The Dim-Post

February 1, 2012

Story of Isaac

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:34 am

Danya Levy reports:

The appointment of former ACT Party president Catherine Isaac to lead a trial of charter schools has been described as “disturbing”.

Isaac, who was number two on ACT’s list in last year’s election, is the wife of the late Business Round Table head Roger Kerr and has been tipped as the next leader of the party.

Trials of charter schools will be carried out in Auckland and Christchurch as part of ACT’s support agreement with the National-led Government.

Isaac will lead an implementation committee which is likely to consist of another four members.

Quote not so much as a comment on charter schools, but as a reminder that, although ACT and its leading lights affect the language of the free-market and private sector, their permanent place in the actual economy is in the nexus between government and business, and most of their income seems to come from tax-payer funded sources. (We last saw Issac as a member of the Welfare Working Group, advocating the privatization of the entire welfare system.)

Update: Isaac defends her appointment:

She denied it was politically motivated.

“I would dispute that. I’m not an idealog. I’m interested in what works.

What ‘works’ always happens to involve the taxpayer handing over gigantic amounts of cash to private companies that enjoy a close relationship with the ACT Party. How much longer do we have to put up with these parasites?

61 Comments »

  1. “nexus between government and business”

    perhaps their strategy for reducing the size of government is to suck so hard on the nipple that the entire government deflates?

    Comment by nommopilot — February 1, 2012 @ 9:47 am

  2. ACT are basically a revolutionary fifth column funded by anti-democratic elements (Alan Gibbs contempt for democracy is well documented, as is the inspiration they have taken from Pinochet’s Chile in areas like labour laws) who operate with the aim of undermining the New Zealand welfare state and its democratic institutions.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 1, 2012 @ 10:04 am

  3. There must be a job somewhere in this for David Garrett too. The poor chap’s been unemployed since he left Parliament.

    Comment by toad — February 1, 2012 @ 10:10 am

  4. @ Sanc

    I didn’t realise NZ was a welfare state. I thought it was a broadly social democratic parliamentary constitutional monarchy.

    Who knew!

    Comment by Gregor W — February 1, 2012 @ 10:18 am

  5. “…There must be a job somewhere in this for David Garrett too…”

    I read that the Law Commission “…is an independent Crown entity under the Crown Entities Act 2004…”

    I assume therefore that at least one member is on John Key’s Helensville electorate committee and/oris a member of the National party’s governing body. Surely, they could help a brother out – especially one with as much *ahem* experience of the legal system as David Garrett?

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 1, 2012 @ 10:22 am

  6. Personally Gregor W I think you can get 53 angels on the head of a pin. But I am sure you know it to be 55! Who knew!

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 1, 2012 @ 10:23 am

  7. @ Sanc

    So you are saying that the NZ state’s raison d’etre is ‘welfare’?
    With respect to ACT being a 5th column they’re not exactly clandestine in their views, which is kind of a pre-requisite.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 1, 2012 @ 10:51 am

  8. Some believe that if you impose a business model on a school you can solve all problems of unlearning and save heaps of money to be spent instead on Committees of Enquiry with membership made up of unlearned ex MPs and would-be MPs.

    Comment by ianmac — February 1, 2012 @ 10:55 am

  9. Sanctuary: All these supposedly independent crown bodies are full of people who must please a Minister to have any hope of being re-appointed. It is one of the great not-so-polite fictions of many statutory bodies that they are “independent”. This makes all the white-washes and back-scratching over the years understandable….and to be expected. New Zealand’s high ranking on the transparency lists is a bit of joke in my experience.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — February 1, 2012 @ 11:02 am

  10. @Steve (@nza1) – that was my point.

    Mr Garrett must really be on the outer if he can’t be found a sinecure on some Crown Entity or another. Even the most lowly ACT free-marketeer can usually look forward to a comfortable stipend from a Pest Control Authority or a crown controlled Harbour Dredging Board.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 1, 2012 @ 11:09 am

  11. Even the most lowly ACT free-marketeer can usually look forward to a comfortable stipend from a Pest Control Authority or a crown controlled Harbour Dredging Board.

    Probably counterproductive Sanc given that the former would lead to self eradication and the second would stumble over where the bodies are buried.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 1, 2012 @ 11:21 am

  12. This appointment speaks volumes about the direction that the charter school sector in this country will take.

    Rather than grassroots community owned co-op style operations serving particular niches, they will be essentially be private companies, run by corporates, iwi elites, god botherers, or all 3.

