Whale Oil and Tolley Attacked Principals and Myself
Dirty Politics keeps giving and giving and the latest revelation is a possible link between Anne Tolley and Cameron Slater. Anne Tolley was Education Minister when National Standards were first introduced and, as with all education changes under this government, there was no real consultation and the concerns of the profession were ignored. Teachers wanted the system to be trailled first and there was a nationwide protest when this commonsense request was ignored. The National Government legislated the Standards into law which made any refusal to implement the Standards illegal and Tolley threatened to sack boards and principals who did not comply.
Just like Novopay the Standards were introduced half baked while Education Ministry staff desperately tried to create the system as it was in operation. Teachers were forced to attend professional development where the material being presented by facilitators had already been superseded by the constantly changing information online.
Some of the strongest opposition came from Southland principals and there were times when passions resulted in some emotive comments. It did seem odd at the time that any unfortunate throwaway comment made by any Principal made it to national media and the individuals concerned heavily criticized. Cameron Slater obviously had the job of looking out for anything coming out of the schools and principals who attempted to boycott the standards and attack them.
As has been pointed out by many, no individual could keep up the volume of content on Whale Oil without help and the research involved in getting the names and backgrounds of targeted individuals would also be time consuming. It was clear in the emails that supported Hager's book that the names and backgrounds were being passed on to Slater from Government staff and possibly even Ministers.
When Anne Tolley visited Invercargill in 2011, local Principals were keen to present an open letter to the Minister that expressed their professional concerns about the National Standards. At that time I was on the executive of the New Zealand Educational Institute and was working part time as a special needs teacher. I had the time to co-ordinate the letter and collect the signatures of the 12 principals involved. Unfortunately I was unable to present the letter in person due to reasonable objections from the school being visited, so it was then sent to Anne Tolley's office and the Southland Times.
The Southland Times contacted the Minister for her comments and although I wasn't a signatory and had no personal contact with her it was me she attacked not the Principals. Tolley refused to engage with the content of the letter and claimed it was just a political stunt from myself as a Green Party and NZEI executive member (as if all the Invercargill principals were under my influence). I regularly had letters published in the Southland Times and the Listener that were critical of the Government's education policies and it was clear that I was an identified activist.
Two years later I happened to make a comment critical of Charter Schools on the Whale Oil blog and shortly afterwards Slater put up a post identifying me as a member of NZEI's National Executive and including a derogatory comment regarding my character. I find it hard to believe that Slater himself had the time to research each person who provided a contrary view to his own unless he already had some outside support and the names at hand.