Hard News by Russell Brown


What Hekia Parata actually said

As you probably know, on Monday Public Address's Jolisa Gracewood wrote a righteous post about a Herald on Sunday story and editorial that said the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata had revealed her government's intention to fund schools -- or withold funding -- on the basis of student performance or "progress".

Progress would be measured by some yet-unspecified analysis of NCEA and National Standards results and the new metric would come at the expense of the existing decile funding scheme, which allocates more funding to schools with a lower socio-economic catchment.

Jolisa explained -- drawing on her own experience with the US education system, which has gone down such a path -- why that would be a terrible idea. She also noted that Parata had swiftly "clarified" the issue and told Morning Report there was no such discussion and that "There is no review of funding."

After being pressed in Parliament, Parata reiterated that such claims were "simply not true" and appeared to suggest that the Herald on Sunday had misquoted her.

Who to believe?

Well, you can make up your own mind. Somewhat circuitously, I've been able to obtain the relevant part of the transcript of Jonathan Milne's interview with the minister, on which the story is based.

The transcript begins with Milne ("J" in the text) asking what has happened to a well-advertised and overdue review of deciles. She says that's waiting on new census information, but the Ministry is "in the process of doing that". Milne points out that when he asked, the Ministry refused to even say whether the review had been timetabled "and we can't get an answer as to whether they're going to do this or not because because they refused to answer us …"

She gives a meandering answer before Milne asks, point-blank: "So do you anticipate getting rid of the decile system? In the longer term, or do you anticipate tinkering with it?"

"The progress they have made ..." Milne suggests.

Eventually ...

I don't know about you, but amid all the ministerial waffle, it really does seem that the minister said the decile funding scheme is for up for grabs and the government's thinking is around a different funding model, tied to student performance.

Feel free check my reasoning by inspecting the transcript itself.

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