Please can we stop talking up ‘election bribes’

Key and Cunliffe handing out the presents at election time

So today Labour has promised to eliminate school donations by giving “an annual grant of $100 per student for schools in lieu of voluntary donations” to finally make primary education free in New Zealand. I like this policy, I applaud this policy, I endorse this policy however, as you well know, I fight for politicians to be consistent.

Just 2 days ago, or “aggggges ago” as it is seen in the world of politics, both Russel Norman and David Cunliffe were deriding John Key for offering election bribes in the form of roading projects.

Can we please settle this once and for all and can I ask you politicians to stop looking like idiots, they are either all ‘bribes’ or none of them are. You decide and move forward accordingly.

John Key you cannot go on Larry Williams or Duncan Garner this afternoon and call ‘free education’ a bribe unless you accept that your roading projects are as well, and Mr. Cunliffe you must acknowledge your offer of $100 per student to families is a bribe or Nationals focus on two lane bridges are not.

Simple ah?

Malala Yousafzai Interview

Malala Yousafzai the girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan for wanting an education, who since has spoken to the UN and has become the youngest person every to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Price had a three part interview on The Daily Show last night.

Comedy Central doesn’t allow embedding in WordPress (if you can help with this message me) so here is part one of the interview that someone has put on YouTube, and below are the links to Comedy Central where you can watch both parts on their site.

Part One of the interview on Comedy Central

Part Two of the interview on Comedy Central

Part Three of the interview on Comedy Central

If you want to know more about Malala Yousafzai you can check out her book and her foundation

Hekia Parata speaks a foreign language…or maybe that’s all politicians?

Hekia Parata was on the show this morning and I decided I needed a translator to help me decipher the answers given.

Question – There is a potential for class sizes to increase, is that correct?
Answer – There is a potential for that and we’ve made a conscience decision that one or two extra students in the middle year classes are acceptable if we can, at the same time, raise the quality of teaching across all of the classrooms.
Translation – Yes!

Question – If you’re going to raise the quality of teaching it’s not going to happen by the beginning of next year but class sizes may increase there seems to be a bit of a gap in the logic there.
Answer – Well, we have for the last ten years been raising the number of teachers we have in the NZ education system and in fact the number of teachers have increased at the rate of five times the rate of the number of students and we haven’t had five times the rate in the list of achievements so what we’re saying is we think we’ve got the quantity of teachers about right but now we need to make sure we raise the quality generally across the system.
Translation – Yes

Question – How is the performance pay going to work? Who is going to assess it? How are you going to judge if a teacher is performing well?
Answer – This is a part of a two year work programme which I announced yesterday, the appraisal system if a part of it, our proposal is to collaborate with the sector in the design of it, therefore both the process and features of it are yet to be determined.
Translation – We don’t know.

Question – So we don’t know how we are going to assess them yet, but we have announced that there is going to be an assessment where some of their pay will be based on it.
Answer – So we’re going to collaborate with the sector, the very sector you are referring to in the design of those features.
Translation – That is correct, we don’t know

Question – So we don’t know that answer yet we don’t know how they are going to be assessed?
Answer – Because it is a two year work programme that I announced yesterday.
Translation – That is correct, we don’t know yet.

And it went on….

Question – What education system in the world that you guys have looked at, that has the potential of having fewer teachers and more students, has actually worked for a better outcome for the students?
Answer – Well that’s the point we have to design a system that is particular to NZ so we’re not proposing to adopt any one system, but we’ve certainly been looking at all 65 of the countries with whom we participate both within the OECD, but also in the PISA process, so we would look to see what particular features work in what contect, whether or not they would be appropriate for NZ, but in the end those would only be advice and we would design what would fit the purpose for our country
Translation – ??????????

Question – Are there any examples at all with a government purposely applying a system where numbers of students go up and numbers of teachers come down, potentially, and that improves the outcomes for students, are there any examples of that in the world anywhere?
Answer – Well with respect, education has many dynamic moving parts, our system doesn’t perfectly match anybody elses, our system has a number of features…..[losing interest]…blah, blah, blah…..snoring noises…
Translation – No there are not any examples anywhere in the world.

So here are my main concerns.

Again we have a National government tinkering with an education system, using untested, unproven methods and holding them up as the answer.

Nobody would disagree that there are some people in teaching who shouldn’t be there, but to attack the problem with what is obviously a Treasury based solution, rather than an education based one is nonsense.

To announce a system that is going to grade (some say degrade) our teachers and base their pay on it, to commit to it for next week’s budget, and introduce it as of the start of next year…when you don’t know how you are going to assess the teachers…isn’t only poor politics, it down right criminal

You can listen to the whole interview here, just have you’re translator ready :o)

The Daily Show with more insight into Palestine become a country in the UN

John Oliver from The Daily Show does a two part story on how when America decided to pull funding from UNESCO as they, along with 100 organisations have recognised Palestine as a country, there ended up being no winners.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

It’s not about Race or Age or Gender or Religion…it’s about Poverty

For a long time I have had a bit of an untested theory. I’ve come to a place where I don’t think the negative statistics in New Zealand are about race, age, gender or religion.  I think they’re about poverty and the by products of poverty.

Let me back up a little and give you an example of a common ‘talkback’ conversation.

The headline reads something like, “Another baby dies at the hands of its caregivers.” This is what happens on talkback; ‘Owen’ from Nelson phones in as this is his pet topic. Within 60 seconds ‘Owen’ has already told New Zealand to “wait and see…they’ll be native…their whanau will support them…you just wait.” Now sadly ‘Owen’ is right far too often, but is his underlying racist bias accurate? Is being Maori a significant factor in killing your kids? That’s where I think the conversation becomes interesting.

