Marlene triumphs and wins in court of appeal: Parata flattened:

To celebrate I had this ready (2016): Minister backs Marlene Campbell and her national standards rebellion (2011)

The national standards years were tense, feverish, and oppressive. References to authoritarianism by principals were greeted with surprise and unbelief by those outside education who had failed to grasp – perhaps understandably given the uncomprehending and unsympathetic media analysis – the lies, distortions, malignancies, and absurdities issuing from the government and bureaucracies. Shadowly behind this terrible aggression against teachers and principals was the prime minister, John Key. He wanted teachers and principals curbed for ideological reasons and, as part of that, their demands for expenditure.

Marlene Campbell, principal of Salford School, was on the executive of the NZPF (New Zealand Principals Federation) and a notably outspoken opponent of national standards. A short time after the episode below, one which has been extended from Auckland Grammar to Salford for ironic effect (the Auckland Grammar part is entirely true and exactly repeated in application to Salford), Anne Tolley decided to begin intervention measures against Marlene Campbell, partly as payback for her outspokenness but mainly as a warning to principals and teacher organisations not to speak out in way that registered. All the powerful propaganda resources of state were used against her, much of those channeled through the Southland Times, Cameron Slater’s ‘Whale Oil’, and the Dominion. It was relentless and awful.

When Hekia Parata became the minister of education she intensified the propaganda and completed the New Zealand-wide vilification of Marlene Campbell.

But not one whit of that vilification detail was true; it was all made up by the bureaucracies, those undertaking the intervention, and the minister’s office. I said so at the time and time was to bear that out. Four years later the legal process unfolded and in the Employment Court, Marlene triumphed, winning costs and reimbursement but not reappointment (too much water under the bridge). But still the ministry strung out the horror, using its resources to go to the Court of Appeal; today, however, as announced, the ministry lost again.

I have decided to use this disgraceful political episode in New Zealand school education to mark Marlene’s bravery and that of teachers and principals at the time; also to mark the many other unjustified, cruel interventions that have occurred then and since in this painful period of our education history.

‘Where’s the harm?’ Anne Tolley answers critics of a top school’s attachment to a different standards system

This was the heading for an article by Elizabeth Binning in the Sunday Star-Times, 16 January, 2011. It concerned John Morris, principal Auckland Grammar, saying his school was going to dump NCEA for the Cambridge International Exam from the fifth form on.

Meanwhile, Marlene was continuing her series of run-ins with the minister, the latest one involving a Facebook entry: ‘And the ministry of education attacks schools deferring targets, that’s a constructive response is it? Excuse me Minister Hitler. Am I in Germany? Is this the end of self-managing schools? Read Kelvin Smythe’s latest blog …’ [Perhaps not Marlene’s finest hour but this was no time for fastidiousness.]

But then something unexpected occurred.

Education minister is backing Salford principal: ‘Where’s the harm?’

What Marlene Campbell is doing Ms Tolley suggests might make her ‘way ahead’ of everyone else in her thinking.

Ms Tolley has put an end to speculation over whether Salford’s decision to use school-based standards instead of the government’s national standards would be acceptable to the government.

Questions were raised whether Salford was breaching the Education Act which says schools must offer a ‘nationally and internationally recognised assessment system’ such as national standards.

The ministry had said the school-based system does not meet the requirement as they are not nationally recognised.

But Ms Tolley disagrees, saying they are accepted by all subsequent institutions students move on to.

Ms Tolley got behind Salford and its board saying ‘where’s the harm?’

She said New Zealand’s education system gave schools the flexibility to offer students different options.

Salford – which introduced the school-based system some time ago – was using options that seemed to work for its students.

‘I think that as Marlene Campbell has said, the children in general seem to respond better to the school-based system.’

‘It allows the students to focus on the broader issues – it’s grabbing their attention and they are performing well – that’s what we want, that’s what’s important.’

Ms Tolley said the ‘most important thing’ was the fact that the students’ parents appeared happy with what was happening and the students were succeeding and going onto ‘very successful lives’.

‘In some ways perhaps Marlene Campbell is way ahead.’

The minister said she was not knocking national standards. I think it is a really good system.’

‘I just don’t think it’s a problem, if schools want to stretch students and are succeeding in keeping them engaged and focused, and succeeding, that’s really what it comes back to.’

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 10.40.34 AMI can sense the ultimate in reconciliations.

If so (and apologies to Mel Brooks and Springtime for Hitler) I can envisage Anne serenading Marlene with:

Then it will be …

Springtime for Marlene and me

We’ll roll ahead at blitzkrieg pace

Blitz them in the learning race

And heil to you and heil to me

Set to change a PISA history

There I was, she says, reminiscing

I knew there was something missing

Now it’s time for a new decree

And springtime for Marlene and me

Hip-hip-hip-hip-hip-hip-hooray

We will pas de deux today.

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9 Responses to Marlene triumphs and wins in court of appeal: Parata flattened:

  1. Melulater says:

    Just to check my thinking is right Kelvin, I’m picking that the last section was what Anne Tolley actually said about what John Morris and Auckland Grammar was doing at the time, but you’ve reimagined it for Marlene and Salford School for if Anne Tolley had have applied the same standard of response in regards to National Standards as she did to NCEA? Right?

  2. Kelvin says:

    Got it. Yep.

  3. 111peggyb says:

    Thank you Kelvin. Your support of and for Marlene has made a real difference. It is indeed an great day for education and a celebration of Marlene’s determination, tenacity and courage. I am so relieved and pleased for her. Arohanui e hoa!

  4. Pat Newman says:

    It certainly was an interesting time to be involved in education as a principal!!!! Unfortunately had the profession stuck together, everything we predicted would happen as a result of National Standards AND has now happened, would not have occurred.
    Even the Ministry driver behind them at the time, now basically refutes them!!!!

  5. 111peggyb says:

    Not one word in any of the media – which is disgusting – given the amount of media coverage when certain individuals were trying to destroy her and her career. Not one word to celebrate JUSTICE!! It is unacceptable!!

  6. Kelvin says:

    Marlene is controlling things and has just made her media move. It won’t become become apparent for a number of days. I still have fears about the coverage: the ministry is so ruthless and the media so compliant to authority. Fingers crossed she gets a fair go. A fairness at the level of the Listener article would be acceptable.

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