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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Affirmative Action Creates Victims

I’m sure that no regular reader of my blog needs reminded that people should be treated on merit and ability, not race.

But it seems that some have not yet caught onto this idea. The results can be very ugly. The National Review covers a case where a young man was admitted to a university despite being far under the required standard for entry. The result is a young man who is failing at everything around him.

But the Times story conveys a subtler point as well: Racial preferences are not just ill advised, they are positively sadistic. Only the preening self-regard of University of California administrators and faculty is served by such an admissions travesty. Preference practitioners are willing to set their “beneficiaries” up to fail and to subject them to possible emotional distress, simply so that the preference dispensers can look out upon their “diverse” realm and know that they are morally superior to the rest of society.

Simply declaring a policy as “good” isn’t enough. It actually has to result in good, not just the feeling that those who have implemented it have done something morally superiour.

What is interesting however, is that this student was in the top of his High-School class. No doubt those same people who thought it was a good idea to put him in college also opposed setting up a charter school so that the most talented of those attending his school could meet their potential.

Getting rid of the public education system should be the goal of every politician

I find this just weird, myself.

The Green Party reshuffled its portfolios today and co-leader Metiria Turei is now in charge of speaking on education for the party.

She came out swinging saying the Government was undermining the public school system through national standards, Novopay, the Christchurch schools announcement and charter schools.

Charter schools were a “deliberate attack on the public education system” …

I consider the public education system to be a necessary evil. We consider that all children should go to school, but not all parents can afford school, or have the time or motivation for home-schooling.

So we have public schools that are paid for by the state. They provide a basic level of education, ensuring that no one misses out on the fundamentals.

It’s like the welfare system – if we can get people off welfare and into work this is a good thing.

So when someone uses words like “a deliberate attack on the public education system” I must confess that I find myself nonplussed.

Then there’s this:

and Turei said the Government should be on notice that she would seek their reintegration.

Turei had not discussed the matter with Labour.

“If a charter school is established, they need to expect that a change in Government is likely to mean a change in their status,” she said.

This is even weirder.

Charter schools are private schools paid for by the state, with certain flexibilities that other schools are not allowed. Some will be started by private companies, others by trusts or societies.

The are not public schools. They are private institutions, private property.

Now, Turei can announce that the Greens would de-fund charter schools. She’s welcome to that policy. The Green party can write whatever policy it wants. If the public approve, they will get votes. Good or bad, that’s democracy.

But the Greens can’t write their own facts. You cannot reintegrate something into something it has never been integrated into in the first place.Stating that the green party will “reintegrate” is not a factual statement.

You can confiscate it however and remove the property from it’s owner. 

This raises the question: are the Greens lying, or are they just incompetent? Actually, there’s a third option: they’re politicians who’re saying what they think will get votes regardless of any other consideration.

Charter schools would make the educational achievement of the most vulnerable children worse, she added.

Proof presented? None. Again, you don’t get your own facts. Logic suggests that with greater teacher ratios and greater flexibility, charter schools will do very well with those students currently being failed by the one-size-fits-all state education system. But Turei doesn’t seem to understand the role of that system any more than she understand’s it’s points of weakness.

The entire point of charter schools is that they have a free hand in their education model. Time will tell if a given school model will work for the students who attend. But a blanket statement that they can only make things worse is ridiculous as it assumes that our current system is near perfect.

The numbers tell us the opposite – it is the state system that is failing the vulnerable, with one in five children failing to complete an adequate education. If you’re following, that means that the state education system is failing in what should be it’s core objective.

“We make to make that really explicit to the Government and to business,” Turei said

In other words, Turei is firing a shot across the bows of “business”. Here by “business” she means any private group that dares to provide education not approved in detail by the officials of the state. (Turei, of course, believes all businesses are evil, so she uses that term because she knows her supporters agree with that self-contradictory and bizarre world-view.) She is demonstrating that she knows full well that her earlier statement was untrue, and that she intends to hurt those who disagree with her on this issue, should she gain the influence in a future government.

Charter School – results matter, the crown doesn’t

Charter schools seem to be some sort of weird obsession with the left. Witness the latest attempt.

