The Dim-Post

September 10, 2012

A slightly more substantive take on Labour’s education policy

Filed under: education,Politics — danylmc @ 8:08 am

Smart. It serves the dual function of engaging with National in an area where they are vulnerable – daft policies, ambitious, egomaniacal Minister – but also sells Shearer to core Labour voters and party members after a pretty terrible six months that left his future as Party leader in doubt.

It’s absurd that education is a ‘battleground issue’ – our education system is basically fine, or at least it was until National started fiddling with it. But middle-class swing voters are anxious about their children, so here we are. At least Labour’s policies will probably make a positive difference, and the core of the plan – state-funded meals for low decile schools – is a really a welfare policy targeting child poverty.


  1. Mmmmm. Our education system was “fine”. Yes. Well. Interesting take on fine, Danyl. Having seen the inside of our “fine” system before the Nats fiddling, I’m guessing “mediocre” (and I’m being kind here) would be more the style. And if you are happy with that, then good on you.

    Our education system is an unmitigated disaster. The entrenched attitudes of the leaders of the Teacher unions added to the complete and utter decimation of our system with NCEA has left this system in a “fine mess”.

    Frankly, as a parent, I’m unsure if the Nats have the answers. What I am sure of is that anything has to be better than the driveling mess we have now.

    IMHO, of course 🙂

    Comment by xchequer — September 10, 2012 @ 10:04 am

  2. …”an egomaniac Minister” AND an Associate Minister for Education allowed to call the shots (National Standards, Charter Schools, Vouchers). Banks heads a Party with around 1% support from the entire country, doesn’t believe in evolution and has a nasty dose of recurring ‘amnesia’ and he’s the Business Party’s pick for Associate Minister of Education? Crikey!

    Comment by Sunny — September 10, 2012 @ 10:17 am

  3. @xchequer

    To what degree did you see the “inside” of the education system? Are you a teacher, board member, MinEdu technocrat, ERO analyst etc.?
    Also, are you able to further describe your logic in according public education an “unmitigated disaster”?
    Are your kids unable read or write? Are their teachers unable to impart knowledge to them? Are they socially maladjusted as a result of their educational experience?

    Not baiting here. Genuinely interested in your comments.

    Comment by Gregor W — September 10, 2012 @ 10:21 am

  4. “…IMHO, of course…”

    Is the only sensible thing he posted.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 10, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

  5. @xchequer – In 2007 I finished my education at a state school, and it really did work okay. The children who wanted to work hard and get ahead were given the support to do so, and the lazy kids who wanted to slack off were told to either a)not be an idiot and at least get NCEA or b) quietly encouraged to go into an apprenticeship or get a job. Schools themselves can’t control if the students will turn out mediocre, all they can do is provide support for those who want to work hard and succeed. Our schools are doing a fine job of that.

    Comment by alex — September 10, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

  6. Of course education is a battleground issue. There’s not a lot wrong with our education system but there is something wrong with the attitude of the right in regards to education, and that’s what Shearer was getting at. Look what National have done since they’ve come in: they’ve increased funding to private schools. There was no urgency needed to increase funding, it’s just a point-scoring system. John Key scored a few points with his people (rich people) by doing that; now Shearer is scoring points with his party’s supporters.

    Comment by Dan — September 10, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

  7. @xchequer: at the top end of achievement, our education system is tremendously effective compared to most other countries. It’s really very good:

    But there’s a wide disparity between the top and bottom achievers and we’re not good at mitigating the effects of lower socio-economic status in education outcomes. National isn’t lying when it cites this as a problem. But its solutions are badly misconceived and actually more likely to aggravate the problem rather than solve it.

    Comment by Russell Brown — September 10, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

  8. Yeah yeah “our education system is basically fine” if you sweep the 20% illiteracy level under the carpet and EVEN when you exclude the hardcore problem kids who are never going to achieve because their parents are dropkicks and no amount of free toast will resolve.

    And while I’m here your twee comment that “middle-class swing voters are anxious about their children” conveniently overlooks the fact that AS WELL AS being abandoned by middle class wing voters the left are being abandoned by trad lab voters in the working class poor category so Shearers job is a bit more complicated than swinging a few mortgaged up middle class urban lib’s who wouldn’t dare see their little Tarquin taking school breakfasts lest he bring shame on the family.

