Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How to run an education system: questionnaire by Kelvin Smythe

How to run a managerialist education system: questionnaire

You are charged with running a managerialist, American-style education system, how might you go about that?  New Zealand’s National government’s example, under the leadership of John Key, might well prove instructive.

If you are business person with the right political and wealth connections, who knows, you might very well be asked to run an education system. 

In anticipation of that possible eventuality, the following multi-choice questionnaire is, as a Kiwi, proudly offered. 

Before beginning answering it is important for participants to know that the correct answers may, at times, seem counter-intuitive, but that is all part of the wonder of the managerialist philosophy, and the New Zealand’s prime minister’s leadership genius for tapping into another vein of logic, and alternative morality, beyond the reach and understanding of the rest of us.

Take your inferences from the following happenings in the New Zealand’s current education system and let them be your guide for how you might proceed. 

For which one of the following should you not use the select committee process?
Dog control 

Freedom camping

Early detection of prostate

National standards 

Answer: National standards (they were part of National’s mandated policy therefore exempt from challenge and incapable of improvement).

For which one of the following should parliamentary urgency be used?
Dog control

Freedom camping

Early detection of prostate

National standards

Answer: National standards.

Which statistic, in 2009, was correct in expressing the number of New Zealand primary schools successfully using literacy achievement data?
56%
72% 

82%

92%

Answer: 92% 

Which statistic, in 2009, was correct in expressing the number of New Zealand primary schools successfully using mathematics achievement data?
56%

64%

74%

84%

Answer: 84%
Which statistic, in 2009, the only one included in the national standards’ legislation, was used to express the number of primary schools successfully using literacy and mathematics achievement data?
56%

72%

84%

92%

Answer: 56%

From where did this 56% statistic come from immediately?
A piece of Professor John Hattie research 
A 2008 National Party election pamphlet

John Bank’s thought processes 

Investigate magazine

Answer: A 2008 National Party election pamphlet.


What explanation did the National government give for using this particular statistic?
Who cares?

It is more accurate than any other you are likely to get 

We make up our own statistics using processes beyond your ken

It passed the scrutiny editors of the Herald and Dominion, and the ministry and review office without demur, so what’s the fuss?

Answer: Who cares? It is more accurate than any other you are likely to get; we make up our own statistics using processes beyond your ken; it passed the scrutiny editors of the Herald and Dominion, and the ministry and review office without demur, so what’s the fuss?

When National repeatedly promised (through the then minister of education) that there would be no league tables, how is it that league tables are now be being contemplated?
That was then

The present minister of education, on a recent trip, to her considerable surprise, discovered Australia was using them

It’s what parents want 

They aren’t league tables, just what some people call league tables

Answer: The present minister of education, on a recent trip, to her considerable surprise, discovered Australia was using them; it’s what parents want; they aren’t league tables, just what some people call league tables.
What salary do you think the new ministry chief executive gets (someone called Lesley Longstone from England)?
$60,000

$260,000

$460,000

$660,000

Answer: $660,000 (plus $50,000 relocation expenses)

Following the completion of the national standards’ community consultation process, what was done with the results?
They were hidden

Quickly released to prompt lively discussion befitting life in a social democracy

Characterised by the ministry as confirming parents were strongly in favour of national standards

Released under pressure after seven months of delay

Answer: They were hidden; characterised by the ministry as confirming parents were strongly in favour of national standards; released under pressure after seven months of delay.

Latest OECD survey: New Zealand ranked fourth out of 34 OECD countries in reading literacy, fourth in scientific literacy, and seventh in mathematical literacy (Overall, NZ was only headed by ethnically homogeneous populations such as Finland, Korea, and Japan.) New Zealand does much better in educational achievement than its degree of inequality would predict.  In literacy, pakeha students had a mean score higher than any other country.
In the light of the above statistics, how did the prime minister of New Zealand characterise teachers in an election debate?
As national heroes worthy of a collective Queen’s Service medal

Up there with Fonterra 

An inspiration to government

As letting New Zealand down

Answer: As letting New Zealand down.

In the light of the above statistics, how did the prime minister of New Zealand characterise teachers’ opposition to national standards?
As being bullied into it by the unions

As being unwilling to be accountable

As placing their interests ahead of children’s

As doing anything to avoid lifting their performance

Answer: As being bullied into it by the unions; as being unwilling to be accountable; as placing their interests ahead of children’s; as doing anything to avoid lifting their performance.

In the light of the above statistics, how did the government respond re Australia to New Zealand teachers’ success?
Publicised the success of New Zealand schools to lift national morale

Noted Hattie’s move to Melbourne as one likely to further widen the education gap

Went out of its way to undermine New Zealand’s public schools to the benefit of private schools (private schools dominate schooling in Australia)

Expressed an intent to have league tables like Australia’s

Answer: Went out of its way to undermine New Zealand’s public schools to the benefit of private schools; expressed an intent to have league tables like Australia’s.

In the light of the above statistics, how did the government respond in a wider sense to New Zealand teachers’ success?

Went out of its way to import many ideas from the American and England education systems

Appointed an England person with career experience in establishing charter schools to be the ministry chief executive

Flew in many foreign consultants 

Promoted New Zealand schools as being in the forefront of curriculum delivery

Answer: Went out of its way to import many ideas from the American and England education systems; appointed an England person with career experience in establishing charter schools to be the ministry chief executive; flew in many foreign consultants. 