Before the announcement was made, the Education Ministry’s documents warned the overall potential for a negative impact on students’ education from teachers who did not meet the minimum standards for the profession was high.

“Teacher registration is one the most influential levers in raising teacher quality across the profession in both state and private schools. Allowing charter schools to stand outside this work will significantly damage the credibility of the Crown.”

This is the bureaucratic equivalent of saying “this idea is a stinking pile of shit”, and a competent Minister of Education would take it seriously. Hekia Parata didn’t, and instead allowed the ACT vision of unqualified staff – which would somehow assure higher quality teaching – in order to keep her coalition partner happy. [snip]

Let me say this with all sincerity.

I don’t give a flying rats backside about the credibility of the Crown when it come to education. Mainly because they have none to start with.

I don’t care about the quality of a teacher’s paperwork. What I care about is the quality of their teaching.

Besides, what Idiot doesn’t seem to understand (as his ideology doesn’t allow him to consider the possibility) is that allowing unregistered teachers does not mean a school will hire fewer registered teachers.

I know someone who has a school and is planning to turn that school into a charter school. His plan (as I understand it) is to have (at least) the usual ratio of students per registered teachers. But he plans to have in the classroom several additional unregistered teachers, with the intent that each pupil will get significant teacher face time. That means that pupils may be able to have up to a third of the day in one-on-one tutoring with their teacher

The unregistered teachers will not be teaching rocket science. They’ll be teaching the basic reading and writing (skills almost all adults have more than mastered) under the supervision of a registered and experienced teacher.

Quite how such a formula is going to deliver worse results is beyond me. In an area where many kids fall behind in their first year, his kids will instead be delivered the sort of accelerated learning that the private school down the road does – but for those who can’t afford it.

For many of those kids, that teaching will allow them to succeed later on when/if they re-enter the state system. It’ll give them a boost, putting them at an educational advantage for their future years. Instead of languishing confused at the back of a classroom, kids will be one-on-one introduced to the joy of reading, the power of mathematics and the wonders of the world. It is not hard to see that for some, it may be the difference between a successful life and a life completely wasted by drugs, alcohol and jail.

I for one find it very difficult to defend a system that is having the results that are being dealt to kids in that community today. I know many suggest Idiot defends that system because the left want to keep their beneficiary voting base, but I suggest that it’s simply because they are blind to the failings of the current system.

The ministry staff who wrote the above do not have that excuse.

The best teachers are the best teachers

Oh, this is funny.

The government has announced the framework for its new charter – sorry, “partnership” – schools. The core details?

  • No requirement to teach the national curriculum
  • No requirement to hire trained staff
  • No requirement to pay those staff the negotiated collective rate

The upshot: deunionised schools,

Sounds good.

employing poorly-paid,

Or rather, paid what they are worth. Good staff can be paid more, bad staff less. But remember, this is a bad thing in union land.

unregistered “teachers”

People who want to teach, but haven’t had that desire beaten out of them by a mostly irrelevant 3 year degree.

to teach quack like creationism,

Hate to break it to Idiot, but there are schools today that are required to teach creationism or lose government funding. They’re called integrated Christian schools.

Also, there are these things called other countries where they have never taught the national curriculum… ever!!!!! How horrifying!!!!

all funded with taxpayer’s money, of course.

Of course. Otherwise they’d be private schools, Christian versions of which also exist. They teach creationism too.

The students of such schools will get a second-rate eduction of little relevance to the modern world, while their “sponsors” make off with fat, taxpayer-guaranteed profits.

We’ll come back to the quality question shortly.

As for the idea of a fat profit… like any business that would require the usual – keeping customers happy (i.e. actually teaching well), keeping costs down, and keeping staff happy etc etc. Screw up any of these, and your profits are gone – if in fact you were in it for the profits in the first place.

And naturally, these schools are being trialled in poor areas first.

Strangely, rich areas are already pretty well served with alternatives to the public school system, while the poor state schools are the ones who have the most trouble getting kids to read and write.

But in Idiot’s world, why identify something as a good idea when you can label it a conspiracy?

John Key and his fellow Cabinet cronies would never dream of sending their precious kids to such institutions.

Actually, I think they’d quite happily… Oh wait, Idiot has already criticised them for doing doing exactly that*.

