Armstrong a bit wonky on Education history

NZ Herald

John Armstrong has a piece in the Herald this morning about Education and various ministers and spokes-people and their effectioveness. He passes comment on Anne Tolley in a way that I think shows he really isn’t on his game at the moment:

It now looks like her elevation to the front bench may have come too early. She was in the Cabinet for barely a year in very junior portfolios before her promotion to this role.

Little wonder she is struggling in a portfolio which has severely tested politicians of the calibre of Nick Smith, Trevor Mallard and Phil Goff in his younger days. Her poor showing has left her a passenger in the portfolio – as was the case with her predecessor, Anne Tolley.

The puzzle is why Key did not hand the portfolio to a more experienced MP from the start.

I’m not sure it is fair to call Anne Tolley a passenger.

She said she would implement National Standards. She refused to back down to shrieking unions, kept the parents on side, and delivered.

Anne Tolley said she would cut the bloated ECE sector. Said she would do it, refused to back down to shrieking unions, delivered and saved the country hundreds of millions of dollars.

Said she would take on the unions over unreasonable pay demands. Refused to back down, kept parents on side, delivered and saved the country hundreds of millions of dollars.

Passenger? She was in the driving seat.

But she handed over the keys to a learner driver who promptly rolled the car and wrote it off.


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  • Le Sphincter

    Now Tolley  as Minister of Police wants to try to introduce performance pay for police , dropped under Broad.

    Good luck with cutting the average cops pay 

    • Sphincterisacock

      No she doesn’t, it is the police hq that want that. Get your facts right arsehole.

      • Le Sphincter

        Thats because she  wants  to cut costs. Hardlly likely she will oppose such a move.
        Any way thats how it works, she asks for x amount of  expense reduction and the HQ has to come up with the reasons,  and then she APPROVES IT.

  • Johnbronkhorst

    and yet arsehole, this govt. and ALL it’s members are infinitely better than, more qualified, compitant and ……H O N E S T!!! Than ANY labour MP for 15 years.

    • Le Sphincter

      Worth, Wong, Smith etc  were sacked for what ?

  • Patrick

    Would Hekia’s elevation have anything to do with her ethnic background?

    Affirmative racial policies have a habit of coming back to haunt even the most well intentioned of supporters

    • Phronesis

      Whether it does or not you have identified the problem with “affirmative action”. Everyone wonders if maybe you’re there because of the colour of your skin, especially when you stuff up.

  • Michael

    I was always puzzled by the description in the media of Tolley as being the Governments worst performer or weakest link. I think this was an oft-repeated lie of Trevor Mallard that the media decided it heard often enough that it must be true. More likely it was the number of teachers in the Labour caucus actually caring about the policy rather than the half interested way they deal with other laws – after all, how many times did Labour MPs get pinged for breaking the Electoral Finance Act!
    Tolley did only just win the battle on National Standards, but she had to deal with many preconceptions from the American media where Standards mean all children sit tests and are graded. The Unions and Labour gleefully reinforced the misconception as often as possible.When you compare the National Standards debate against the Kate Wilkinson/90 Day law protests (which you think would be the most opposed policy of National) Tolley had a far rougher ride – but she won!

    • Le Sphincter

      And why did Key demote  Tolley
      Shes now lower down the Cabinet ranking than newbie Parata and just below Le Poseur McCully

      Its a great sign the faithfull Nats are delusional

  • Immediate

    Real contradictions in that piece. Armstrong goes on to say that National gained kudos from National Standards and that “National had played a clever game of divide-and-rule in the education sector”. Tolley did that, as WO has pointed out on a few occasions.

  • fecnde

    ‘Praise from enemies is suspicious; it cannot flatter
    an honorable man unless it is given after the cessation
    of hostilities.’ Napolean

    Tolley can relax knowing she’s doing good. Hekia however …

  • Troy

    Hardly an article goes by where John Armstrong doesn’t get his facts right and he makes lots of ridiculous assertions.  OK, it’s an opinion piece, but the guy is losing his touch big time.

