Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Mandate for Stupidity?


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!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The fact that there is no professional dialogue about these standards is the most comical but truly sad fact! This compliance model has no engagement from the profession. We as a country have already lost significant ground in educational progress due to people scrambling around trying to grapple with these senseless standards. Which in fact as we attempt to gain understanding of the standards, it seems they really are not a standard at all. The latest resource sent to schools has again a changed wording of the standards and therefore a changed interpretation. The basic logic of improving student achievement is everyones goal. However the belief that these poorly designed standards will do it is a dream.We as a country have the expertise, we could have problem solved this together, we are intelligent enough to design our own pathway forward. The Government should stop adopting failed overseas initiatives. This has not worked anywhere in the world, in fact it has been a monumental disaster. I am all for accountability! But I am also all for a fabulous, innovative curriculum. The new NZC has died, there is NO discussion about any parts of that incredible document. It is all a sea of blah about the 3R's. We can rescue this but not without any mutual respect and dialogue as a profession and a Government. Read the McKinsey report, study the Singapore model, take parts, innovate our own solutions and stop creating an educational crisis that indeed Mr Key admitted does not exist. We are in the top 5 in the world, we want to be number 1 and we can. This is not the way! Thanks Dave for keeping this topic alive!

bsprout said...

I think Trevor Mallard thought that the Standards would lose all credibility if over 200 schools refused to engage, it is now well beyond that and Tolley keeps pressing on. If she had any professional understanding or credibility she would realize a serious rethink and pull back was needed. You're right about the use of a fictitious crises, Anonymous, and using models operating in countries that are beneath us in educational standing. The sort of rich qualitative data that the old NEMP provided us with was a wonderful guide to fine tuning our practice, National Standards will only deliver something similar to what is being put in our rivers.

Anonymous said...

Hello? What are you saying about WOF is that not a standard? What is a transport system without standards? What kind of person declares that standards are not important perhaps it is a person without any.

bsprout said...

Anonymous 2-I think you misread my post. I was trying to explain how good standards need to go through a process of testing and be proven to be appropriate for the job before being implemented.

I have nothing against standards, but these National Standards were forced on our schools and children without any testing or proper research. If you watch the link to the Principals video you will see how appalling they are. They need to go back to the drawing board before they cause real harm to our children.

Shane Pleasance said...

"the government has no mandate for stupidity."
They do have a mandated monopoly on education, however. Perhaps the greens might allow us to opt out of this immorality?

bsprout said...

Shane, I strongly support a quality public education system and feel that a shift to the private sector will provide even greater inequalities of provision.

I know you support community control of schools and greater freedom of choice and I believe myself that a school is far more successful if there is a strong collaboration between parents and the school. Our current curriculum supports schools working with their community in establishing a school curriculum that best serves the needs of their children and wider community.

I do not agree with the current political regime and education provision where consultation with the profession and public doesn't effectively occur and political ideology replaces research and evidence.
Good quality public education should recognize the diversity of those who it serves.

bsprout said...

Replace who with whom in the above.