But then, this isn’t about giving kids a good education; its about giving public money to National’s cronies, while locking in the advantages of those at the top.

Ironic that the alternative is to lock the poor kids in state schools. One assumes letting only “rich” kids have alternatives to the state education system is some sort of conspiracy to destroy the education of the upper classes.

I don’t see how that would work though.

Oh, and according to Idiot, National’s cronies are only interested in polluting, not running schools. Schools generally don’t pollute much, so I guess it’ll be other cronies, or maybe people who aren’t even cronies at all who take on the task of forcing this horrible choice of poor non-unionsed creationists on the poor but superbly well-educated kids of South Auckland and East Christchurch.

Nanaia Mahuta hits it on the head:

“You wouldn’t let an untrained doctor treat your child, or let anyone design your house. So why do John Banks and Hekia Parata think it is okay to have untrained teachers in front of children in our school’s classrooms?”

Its a fascinating question, and I’d love to see the answer to it.

I almost laughed when I saw that. It’s supposed to be a rhetorical question, one without an answer. But instead, it has a very good answer indeed. So it fails in it’s purpose. I guess it’s safe to say that Mahuta isn’t a qualified rhetorical question writer, or she’d have picked up the issue.

See, were you stuck on an Island with your family, you wouldn’t attempt surgery on your child. Of course not. You would actually design your house yourself **, though you’d be careful to stick to your limits.

But you’d education your children without the slightest hesitation! So why does Nanaia Mahuta and Idiot/Savant think that untrained teachers are somehow going to be a blight on our eduction system?

The fact is, untrained teachers already teach in this country. I know quite a few. As a rule, they do/have done a better job than either a state or even a private school would have done – sometimes vastly better. And when they find themselves doing a worse job, they send their kids back to state or private school.

That’s right, teaching is the only profession where you can get better results after you remove the professionals. Police, doctors, nurses are always better if trained in the profession. Teachers are not.

That’s not to say that teachers are worthless. Not at all. They have their place, as does teacher training. But let’s not get carried away and ignore simple reality – the best teachers are the ones that teach well and enjoy doing it, regardless of whether they have a scrap of paper that says they are qualified.
Bring on charter schools I say. They can only help.
* The only real difference between charter schools and private schools is who pays. We already allow many of the freedoms being complained about – in fact, (sigh) Idiot’s probably complained that there’s no need to introduce charter schools because of that.
** What’s with that? Does Mahuta seriously think no one designs their own house? That’s just sad.

Student Allowances

I was browing around with a vauge feeling that there was something I was going to blog on tonight.

Then I remembered – this.

Student allowances will be limited to four years of study and automatic loan repayments will be bumped up to 12 per cent of income, the Government has announced.

In a pre-Budget announcement, Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce has revealed major changes to both the student loan and allowance schemes.

Joyce says the changes will slice $250m off the loan book and create $60m to $70m per annum savings for the Government, which would be re-invested in the tertiary sector.

The changes would be:

– Compulsory student loan repayment rate increased from 10 to 12 per cent.

– Likely cancellation from March next year of National’s loan repayment incentive scheme, which offered a 10 per cent discount on voluntary repayments.

– Four year freeze on the parental income threshold for eligibility to student allowances.

– Allowances for any study over four years cancelled.

Joyce said New Zealand was an “outlier” by international standards in the way that it funded tertiary education. The Government wanted to rebalance spending away from student support and more towards “the actual tertiary space”.

“We’re going to encourage those that have completed their tertiary education to pay off their loan faster to assist those that are coming through next,” he said.

The parental income threshold for allowances had been increasing “rapidly” ahead of the rate of inflation. Freezing the threshold would bring it “back in to balance over time”.

This is very, very wrong.

Why? Because for years, the government did not adjust the thresholds. It was only a few short years ago that the student’s associations woke up and realised that for over a decade, their members were being gradually ripped off, and demanded that allowances caught up.

So for Joyce to now claim that the threshold has been “increasing rapidly”, he’s counting on people not realising that it is in fact catching up on where it should be. That’s a nasty bit of political spin.

