Tag Archives: politics

National Party Congress breakout: How to Deal with a Scandal

This weekend many hundreds of National Party delegates have descended on Wellington for the party’s pre-election congress. Apart from sounding slightly rude, this gathering is designed to pump the troops before the cut and thrust of this year’s, undoubtedly, turgid election campaign. MyThinks was lucky enough to stumble on a random lanyard outside the Michael Fowler Centre and we were able to gain access to a presentation from Sir Linton Crosby an unnamed public relations consultant on how the party might deal with any morally questionable issues that might arise ahead of the election.

Good afternoon cobbers. I’m not one to mess about with gratuitous platitudes. Thanks for coming and let’s get stuck into it. Good to see you here Todd. Better late than never.

So you’re all here today, so many, many of you, to find out how we might deal with any scandals and such like that might pop up between now and the election. I mean, we are all conservative Tories here, aren’t we? We’ve all, at some point in our lives, destroyed someone less fortunate than ourselves? I know I have. So it’s important that you have a suitable war-chest to dive into when this inevitably happens. 

So here we go with a bunch of things you can do if you’re ever caught a bit short in the ethics department. 

Number 1 – Deny, deny deny: As soon as a journalist asks you a tricky question just deny. A good word to use is refute. Say something like, “I absolutely refute the alleged allegations against me.” It’s important that you don’t use the word deny because it rhymes with lie and you don’t want the journalist to pop up a day or two later with a transcript of the recording you were denying.

Number 2 – Memory loss: if you are certain the events actually happened and you know for a fact there is a paper trail or some kind of proof, then it’s important that you have some of the sudden memory loss associated with a severe brain injury. You might say, “Look… I’m a very busy politician looking after all of those people who are less fortunate than me, you know, helping them up and so on. I can’t be expected to recall every little detail of my life.” Then if the paper trail does appear at some point you have a bit of wriggle room.

Number 3 – Absolutely no comment: this is a great strategy to use when there you would rather not say anything. Phrases like, “I’m unable to comment on an ongoing police investigation” work particularly well if you are the subject of an ongoing police investigation.

Number 4 – It’s not illegal: Sometimes, when something is illegal, it’s a good idea to get a lawyer or someone with an important sounding name (like Professor such-and-such, for example) to get out into the media and question whether something is technically illegal. This is a great strategy to create reasonable doubt, especially when there is a clip of your former leader admitting that exact activity is illegal. Two people saying different things. Which one is right? We will never know.

Number 5 – Under the bus: If you’ve tried all the above, then try getting rid of someone. You know, this week Todd fell on his sword for the good of the party. It was important that he go because he was causing damage. But what could he have done? Todd might have sacked one of his office staff by saying he received bad advice. I mean look at Jason Ede and WhaleOil… they were dumped three years ago during Dirty Politics and where are they now? Who can say?

Number 5 – Distraction: Also known as the “But Look at What Labour is Doing” defence. Get one of your blogger friends to post something along the lines of what you did wasn’t that bad quickly followed by some retweets of someone moaning about something the Labour Party has done (even if the thing the Labour Party did was totally legal and absolutely fine). Then “leak” some details to one of your journalist mates. Hopefully they run with it.

Well… that’s about all from me today. You know, the media, especially the billionaire media, can be your best friend, but sometimes that doesn’t work out. If you’re in a continued spot of bother, under siege and all else has failed, fall back on number 1 – Deny, deny, deny. Remember… it’s not a scandal until you’re drowning in Da-Nile.

Thanks very much.

K’Ching – show them the money

It is with great joy and immense happiness that I announce the National Party are planning to give all aged care workers a pay rise. It’s not just any pay rise. Nooooo…. this is much bigger than any pay rise that anybody has ever gotten in the history of pay rises.

Let’s just break down some 0f the figures shall we…?

 

 

 

Taking the PISA

Well, friends, today was PISA day. The day when all media outlets around the world breathlessly pronounce their education system is either “plummeting” down the tables, or, through some miraculous miracle, soaring to new educational heights.

Three years ago I ranted about this nonsensical test, run by the OECD, which tests hundreds of thousands of 15 year olds around the world on reading, maths and science. I’m listening to Garbage on the Spotify at the moment and that is an incredibly apt word.

Despite what the OECD and various governing governments say, PISA does absolutely nothing for teaching and learning around the world. It has been hijacked by the media in order to either hammer the education system of whichever country they are reporting from OR it has been hijacked by those wealthy billionaires who love to take over public education systems to make billions more via a range of government subsidies their charter school model siphoning from the public purse. “I don’t pay tax and I want to take your tax to make more income, which I won’t pay tax on.”

American billionaires suck the Federal Reserve dry

American billionaires suck the Federal Reserve dry

Either way, the OECD spends millions per year allowing countries like China to enter various cities (Hong Kong, Shanghai, & Macau) into the competition because China knows that those wealthy areas are likely to do very, very well. Presumably the authorities there are proactive in preparing the students of those cities for the tests. This happens in many jurisdictions around the world where high-stakes standardised testing rules the waves.

If you want to see the results for yourself you can do what I did and check out the Wikipedia page* on which some nice person has put all the results into nice tables so you can make your own comparisons. If you want gallons more statistical juice, then scroll to the bottom of the page for all the references to previous PISA results. It really can be an exciting evening trawling through tables of data to make a couple of points on an angry blog post.

Comparing the 2000 results to 2015 is like comparing apples with something that is the complete opposite of apples – sausages perhaps… or gardening gloves. In 2002 there were only 32 countries taking part. All the OECD members and 4 “partner” countries. In 2015 72 countries took part. New Zealand came 4th in Maths, 7th in Science and 3rd in Reading. Now we sit 22nd in Maths, 13th in Science, and 12th in Reading.