    Comment by millsy — February 1, 2012 @ 11:47 am

  13. There’s a metaphor in here somewhere…

    Comment by Oli — February 1, 2012 @ 11:50 am

  14. @Millsy “grassroots community owned co-op style” really! Don’t be pretending you represent anything but the Labour aligned teacher hegemony. You try mentioning Montessori or Steiner educational theories around NZEI and PPTA members and just see how much they’re interested in the views of the community.

    Comment by R Singers — February 1, 2012 @ 11:55 am

  15. “Labour aligned teacher hegemony”

    I suppose you think that our schools should be like retail outlets..

    Schools are, and should be non profit public assets, not private companies

    Comment by millsy — February 1, 2012 @ 11:58 am

  16. There is usually no great objection from the Greens and PPTA to boards of trustee members or chairs not having experience of running schools, where is the issue here?

    It’s a management/board of director job. They are not rewriting the curriculum. You don’t need to be steeped in education theory to know that to start a school you’ll need a site, buildings and staff. I imagine at some stage they might get around to appointing a principal who will do the actual donkey work of managing the staff hiring and teaching part of the business.

    The Isaac appointment could be a good way for NAtional to isolate the issue and say – this is Act’s baby, if it goes wrong it’s all their fault.

    Comment by insider — February 1, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

  17. @Millsy I think that schools should service the education needs of their communities. After all as every _parent_ knows the effectiveness of how they operate can be judged by their results. The adherence by the teachers to a particular political ideology isn’t part of the success criteria and should be kept outside the school.

    Comment by R Singers — February 1, 2012 @ 1:27 pm

  18. I suppose you think that our schools should be like retail outlets.

    Well, if I get consistently poor service from one store, I take my custom elsewhere – to a competitor that can provide me with a service i’m satisfied with… so, yeah, maybe they should be more like retailers.

    At the very least, our schools should be less like bad radio stations.
    http://www.freakonomics.com/2011/12/21/how-is-a-bad-radio-station-like-our-public-school-system-a-freakonomics-radio-podcast-encore/

    Comment by Phil — February 1, 2012 @ 2:10 pm

  19. How much longer do we have to put up with these parasites?

    3 years or so, then we get to choose another bunch.

    Comment by Angus Robertson — February 1, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

  20. “I’m not an idealog. I’m interested in what works.”

    and since when does an interest in ‘what works’ absolve someone of an ideological association?

    Comment by OP — February 1, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

  21. I’m not an idealog.

    I take it the Herald is just trolling those of us that passed high school English now.

    Comment by bradluen — February 1, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

  22. Isn’t this the lady mentioned in the tapes? That thing that no one was supposed to know about?

    Comment by sheesh — February 1, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

  23. I take it the Herald is just trolling those of us that passed high school English now.

    Interesting – the Herald journo manages to spell ideologue correctly everywhere except in a direct quote from Isaac. Maybe they cut and pasted from an illiterate email she sent them.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 1, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

  24. Maybe they cut and pasted from an illiterate email she sent them.

    Comment by Psycho Milt

    I think she’s saying she’s not an idea log. She’s more of a wrong end of the stick.

    Comment by Aztec — February 1, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

  25. Overseas experience of Charter Schools is ambiguous at best. “What works” seems to be something else, eg what they do in Finland and, in fact, qute a lot of what they do here. But everyone is an idealogue to some extent, and anyone saying they aren’t sounds like they are trying to hide something.

    Comment by Roger Parkinson (@RogerParkinson) — February 1, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

  26. “What ‘works’ always happens to involve the taxpayer handing over gigantic amounts of cash to private companies that enjoy a close relationship with the ACT Party. How much longer do we have to put up with these parasites?”

    God.all.mighty. Does this endless dog whistling never end Danyl?

    Sanctuary, Millsy, Toad and the rest of the frothers are onto this one as quick as a rat up a drainpipe.

    Comment by will — February 1, 2012 @ 8:44 pm

  27. Catherine Isaacs believes in ‘what works’ so she is a high flying member of the most dysfunctional party in Parliament… and that’s saying something!

    Comment by sunny — February 1, 2012 @ 9:05 pm

  28. Love the update to this post Danyl, especially the final line. Telling it how it is.

    Comment by alex — February 1, 2012 @ 9:05 pm

  29. and alex

    Comment by will — February 1, 2012 @ 9:17 pm

  30. I’m sorry Will but what exactly is your point? Do you disagree with the wording or intent of the original blog post? Or are you merely trolling and derailing? I would hardly call the original post a dog-whistle, given the evidence provided I would say the word parasite is entirely appropriate.

    Comment by alex — February 1, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

  31. It is an obvious dog whistle. Why the f*ck is setting up a charter school as a pilot initiative to address the crap achievement of 20% of our kids any indication at all of parasitic behaviour? It is not appropriate.