Then on the flip side

But the real problem is the cut in student allowance entitlements, from five years to four. This means that students will no longer be able to pursue a double degree or a Masters on a student allowance (it may also mean problems for law students). Unless they have rich parents, of course. So, National is chopping rungs out of the ladder of opportunity, making it more difficult for those at the bottom to access the qualifications needed to better themselves. I guess their rich kids just can’t stand the competition.

Again, most people may not realise that student allowances were only for 5 years. Idiot gets credit for noting that this is merely a decrease of 1 year.

But after that his rant gets farcical. As I mentioned above, threasholds for allowances were eroded over the years. When the government finally stopped this, it was beacuse it was only students who had parents on the poverty line who were able to still get allowances. So anyone with a parent on an average or even slightly below average even, were unable to get allowances.

Strangely during that time, the universities were not emptied of all but a few toffs who spent their spare time talking about their Hawaiian vacations.

The reality is that most students would not even use the 4 years. Yes, this is going to affect masters students, and those who redid their first year and want to do honours. But the reality is that at honours level and above, living costs and tuition costs pale in comparison to the cost of forgoing entering the work force.

But all this means is that people will simply have to loan the money off the student loan scheme.

Which is interest free.

So “will no longer be able to pursue ” actually should read “will no longer be able to pursue without taking out an interest free loan”.

Guess that doesn’t sound quite so dramatic, does it?


The union says it, Idiot believes it, that settles it

Idiot really hates the idea of charter schools.

Destiny Church. They’ve announced plans to move their existing private school to South Auckland and re-establish it as a charter school in order to receive public funding.


No, they have not. What Idiot’s own source says:

Destiny Church could receive money from the public purse if it establishes a charter school as part of a proposed new complex in South Auckland, an education union says.

Destiny’s school will move sites. That’s a physicial move, and going to happen.

If it becomes a charter school, that’s an institutional change and is merely speculated by the teacher’s union. There’s not a single quote in the story from the church itself. It doesn’t even look like they bothered to ask for one.

In other words, pure scaremongering. I suspect that Brian Tamaki may consider the charter option, but he knows as well as anyone that such a move may result in future policy changes wiping out the entire point of his school.

This is what charter schools mean: giving taxpayer’s money to cults to peddle their wackiness, without being subject to the normal curriculum or normal educational standards.

Idiot of course assumes that the normal curriculum isn’t wackiness. I’m not entirely convinced of that myself.

Its about paying for indoctrination, rather than education. But that is no business of the education system, and not something that government money should be spent on.

Idiot better be careful, he’s committing left-wing heresy here. Using the school system for indoctrination and social engineering is a pretty solid plank of any left wing movement. I’ve heard educators on National Radio proclaiming that they consider the job of the system exactly that, and they made it explicitly clear that they did not think that was a bad thing in the slightest.

I for one sincerely hope that Idiot continues such calls!

Update: Well, I stand corrected – to some degree. Brian is making it clear that he wants government funding for many parts of the project, on the basis that his church keeps people out of jail.

He’s actually right there. One thing that Destiny has done that is good is taking a bunch of young people and gave them discipline, turning around their lives. I noted a while back that NZ First put out a press release congratulating them for that, and today the Maori Party is doing the same. But I’m getting off topic.

Thing is, Brian is about money. (Well, he’s about Brian first but money is a close second.) So he’s clearly decided in this instance that he’s more than happy to risk the beurcracy’s backlash and play the game for what he can get out. When I wrote the above, I was thinking in terms of the Christian Schools I’ve known. Seems I would do well to remember that Brian continues down the road towards founding a mind control cult, with himself in the driver’s seat.

But one thing that did not feature in the TV One story: there was no claim that they were re-founding their school as a charter school. So (to the best of my knowledge) Idiot’s claim remains completely false.

Meanwhile, in the upside down world that is teaching…

Teaching, the only profession where better results can be obtained by people who aren’t professionally trained*.

Also, apparently you can’t attract good staff if you offer to pay them more.

“If people have total control over the curriculum, that’s open to go down a path which may or may not be beneficial for everyone. And I think performance pay for teachers is another area where it would make it harder for us to attract good staff.”

 Seriously, in an article that claims there are “pitfalls” to charter schools, that’s all they can come up with.
There is something seriously wrong with the teaching profession.
Oh, almost forgot this:

“We have the best of both worlds. We are beholden to the Ministry of Education, but we get great support from the private sector.”

