The Dim-Post

January 23, 2014

Skinnnerrrr!

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:01 am

Via the Herald:

Prime Minister John Key is today expected to unveil a plan that will allow the boards of some poorly performing schools to hire high performing principals with big pay incentives.

Dubbed “change principals”, the policy is bedded in the belief that the leadership in school can have a big impact on the quality of teaching and the quality of achievement.

It’s all part of National’s dream to model our schools – among the best performing in the developed world, or at least they were until National started ‘fixing them’ and we shot down the PISA rankings – on our business sector, among the worst performing in the developed world.

National’s true-believers will love this. Incentives! Leadership! Our schools will be awesome just like our city councils are now that they’re managed by lavishly paid CEOs!

Will ‘ordinary voters’ like it? My first thought is that we’ll be paying a bunch of well-dressed clowns with silver hair and nice teeth half a million dollars a year to run around their schools telling their teachers to ‘use synergy’ and ‘do more with less’ before giving them massive payouts when they bankrupt their schools and get sacked. People care about their kid’s schools – sometimes too much, and it’s an anxiety politicians exploit – but most people have the lived experienced that the highly remunerated CEO model is horribly flawed.

38 Comments »

  1. This was tried in 10990? with John Graham going to a sty auckland school for a year?
    He didn’t make a lot of difference and he said it was a lot harder than it looked.

    Comment by DV — January 23, 2014 @ 7:22 am

  2. oops 1990

    Comment by DV — January 23, 2014 @ 7:22 am

  3. Boring where is the satire

    Comment by bart — January 23, 2014 @ 7:50 am

  4. Key does have a corporate authoritarian’s belief in the power of the heroic model of executive leadership, where a charismatic, goal-scoring superstar who doesn’t mind carrying the team on his back, arrives to turn the ailing ship around. It seems to be his ideal governance model if can get away with it, and probably reflects the sort of guy he thinks he sees staring back at him the mirror every morning.

    However, if that is what Key really announces, for Joe public it will just reinforce the narrative that his is a government by, for and of crony capitalism, where no corner of state’s largesse will be left untapped for the right sort of “businessmen/women” to plunder our schools with stratospherically high “managers” salaries to do the same job the previous principal did for a quarter of the money.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 23, 2014 @ 7:56 am

  5. Boring where is the satire

    In the comments thread, apparently. Nice effort!

    Comment by Flashing Light — January 23, 2014 @ 8:11 am

  6. The Aurora Borealis? At this time of year? At this time of day? In this part of the country? Localized entirely within your kitchen?

    Comment by garygoodguy — January 23, 2014 @ 8:18 am

  7. And thank you for solving who Steven Joyce has been reminding me of…

    Comment by garygoodguy — January 23, 2014 @ 8:19 am

  8. What was your second thought?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 23, 2014 @ 8:20 am

  9. I’m of the view that some of these education experiments (including charter schools) are worth trying, even if just to validate their failure. Schools aren’t spending existing budget to get these Principals, so why not try?

    Also …thank you for solving who Steven Joyce has been reminding me of – THIS.

    Comment by Auto_Immune — January 23, 2014 @ 8:56 am

  10. So, the Govt proposes to pay good teachers more money to teach in schools with the highest need. The Horror! What will they think of next?

    Comment by Tinakori — January 23, 2014 @ 9:00 am

  11. “..The Horror! What will they think of next..?”

    Who knows? Maybe they’ll fund the initiative by slashing the massive subsidies they give to all the elite private schools they send THEIR kids? The Horror!

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 23, 2014 @ 9:03 am

  12. Tinakori, did you even read the article? They’re proposing to overpay managers to do a job that people are doing already with no good reason.

    Comment by Chris Bull — January 23, 2014 @ 9:05 am

  13. Chris, did you even read the article? They’re proposing to overpay other principals to do a job that no one is currently doing in schools with vacancies.

    Comment by Phil — January 23, 2014 @ 9:45 am

  14. So, the Govt proposes to pay good teachers more money to teach in schools with the highest need. The Horror! What will they think of next?

    The government is not proposing to pay principals anything.

    Do people think BOTs will recruit principals on ~$500K?

    Comment by Nick K — January 23, 2014 @ 10:08 am

  15. Worried about subsidies to private schools, Sanc?

    What happened to the whole “putting the fight against neo-liberalism on hold” thingy?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 23, 2014 @ 10:11 am

  16. A war has many fronts.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 23, 2014 @ 10:12 am

  17. This is an idea dreamed up by Blair’s Labour Govt in the late 1990s, and revived by the Tory/Lib Dems recently. From the UK experience, it would appear that any version that relies simply on parachuting in an individual to (re)work her or his magic in a new setting won’t really work (http://www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorrison/2013/11/15/the-power-of-one-how-superheads-can-fix-our-schools/):

    Sir David Carter, who has led the federation from the start, would seem to be a prime candidate to be a superhead [“change principal”], but he says his experience of school improvement has taught him the danger of relying too much on one person.

