The Minister for Education, Anne Tolley, has never been able to engage in a professional discussion around the merits of her own National Standards policy. She continues to ignore specific questions and concerns from our highest regarded educationalists and suggests that the hundreds of schools and principals protesting against the forced implementation of the untested standards have political motives.
When questioned in the house by Trevor Mallard about what an actual standard meant in plain english, Tolley made the bizarre claim that she didn't have to understand them, just implement and resource them. When really pressured she falls back on the statement that National was elected with a policy to introduce National Standards and therefore has a mandate to do so.
This view is so flawed and simplistic when no voter nor the National Party had any idea about what the standards would look like in reality. Parents had visions of plain english reporting and the ability to get a clearer idea of how their child compared to some useful benchmarks. What has eventuated will not do this. Early last year parents largely supported the idea of National Standards but admitted they didn't understand them, later surveys have shown the more the standards are understood the less they are supported.
The Government has well and truly lost any mandate it may have had to introduce this flawed initiative and to keep harping on that the mandate still exists is desperate thinking. If my family gave me a mandate to buy a new car, there is an expectation that the mandate is for an improved situation. If the vehicle I returned with was not fully tested, didn't have a warrant of fitness and various mechanics had concerns about its safety, then that original mandate hasn't been honoured and I have no right to force it onto my family. This analogy directly applies to the situation with National Standards except what is at risk is far greater, we stand to seriously damage our internationally regarded education system and the children within it.
This government has no mandate for stupidity!