Waking up to the lead item in the Press that the Minister of Education has been allowed by John Key and his Cabinet to spend $26 million precious education dollars to “win over parents, teachers and schools on the standards” is the most galling announcement by this under-performing Minister since she announced that she would cut exactly half that amount to completely decimate Adult & Community Education. I thought she had taken $13M out of ACE to contribute to the $35M in private schools – but it now looks like she has money to burn.
And what about her out-of-touch decision to close Aorangi School 2 weeks before the end of the last term last year ostensibly because the government could not afford the rebuild in these tough times?
I am incensed!
Even if the $26M includes training for teachers on implementing the standards and the material to support it, it just shows how costly an exercise an unproven methodology will be.
The Press also has an article in its Good Living supplement, which I cannot seem to link to, but it essentially praises the new curriculum and highlights the complication around its introduction as a result of the government’s desire “to shoehorn national standards in literacy and numeracy into the mix”.
This reminds me of a CTV Newsmakers special that I appeared on in November last year along with Nicky Wagner from the National Party and Denise Torrey from the Canterbury Primary Principals Association – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
Both Denise and I raised concerns about National Standards not measuring the “value add”, recognising that not all students start from the same point, and we were pleased that Nicky said that she had discussed it with the Minister that morning and she too was really interested in schools reporting progress and how they report value add. Has it happened? No. Denise reflected on the benefits that were going to come from the most sophisticated, modern, future-focused curriculum in the world. She said that’s where the gains in standards were going to come from. So where is the evidence to support this “shoehorning” of these untested standards into this curriculum.
Finally when we discussed a new programme to address serious behavioural problems, Nicky Wagner made it clear that such programmes must be proven, rolled out carefully and evaluated. Given that the Prime Minister has appointed an eminent scientist to push the evidence-based message, why is Tolley exempt from these standards?