    Comment by will — February 1, 2012 @ 9:34 pm

  32. Please provide hard evidence that charter schools work. I’m yet to see any.

    Comment by alex — February 1, 2012 @ 9:35 pm

  33. Show me any evidence that shows they don’t. 20% falling off the current system says alternatives need to be trialled.

    Comment by will — February 1, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

  34. And I think that pretty much wraps up the absurdity of your argument. Schools are currently failing the poorest children, so we should trial a system which has been shown to fail the poorest children.

    Comment by alex — February 1, 2012 @ 9:48 pm

  35. You’re making up stories.

    Comment by will — February 1, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

  36. IMO we have to ‘put up’ with these parasites for as long as MMP in its present form exists. Which in part will continue to exist thanks to the brilliantly mobilised pro-MMP movement during the last election. I think they all deserve a pat on the back. But, like the man said ‘That’s MMP for you.’ I say this not as an attempt to divert from the subject but to remind us what short memories we seem to have.

    Comment by Eric Blair — February 2, 2012 @ 8:12 am

  37. Read the links provided by Alex above with Danyl’s update in mind – “…What ‘works’ always happens to involve the taxpayer handing over gigantic amounts of cash to private companies that enjoy a close relationship with the ACT Party…” And throw in the Iwi cronyism of the Maori party and the unreasoning loathing of the teacher unions by the authoritarian right and you will understand that arguing about the academic performance of charter schools is a red herring. The purpose of the charter school experiment is twofold:

    1/ Enable a huge theft of taxpayer money to pay off ACT and the Maori parties incompetent business and Iwi cronies.

    2/ Break the teacher unions.

    Simple as that. Kids education? Hah! Who cares? The experiment is on a bunch of poor darkies anyway, so it is hardly likely to affect little Tarquin or Sophie.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 2, 2012 @ 8:39 am

  38. Sanctuary outs the ambitions of the Devious Plot Faction.

    Comment by Pete George — February 2, 2012 @ 8:59 am

  39. Charter schools still won’t address the institutionalised Social Darwinism in the system – i.e., the Grammars of this world still basically say, “send your kid somewhere else, we don’t wan’t him staining our reputation”. Furthermore, what’s to stop the teaching of Intelligent Design and Wahhabism? And in spite of what Bishop Brian says…

    I’ve written before that compulsory busing went some way to addressing the issue in America, were it not for one fatal weakness – it only applied to public schooling and as such, the well-to-do students were often transferred to private colleges.

    Comment by DeepRed — February 2, 2012 @ 10:20 am

  40. ” Kids education? Hah! Who cares?” often not the principals, as I can attest having recently moved my son to another school due to not being able to get anything done about an incompetent (and bullying) principal, having to address any complaints to the principal, who shreds them. The Limited Statutory Manager for the school, an ex-principal. ignores all evidence and tells the principal not to worry her job is safe, and the MoE advise that the BoT should handle the matter, but the BoT can’t get past the LSM as he has the authority to handle employment matters.

    The point being that the current system isn’t perfect, and the appointment of someone from outside the currently broken system, such as Catherine Isaac, is welcomed by parents like me.

    As I’ve discovered, schools currently exist first to ‘be good employers’ and second ‘to be good educators’. Wrong way round.

    Comment by Fielding Norris — February 2, 2012 @ 10:24 am

  41. From Kansas, but just as applicable here: http://www.examiner.com/k-12-in-topeka/in-what-other-profession

    The same author has some interesting pieces on ‘school choice’ too – which may sound familiar.

    Comment by Pete — February 2, 2012 @ 10:29 am

  42. @alex

    >So is everyone else apparently.

    Nice links.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 2, 2012 @ 11:48 am

  43. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/nov/11/myth-charter-schools/?page=1

    Also worth a read.

    Comment by TBWood — February 2, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

  44. ” Kids education? Hah! Who cares?” often not the principals….

    And, oftentimes, not the parents. Bad workmen and all of that.

    Comment by Galeandra — February 2, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

  45. @ Fielding Norris – so how do charter schools solve your type of problem (with unaccountable Principal)? Given that Key has promised ACT that NZ charter schools will not be held to existing educational systems (ie standards)? I did hear Cath Isaacs claim charter schools would be ERO inspected, but that conflicts with ACT’s deal (and inspections seem meaningless when most of the data is not peer-reviewed/nationally moderated).

    Bluntly, to solve an incompetent Principal problem where BoT seems unable to do so, gather evidence and leak to friendly local journo or Education correspondent for major daily paper. Real evidence will get results, as politicians are terrified of appearing to condone ineptitude by public servants.

