Monday, November 27, 2023

Damien Grant: Our education system is constantly failing our students

There is a saying in the technology sector that if you are not paying for the product, then you are the product. This has been playing on my mind as I’ve been dragging the ten-year-old around private schools last week.

He will probably object to being used, once again, as a muse for my weekly column, but the challenge of being ten is that you have very few enforceable rights.

One of those rights, in theory, is stipulated in the Education Act. State education should focus on “…helping each child and young person to attain educational achievement to the best of his or her potential…”

Well. Does anyone really believe our state sector is coming close?

The Education Act provides for the Minister to issue a statement of National Education and Learning Priorities and the current version runs to five pages. Literacy is referenced five times and never as a primary driver. Te Reo get 22 mentions, and English, well, not a single reference. Nor science, as it happens.

There are eight objectives; mostly inclusive language about tikanga, culture and reducing barriers. One did stand out, to “Enhance the contribution of research and mātauranga Māori in addressing local and global challenges”.

Despite being interested in these matters, the first I’d heard of mātauranga Māori was when seven academics wrote about it in the Listener two years ago. I’ve since paid the topic some attention, but it isn’t something that I really understand.

But that isn’t the issue. I do not care if my kid, or any kid, learns mātauranga Māori, Norse mythology or even French. What I do expect is that if these quasi-cultural concepts are to be advanced, parents are consulted.

Consulted? We are not even informed. The Ministry of Education and the profession more generally is acting under the rubric that once the kid walks past the gate, parental influence ceases.

A decision was made to place an emphasis on mātauranga Māori; and much else besides. It is possible that this is a good thing.

Perhaps, if a case were to be made for it, parents could even support it. We will never know.

The reality of education is that, between lunch, assembly, fighting over where to sit and plugging in their devices, children have limited amount of time and neural capacity. Time spent teaching Latin is time that could be used to teach something else. There is a trade-off.

So. Imagine, if you will, parents being given a choice. Would you prefer your child to learn mātauranga Māori or Chemistry? Te Reo or Mandarin? Shakespeare or Minecraft?

Parents, who invest so much of themselves into our children, are not consulted because those who sit atop the education industry know that we will not make the right decisions.

We will prioritise our children’s welfare and prospects ahead of the political and cultural agenda of education professionals.

Which is why I, and many others, are dragooning our children around private schools and willing to pay upwards of $30,000 a year to get something that, in theory, the state will provide for free. The reality is that many of us will fail; the demand for private education far exceeds the limited supply.

To understand how badly the state sector is performing, consider that less than half of students attend class over 90% of the time; the self-defined criteria the Ministry sets for regular attendance. Students, and their parents, are voting with their feet and concluding that the value of the free education on offer is so low that it isn’t even worth attending.

And of those who do attend are not learning anything. In June the Ministry ran an assessment of 40,000 students to test how they performed against NCEA standards.

Over 40% failed in maths and writing, and a third could not achieve the required standard in reading.

This is not a failure of the Hipkins/Ardern government but of the very model. Our students have been turned into involuntary consumers. In order to get the free maths lesson they endure mandatory cultural programming by an education sector driven by ideology and not pedagogy.

It is a regime divorced from the wishes of parents and the needs of students.

It cannot be fixed by firing a few managers and setting a new curriculum. Our education sector needs to respond to the wishes of parents. All parents. Not just those with the cash able to pay for private schools or extra tutoring.

New Zealand is committed to state-funded education; but that should not mean that we must continue with the single-payer model that consistently fails our children; especially those from under-resourced families who stand to gain the most..........The full article is published HERE

Damien Grant is an Auckland business owner, a member of the Taxpayers’ Union and a regular opinion contributor for Stuff, writing from a libertarian perspective


Robert Arthur said...

What beats me is how the state of education came about. Sure the pro maori lobby has been and is very artful and powerful and effective. Their power of cancellation very great. But surely Ministers of Ed and others have sufficient contact with ordinary real citizens not maori captured to get some feel for situations. Did ERO reports not reflect? The submissions on the brain wash history curriculum as far as I can establish have never been released for public scrutiny. Not that the pro maori msm would be interested. I trust mps, including then Opposition were able to view. Matauranga is like so much else maori (mauri, wairua, te ao, tikanga) whatever maori declare it to be at any time. As with the others there is no firm definition. Teachers now operate in such a vague undefined world that few but the brainwashed and muddle headed anyway can be bothered with the profession. The Teaching Council with its obsession for promoting matters maori and sexual requires close scrutiny.

Gaynor said...

I am so pleased Grant,you stated 'It is a system divorced from the wishes of parents and needs of students'.

Being involved in the reading wars,for most of my life it became very apparent to me for very many decades,our education establishment aided by academia was hell bent on pursuing their ideological agenda regardless of many protests , petitions and inquiries involving parents and others.

The ideology is progressivism whose main driver has NEVER been academic achievement but instead education was to be a vehicle for social reform.

Warnings of the impending eventual catastrophic failure were sounded right from the start in 1950 but foolish rhetoric and seductive theories won over ignorant politicians and impressionable educators.

Over the decades dedicated teachers who saw the wrongness of the ideology either left the profession or continued on with the tried and tested methods that worked in their own classrooms, hiding spelling lists, phonic materials, times tables charts and other condemned teaching aids when inspectors visited.

The resistance to change by our present indoctrinated teachers will be very difficult to overcome. I don't actually know how it can be easily done. I wish Erica Stanford the best of luck. Charitable homework clubs catering for lower decile children is perhaps an idea for parents until change occurs.

Anonymous said...

Erica Stanford has a huge job ahead. Nicola Willis as Minister for Public Service will play a role. Peter Hughes as Public Service Commissioner needs to lead the charge. Not only be the lead but implement meaningful deadlines and reviews. There will be push back from the Executive of MOE. Have a look at their profiles on their web page how they promote their “competency”. It is no wonder the curriculum for English & Science have changed dramatically.
If the MOE Executive don’t comply with the Government’s direction they should be shown the door.
On a final note, where was Hipkins when all this was happening?