    “I have seen too many examples of heads who have gone into a school and done a really effective job, but as soon as they leave it all falls apart,” he says.

    This suggests a different kind of superhead model. Rather than single-handedly pulling a school up by its bootstraps, the superhead sets out the school’s values and aspirations and then hires people to turn that into results in the classroom. While much of the operational stuff is delivered by the team, there is still a transformational individual at the core.

    Allowing this to happen in the NZ setting would seem to require more than just letting Boards of Trustees pay a principal more – it would mean letting the “change principal” fire and hire the people she or he thinks are needed to do the job. And, as the UK also shows, giving a “super-head” this sort of autonomous power carries its own risks (http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9093071/super-heads-will-roll/):

    The problem seems to be that, as super-heads, they faced temptations to which they had the freedom to succumb. They had generous budgets which were essentially theirs to spend; they could recruit, tender for services and make vital decisions with scant oversight; their exalted status allowed them to railroad things through.

    Indeed, the very qualities that made them good, even excellent, teachers and leaders — strength of character, concern for those in their care, an inclination to didacticism — may have given them an unrealistic sense of what was not just possible, but ethical and legal.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — January 23, 2014 @ 11:05 am

  18. Whoa, my mistake. Let me rephrase that. So, the Govt proposes to pay good principals more money to lead schools with the greatest needs. The Horror!. What will those evil bastards think of next, paying good teachers more money to teach in the schools with the highest needs? This is exactly the sort of case the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague was set up to consider. As Sanctuary says, a war has many fronts.

    Comment by Tinakori — January 23, 2014 @ 11:09 am

  19. So, the Govt proposes to pay good teachers more money to teach in schools with the highest need. The Horror! What will they think of next?

    I have already explained that the government is not paying principals anything.

    Comment by Nick K — January 23, 2014 @ 11:41 am

  20. Rather than single-handedly pulling a school up by its bootstraps, the superhead sets out the school’s values and aspirations and then hires people to turn that into results in the classroom. While much of the operational stuff is delivered by the team, there is still a transformational individual at the core.

    Pretty much verbatim corporate transformation ethos from Collins’ “Good to Great”.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 23, 2014 @ 11:41 am

  21. It’s a Key/Joyce announcement, so it has nothing to do with education.

    The classic play is to get a response from the Angries, thus making the government seem oh-so-reasonable by comparison. On other issues it would be Sue Bradford or Greenpeace – here it’s the teachers’ unions.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — January 23, 2014 @ 12:19 pm

  22. “…Pretty much verbatim corporate transformation ethos from Collins’ “Good to Great”…”

    Ah! Lightbulb! CORPORATE change and governance models for our schools. Boy, I sure am glad that it is only thing John Key knows, because he clearly loves it so much.

    The government appoints a carefully selected crony super principle from some posh school, who “investigates” before telling the government what it wants to hear about the new school, and then he institutes a “transformative” program, after which he or she buggers of to the next trouble spot, leaving behind a wasteland of slogans, shell-shocked and fatalistic survivors, a gutted institutional memory and a bloated HR department.

    As Danyl said, it is going to model our school along the lines of our business sector.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 23, 2014 @ 12:22 pm

  23. “Ah! Lightbulb! CORPORATE change and governance models for our schools” – yep. all fits into the G.E.R.M playbook for privatising education at the same time

    lets just cal it “strategic disaster education”

    Comment by framu — January 23, 2014 @ 12:38 pm

  24. Interesting how the actual announcement of good principals and teachers getting a bit more cash to act as mentors for a range of nearby schools is almost exactly unlike DMC’s first thoughts of a “bunch of well-dressed clowns with silver hair and nice teeth [paid] half a million dollars a year…”. But who cares about facts when there is a neolib conspiracy to continuously uncover.

    More prosaically, I wonder if anyone has considered how these new pay bands are going to wreak havoc with Novapay…

    Comment by insider — January 23, 2014 @ 12:48 pm

  25. Headline in capitalist running dog publication, Stuff : “Cash for top teachers” followed by comment from union “cautiously optimistic”. Is there nothing this govt will stop at?

    Comment by Tinakori — January 23, 2014 @ 1:37 pm

  26. Blimey, Tinakori, are you saying that an election bribe in election year could actually work? Why hasn’t anybody tried that before?

    Drop the disingenuous act, Key’s been leader for 7 years, Joyce has been strategist for even longer, have you really not worked them out? But of course you have.

    If this had anything to do with a commitment to education, Parata wouldn’t be left in charge of it. Get back to us when she’s gone.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — January 23, 2014 @ 3:14 pm

  27. “Will ‘ordinary voters’ like it?”

    Just remember ladies 800,000 people didn’t give a shit last time. That will be 1,000,000 this time. Thats one million people who will think the Labour vs National is a irrelvent circle jerk. Guess what they are right. Note well ladies NZ biggest constituency cant identify any meaningful difference between “National’s true-believers ” and you so called egalitrian leftists.

    Mocking National but intending to vote Labour green is a form of self abuse. The self denial is stunning.

