Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Moving from frustration to disgust

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  • Kumara Republic, in reply to tim kong,

    Much to consider on this issue, not least the over-arching question that is: "What problem is it exactly that all of this government's education policies are trying to fix?"

    The problem is not enough socialism for the rich, and not enough free market for the poor.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5443 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah, in reply to Yamis,

    I've had that experience in university teaching too: a year where I have a seriously good class, and then a year in which the students are fine, but somehow just not firing along in the way that the previous class did. Sometimes it seems to be just a matter of having three or four talkative and informed people in the class who inspire everyone else.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Yamis,

    yet there's this idea that things are broken

    Which did not happen by itself. Journalists could ask more about that.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    The problem is not enough socialism for the rich, and not enough free market for the poor.

    One can call it many things though socialism is not one - there is a need to make a comprehensive list - welfare, income tax reform, corporate welfare, hand outs - kindly add more.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Whoops,

    Ok - my 2 cents... for whatever it's worth.

    We've a 4 year old son who'll start school early next year.

    We live in zone for a d1 school. We have visited that school and felt it wouldn't give the education we want for our son.

    We have visited 4 other nearby schools (d9 and d10), and are now in the process of selling to move ~ 1km into the zone for the school we feel is best for out son (and daughter who'll follow in 2 more years). No out-of-zone enrollments in any of them for many years. Each school had a very different feel, mostly (from what we could tell) to do with the Principal - not the facilities.

    "Meanwhile the angst over pakeha parents fleeing to high decile schools continues..." Perhaps. If some want to categorise our move as white flight that's up to them. My response would be 'fuck off'. We have lived in current area for 12+ years, so no irrational fear of brown skin here. We will choose what is best for our children. Simple. As. That.

    I'm not in the least bit interested in National Standards tables (friends who are teachers have explained the gaming that's going on), and the decile ranking is likewise irrelevant.

    We had the luxury AND took it seriously enough to compare and contrast 5 nearby schools and have chosen the one that we feel will give our kids the best chance of developing a love for learning, enjoying a real child-hood, making life long friends and becoming strong citizens.

    We'll be fine, so don't worry about us.

    </smug bastard>
    ...

    My immediate neighbours - Cook Island grandparents + 9 others (3 primary school kids) in a 3 bed state house don't have that luxury. The nearby d1 school has loads of luverly IT equipment, which I guess must be fun for the IT support people and for the teachers. The kids (5, 6, and 8) are well behaved and friendly, but hungry, barefoot and borderline illiterate (even the 8 year old).

    So fuck you, every politician over the years (from which ever party) who's done nothing about our very real long tail.

    </rant>

    here • Since Apr 2007 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Whoops,

    So fuck you, every politician over the years (from which ever party) who's done nothing about our very real long tail.

    Sadly, to actually do something about it and getting results will likely get shot down as 'PC gone mad' - Closing the Gaps was a case in point. Anti-PC, it seems, is the new Two Minutes Hate and Thoughtcrime.

    It's far sexier and populistic to attack the symptom with a Minto bar or a razor wire.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5443 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Yamis,

    On primary schools though, I'd hate for people to be looking at any stats from small sample groups (relatively speaking) and drawing immediate assumptions.

    They should almost come with a "margin of error +/- 1,000,000%".

    This was very well illustrated in New York's recent release of teacher rankings. One teacher - who was highly regarded by both her peers and the school community - ended up being labelled "New York's worst teacher" by tabloids due to a cascade of factors that entirely divorced her standards-based ranking from any actual evaluation of her teaching skills.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Whoops,

    We don't do white flight, in Mangere. It's solely brown flight FTR. :)

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I would also add that with league tables - and Martin Thrupp is completely right - the children who most need to be there, will be excluded when schools compete for the "best" students. Which means that parents not only lose the choice of where their child goes to school, but also the schools themselves lose out. Some primary schools already exclude disabled children - there are ways around the laws - but this will just make it so much worse.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Glenn Pearce,

    Your experience is somewhat out of date now though, those schools you mention with the addition of Pt Chev to the list have enrolment zones with very, very few out of zone enrolments.

    I stand corrected. Our old house would have been just out of the current zone for Westmere and Richmond Road.

    Otoh, there are three primary schools within walking distance of where we are now in Pt Chev. (Not, I hasten to add, that we have any plans to use them.)

    It isn't particularly unusual for parents to have a choice of local schools -- see Whoops' comment above about having a choice of five -- and indeed, that's the only reason we're having this debate.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    Some primary schools already exclude disabled children – there are ways around the laws – but this will just make it so much worse.

    Yes, absolutely. It's hard enough anyway getting your disabled child the education to which they're entitled. The pressure of league tables would make it much, much worse. There's not even any question about it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    Bright flight, then?

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Russell Brown,

    TKI has a very useful school-zone-and-info map, (according to which, Russell, you'd now only be in zone for the one very local public school, although with a nearby Catholic school as another option).

    It's a great resource -- I spent many an hour flipping back and forth between TradeMe, plugging in addresses, to figure out which corners of Auckland are equi-walking-distant from a public primary, intermediate, and secondary school (the location trifecta for a family keen to avoid using a car where possible!).

    You can search by school name or by street address. It shows which schools have zones and where they extend to, includes decile info, for better or for worse, and links directly to ERO reports for each school and in many cases the school's own website as well.

