The Dim-Post

October 14, 2009

League tables and another cheap shot at economists

Filed under: economics,education,Politics — danylmc @ 10:42 am

Via the Dom-Post:

After months of disputes, Education Minister Anne Tolley has struck a deal with primary school unions that will see them work together on its controversial national standards policy.

Under the agreement, the Government has confirmed it will make it as difficult as possible for the media to produce league tables that rank schools.

Mrs Tolley told The Dominion Post the deal was a “a momentous occasion”.

She said she told the groups she was prepared to work with them to stop the use of league tables. “We want to make it as difficult for you [media] as possible. It will be too hard and too much work and not worth it in the end. There are a few ideas we will discuss as to how we can do that.”

A fascinating solution, given that there doesn’t seem to be any conceivable way of making national standards information available to parents that won’t allow it to be published by the media.

There’s an old joke about a group of people being washed ashore on a desert island with their only source of food being a supply of canned goods that they cannot open. One member of the group is an economist and he steps forward and announces that he has a solution to their problem: ‘First, we assume a can opener . . .’

 So I wonder if Tolley et al have assumed a can opener and made this deal without figuring out what their solution to the original problem is going to be.

All I can really imagine is some sort of online database with which parents have authenticated access to their child’s school’s rankings. Of course it wouldn’t be hard for education reporters to phone their friends and find out who has kids at what school, obtain that school’s results and thus compile a league table but maybe that’s Tolley’s idea of ‘too much work’. I can’t wait to see what they’ve come up with.

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26 Comments »

  1. I have a good economist joke to. Two economists are walking down Wall Street, deep in conversation, when one of them spots a $1000.00 bill lying on the footpath. “Look” he cries, “A thousand dollar bill!” “Impossible!” Retorts his friend. “Someone would have picked it up by now”.

    Comment by Tom Semmens — October 14, 2009 @ 11:09 am

  2. Econ jokes: http://netec.mcc.ac.uk/JokEc.html
    Plenty to mine there…

    Comment by Ben — October 14, 2009 @ 11:52 am

  3. So I wonder if Tolley et al have assumed a can opener….

    I wonder if Tolley is letting the unions assume a can opener, while quietly sniggering at them from behind her hand. I didn’t think she was very bright, but get the feeling she’s persuaded the unions to cave in exchange for promises of magic beans.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — October 14, 2009 @ 12:04 pm

  4. If Tolley is talking bullshit, then she’ll regret it because they’ll just strike. No-one likes being lied to, but there’s going to be a big difference between striking over league tables and striking because the minister is a lying, duplicitous bitch.

    Comment by chris c — October 14, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

  5. @ chris c:

    “because the minister is a lying, duplicitous bitch”

    Wow, politics that I kind of agree with mixed with angry misogyny that T don’t. The “bitch” was unnecessary, wasn’t it?

    Comment by Eddie Clark — October 14, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

  6. Only if you think that duplicitous is a noun. Would it have made much sense had I called her a lying duplicitous bastard? Would you be complaining if I’d called Bill English a lying, duplicitous bastard? Is it bitch you’re opposed to, or just gender specific insults, or is it all gender specific words? Is it that she’s not yet been shown to be a liar and duplicitous, and therefore could not reasonably be called a bitch?

    Let me know. I’ll be sure to moderate my language to fit in with your unspoken arbitrary standards in future.

    Comment by chris c — October 14, 2009 @ 12:53 pm

  7. wow, calm down dude. “Lying duplicitous bitch” is needlessly angry. You’re under no obligation at all to change the things you write based on what I say, I just think you sound like mr sexist angryman when you write that.

    Comment by Eddie Clark — October 14, 2009 @ 1:35 pm

  8. I’m really only one of those three things. Or maybe I’m none of them.

    Comment by chris c — October 14, 2009 @ 1:54 pm

  9. “We want to make it as difficult for you [media] as possible

    OIA, anyone?

    If the education unions are smugly thinking they’ve dodged a bullet, I cant wait to see what does get out into the media/public arena. They’ll look like fools of the highest (ranked?) order.

    Comment by Phil — October 14, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

  10. “Of course it wouldn’t be hard for education reporters to phone their friends and find out who has kids at what school, obtain that school’s results and thus compile a league table”
    That’s far too much work for the current crop of cub reporters (most of whom are too young to have children!). More likely the Business Roundtable (or similar) do a little bit of work and then put out a press release (in which, due the absence of data, they assume a can opener), which the media report verbatim (except adding their own errors into the mix due to deadlines or wierd subbing).

