Government Announces Changes to Blogger Registration

The government has announced a range of sweeping changes aimed at cleaning up the blogosphere.

A review released today has recommended widespread changes and the setting up of a body that would issue practicing certificates and registration for bloggers.

The review committee made several recommendation including the setting up of a Bloggers Council to oversee the registration of bloggers who are noted for speaking their mind, often on issues they know very little, if anything, about.

Last year Broadcasting Minister Jonathon Coleman called for a review following the release of a report on a well-known blogger who’d published thousands of unsubstantiated rumours about political opponents on his website.

Currently bloggers are not required by any statute to prove the legitimacy of their qualifications, areas of expertise, previous work experience or their appropriateness to comment on any issue currently being discussed in the public domain.

The review committee has suggested some kind of name would be important for the fledgling body.

“A new body with the purpose of creating a stronger and more vibrant profession needs a name to encapsulate its importance. The name should reflect the membership and the vision of enhanced status and professionalism of blogging and leadership in on-line commentary.”

Suggestions are Council of New Zealand Bloggers, Blogging Council of New Zealand and Aotearoa Bloggers and Commentators.

Coleman has said the changes are necessary because, “as the review found, to improve outcomes for all RSS readers and to address equity issues, New Zealand must have a flexible, skilled and culturally intelligent and well-led blogforce.”


I Was Going To…

I spent a long time thinking about my blog this weekend. What was I going to say? How was I going to say it?

I was going to talk about the Whale again.

I was going to mention how he got his “little army” to gang up on a poll being run on the fabulous Save our Schools blog page.

I thought it might be worth mentioning again that getting your followers to sabotage a poll on a rival website for no real reason was highly immature and smacks of high school bully-boy tactics.

I was going to say how the Whale has come out this morning and pointed out the sabotaged poll has been removed from the site, that the Whale had said it was removed because the result didn’t end up with the right result – even though that result had been influenced by an “I dare you… no I double dare you,” mentality by the Whale’s followers.

I thought I would also mention that I read the original post where the Whale invited his followers to vote in the poll and contribute to the comments section, despite the arguments on his website in favour mention Maori and Pasifika educational underachievement without linking it to any socio-economic (health, housing, very low incomes) factors at all.

I was thinking I might talk about the Whale’s own admission that he receives money from various parties, and that anyone could quite easily link his views to monies received – like US lobbyists pay US politicians to vote certain ways on laws over there.

I was also going to wonder out loud how could we possibly trust anything the Whale has to say as his own opinion when it is so readily for sale.

I was going to then ask, if his opinion isn’t his own because it can be bought, then whose opinion is it?

I was wondering, with his strong links to the National Party, whether it was them that are shaping his opinion for him? I thought that since his daddy is a former National Party president that this might be an interesting avenue to head down. I was also remembering this week how abusive Steven Joyce was about NZ Power and thinking it is very similar to the standard of commentary on the Whale’s own site. I was thinking how interesting that similarity between the Whale and the Nats might be.

I wondered if there really is any point in arguing all this because when he finds out he’ll probably get his puppets strung up on the fact that my eyebrow meets in the middle, or I’m a bit fat, without actually arguing his point effectively, because he has none.

I wondered about this, and then I decided against it.

Why bother? I heard the cheer on 7 Days last night when the Labour / Greens power plan was mentioned.

Instead of writing about all that stuff, I’m just going to wait until the end of next year and put a single comment on his page after the election is lost by the NACTs.

It will say: Ha!

Mr B.

The Bullying Tactics of a Tiny Little Man (not that tiny or little, actually)

Hi all,

This week a classic example how not to win friends and influence people came through from the brains trust behind one of the more popular right-wing propagandists in the country.

I’ve been thinking for days on how to retort to the diatribe from one Cam “Whale Oil” Slater. However, last night a twitter friend of mine did a much better job than my brain was able to.

Here is a link to How Melulater Sees It outlining the bully-boy nonsense. It is a superb piece of work that obviously took many hours to compile. I strongly recommend reading it.

The Whale is like that bully at school who gets a great big group of his mates around him because he’s to cowardly or inept to express himself any other way.

Be warned people, if you disagree with the Whale then your life and your family’s life will probably be splashed all over his webpage so his little bully boy minions can pour scorn upon it.

Remember, if you can’t argue your point without name calling or other such school-yard nonsense, then your point is probably nothing less than a $2 bag of  horse muck.

So… Exactly Where Are We Heading?