    “A war has many fronts” Christ what a moron.

    Comment by Simon — January 23, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

  28. > Mocking National but intending to vote Labour green is a form of self abuse

    Whereas mocking Labour but intending to vote National is merely evidence of a mental health problem?

    Comment by Ross — January 23, 2014 @ 5:41 pm

  29. It reminds me a bit of what happened under the Clark govt with Lester Levy.

    But how many Lester Levys are there out there and how of those are principals.

    I’m not necessarily against the idea, it may have some benefit, but I still think the biggest improvement in education would come from making teaching a more attractive profession.

    Interesting to hear a principal on NatRad say its a big move away from the competative school model set up by the Lange govt to a more co-operative approach between schools.

    Comment by NeilM — January 23, 2014 @ 6:31 pm

  30. “Will ‘ordinary voters’ like it?” Well it seems everyone including the unions and Cunliffe like it.

    Oh except the Greens, but there pained and bitter reaction could be due more to the oil rig Cunliffe shoved up Norman’s arse yesterday.

    Comment by Grant — January 23, 2014 @ 7:19 pm

  31. So no well paid clowns on half a million in the actual policy and the PPTA is cautiously optimistic. With stuff like this how are we to reinforce our prejudices about how evil National is during election year? Next thing you know a Labour politician will imply that kids not getting breakfast has something to do with their parents.

    Comment by Richard — January 23, 2014 @ 8:29 pm

  32. @ Neilm – Lange? Competitive model? The unions have been criticising charter schools because it goes against the collaborative model. Don’t you realise that school zones mean never having to say you’re sorry?

    That said, a teacher close to me asked whether parents would be pleased to share their good teachers with a school down the road if they perceived their own kids’ education may suffer. Job sharing could solve this.

    Comment by insider — January 23, 2014 @ 9:31 pm

  33. There are a couple of things at play here.

    Education is an important electoral area where Labour consistently holds an edge over National. This is about neutralising that, and pushing things past Hekia Parata. importantly, they’ve chosen to do something that is hard for Labour to attack directly – paying (some) teachers more. Teachers are a respected profession and hard to attack, and an attack on the policy can be played that way. Never mind that it’s only a small part of the education budget, it’s worth it to help win an election. Cunliffe has done the smart thing strategically by downplaying it.

    The second is that the education budget is close to ten billion dollars and is funded and managed in a way that is anathema to the National Party. That this hasn’t happened is testament to a strong teachers union and an unwillingness to expend political capital on this fight. This is performance pay by stealth, but it’s a slow and weak way of applying the lever. If we had a FPP government, the government of the day would have gone in and put things in irreversibly. Currently, they only have a narrow margin of support, and can’t frighten capricious voters.

    Comment by George D — January 23, 2014 @ 9:40 pm

  34. There is significant research which shows that putting an expert in to lead and direct change simply doesn’t work. A collaborative team approach will get results. To depend on a guru is a recipe for collapse.

    Comment by xianmac — January 23, 2014 @ 10:10 pm

  35. @DV: “This was tried in 10990? with John Graham going to a sty auckland school for a year?
    He didn’t make a lot of difference and he said it was a lot harder than it looked.”

    You’re dead right about this. Happened with a lot of fanfare, as I recall, though his eventual admission that he couldn’t bring about the transformation he’d promised was a lot more low-key. It was no surprise to those who’ve worked in such schools: the problems children bring with them are so complex – and frequently intractable – it’s astonishing that teachers achieve as much as they do with their pupils.

    Given that the factors contributing to the tail of underachievement – and “failing” schools – originate outside the school gates, in virtue of what would anyone think that the solution is to be found inside the school?

    @ Andrew Geddis: “Indeed, the very qualities that made them good, even excellent, teachers and leaders — strength of character, concern for those in their care, an inclination to didacticism — may have given them an unrealistic sense of what was not just possible, but ethical and legal.”

    That will happen here; it’s almost inevitable, unless the school BoT rides shotgun on these people. And I can’t see that happening. This is the government’s pet project, and the Minister of Education won’t allow a bunch of pesky parents to be so uppity as to question the methods of one of their star principals. I don’t doubt that people will go into these positions with the best of intentions, but it’s likely that ethical and even legal boundaries will be pushed when they realise that transformation is far harder than they’d thought it would be, yet they must regularly report on progress. Or in some cases, they come to believe their own publicity, and see themselves as entitled to act any way they choose, provided it brings results.

    Comment by D'Esterre — January 23, 2014 @ 11:26 pm

  36. If you really want change in our education system, how about changing the closeted lesbian atmosphere amongst bullying insecure female teachers that would never be employed in the private sector because of their sheer incompetence?

    Comment by Daniel Lang — January 25, 2014 @ 11:04 am

  37. Because that is what is causing the long tail.

    Evil dykes.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 25, 2014 @ 1:23 pm

  38. Precisely. It’s been a dominant scourge in our education system for over twenty years.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — January 25, 2014 @ 2:25 pm


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