National and Education: Lions in opposition ... Lambs in government? plus ...
1. National has made an incredibly slow, ill-informed and ill-judged beginning to their term in government with regards to education.
The level of need for a radical rethink and with urgency has never been greater.
Long-term estimates for people on youth benefits and sole-parent support have increased even more starkly. Hundreds of disadvantaged teens are now expected to spend virtually their entire working lives on a main benefit, at a cost of nearly $1 million each in future payments, according to modelling by actuaries Taylor Fry for the Ministry of Social Development. (https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/prime-minister-christopher-luxon-to-tour-browns-bay-school-on-first-day-of-term-1/O6HVPULJARC6DLUFRRGVPCTNCI/)
The demographics for the youth mentioned above tend strongly towards the poor and brown.
Not only was it utterly tone deaf for the Prime Minister to launch the education year at a high decile school (Brown's Bay) - it was also at one with only 6% Maori and Pasifika combined. Avoiding the hard places/questions already?!
It is also, no doubt, a school with high attendance. However, from this safe place the Prime Minister launched into parents:
Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has said parents need to “wake up” and tackle low school attendance.
The comments follow a ministerial briefing which revealed “high levels of disassociation from school”.
He said National had done its bit to improve school performance by introducing a cellphone ban. (my emphasis)
Can Christopher Luxon be that ignorant of the broad range of problems to consider that they have done all they should do to improve school performance through a cell-phone ban?
There are many great solutions: www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/alwyn-poole-the-future-of-education-and-why-nz-needs-to-be-there-first/NS3AMVY6PVBALHNXYMYWVZY3Y4/
And enhancing parenting is so important: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/alwyn-poole-over-10000-students-are-not-enrolled-at-school-indicating-major-issues/WKDSSZHU4NF5JHEAN4257ZC46E/
If National has already gone to a safe, don't rock the boat, incremental approach in education very little will change and many of our young people will leave school with no qualifications, and few prospects. This is hugely detrimental to them and the economy/society as a whole. I hope the rumour that some promised policies have been put off until their second term has no basis in truth.
Where is the bold and education programme? Where is the major restructure and repurposing of the Ministry? etc?
The last thing NZ students and families need is a political blame game for the problems. Both major parties are highly culpable for their poor/inadequate past policies. What we need is bold, effective, urgent change.
2. Ardern, Hipkins and co promised major work on the Designated Character School model while in government. It didn't happen of course and even the brilliant Yvette and Nathan Durie were turned down under that model for re-establishing St Stephens College.
A brilliant immediate choice and statement to the sector and for Maori would be for Minister Stanford to announce that the decision has been reversed. She was "too busy" to attend the launch of St Stephens in December (https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2023/12/st-stephen-s-m-ori-boys-boarding-school-set-to-reopen-after-20-years.html). It was a brilliant day!
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