Thanks to a dose of the ‘flu’ (I’m a man, so for women that can be read as ‘slight cold) I’ve been able to spend some time reading up this week. Mostly I’ve read about the re-election of President Obama, but there have been a couple of very interesting articles I’ve come across in the last couple of days. They come from the United States of America – from where our current education policy is being imported. They shed some excellent, sometimes blinding light on the end game, the place Education NACTion is taking us.In the US they’ve had the long-standing No Child Left Behind Act (2001) which brought in national education standards for elementary and secondary schools. It was sold as an ‘aid programme for disadvantaged students’ (sounding familiar so far?). It was introduced by a Republican president (Bush Jnr) but has continued under President Obama.

So this means public schools in the United States have been working with national standards for over 10 years. Where has this left them? What does it mean for teachers? What does it mean for students? Are the standards being used to improve learning outcomes?

What it Means for Teachers

Teachers are now graded / rated based on the test scores achieved by the students they teach. Schools are also rated based on their results. Therefore the motivation for teachers and school leaders is to teach students how to pass tests rather than teach them how to be independent learners who are able to leave school and contribute to society.

Where’s my proof? Here’s an article from Huffington Post that shows what decisions are made when schools fail to achieve their standards targets. In short, 10 schools in Memphis that were in the bottom 5% have been handed over to some charter school operators (yes, that’s right, the schools were just given to them!) – one being the fabled KIPP where Catherine Isaac and our education reformers are getting their partnership school model from. Obviously this is only one article, but it is representative.

What does this mean? If your students fail to achieve, your school will be closed and handed over to a private operator. If you don’t think this could happen in New Zealand then ask the parents, teachers and principals in Christchurch. This is one option they’ve considered as they try to understand what the government is trying to do.

What it Means for Students

If national standards and charter schools are allowed to eventuate in New Zealand students will begin to hate school. Instead of having the time to plan and deliver exciting and informative lessons, teachers will end up “teaching to the test.” The pressure is on for schools when national standards are set. Ultimately, as has happened in the United States, funding will be tied to national standards results – especially if National are leading the charge. They just can’t help themselves with their tight fists around the purse-strings while their own personal money is cosy and safe in a trust of some kind…

Anyway, my point is that school will become very one-dimensional. Our children will be experts at passing tests. If you want proof about what kids think about this kind of education watch this interview from The Daily Show of student and chess whiz Pobo Efekoro – star of the documentary Brooklyn Castle. His comment? “Oh, no, I hated it.”

The government through Catherine Isaac and the Education Working Group and good old Banksy (no formal qualifications) are currently selling national standards to us as a way to lift our underperforming tail. They should spend more time looking at the actual causes of this rather than blaming teachers. Yes, we play a significant role in how young people progress while they are in our care. It is our duty as educators to use assessment and learning positively to create and enriching environment which will enthuse our kids. But to say it’s just down to teachers is just plain ignorant (or lazy).

Am I just a moaning teacher trying to protect my cushy job? No, I’m a hard-working teacher who’s interested in giving the best to their students.

What happens if my students don’t start with the best? Read the first part of this article from Education Week. If you want to read the whole thing you have to register, which is a bit of a pain, but it doesn’t take long and it’s a very interesting read. The upshot is this: childhood stress and trauma (say from poverty, abuse or neglect) can result in a range of serious long-term issues.

My message is this: if you’re a politician and you want to do something about our ‘long tail,’ then don’t be ignorant. Inform your policy making my looking at evidence rather than reading what David Farrar, Whale Oil or Karl du Fresne think. None of them are teachers.

Tackling the causes of poverty and inequality is probably quite a good place to start your reform of education.

Mr B.


Enough Complaining – Get on With It!

Hey ho everyone…

Hope twenty ten is treating you well.

I think I spent too much time complaining last year and not enough time celebrating, or being positive. It’s all going to change!

That’s right. This year I’m going to ignore those things that annoy the hell out of me – like greedy banks or drivers who seem incapable of passing a licence test despite the fact they’ve been on the road for years. Those types can kiss my taut buttocks.

This year I’m celebrating. There’s a lot to be positive about. American Idol season 9 has just started in New Zealand (we are a few weeks behind you guys in the US so no spoilers please!!). My wife has just entered her second trimester and as of tomorrow it is just 6 months until our wee bairn (newborn child) is due. It’s all looking good for me.

Anyway, have a look at the pictures below. Both are of Henry VIII. One is the real Henry while the other is a dramatised Henry from the television show the Tudors. Can you pick which one is which?

Please log your votes in the poll below…

See you later!

Boon x