Education

David Seymour is allowed out with training wheels on

David+Seymour+ACT+Party+Conference+H-Fu08aFAynl

via Zimbio

ACT leader David Seymour has been sworn in as New Zealand’s first parliamentary under-secretary since 2005, with Prime Minister John Key signalling a ministerial post lies ahead.

He now holds the roles of parliamentary under-secretary to the minister of education and to the minister for regulatory reform.

He will also serve on the finance and expenditure select committee.

The under-secretary position means Seymour will not be subject to questions in the House. It appears he will not be subject to the Official Information Act also.

That’s the critical part.  In previous terms Banks and Dunne have been put under a huge amount of pressure as they were seen as the Achilles heels of the Teflon National Party coalition.  There is no reason to suspect Labour will not put a brutal amount of pressure on the inexperienced Seymour, and this solves that problem.   Read more »

Guest Post: The Point of Teaching

It is with growing frustration that I read press release after press release (and some reporters even pick up on it) that children cannot learn in NZ classrooms because of inequality or learning difficulties. A classic example is that of former NZEI President Judith Nowatowski:

“No matter how fantastic a teacher is, the socio-economic background of a child is by far the biggest indicator of educational success. We want every child to reach their potential, but that is difficult for children who live in transient, unhealthy homes with near-empty fridges,” she said.

While there are no doubt research correlations, and no doubt economic problems to be solved,  the very last thing any teacher should take into any classroom is a preconception that any individual child cannot succeed because….

Education is about ensuring that a child is a victim of nothing and teachers – collectively or individually giving it the … “you can’t because”… is not what they are paid for.

A key aim of teaching is to work with individuals to defy the odds. Teaching should always be 100% aspirational – never a finger pointing exercise. Teachers, parents, children and communities are all affected by negativity from those whose job it is to inspire and educate the next generation. (This was another NZEI bleat: “This government has tried to create a ‘crisis’ atmosphere in schools to justify its agenda that includes National Standards, charter schools and a competitive, business approach to education,” she said. “They’re trying to blame teachers for children not reaching their potential when poverty is the real cause.”)

It only takes one example to state why it is important for teachers/educators to never write children off – or even cite background – as a deterministic factor in why they cannot succeed. So, I have been doing some reading, and here are two extreme international examples to really fill the pot.

Wilma Glodean Rudolph was born premature and sickly on June 23, 1940, in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, the 20th of 22 children to parents Ed and Blanche Rudolph, and went on to become an African-American pioneer of track and field. But the road to victory was not an easy one for Wilma Rudolph. Stricken with polio as a child, she had problems with her left leg and had to wear a brace. It was with great determination and the help of physical therapy that she was able to overcome the disease as well as her resulting physical disabilities. She overcame her disabilities through physical therapy and hard work, and went on to become a gifted runner. Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics in 1960, at the Summer Games in Rome, and later worked as a teacher and track coach.

Read more »

Yet Another Teacher Makes Excuses

Pretend economist Peter Lyons (“if you can’t do it, teach it” archetype) gets to voice this in the increasing desperate NZ Herald.

As with others – the major thrust of left wing “educators” is their inability to be effective due to the background of their pupils (lets hope they don’t take credit for any success their students have as surely that is just “background” too).

They all seem to have forgotten that public education was set up to help students overcome problems – not to blandly accept them. Not even sure why they take an income if they regard themselves as being so currently ineffective.

Leave the job Peter – solve the country’s economic problems – then return to teaching when you can do the job.

Lyons’ first insult in this piece is to call students “raw material”.

 Star principals and teachers will advise under-performing schools how to improve their production processes. This ignores the differences in the raw material that different schools work with.

Lyons works for a school in the middle of Epsom – St Peter’s College that manages to significantly exceed the national failure rate at NCEA Level 1.

This was a school that in 2012 received no excellence endorsements at that level.   Read more »

Partnership schools working, even John Campbell has found that out

Campbell Live went to a Partnership school (Charter School) for a day to find out what is happening.

Remember that Labour has said they will abolish charter schools in the unlikely event they are elected, despite the wishes of parents and despite any evidence to suggest they are not effective. Labour simply does what the teacher unions demand.

From the outside, South Auckland Middle School looks like any other, but go back a year and you’d be hearing very different things about it.

Occupying part of the Elim buildings in Manurewa, South Auckland Middle School is one of New Zealand’s first charter schools – today Campbell Live spent the day inside to find out how it works.

Academic manager Alwyn Poole says it is actually much simpler than people have made it out to be.

“The Government has contracted with us and then funded us as a state school to provide something different for the children in this area,” says Mr Poole.

Principal Wendy Greig is a registered teacher – she says being in charge at a charter school hasn’t changed how she does her job.

“Ultimately, the school’s job is the same too,” says Ms Greig. “We are not there to compete with other schools – we have just a slightly different way of running a school”.

Inside, it looks like a regular classroom – so what’s different about this school?  Read more »

Charter Schools choice needed for Maori and lower socio-economic families

NZCER has recently released it’s National Survey on Education.

