What’s all this then?

As I look at events in New Zealand, leading up to the general election on November 26th, and then extend my focus further to the USA, it is very clear that there are strong links between the political agendas in both countries, and especially in education policies. Who is following who? Stupid question, we all know that the USA follows little old New Zealand. In the terms of the very well known, and dare I say, iconic, New Zealand Tui beer advertisement, “Yeah, right.”

So what is happening in education then? We all know that “National Standards” (better phrased as National’s standards, due to their political gestation in some backroom part of the National Party who presently are in government) were developed and imposed to ‘raise achievement’ so that our ‘economy will grow’ and because ‘1 in 5 children are failing’. Much has been written by many that dismantles all these, and related statements, and that shows them for the mindless propaganda and garbage that they really are. These have been covered in detail on Bruce Hammonds’ Leading and Learning blog. Kelvin Smythe has also dismantled these in his typically efficient way on his Networkonnet site, and quick research will turn up many other NZ articles that totally destroy any case for NS.

All to no avail and the lies keep on coming. In spite of government and Ministry of Education obfuscation, more and more evidence is coming to light showing that a national testing regime is being developed, quite arrogantly assuming that National will be returned to power after the election.This is a real return to the tory ‘born to rule’ arrogance that we’ve seen in the past, explicitly and implicitly promoted and supported by the pathetic media in this country, and dependent on apathetic New Zealanders buying into the “John Key” is a nice guy meme and therefore preferring National.

Voting for a political party in a parliamentary democracy because one leader is seen as better than the other, is pure madness. While the trend is this way now, it would be just as mad if Labour produced their version of John Key and sought votes on that basis. Wake up New Zealand, this is not a presidential campaign. I heard far too many principals, teachers, and others, say that they don’t want to vote Labour because of their perceptions of the current leader.What on earth has that got to do with anything?

In 2008 I heard many people (including principals and teachers) say that they were going to vote for National because it was time for a change? Change to what? From what I could determine, many of these people had no idea what change they were voting for. Well they should have researched and listened first, before making that decision.

By all means, vote for the party of your choice because you prefer their policies, wherever that party sits on the political scale. Voting because you like/don’t like a particular leader? Come on, think. If, having read and researched widely, and having considered all points of view, you believe national testing is the best way forward, then fine, vote that way. The right to make an informed vote underpins our democracy.

Wait a moment, if people vote on the basis of their opinion of the leader’s personality (whether that is genuine or carefully crafted – reflect on that) how on earth can that be considered ‘informed’ voting?

This is a very crucial subject to raise. The future of New Zealand education, primary schools in the first instance, and pre-schools subsequently, is on the line on November 26th. The democratic process always leads down roads that a significant proportion of the population won’t like. The danger is that poorly informed (dare I say ignorant?) voters will return a government that results in the destruction of the world renowned New Zealand primary school education system, to be replaced by the same kind of corporate driven madness that is spreading through the USA, and now also starting to appear in England. This is a moral outrage of the highest order.

If you prefer National Party policies overall, but dislike their educational focus, then make your feelings known. You don’t need to change the governing party to change policies. This is not all or nothing. If enough concerned National Party supporters communicate their objections to the current direction of education, then change will come. Easy as that.One hundred thousand letters, to any Prime Minister objecting to a current policy, is bound to shake their cage. That, in essence, is the true power of democracy, not the 30 seconds it takes to tick a couple of boxes once every three years.

Use it or lose it.

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