that so very many teachers don’t believe in standards of this nature because they know this system of assessment harks back to a time when education prepared students for work in the factories and farms of the much-loved Victorian era rather than the high-tech future we are actually heading towards.

Secondly, the fact that we have seen statistically insignificant increases in students who are meetings our beloved standards, doesn’t mean that the system is faltering. Far from it. No, what it means is that teachers are becoming more familiar with the standards when they are assessing students more successfully against them. We are not using the word stagnation here. It’s important to remember that stagnation will only ever happen under a Labour government.

Thirdly, some people might look at the figures from Northland or Gisborne and think that perhaps socioeconomic issues are coming into play here. This is a load of rubbish. I know for a fact that some students weren’t able to make it to school on the day that the standards were assessed. Or maybe they weren’t able to be assessed because the teachers weren’t trying hard enough. Or maybe there were some other reasons that I haven’t made up yet. I’d like to state here and now that intergenerational poverty has absolutely no impact on student achievement whatsoever. I know this is a fact because I’ve just written it in a sentence.

Unless we lose the election the month after next because we end up being Nigel Nomates, which I very much doubt will happen because we have some very strong and talented coalition options, then National Standards are here to stay.

So there.

Hek x

Paula Bennett highlights some “loopy rules”

Hello everyone. I’m Local Government Minister and chief National Party sass-machine Paula Bennett. I’ve been asked by MyThinks to write more about our plans to review and reject all of those stupid and loopy rules that many of our tiny but incredibly self-important local bodies have brought in over the years.

I mean, you only have to talk to all those sexy tradies or listen to late night talkback to realise just how rampant this problem is.

Today I’m going to highlight just a few examples of some of these crazy, insane rules.

Shower Curtains

It has been said that shower curtains in certain dwellings in Morrinsville. In its wisdom, the council there has suggested that all shower curtains must be no less than 5 feet, 7 inches high and no more than 6 feet, 1 inch high. What about all those people in Morrinsville who are 6 feet, 2 inches in height? Won’t any member of the public entering their bathroom will see their forehead. Crazy.

Eyebrows

Those builders who are generously hairated in their eyebrow regions will face difficultly getting work in Darfield as the council there have decided that you are not able to construct a deck unless eyebrows have over 1423 individual hairs of the original colour of the tradesperson. Insanity!

Whoop – there it is!

Aparrantly, if I want to use the boat ramp at Portobello near Dunedin I have to spend an appropriate amount of time – no less than 7 minutes and no more than 12.5 minutes – getting jiggy with it to any pre-2000 hit from Will “Fresh Prince” Smith. Music is supplied by the local cafe and your dance can be recorded on video and uploaded to the council website. Utter madness!!!

So obviously with that amount of proof the plan for the National Party to crack down on these totally unnecessary regulations.

Right, I’m off to a karaoke event in Henderson.

Paula x