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Doomed to Failure

December 20, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Shouldn’t the people at the top be responsible for their organisations? Isn’t that why they are paid the big salaries? In so many cases it seems that the more responsible a person is the less they are likely to he held to account for what happens under their leadership.

Sure I agree there is the occasional case of a politician resigning after a case of gross negligence, but even those events often seem to be politically orchestrated and the person tends to continue on in a lesser role but still with a substantial salary and might expect an easy, less controversial job in the future when the current problem has been forgotten.

Of course this phenomenon can be seen with all leaders, but the particular case which is most obvious in New Zealand at this point is the minister of education, Hekia Parata, who surely is currently responsible for the most disorganised, dysfunctional, and dispirited organisation in the country. And the way our country is at the moment, to be the most dispirited isn’t easy. There’s plenty of competition!

It’s almost impossible to find anyone involved in education who agrees with this minister’s decisions. Everyone knows that the experts are not being listened to, that her policies are driven by economic and political dogma rather than practical educational requirements, and that the minister can not or will not learn from her mistakes.

As I have said in a previous blog entry, I don’t think Parata is actually evil, she’s just the person who drew the short straw and became education minister for a National government. It’s impossible to do that job properly no matter who you are because National, being a right wing party, is automatically opposed to good traditional educational values.

So the minister is doomed to failure from the beginning and that explains why every National minister of education has been a disaster and has been despised by the majority of people in education. It explains for example why a past minister had to escape out of a window to avoid an angry crowd.

So let’s look at a few of the ridiculous debacles this government has been responsible for in education: there’s the National Standards policy, the League tables, the school closures, the Novopay disaster, and now the resignation of Education Secretary Lesley Longstone.

Longstone always gave me the impression of being a gross incompetent but that might just be because of the way she was forced to defend the minister’s policies which she might not have necessarily agreed with. In fact her resignation indicates that she did disagree with the policies she was forced to implement.

But she won’t do too badly because she is likely to get a half million dollar payout as she leaves. This is from the same ministry which is closing schools to save money. Really, what is the point in recruiting and paying an allegedly highly skilled person if she is going to be forced to do the wrong thing by her minister in charge?

I would suggest the main reason these people are hired is there ability to carry out the instructions of their political master and divert attention from them rather than to make good decisions and really produce quality results for the people they are actually there for.

If any of the education changes had been a great success I’m sure the minister would have taken the credit, but now they have become a disaster suddenly someone else is to blame. And to make matters worse the minister has disappeared off on holiday, but it’s OK, the prime minister has full confidence in her. No surprises there!

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