Consultations on the Education Act

Discussion Document released by the Minister of Education – Rt Hon Hekia Parata

It is with great pleasure I announce the consultation period for the government review of the 1989 Education Act. It has been a long time since 1989. In that time two powerful  National-led governments have improved outcomes for many New Zealanders through visionary policies such as not measuring poverty and blaming / stealing off Labour. Now it is time for us to review the education sector – in particular the 20-year-old act that covers it.

This is YOUR chance to contribute. We’ve given everyone a great opportunity. Yes you have less than a week left and yes this is a terrible time of year if you’re a teacher or working in management, but I’m certain, if you were to take several hours out of your weekend or family time you’d be able to participate.  No problem at all. You have 72 hours to participate in the future of New Zealand education.

There are plenty of questions we can ask as well. Big questions. Exciting questions. Loaded questions.

For example, should successful schools be rewarded? A good school is a good school. They do well to improve achievement outcomes for the students in their charge. Why can we not give these guys a little bit extra. Why not some extra cash? What about a bit of bunting to brighten up the place? Some extra bikkies for morning tea? Successful schools need to be rewarded.

How do we decide on what is a successful school? Do we look at National Standards data? But how to we record that data? Using a huge computer programme funded by the taxpayer and run by some Australian outsourcing company? I mean it worked so well for Novopay. What about a giant sticker chart? When a successful school succeeds they receive a sticker. If the school gets ten stickers they get to choose a reward from Bill English’s “treasury jar.” How exciting does that sound?

Should successful schools be rewarded with more freedom? Should they be free of bureaucratic interference, you know, like multi-national companies? Should these successful schools be able to set up their own school zones causing a large number of people to clamber to the area and thus improve the values of the real estate portfolios of various National Party politicians?

These are all just ideas I’m throwing out there. Please have your say. Now you only have 71.5 hours.

Thank you and good evening.

Hekia Parata.


There’s a meeting here tonight

I’m just looking on the National Party website. It goes against my better judgement, but from time to time I have to dip my toes in the cesspool of neoliberal ideology so that they may be lightly covered in the algal bloom of right-wing pond scum (that is a metaphor for me wanting to know what’s going on).

This time I wanted to see what they actually stand for. What rocks their boat?

These things stand out. Those classic neoliberal / Ayn Rand ideas of “low government,” “individual freedom and choice” and “personal responsibility.” Very important libertarian ideologies. It, people, is all down to the individual!! Yes there are other things in there about sovereignty, nationhood, family values, and competitive enterprise but they aren’t relevant to my rant this evensong.

Today was the day for the meeting of the South Canterbury branch of the NZEI. The meeting was called to discuss the new teaching and principal positions announced by the government to coincide with the January lull of no political news and New Zealanders apathy is at its highest.

If you missed it the government announced it had magically discovered a missing $350 million they were able to use to create some new teaching positions: executive principals, change principals, expert teachers and lead teachers.

There is very little details about these positions other than what was in the press release. On the surface it looks great. More money, more positions, more awesomeness.

At our meeting there were a range of points made. Who will appoint these teachers and principals? Will a school have a choice as to whether they take on board the assistance being offered by people in these positions? What if the culture of the school (something that has developed over many, many years) is at odds with the culture and the philosophy of the teacher / principal being offered?

Those were just a few questions; there were many others. The general mood in the hall was one of: Why? Why do we need this? What is the point? Couldn’t they actually spend those hundreds of millions on something education professionals actually want? Who will award the positions? How will the be awarded? What is the criteria?

What is clear from the recent, sometimes accidental pronouncements from our beloved minister, student achievement rules them all.

National standards will decide everything. This government has banked its entire educational reputation on national standards. School are now ranked using them. The next step will be for them to start using national standards in other, more magical and insane ways.

