The Boards of 225 schools have said they will refuse to implement the achievement targets of the New National Standards next year. This is hardly a great shock. It has been quite obvious that the problem with the new standards from the teacher’s union perspective is not the standards themselves, but the achievement targets that will allow you to compare one school‘s performance against another. Note that this is not an overall figure of achievement – because some schools will always do better than others, due to many factors other than the quality of the teachers. This is a measure of improvement in achievement and is directly relatable to teacher’s performance. Clearly, this is not something that the unions would like, as it could set the stage for performance based pay for teachers.
If National Standards label children as failures, it will be their teachers, their principles and their school boards that are pinning it on them.”
That the left have managed to take control of the boards of so many schools is a tribute to the persuasive powers of left-wing principals. They have managed to package it as “standards will be a disaster for children“. The truth is much nearer “standards will be a disaster for teachers – particularly bad ones”. While I do not know enough about education to discuss the various merits and demerits of the standards, I can well believe that they will be full of serious faults when they are implemented. We are, after all, talking about government standards and no government can wheel out such a project unflawed. One only has to recall the implementation of NCEA, to see the chaos likely to ensue over the next few years.
Funny, isn’t it, how we didn’t see boards refusing to implement NCEA? It is really unlikely that the standards will be anywhere near as disruptive as NCEA, yet some boards are acting as if their children are going to be scarred for life! They need a bit of perspective, apparently.
Could it be that the main difference is that National Standards will reverse the main effect of NCEA, which was to render it all but impossible to compare schools and extremely difficult to compare individual achievements of children. It is this very socialist idea, that we must never compare one child with another, that underpins all of the teachers protests and produces typical statements such as this:
“Board chairman Simon Mitchell said the issue was not about having standards, as most schools already did, but that national standards would not help underachievers and would instead result in children who did not meet the required level being labelled failures.”
Mr. Mitchell conveniently overlooks the fact that it is supposed to be his teachers that are there to help the underachievers. All National Standards will do is help them to see how many of their kids are underachieving on a national level, rather than just at the relative level of the school. That an intelligent person fails to see how important this is, is beyond me.
Readers of this blog will know that Mrs MacDoctor and I home-schooled our children through their secondary education. Our primary motivation was to prevent our very small daughters from being bullied by other children (you know, the kind of bullying that doesn’t happen in schools). However, shortly after starting homeschool, I discovered that youngest MacDaughter knew absolutely beans about maths. This was despite years of New Zealand school reports telling me that she was coping admirably. Fortunately, I am good at Maths and am also a reasonably good teacher, so I was able to provide her with extra tuition, until she was able to cope with the home-school work by herself.
It is exactly this kind of situation that we need standards for. It is hard to image exactly how angry I would be with the school principal when my daughter suddenly became a “not achieved” at NCEA Math, after years of placatory reports. Multiply this effect by thousands of parents and you will start to appreciate why National is sticking to its guns on this one. The teachers unions and some left-wing dominated boards might not like the new standards, but I have yet to meet a parent who doesn’t (I don’t socialise with many left-wing parents, obviously).
The simple fact is that, when a child leaves school, the very first thing that will happen is that he will be in immediate competition with all of his peers, for jobs and university places. Only a complete idiot can fail to appreciate that this competition is immediately a nationwide affair. My child is going to be directly compared to your child, no matter where we live. This is the way of the world.
Underachieving children need all the help they can get. Help they will not get while teachers are allowed to be lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that all of their children are underachieving equally. If National Standards label children as failures, it will be their teachers, their principles and their school boards that are pinning it on them.
Note to parents of such children: these people are NOT your friends.