  • thor42

    I always had doubts about how good Tolley was. However, when she is put alongside Parata, she looks like George “blood and guts” Patton. 
    Parata is just pathetic. She will now be a complete lame duck for the rest of National’s term. I always thought that the Nats should have put Crusher Collins into the education portfolio, and it looks like I was correct. Parata is the Bill Rowling of the Nats, and if that’s not an insult, nothing is.  

  • AngryTory

    How much difference did Nat’l Standards actually make in the end?  Zero!
    Sanctions against the two-hundred-plus schools boycotting the standards? Zero.
    Real cuts to ECE sector? Minuscule! (and of course ECE isn’t NZEI or PPTA)
    Real pay cuts? Teachers got 2.75% and a $300 sweetheart cheque – signed Anne Tolley!

    Tolley had one job to do – to break the teacher unions. She failed.  Only a head-on legislative assault will do the trick – and it’s now more urgent than ever.

    This is in an environment where countries like Greece, Spain & Ireland, countries broadly comparable with NZ – cut civil service salaries across the board by 20% – and in Spain, pensions by 40-50%. 

    Anyone here prepared to argue NZ doesn’t need cuts at least as severe?   Didn’t think so!

    • MichaelC

      Armstrong is one of the reasons I no longer buy the Herald. His views are those of the last backbencher he has spoken to.

      The Herald would be much better off running their Parliamentary coverage out of Auckland. That way you avoid over-inflated egos thinking they are part of the political process and that readers actually give a rotund rodent’s rectum about their opinion..

      • Gazzaw

        I agree Michael. There seems to be very little middle ground at the Herald any more. Senior journos like Armstrong, Rudman, Roughan & Young are all too happy to toe the editorial line – all they want to do is cross the finishing line with their super intact. Fran O’Sullivan is the one exception, I don’t agree with everything she says but she generally gets it on the button. At the other end of the scale they have the young graduate churnalists, paid a pittance and write accordingly.

    • Gazzaw

      You’re getting soft AT. Earlier this week you wanted civil servants pay cut by 50% and pensions by 66%. You’re not turning socialist are you?

      • AngryTory

        Damn. Obviously am.

    • Mediaan

      Far too sweeping.

      National Standards were, as I understand it, to ensure parents got data on how well their kids were progressing in school subjects. Ministers could visit a school and know to he last detail how recently the school was painted, and how many boys’ and girls’ toilets the school had

      It’s a work in progress, but it seems to be coming along well.

      As far as I can see many of the teachers are being bloody-minded to the maximum extent, to subvert it, but one kind of expected that.

  • Mediaan


    …know how many toilets the school had, but nobody could tell them or parents how many kids could read at age-appropriate level.

    If you are eight, you should be reading at an eight year old level. It is SIMPLE. It can be assessed in ten minutes per child, plus five minutes recording data, plus five minutes fetching the next child and settling them down. I could go into a school and assess 15 children Monday, 15more Tuesday…

    These measures have been established, age levels, how to measure them, which reading book is which level, for at least 50 years, probably more.

  • Mediaan

    … Continued

    If a class has more than ten per cent not achieving at age level, there is a problem, you work on it. There are allowances for extra teachers in some cases; specialists quite often who coach individual kids.

    I make it sound simple? It is simple.

    Anne Tolley seemed to understand the principles of teaching, and she performed well in her role of implementing cabinet-determined policy. Well done, Anne Tolley.

    • Le Sphincter

      Silly twat ,  she was stripped of her responsibility early on for tertiary education as she hadnt a clue.
      Irrational standards was  developed by her predecessor before they became government.Shes done SWA. The education policy was released ONE day before the last election.They should have been  singing NS  from the rooftopsIm sure the message was ‘just send us what you have got we have run out of time’

      • Mediaan

        One day before the last election, Desperate Labour release a standards-lifting proposal…

        Of course that means, in the unlikely event that people chose them for further power, Labour could just forget it or lose it over a cliff.


        Nine years Labour in-government do nothing, then they look pious and say they are working on literacy standards-improvement. Finally they do something, anything, at the last minute, to save face.

  • Rocky

    I also thought Tolley was doing a very good job. I assumed Key changed her portfolios probably at her request to give her a break from the continual Union Confrontation that any National Minister will get.