    Comment by bob — February 2, 2012 @ 3:31 pm

  46. bob – I’m liaising with the BoT and we’re taking the necessary steps to address the situation (which inevitably will include action against the LSM as well as the principal). We won’t be involving the media as I can’t see how that would have a positive outcome for anyone except the media.

    WRT to Catherine Isaac I’m in favour of bringing new attitudes and ideas to our education system. I might be making a wrong assumption, but I’m guessing much of the management of our school systems is done by ex-teachers and ex-principals.

    Comment by Fielding Norris — February 2, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

  47. Steve (@nza1)#9: New Zealand’s high ranking on the transparency lists is a bit of joke in my experience.

    I think that list is better for reflecting the rest of the world than it is for New Zealand. Especially when you see stories like those from an SMH journo (though 5 years ago now) who was flabbergasted that the NZ Treasury was actually taking the initiative of publishing budget information before people asked for it. There’s a good background culture for those working in much of the NZ public service, but it’s still not immune from the interference of anyone with enough clout and motivation to ignore it (and they tend to be the people who hover around anything that seems controversial).

    Comment by MikeM — February 2, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

  48. Fielding, this country’s education system can be tweaked, without bringing in the corporates, god botherers and iwi elites to run our schools.

    The kindergarten system with its non-profit structure, and community/parent/teacher governance focus should be the model we should be basing charter schools on here.

    (not necessarily opposed to charter schools, just how they should be run)

    Comment by millsy — February 2, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

  49. > this country’s education system can be tweaked, without bringing in the corporates, god botherers and iwi elites to run our schools.

    For someone so passionate on this, millsy seems blissfully unaware of the 170 years of schooling in nz that has involved at various stages church corporates like the anglicans and roman catholics, commercial corps like kidicorp (minor clue in the name) and acg, assorted lunatic fringe god botherers and hippies, and iwi elites running things like kura.

    Comment by insider — February 2, 2012 @ 9:22 pm

  50. @insider “@ insider “For someone so passionate on this, millsy seems blissfully unaware of…”

    Use a full stop like this “For someone so passionate on this, millsy seems blissfully unaware.”, there fixed.

    Comment by johneriksonr — February 3, 2012 @ 6:09 am

  51. “iwi elites”, when did this enter the lexicon of the left?

    Comment by Simon — February 3, 2012 @ 6:20 am

  52. “…“iwi elites”, when did this enter the lexicon of the left..?”

    I understand that the right is fearful of change and seeks to measure the world in terms of some sort of mythical constant. However, the world isn’t like that, so those of us in the fact based community (AKA “the left”) pay attention to current events and try to retain a memory of the historical context those events occur in. This knowledge then helps us to better understand the evolving nature of class and it’s interaction with politics, my dear Simon. This may mean that on occasion new terms come into use or old ones fall out of use, an evolving and dynamic process we on the left call “thinking”.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 3, 2012 @ 9:47 am

  53. Sanctuary, are you this much of a patronising douchebag in real life as well?

    Comment by Phil — February 3, 2012 @ 10:53 am

  54. Sactuary is using what JohnStewart would call Simon’s “dick-fu” right back at him.

    Comment by Paul Rowe — February 3, 2012 @ 11:20 am

  55. Oh shut up, you wittering natterers. This place was better before you all arrived.

    Anyhow, National has redacted extremely large parts of their Briefing to Incoming Ministers, including swathes of their education briefing.This includes sections on early childhood education (ECE), and on funding mechanisms. Both are ostensibly withheld under the auspices of the OIA. The more plausible interpretation is that they don’t want us to know.

    Comment by George D — February 3, 2012 @ 11:57 am

  56. Phil @ 10.53am

    double +

    Comment by merv — February 3, 2012 @ 3:51 pm

  57. Simon: “iwi elites”, when did this enter the lexicon of the left?”

    Shane Jones and John Tamihere have been known to use the term “brown table”, and most certainly not as a compliment.

    Comment by DeepRed — February 3, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

  58. @George D: to top it off, the Granny Herald managed to get wind of an unabridged Treasury document on privatisation, right before it was redacted. The full document is here.

    The Key Govt simply has too many skeletons in the closet to hide.

    Comment by DeepRed — February 3, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

  59. Whooo, top secret, a draft consultation document.

    Comment by will — February 4, 2012 @ 6:48 am

  60. Hah! Listen to the lefty parasites moaning when some other bunch get to spend some of that stolen taxpayer dosh…oh you poor babies.

    The only way ACT can change the system and end the child mind-molestation of our failed state education system is to work within it meaning they have to spend the tax dollar in an alternative way…and the lefty’s howl at that thought..!

    Comment by James — February 8, 2012 @ 11:34 pm


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