An important section talks about school choice:

School choice

Access to secondary schools starts with family choice. Many secondary schools have enrolment zones in place, to provide students with access to a local school. Single-sex schools and integrated schools draw from wider catchments. All but 9 percent of parents say the school their child attends was their first choice of school. This is much the same proportion as in 2009 and fewer than the 16 percent who said their child was not at their first choice of school in 2006. The low proportion and the trend over time both suggest that the degree of choice in the system is sufficient for the majority of families with secondary-aged students. However, Māori whānau are more likely to say their child’s school was not their first choice (14 percent), as are those attending a decile 1–2 school (18 percent). Forty percent of the 2012 parents responding chose a secondary school that was not their closest school. This is higher than the 29 percent who did so in the 2009 survey: but this difference may simply reflect the higher number of high-decile state-integrated schools in the 2012 sample. Only 13 percent of decile 1–2 school parents had chosen a school that was not their closest school, compared with 51 percent of decile 9–10 school parents.   Read more »

Charter Schools reduce risk taking behaviours

More good news from research on the effects of US Charter Schools.

A couple of key points make it clear that the only reason unions and the political Left are against these here is that it wasn’t their idea (or they don’t give a rats backside about kids).

Low-income minority adolescents enrolled in California’s high-performing public charter high schools are less likely to engage in risky health behaviors, according to a new study by the University of California – Los Angeles.

Researchers said that these adolescents also scored better on Math and English tests as compared to their peers from other schools.

The researchers conclude that public charter high schools in low-income neighborhoods can cause beneficial health effects and bridge the growing academic achievement gap between wealthy and poor students.

The finding is published in the journal Paediatrics.

Read more »

Over time Charter Schools getting better and better

In the USA Charter Schools have had time to bed in. Those that fail get closed and progress occurs in the others and the approval and evaluation systems.. The Stanford Credo studies of 2009 and 2013 showed significant growth and improvement.

A new nationwide US study produced from the University of Arkansas also paints a picture that will challenge the half-baked assertions from the NZ left/unions.’

A first-ever report released July 22 by the University of Arkansas, which ties charter school funding to achievement, finds that public charter schools are more productive than traditional public schools in all 28 states included in analyses of cost-effectiveness and return on investment.

The national report, titled “The Productivity of Public Charter Schools,” found that  deliver on average an additional 17 points in math and 16 points in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam taken by students for every $1,000 invested. These differences amount to charter schools being 40 percent more cost-effective in math and 41 percent more cost-effective in reading, compared to traditional Read more »

What dead rats will Labour have to swallow?

The Labour election year Congress was every bit what was expected.

They preached to the choir, and didn’t get around to addressing the fundamentally important question of how they are going to appeal to middle New Zealand. They even managed to get their donors on stage proudly showing that they sell access, parliamentary seats and their soul to donors.

What they didn’t get around to doing was work out what dead rats they would have to swallow before they could become government.

Before National won in 2008 they had to swallow a whole lot of dead rats, ideologically appalling policies Clark had put in place but the public liked. Working for Families and Interest Free Student Loans, two of the biggest dead rats.

This conference Labour didn’t actually get around to swallowing any dead rats.

They managed to keep their factions suppressed, so the Man Ban didn’t come up, and nor did any dumb gay issues like gay adoption that are largely irrelevant to middle New Zealand and affect barely 100 people nationwide.

What they did not do was actually swallow any dead rats.

The most obvious dead rat to swallow was teacher quality, where Labour’s donors manage to protect all teachers no matter how useless they are. Their policy on class sizes is a classic example of policy being driven by donors, not by research.    Read more »

Education: Quality vs Quantity

The Labour party has made a fundamental error with their education policy.

They have confused quality with quantity.

In their mad rush to appease the NZEI with increased teacher numbers they have failed to understand that there are literally hundreds of studies world-wide that show that reducing class sizes do almost nothing to increase the quality of outcomes.

Even Damian Christie understands this:

Studies show that by increasing the quality of the teacher, rather than some journeyman, union hack, and put them in front of the classroom, then that has much more of an impact than reducing class sizes. In Finland, the country Labour used to hold up as the example for education, they focused on quality and have a requirement that every teacher have a minimum of a Master level degree. Imagine the howls of outrage from teacher unions in NZ if a political party mandated that for teachers.

Which brings me to an email from a reader that explains what Labour have missed.

In Hi Cam,

I was an English teacher in China for a couple of years at a private school that taught classes spoken English in-house and away at local state schools. This was all prior to the 2008 Olympics.
Class sizes ranged from between 12 to 25 students in-house and averaged about 40 in the state schools.    Read more »

Adding less than one teacher per school will not reduce class sizes

Labour has said they are going to reduce class sizes by adding 2000 new teachers to the pool.

Today, I am proud to announce that Labour will reduce class sizes by employing 2,000 more teachers. This will help all our kids get a world-class education.

This policy will reduce secondary school class sizes from 26 students or more per class to just 23. Year 4-8 classes will shrink from 29 students down to 26.

Unfortunately his maths doesn’t work.

There are currently 2539 schools in New Zealand.  Read more »