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Education Disaster

According to a report on the recent NZEI (New Zealand Educational Institute) conference the government’s education policies aren’t exactly being welcomed by most experts and people who work in the area of education. There should be no surprise there because, as I have said before, this government is determined to follow their political dogma and implement policies which everyone who really understands the issues knows are wrong and will never work.

International experts agree. Most countries with a good education system got there by doing the exact opposite of what New Zealand is about to do. I’m not saying there aren’t some benefits to policies like closing schools with smaller rolls, running charter schools, setting up national standards, and creating league tables, but what I am saying is that any small advantages gained through these ideas is greatly outweighed by the problems.

Almost every teacher, principal, and education expert agrees, yet the minster still has called on teachers to work with her. She wants teachers to work with her destroying our education system? No, that’s not going to happen, is it.

National have a history of having terrible ministers of education. Every one has been a disaster and worked totally against the best interest of schools by following a neo-liberal agenda and ignoring both the experts and the actual workers in the education sector. And the current minister, Hekia Parata, in no exception. She’s useless – just a mouthpiece for the ideologs at National Party headquarters. I guess in some ways we should feel sorry for education ministers in National governments. They really have no chance because they will always be forced to do the wrong thing because of their party’s ideology.

It wouldn’t be quite so bad if the political right didn’t like to use “best practice” and “expert advice” in so many other areas (but only when it suits them of course). If expert advice can be used to implement so many other policies why not use it in education as well? Obviously because, unlike in other areas, they cannot get enough experts to support their side.

So the question really is: why can’t politicians be more pragmatic and give more consideration to what experts and people working in the areas in question are saying? Why is it that every time we have a right wing government they have to work against the teachers and principals? They always tell us that education is important but they seem determined to make a mess of a system which already works quite well. Sure, it could be better, but they should make sure that the changes they implement really will make things better otherwise they would be just better to do nothing.

But in reality that’s about the best we could really hope for from National. They are at their best when they do nothing. They didn’t do much in their first couple of years of government and I was fairly happy with them, but since then they have reverted back to their standard well known nonsense.

Another point I would like to make is why do so many ministers have no knowledge of the area they are in charge of? Hekia Parata knows nothing about education. Actually she knows nothing about anything useful because she graduated with an MA in Maori and NZ History. It’s hard to imagine anything more useless. But that does explain a lot!

The catch phrase of the NZEI conference is “stand up for our kids, protect our schools”. It’s so sad that the main theme of a conference should be protecting your institution from government incompetence. It’s also sad that the government is prepared to risk children’s wellbeing just to forward their political dogma. Still, after past experience in this area, it’s exactly what we should expect.

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