In his 2012 Waitangi speech, in response to concerns about asset sales and Maori poverty, what was John Key’s one reported policy idea?
A commitment to raise wages for lower income workers

Greater investment in state housing

A willingness to look again at the asset sales policy

National standards and charter schools

Answer: National standards and charter schools.

In looking at ways to reduce education expenditure, but not affect frontline services, in what areas have reductions been mooted?
Ministry executive salaries 

Abolition of SAPS (a low status group selected to promote excellence in education)

Expenditure on foreign consultants

Increasing the number of children in teachers’ classes

Answer: Increasing the number of children in teachers’ classes.

What were the main government justifications for introducing national standards?
Other countries are using them

Teachers can spend months in close proximity to children and their earning and not be aware of those in difficulty

Teachers aren’t measuring achievement 

National ministers of education know something no-one else does

Answer: Other countries are using them; teachers can spend months in close proximity to children and their learning and not be aware of those in difficulty; teachers aren’t measuring achievement; National ministers of education know something no-one else does.

How will the government ensure charter schools succeed?
Pour in resources not available to similar schools

Filter the school population

Play on the Hawthorne effect and ignore the sustainability issue

Cramming and narrowing the curriculum 

Have carefully selected quantitative academics carry out the research

Public relations and careful cultivation of the media

Answer: Pour in resources not available to similar schools; filter the school population; play on the Hawthorne effect and ignore the sustainability issue; cramming and narrowing the curriculum; have carefully selected quantitative academics carry out the research; public relations and a manipulation of the media.


John Hattie’s research is infinitely manipulable – which policies can the government presently count on him supporting?


Performance pay

Increasing class sizes

National standards (even though he is credited by the government with the inspiration for them)
Charter schools (even though they are based on performance pay, national standards, and smaller classes)

Answer: Performance pay; increasing class sizes.

Re charter schools: An Inter-Party Working Group mainly for charter schools was set up in April 2009; the recommendations from that Working Group were published in Step Change in February 2010; policy work was then commissioned on Step Change between 2010 and 2011; in the lead up to the 2012 election work negotiations took place between the prime minister’s office, the ministry, and ACT for implementing charter schools; the prime minister’s office made the decision to bring in charter schools with the ACT Party as cover if possible, and, if not, to bring them in regardless; neither National or ACT, according to a secret agreement, would mention charter schools in their election policies.
In the light of this information, how did Key respond to accusations that charter schools were not mandated?
Point taken – it just means we’ll need to gain a broad consensus before we move

It was an inspirational idea that came simultaneously to John Banks and me post-election 

Who cares – after all it’s anti-public schools and teacher unions

That’s MMP for you, isn’t it?

Answer: That’s MMP for you, isn’t it?

How has New Zealand’s premier newspaper responded to the implementation of managerialism – which of the following statements appeared in its editorial columns?
New Zealand schools and teacher deserve our respect and trust

Most fundamentally, National’s policy on national standards was put to the electorate at the last election, so it comes with the stamp of democracy

Critics claim the National-led government has no mandate to establish charter schools, that claim can be dismissed immediately

Ultimately, the parent, the customer is always right

Teachers must learn to obey government’s orders

Answer: Most fundamentally, National’s policy on national standards was put to the electorate at the last election, so it comes with the stamp of democracy; critics claim the National-led government has no mandate to establish charter schools, that claim can be dismissed immediately; ultimately, the parent, the customer is always right; teachers must learn to obey government’s orders.

When editorialists and the government refer to measuring school achievement, to what achievement are they referring?

Achievement in all parts of the official curriculum

Achievement in responding skilfully and imaginatively to all parts of learning

Achievement in preparing children for a future of rapid social and economic change

Achievement in challenging children cognitively and affectively in all parts of learning
Achievement in those parts of literacy and numeracy amenable to measurement 

Answer: Achievement in those parts of literacy and numeracy amenable to measurement.
 


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brilliant

Anonymous said...

Makes the clearest case for ideological interference in education I have ever seen!

Anonymous said...

I have just read your latest blog.

The same thing is happening in Australia. How on earth do you reverse what is occurring? It must be extremely difficult for NZ teachers endeavouring to meet the unachievable expectations placed upon them. To publicly question education policy in the past was challenging but to do so now would appear to be suicidal. Teacher anxiety/depression must be on the increase as it would appear, on reading Kelvin Smythe’s answers to his questionnaire,that they have no support at all within the community and maligned by the press when they pluck up the courage to question what is occurring.

In Australia principals have just been given the authority to hire and fire staff ensuring that teachers who did have the courage to question the over emphasis placed on standardised testing results would quickly find themselves applying for another teaching position. Teachers who achieve improvement in student naplan results will be awarded with an increase in salary and the school increased funding while those schools struggling to do such will be punished financially and the teachers no doubt placed under greater pressure to perform. Eventually the best teachers and students will gravitate to the perceived elite schools leaving under resourced teachers and schools to manage the learning of students of parents in low socio/ economic regions which of course are becoming more prevalent in today’s two speed economy. If your income is derived from the booming resource based industries you are doing extremely well financially however if you aren’t things are becoming more difficult

Bruce said...

Greetings cobber!

Thanks for your comments - I passed them on to Kelvin and he also says thanks.

It wil take brave teachers indeed to confront the technocratic authorities (and their political masters) - but only courageous teachers have ever made a difference. Principals will become too busy looking after themselves or their schools reputations as an efficient educational factory.

What has happened in OZ (and in the UK and the US) will happen in New Zealand.