    With that, and some strategic visits to the school, and the usual info-gathering consulting of local people in the same boat, parents have quite a lot of data at their fingertips already. Funny that the government wants to preempt all that with a single datum (ranking) which would eclipse all else. So much for doing it "by the numbers."

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Jolisa,

    TKI has a very useful school-zone-and-info map, (according to which, Russell, you’d now only be in zone for the one very local public school, although with a nearby Catholic school as another option).

    Well that settles it, then. We're not having any more kids.

    Funny that the government wants to preempt all that with a single datum (ranking) which would eclipse all else. So much for doing it “by the numbers.”

    Quite.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Not sure I agree Russell, read Whoop's comment again, he/she had to move. The 4 nearby schools mentioned had no out of zone enrolments. I doubt very much the zones of those 4 schools overlapped.

    The current experience in the inner west schools is not isolated either, I know the same issues exist out west in Titrangi/Green Bay/Glen Eden and I understand Te Atatu has similar issues emerging.

    If you exclude faith based schools from your list of options because of your beliefs (or lack thereof) your choices are further limited as well.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 504 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Jolisa,

    That is neat! I have just spent a few minutes waffling around with it (although out here in virtual-Tasmania our options are pretty limited anyway).

    ETA And by pretty limited I mean one primary school (luckily it's a good one), and it looks like only two non-religious high schools? One of which is single sex, which I don't really believe in...

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Quoted at the top of teacher Tim Kong’s excellent blog post on league tables and standards. It’s from a PISA report published by the OECD:

    Most successful school systems grant greater autonomy to individual schools to design curricula and establish assessment policies, but these school systems do not necessarily allow schools to compete for enrolment.

    • In countries where schools have greater autonomy over what is taught and how students are assessed, students tend to perform better.

    • Within countries where schools are held to account for their results through posting achievement data publicly, schools that enjoy greater autonomy in resource allocation tend to do better than those with less autonomy. however, in countries where there are no such accountability arrangements, the reverse is true.

    • Countries that create a more competitive environment in which many schools compete for students do not systematically produce better results.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Glenn Pearce,

    The current experience in the inner west schools is not isolated either, I know the same issues exist out west in Titrangi/Green Bay/Glen Eden and I understand Te Atatu has similar issues emerging.

    So what's the solution? When National scrapped zoning the result was chaos. Build more schools?

    I think where we can all agree is that every child should be able to go to their local school and that school should be a good one.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Absolutely, don't get me wrong I think the zoning system combined with the decile funding approach is fair. I can't think of a better approach anyway.

    The downside of the zoning system is you can't get in if you're out of zone, the upside is the school must accept your children if they're in zone.

    It's just I disagree with your view that people have a choice from a selection of schools, except of course by moving home.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 504 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It isn’t particularly unusual for parents to have a choice of local schools – see Whoops’ comment above about having a choice of five – and indeed, that’s the only reason we’re having this debate.

    I don't know and I'd be happy to see data to the contrary, but my feeling is that most families in NZ have much less choice than you describe. It's only in the big cities that schools are close enough for families to be in range of more than one. Even then factors such as transport options limit the choice even further. As for moving house that really is only an option for a few.

    I don't begrudge that some families have choices what I am angry about is that for those with limited choices this government seems happy to allow their local school to be labelled by some muddle headed league table and then screwed over when those that do have a choice abandon the school.

    Frankly I'm upset by losing our assets but we'll survive that - if we lose our education system we lose our future.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Scott Chris, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    What problem is it exactly that all of this government’s education policies are trying to fix?

    The problem is not enough socialism for the rich, and not enough free market for the poor.

    I don’t agree. You can’t efficiently identify and assist under-performing students if you can’t measure them objectively. And the most obvious flaw in your rhetorical assertion is that it is not in the ‘rich’ sector’s interests to to incite revolution but it is in their interests to educate and enrich the poor so they’ll ultimately buy more of the rich’s goods and services without having to resort to unsustainable indebtedness.

    Ultimately both sides of the political divide want what’s best for the overall betterment of society in spite of all the hot air. They simply have different ideas as how to best attain that goal.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2012 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Let us sell your assets or your education gets it, mmmkay?

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Scott Chris,

    I don’t agree. You can’t efficiently identify and assist under-performing students if you can’t measure them objectively.

    I honestly don't think you understand how national standards work in practice.

    Our older boy had a reading deficit identified and received Reading Recovery support at primary school. Of course schools track the performance of pupils and respond to problems.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I don’t know and I’d be happy to see data to the contrary, but my feeling is that most families in NZ have much less choice than you describe. It’s only in the big cities that schools are close enough for families to be in range of more than one.

    Nearly three quarters of New Zealanders live in “main urban areas”. And if you live in Greymouth, you have three state primary schools to choose from. If that's what you want.

    I honestly don’t have any truck with the competitive school model – it’s a dangerous and destructive fantasy. But school choice is a reality. A friend of mine teaches at a Wellington school that has a good rep for teaching disabled kids – who are sometimes enrolled from miles away. Their parents aren’t wealthy – they’re largely sacrificing their time to make it happen.

    The real problem there is that the school is actively penalised, via the special education funding structure, for its achievement.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The real problem there is that the school is actively penalised, via the special education funding structure, for its achievement.

    Yet no government has fixed that unfair bulk funding system. Why not?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

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