    And what reportres are likely to have friends with children at Canon’s Creek School, for e.g?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — October 14, 2009 @ 5:11 pm

  11. Well you can hardly blame the media if they do run anything un because the union’s deliberate strategy is to keep anyone in the dark without the special NZEI imprimatur of tattoo and funny handshake.

    The NZEI woman on morning retort basically said the public and media are too stupid and agenda laden to be able to understand data. Only the pure of mind and spirit can be initiated into that cult.

    Comment by insider — October 14, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

  12. Danyl: “All I can really imagine is some sort of online database with which parents have authenticated access to their child’s school’s rankings.”
    And it won’t work properly.
    And parents will have to go to the media for the results,
    because the media has been leaked them anyway.

    Comment by Adhominem — October 14, 2009 @ 7:07 pm

  13. I see nzschoolleaguetables.blogspot.com being registered Real Soon Now.

    All it takes is for one community-minded person from each school (or, hell, even just some schools, to collate it into an excel sheet and hit ‘sort’.

    You can’t just have information, release it, and expect people not to do useful things with it. And you shouldn’t. More transparency is what’s needed, not less; and it is the role of the Ministry of Education and its various organs to prevent adverse outcomes like teaching-to-test.

    L

    Comment by Lew — October 14, 2009 @ 8:57 pm

  14. Did you not hear? Tolley’s solution is that the league table will be in Aramaic, which no one will understand.

    Problem is – because teachers will now teach to the test and the table, our kids will all end up speaking in a biblical tongue.

    Comment by Conor Roberts — October 14, 2009 @ 10:04 pm

  15. God I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I wonder if Tolley is trying to distract the media from another education issue by waving the red flag of a ‘hidden league table’ in front of them?

    Comment by Ataahua — October 15, 2009 @ 7:53 am

  16. I probably shouldn’t get into this, chris c, but why do you consider bastard a gender-specific insult?

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — October 15, 2009 @ 9:55 am

  17. A fascinating solution, given that there doesn’t seem to be any conceivable way of making national standards information available to parents that won’t allow it to be published by the media.

    They’ll outsource production of school reports to a private organisation not subject to the OIA. The schools themselves will never have the information.

    Privatisation – the solution to your union’s problems :-)

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — October 15, 2009 @ 9:58 am

  18. They’ll outsource production of school reports to a private organisation not subject to the OIA. The schools themselves will never have the information.

    Very clever. But they’ll still have to give the information to the parents.

    Comment by danylmc — October 15, 2009 @ 11:15 am

  19. I suspect that the performance information given to parents could just be percentage improvements on the score. You would then have no standard base for comparison

    Comment by garethw — October 15, 2009 @ 11:29 am

  20. “but why do you consider bastard a gender-specific insult?”

    Isn’t it because a man is a bastard-son-of-a-bitch? Are Mo-fo’s (spelling?) only ever male? I ponder this sometimes.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — October 15, 2009 @ 11:50 am

  21. @Graeme Edgeler

    Because it’s in the dictionary.

    bas⋅tard /ˈbæstərd/ [bas-terd]

    2. Slang.
    a. a vicious, despicable, or thoroughly disliked person: Some bastard slashed the tires on my car.
    b. a person, esp. a man: The poor bastard broke his leg.

    Comment by chris c — October 15, 2009 @ 11:52 am

  22. Are Mo-fo’s (spelling?) only ever male? I ponder this sometimes.

    A person is a Mo-fo (or should that realy be Mo-fu’s) if and only if they are ‘initmate’ with a woman that has given birth. In our progressive society this clearly is not limited only to men.

    Comment by Phil — October 15, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

  23. This government is intimate with my wallet. The dirty Mo-fu’s.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — October 15, 2009 @ 7:10 pm

  24. I thought it was people who’ve fucked their own mothers. This isn’t limited to men, obviously. But if it is simply people who have fucked mothers, then that includes a very large proportion of the population.

    Comment by George Darroch — October 15, 2009 @ 7:22 pm

  25. “I thought it was people who’ve fucked their own mothers. This isn’t limited to men, obviously. But if it is simply people who have fucked mothers, then that includes a very large proportion of the population.”

    when the term was first coined, a ‘mother-fucker’ was someone who was your biological father, but did not love your mother and had taken advantage of her in fucking her, so he didn’t deserve the status of ‘father’.

    Comment by kahikatea — October 15, 2009 @ 8:20 pm

  26. I’m not sure that your interpretation is correct, kahikatea. The power of the word is in its oedipal connotation.

    Comment by George Darroch — October 15, 2009 @ 9:58 pm


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