The ‘decile rejig’ (as it has been called by the NZ Herald) is another exercise in neoliberal atmospherics. Relative to the near destruction, though, by that philosophy of New Zealand’s child-centred education system it is a fiddle-faddle.
The decile rejig emanates from those expressing the neoliberal policy of school achievement as significantly more dependent on the quality of teaching than children’s home life. That gives the right-wing an excuse to berate teachers for not being up to it, and political money managers to say that nothing comes your way until you are (at which time they would be told they now didn’t need it). The decile system they say gives teachers an excuse for their ineptness and parents a bad steer in seeking a school for their child.
From that befuddled and ugly vent comes the rejig.
As well, it presents the right-wing politicians as doing something in education when virtually nothing of constructive substance is occurring. The present minister is full of little tricks that sometimes sound ok only to deceive. Nothing good has come from the minister’s office that isn’t either destructive or fair enough but falling far short of satisfactory funding. She is playing with education. Or another perspective, the rejig just gives her the chance to play her favourite role, the much rehearsed East Coast Princess.
We will hear a lot about parents who would have chosen schools but the decile put them off, also that some low decile schools score well ahead of their decile rating. First, what was the basis for that score? If national standards or NCEA, wrong to the core, because they are ridden with error and inflation. But hey! I was a senior inspector of schools; I know some schools of the same decile do better than others. But that little bit better (that is minus the inflation) is, once again, based on national standards and NCEA – narrow testing, when the real elevators to success is learning very different.
Now another recall of an experience as a senior inspector of schools: I was told about this phenomenon countless times, but on one occasion I saw it in direction action.
I was sitting in the office of a northern Hamilton school; a new parent to the district had bought a house on an elevation to the zoo ridge. She had arrived when I was talking with the principal; he was an old campaigner who I had first met when he was teaching in the Tuhoe heartland.
The principal, god bless him, was answering the parents questions and all was going swimmingly, then the bell went for interval, out emerged the happy well-taught children – and the parent became agitated and fled.
That is why these schools are avoided by pakeha, Chinese, and often middle-class Maori and Pasifika children.
And the Black Prince’s idea of using big data to select criterion-based children as the basis for funding is rubbish. Poverty is pervasive. Are we going completely off the planet?
There are other education systems that are following the same failing path as us – the big difference is that they have come in with the partial palliative of substantially increased funding.
Mr Black Prince of the Treasury and Princess of the East Coast to turn a favourite expression of yours – please do throw money at us (god protect us from your precise placements), truly, we know what to do with it.
Enjoy the bun fight down there rejiggers. You’ll come away with a little more money and a policy all over the place. Happy days.