Want to work out which schools are failing? Look at their national standards data. Want to find out which teachers are the most amazing? Look at their national standards data? Want to find out which students will be farmed off to charter schools to artificially boost their performance and make them look amazing in a yearly press release? Look at their national standards data.

What occurred to me during the meeting was this: this policy is about control. Top down, centralised control of the entire system of education delivery to our young people.

$350 million for extra teachers cannot be taken out of context from all of the other things that have been happening in education.

National standards, expert teachers, change principals, charter schools and the destruction of the Teachers’ Council all point to the utter authoritarianism by which National want to control what your kids learn and how they think (more on that another time – I promise).

National want to have complete control. If your school doesn’t toe the line then they will parachute in a “change principal” to change you. If your kids aren’t toeing the line by improving their national standard scores then they will send in the expert teachers to sort you out. If your board of trustees disagrees with the direction the government is heading in and protests, they will be replaced by a far more accommodating sole-charge commissioner who will… oh.. hang on… they already do that.

For a party that prides itself on individual responsibility, self-reliance and self-determination, the National Party sure love their authoritarian control mechanisms.

Mr B.

More on the new teaching positions

Greetings to you all.

I’m an unnamed public servant currently working in middle management at the Ministry of Education in Wellington. I’ve been asked by her Highness Dame Baroness Hekia Parata to tease out a few details regarding the recently created teaching positions announced by the National-led coalition government, with whom I have absolutely no links to whatsoever.

There are four new positions that are being created with nearly $350 million of investment we’ve siphoned from money saved on deregistered beneficiaries. There are four major new positions. They are:

Expert Teachers

Expert teachers are teachers that are deemed to be slightly better than most other teachers (except for other Expert Teachers, who may or may not be more or less expert than said teachers). Expert Teachers will be working closely with their colleagues – Stupid Teachers – telling them how to teach, why their teaching is so crappy, and how dumb they are making the children in their class. Expert Teachers will be paid more than Stupid Teachers and will also receive a weekly gift basket paid for, in part, by compulsory donations from Stupid Teachers.

Lead Teachers

Lead Teachers are even more awesome than expert teachers. Like Expert Teachers, Lead Teachers will be working closely with Stupid Teachers at their own school. They will also used by the government to act as role models for Stupid Teachers at other schools in their area. Lead Teachers will get a couple of days off a week to head out into the district and shout “In your face!!!” through classroom doors of Stupid Teachers. Lead Teachers will be transported between schools on a sedia gestatoria (gestatorial chair) carried by a team of Stupid Teachers.

Change Principals

These leaders will be employed to lift the achievement of students currently attending schools staffed by Stupid Teachers and run by Idiot Principals. Change Principals will be brought into schools, given $50,000 and be put under immense pressure by us here at the ministry. If they fail to lift achievement their title will change from Change Principal to Idiot Principals. They will lose part and/or all of their cash bribe and be sent back to their decile 10 school in the only electorate ever to actually elect an ACT member of parliament.

Executive Principals

Executive Principals will provide leadership across a community of schools. They will be responsible for telling Idiot Principals and Stupid Teachers they are not doing anything right and they should read anything written by the late head of the Business Roundtable Roger Kerr. Once the material has been read by the teaching staff and leadership team there will be a short test administered. If they pass the test, that is, if they adopt the proposed education policy changes suggested in the paper, or by any other major business leader or failed politician, their services will be retained. If they refuse to adopt the changes they will be sent back to university for an intensive two-week teacher training programme after which they should be fully rehabilitated.

We at the Ministry of Education hope that these clarifications and enhancements have helped you understand our new policy. Any questions can be directed to the union representative at your dumb school.

Thank you for reading.


Greens Education Policy Announcement

Today the Green Party are releasing their education policy. Metiria Turei says their policy will be focussed on the kids – in contrast to National’s policy which focussed on buying out the principles of the principals.
I expect National to hammer the Greens with a “how much is this going to cost you tin-foil hat wearing fruit loops” strategy. Because they have nothing.