More than 200 schools are refusing to introduce part of the Government's mandatory national standards next year after voting "no confidence" in the system.
Boards of trustees of at least 225 schools - out of a national total of 2018 - say it is time to take action against the standards, which they say are "flawed, confusing and unworkable" and need to be completely reviewed.
Newstalk ZB has also being talking about this quite extensively this morning, and is quoting as a "spokesman" for the group the Principal of Island Bay School in Wellington, Perry Rush. Quite why a school principal is the spokesman for a group of Boards of Trustees is beyond us, but we think it might have something to do with Mr Rush's long-held opposition to National Standards. That opinion is so strongly held that Mr Rush wrote an opionion-piece for the Herald in December 2009 which among other things said:
The Minister claims standards are needed to tell her how students are achieving at any given school. But Education Review Office reports comprehensively detail each school and their educational performance including student achievement data in literacy and numeracy against national norms. Why does Mrs Tolley need a process that subverts the very office designed to measure and test the quality of school performance?
The reason is obvious. The Government is committed to introducing a competitive marketplace in education. Pitting school against school is the plan the Government holds to improve student achievement. But the paucity of rigour in student achievement data generated by the standards will render schools publicly accountable for data that is simply false.
Now, we have no problem whatsoever with a school principal expressing a strongly-held opinion via the media. We do wonder however whether Mr Rush is the right person to be articulating the views of a group of school trustees however.
Another of the spokespeople for this group is Simon Mitchell, chairman of the BoT at Balmoral School in Auckland. The Dom-Post notes thus:
Simon Mitchell, chairman of Balmoral School board of trustees in Auckland, said the standards were contrary to educational research and schools did not need or want them.
"We're basically saying that we're not going to do it next year," Mr Mitchell said.
"We're meant to do certain things next year and we're going to defer those and we're not going to provide the data that the ministry says we need to."
Mr Mitchell made a pitch to be Labour's candidate at the Mt Albert by-election last year. He has also spoken out against the National-led Government's 90-day probation employment bill.
"I'm not pretending I don't have a Labour Party background, but I'm also a parent and a chair of a board of trustees at a decile 9 school in Auckland.
It would seem that there is a strong political agenda at play here, which is hardly surprising. The education sector and National governments are not traditional bedfellows. FWIW, we support the government's move towards National Standards, but we believe that Anne Tolley's leadership on this issue would probably place her in the "below average" category.
And we'll leave the final word for this post to a supporter of National Standards who has posted this on his Facebook page:
The reason I already love National Standards in primary schools: Lucy's first report listed her as just below the national average in reading. I was a little shocked. The teacher said it might be because she had some time off with the final leukemia treatments but ... Daddy put some major effort in (& so did Lucy). Today, teacher says she's on Level 16 & in top 3 in class. Thank you Anne Tolley.