I would put to you that being Maori is not as much of an issue in this as many may think. Let me ask you this question. How many wealthy, well educated Maori (or any race) are killing their kids? The answer is, “Not many…if any!”

So if being Maori means you’re over represented in our sad statistics, why are not wealthy, well educated Maori over represented in this, or any, negative social issue?

Poor Maori over represented…wealthy, educated Maori not…hmmmm.

Just for context, contrary to some commentators child abuse is not an issue exclusive to Maori as I demonstrate in this post on my old blog ironically posted exactly one year ago to the day. In there you can read that former Child Commissioner Ian Hassall says…

“Roughly the same number of Maori and non-Maori children are killed in New Zealand.”

Martyn Bradbury came to  the same conclusion in a post in the middle of last year.

No one is arguing that Maori are not over represented, but my question is, “Why?”

Well lets look at another people group.

How many European/Pakeha/White (whatever word takes your fancy) are in these negative statistics? How many Pakeha lawyers or Doctors kill their kids? Again I think you’ll find the answer is, “Not many…if any!” What about Pakeha in poverty, the underclass, white trash…those guys…how do they feature in the negative statistics? Well coming back to my first point, without having had the research or data in front of me, I have assumed, and many of you would agree, that they would be over represented in those statistics, especially compared to their wealthy, educated Pakeha counterparts. I think that is a fair and safe assumption.

Well it has been an assumption…until now.

Today has seen a longitudinal paper released which has followed over 1,200 people for 30 years. The study looked at children born in Christchurch who grew up in either poor, or rich, families

Those from poor families were more likely to leave school without qualifications, have babies before they were 20, commit crimes, go on welfare and have addiction and other mental health problems in adulthood.

Most of these effects were explained by factors which tended to vary in line with family incomes, such as parents’ education, addictions, criminality and marital conflict and breakup, and the children’s own intelligence.

But study director Professor David Fergusson said the effects of childhood income on later educational and career achievement persisted even after allowing for all other factors

So if you grew up poor, you tended to stay poor. If you were poor you were also a much higher chance of being a part of those negative statistics we were talking about earlier. The key factor here is that this extensive study shows us that the main contributing factor to being a part of negative statistic in society is poverty and the by-products of that poverty. Not race.

It also showed that if you were raised in a poorer family you were also more likely to have mental health issues.

The study asked detailed questions about people’s lives which also enabled the researchers to diagnose whether they had depression, anxiety disorder, drug or alcohol addictions or anti-social behaviour.

On average, those from poor families had slightly more of these disorders than those from rich families.

Here are some of the key findings of the report

Schooling
Almost 40 per cent of those in the poorest fifth of families left school without qualifications, compared with fewer than 10 per cent of those in the richest fifth.

Pregnancy
A third of those from the poor families but fewer than a tenth of those from rich families fell pregnant, or got someone pregnant, before they were 20.

Crime
A third of those from poor families, but only a sixth from rich families, committed a violent or property crime between the ages of 18 and 30.

Welfare
20 per cent of those from poor families, but only 4 per cent from rich families, spent some time on welfare before they were 30.

Income
Those from poor families earned an average of just under $40,000 a year by age 30, while those from rich families averaged $60,000.

I wrote earlier in this post that “being Maori is not as much of an issue in this as many may think” but it does impact these negative statistics, but not because they are Maori… because so many Maori are ‘poor’.

What the mainstream media needs to understand, and needs to address, is that these issues, these negative statistics in our society, issues like crime, mental health issues, physical health issues, low education, addiction, incarceration are issues of poverty and the by products of poverty, are not issues of race, age, gender, religion or anything else.

Why are Maori over represented in these statistics…because they are over represented in ‘being poor.’ If more of them are poor…then more of them come up in the negative statistics.

So do we solve this problem?

Well I firmly believe that we cannot solve any problem until we acknowledge the issue and seeing as mainstream NZ would try to convince us these are issues of race…or religion…or age…then we are doomed to keep this sad cycle of negative social statistics going.

Let’s acknowledge the problem, then maybe together we can find a solution.

God Bless America

I love these kinds of stories, the ones that for some reason could only happen in America.

From cbswashington.com

A Charlottesville-area elementary school has been accused of making students sing a pro-Occupy Wall Street movement song.

Written and performed in October as part of the Kid Pan Alley group at Albemarle County schools, “Part of the 99” has resulted in a backlash from parents nationwide, and has given the foundation reason to train its facilitators to steer students away from controversial subject matter in their songs.

And more…

Blogs such as Big Government have criticized the song as being “Marxist rhetoric.”

“The simplistic left wing economic nonsense of this ditty boggles the mind. But to an impressionistic third grader, it plants poisonous seeds at odds with long egalitarian American traditions that disdain class hatred,” the blog states.

I say God Bless America, because I love these kinds of stories, they always make me smile because American media so overplay things and everything has a sinister agenda.

Now would I like my kids singing a song in support of the occupiers…probably not, in fact it reminds me of a post I wrote on my old blog when one of my daughters came home with a sticker in support of the NZEI, I didn’t like that and let the school know about it, not that I was against the message necessarily, but kids at school should be kept out of being promoters of these sorts of things.

But back to the American media, my concerns voiced in that post are a pretty far way from making accusations like “Marxist rhetoric” like the article linked above.

The reaction, and overreaction of the American media is one of the things I love about America. It’s greatly entertaining to watch…just not that informative.