If you want to compare apples with apples by taking out all of the countries who’ve muscled in on the PISA party the figures are a bit different. in 2015 New Zealand sit 7th in Science, 16th in Maths and 9th in Reading.

To quote our retiring king John Key, at the end of the day, PISA doesn’t test anything important. All it tests is a student’s ability to score a certain number of marks on one exam on one day in 2015.

Exams are rubbish for testing all those important things like collaboration, problem solving, trial and error and innovation – all those important things that all employers are looking for. Don’t take my word for it, The Economist surveyed employers. Here are the results:

economist

Sure Literacy and Numeracy are on the list, but way down the bottom and Science doesn’t even get a mention. All those wonderful key competencies our New Zealand Curriculum published back in 2007 are way up there at the top. And their ain’t no way yous are gonna test for that. **

Remember: millions of dollars are spent on PISA to make governments feel good about themselves, not to improve educational outcomes for our learners, no matter what the politicians or our beloved media owners.

I’ll leave the final quote to Radio New Zealand who disappointed me with their headline this morning. “NZ Scores Drop but Rankings Rise in International Test” it said. Later on in the article, however, the article admitted:

The falls were small – three to five points in scores of 495 to 513 points – and were not regarded as statistically significant.

Why didn’t they lead with the statistically significant stuff? Because that doesn’t make a good headline. Falling education numbers is the headline. We are falling!! Arrrghghghgh!!!! That’s the same kind of fervor Patrick Gower works up every time Winston Peters rises one percentage point in a survey with a margin of error of 3.5%. It’s utter bollocks.

Just like PISA.

Sources: 

2015 PISA results

PISA Wikipedia results page

The Economist Skills of the Future Report

Radio New Zealand: PISA test report 7 Dec, 2016

* I am aware how lame it is to reference Wikipedia in a blog post about education, but the PISA reports are hundreds of pages long and I want to remain angry rather than being bored to death by tables and tables and tables and tables of data and statistical methodology. Even writing that sentence killed me a little inside.

** That sentence has terrible grammar on purpose. Deals with it.

 

Parata: I resign

It is with great sadness and extreme sadness that I announce my resignation from the position of Education Minister of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The role of champion of our young learners is a challenging poison chalice of death for any National Party minister, let alone one with my skill and talents.

I have undertaken this role with commitment and delivering all manner of deliverables to those receiving my deliverables.

I have been committed to consultation. I have consulted with many different stakeholders. It’s important that stakeholders know what policy platforms are going to be implemented against them.

By some time next year I will have committed nearly 10 years of my life to politics. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do and I’ve done with 1237% energy and passion, but there will be other opportunities in the “great blue horizon” beyond the beehive.

I am certain if the National Party are in power after the next election I will be offered plenty of them.

Better Funding: More pies for all!

I like pie.

As a born and bred New Zealand man with 46 years experience living in this world, I have come, over the years, to adore pie. The pie I most enjoy is Pepper Steak, but I have been known to partake in Steak & Cheese, Slow Roasted Pork Belly and good old-fashioned mince.

Pie sharing is something I’ve had a problem with – particularly single pies. You know, those pies which sole reason for existence is to be consumed by one person. If they were meant for sharing the deity responsible for pastry goodness would have made them larger.

That brings be to family pies. These pies have been built for sharing. They are larger than the single-serve pies previously mentioned. They are called family pies for a reason.

One of the most important things about family pies that they are shared evenly across the family. The family that doesn’t share the pie evenly will not be a happy family.

That is what the National-led government and their glorious Undersecretary for Education David Seymour are wanting to do with education. worth-fighting-for

They are going to take the $11 billion family pie of educational funding and devolve the decision-making on how that pie is eaten back onto the various Boards of Trustees and principals heading New Zealand’s learning institutions.

Why take the blame for increasing class sizes, under-resourced teaching and learning and operational spending decisions that put furniture ahead of hiring another learning support worker? That just makes the government look mean. Why should they look mean all the time? They make so many hard decisions and every three years people get to vote for them (mainly based around their decision-making). What if all these decisions were made BY OTHER PEOPLE? What if we started quietly reducing the size of the pie? What would happen then? We could reduce the size of the pie and other people will be left trying to sweep up the crumbs and any smears of gravy they can find. Those decision makers would still have to make the decisions BUT THEY WOULD HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THE SIZE OF THE PIE THEY ARE CUTTING UP!!!

OMG everyone! Yes… that’s right. OMG (not to be confused with 80s mellow synth poppers OMD).

If OTHER PEOPLE like parents on the boards and principals said, “We can’t afford to hire that person there to help our teachers deliver a robust learning programme,” then we could say, “Well… you know… we’ve given them billions of dollars. How they spend it really is up to them – the school communities.”

OTHER PEOPLE will end up burning the pie, dropping the pie on the floor, crushing the pie with a miss-placed size 10 Hush Puppy and BAMM! The pie is ruined.

No more pie for anyone.

And you know what? I didn’t ruin the pie. THEY did. Yes… them over there with their committee and their meetings and their decision-making. THOSE people ruined your pie.

Not me. I was in Wellington the whole time.

God forbid my pie metaphor has diminished the argument, but my point stands.

If we let the National Party loose with their plans for the education system, we will, I absolutely guarantee you, lose the wonderful system we have built up over the last century.

They will wreck it and the people who will lose out from this failed experiment are our most vulnerable asset.

An infographic about pies

An infographic about pies