    That said Shearer finally seems to have put his hand down his gruds and found his nuts. NIce work Stu Nash.

    Comment by Tim — September 10, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

  9. Reading recovery and school meals would be a step in the right direction to address under performance in low decile schools.

    Shearer might be creating a few problems for himself trying to have a bob each way on national standards.

    Having campaigned against it on the basis that it’s a major threat to education he now says its working for some schools, he won’t get rid of it but make it optional and then says he’s going to require schools to have “report cards”.

    Comment by NeilM — September 10, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

  10. “our education system is basically fine” if you sweep the 20% illiteracy level under the carpet”

    Sources please? It seems to me you have swallowed (or are a mouthpiece for) the mantra our Minister lies to recite. Yes, we do have a tail of underachievement that corresponds closely with social deprivation, but even she doesn’t label those kids illiterate. In 30 years as a teacher in a number of schools of varying decile rankings, with friends and colleagues in many others, I am not aware of ANY school with such severe problems. It sure as hell isn’t a national issue (note small “n”)

    Comment by Neil — September 10, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

  11. Woops! Lies = likes. Freudian, perhaps.

    Comment by Neil — September 10, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

  12. Excuse me there is a always a “bottom” percentage when measuring statistics. there is always a”top” percentage when measuring statistics. That way we can find means and medians..

    Statistical measurements are just that.

    It is only economists (sigh), epidemiologists (double sigh) and meddling politicians (groan) who attach meaningful direction to statistics. Just ask any statistician.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — September 10, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

  13. Neil, are you serious?

    You ask me to reference sources then you rock up with anecdotal bullshit ;like this “In 30 years as a teacher in a number of schools of varying decile rankings, with friends and colleagues in many others, I am not aware of ANY school with such severe problems”.

    Riiight on.

    Comment by Tim — September 10, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

  14. The lack of national standards means anecdote is all we’ve got. 🙂

    Comment by insider — September 10, 2012 @ 9:33 pm

  15. If only we had some standard children to test the standards with

    Comment by nommopilot — September 10, 2012 @ 9:38 pm

  16. Forgive me Tim. Here I was thinking that I had called bullshit on your spurious and totally unsupported claim that 20% of NZers are illiterate. I didn’t realise that if you say there’s a problem, it’s up to me to prove there isn’t.

    You don’t by any chance work for Paula Bennett, do you?

    Comment by Neil — September 10, 2012 @ 10:01 pm

  17. If Shearer isn’t really all that against national standards his next speech on asset sales might be interesting.

    That’s the problem with raising the stakes so high. They’ve done this quite a few times but the gst on fruit and veges stands out.

    At the time Labour argued with much seeming intensity and conviction that if one didn’t oppose gst on fruit and veges then one was Against The Children. But after the election there was just a collective meh from them SMS that policy was dumped. So much for the children.

    All the huffing and puffing over national standards has gone the same way.

    Mining? Asset sales? Who knows.

    Comment by NeilM — September 11, 2012 @ 4:35 am

  18. “You don’t by any chance work for Paula Bennett, do you?”

    Very close to the mark I suspect Neil.

    Comment by Judge Holden — September 11, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

  19. Nah, he works for Judith Collins

    Comment by Dan — September 11, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

  20. And both of you are my bitches. Bless.

    Comment by Tim — September 11, 2012 @ 8:36 pm

  21. *sigh* do we REALLY need yet another hubristic court jester of the zombie facts like Tim clogging up teh internetz?

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 11, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

  22. BTW I have to agree with Danyl’s assessment that Labour’s announcement is smart. I shall now tell a little story. In 1950, US major general William F. Dean was captured by the North Koreans. Upon his release in 1954, he spoke little of the attempts by the North Koreans to brainwash him, beyond observing “I am now an expert on the history of the Chinese communist party”. Having had the misfortune to have had to suffer through a hour of the purgatory of listening to Danny Watson on ZB on Friday, an event I consider fully comparable to four years in the hands of devious communists determined to bend me to their will, I now consider myself an expert on the history of angry fallback callers,and not one of them could find anything to criticize Shearer over about this policy.

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 11, 2012 @ 8:56 pm

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