Odd choice of words, at best.
* Yes, this is slightly tongue in cheek. I’m referring to Homeschooling here of course. And yes, I agree it’s not for everyone.

Chicago school bans homemade lunches

Some on the left like to tell us that “Political Correctness Gone Mad” is a meaningless phrase.


Students who attend Chicago’s Little Village Academy public school get nothing but nutritional tough love during their lunch period each day. The students can either eat the cafeteria food–or go hungry. Only students with allergies are allowed to bring a homemade lunch to school, the Chicago Tribune reports.

“Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school,” principal Elsa Carmona told the paper of the years-old policy. “It’s about … the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke.”

But students said they would rather bring their own lunch to school in the time-honored tradition of the brown paper bag. “They’re afraid that we’ll all bring in greasy food instead of healthy food and it won’t be as good as what they give us at school,” student Yesenia Gutierrez told the paper. “It’s really lame.”

The story has attracted hundreds of comments so far. One commenter, who says her children attend a different Chicago public school, writes, “I can accept if they want to ban soda, but to tell me I can’t send a lunch with my child. ARE YOU KIDDING ME????”

For parents whose kids do not qualify for free or reduced price school lunches, the $2.25 daily cafeteria price can also tally more than a homemade lunch. “We don’t spend anywhere close to that on my son’s daily intake of a sandwich (lovingly cut into the shape of a Star Wars ship), Goldfish crackers and milk,” Northwestern education policy professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach told the paper in an email. She told The Lookout parents at her child’s public school would be upset if they tried to ban homemade lunches.

It’s one thing for schools to encourage good eating habits, but quite another to create a blanket ban on all food other than their own just in case it doesn’t meet their standards.

Quote of the day “I’m pretty sure you were born yesterday” edition

From the Herald.

The Chifley College student also says that Casey in fact had bullied him prior to the altercation and threw the first punch.

“He abused me first … he was like ‘get to class, you idiot’, all that sort of stuff,” Ritchard said.

I don’t know what’s worse, the bullying or the fact he’s now telling big fat porkies rather than admitting he clearly the one at fault. His claims simply don’t fit with the video, but they certainly fit the theory that he is a little weasel who thinks he can get away with anything he likes.

I actually knew a guy who did a similar thing once, with similar results. Fact is, even the worst bully tends not to pick on a guy who’s proven he can literally throw you across the room.

It’d be nice if teachers actually dealt with bullying, but they don’t. Hence we end up with situations like this. Luckily this one turned out ok, other have not.

Student Idiots

After the earthquake, we had a fantastic response by the Student Volunteer Army.

Meanwhile in Dunedin, the students are making sure that that young people retain their irresponsible reputation.

“Earlier on Saturday night, the fires were mostly couches related to parties. But later on, at 4 or 5 on Sunday morning, they seemed to be more malicious.

“It looked like people were coming home from a night out, setting fire to something lying on the street, and then going to bed.

“If the wind gets up and blows the embers under a roof, they could set fire to flats. And if they don’t have working smoke alarms …”

Acting Sergeant Chris MacAulay and two of his colleagues found themselves helping out the fire service when they noticed a banner hung in front of one of the Hyde St flats during the annual street party on fire about 8.30pm on Saturday.

“The flames climbed up the banner and reached an open top floor window and set the curtains on fire,” he said.

Realising the fire service had no chance of getting through the crowd, the trio ran into the house and beat the fire out.

However, their actions were not appreciated by one of the residents of the flat, who confronted them, demanding to know why they were there.

“He was really drunk. I doubt he’ll remember it and I doubt the occupants of the flat will have any idea what happened to their curtains,” Acting Sgt MacAulay said.

The “stupidity” of the person who set the banner on fire appalled Acting Sgt MacAulay.

“In my opinion, it shows a very low level of intelligence and the perpetrator had a reckless disregard for the safety of others.

I filled up in North Dunedin that afternoon. There were students everywhere, in some very creative costumes but clearly many were very drunk and behaving quite badly.

Perhaps we need interest free student loans conditional on good behaviour and community service? There is certainly a culture of entitlement that did not exist a few years ago.

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