Good Golly Ms Tolley

National announces its Education policy:

People wanting to be teachers may soon have to pass a personality test to assess whether they are right for the job.

It’s one of the moves planned by National should it retain power after Saturday.

Education spokesperson Anne Tolley released her extensive education policy today which covers everything from plans for a new funding structure for the early childcare sector to clamping down further on people who take out student loans.

Schools know that because the Standards are so flawed, the level of moderation is so inconsistent, and implementation is so varied around the country, any student achievement data based on them is completely unreliable. It is unfair and dangerous for ‘National Standards’ to be used to compare and judge school performance, let alone as an accountability measure”.

NZEI is also concerned that National wants to shift the resourcing model to ‘incentivise school performance’ as it suggests that money will be removed from those schools which are not complying with ‘National Standards’ or are not performing against them.”

“More measuring doesn’t make the pig fatter and National’s policy will simply increase the bureaucracy in education without adding value to the people who matter – children.

Gaddafi’s little helper in the Beehive

Muammar Gaddafi

Anne Tolley

Remember this, just 10 months ago:

Education Minister Anne Tolley today signed an agreement with Libya’s Secretary for Education and Science Research, Dr Abdulkabir Fakhry, making New Zealand one of only five countries eligible to receive Libyan government scholarship students.

The agreement outlined the basis for New Zealand’s engagement with Libya over the next five years in the educational and scientific fields in both compulsory and tertiary education sectors.

Mrs Tolley said many New Zealand education providers saw big potential in increasing engagement with Libya.

Conservative estimates were that New Zealand stood to get over 300 students a year in fully-funded scholarships worth up to $30m, she said.

“Libya is an emerging education market for New Zealand. It is a nation coming out of a period of international isolation and ready to re-engage with countries like ours.”

By March this year, Tolley wasn’t so keen to talk about the deal:

The New Zealand government is not commenting on whether it will honour a $ 150 million education and science deal it signed with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan government late last year. … Repeated questions put to Tolley this week by The United Press relating to whether the government will honour the agreement or if it regrets its decision to support Gaddafi’s regime went unanswered.

I wonder if she has anything to say about it now (and I wonder why the NZ media have left it up to the United Chinese Press to ask).

Wellington replaces Tolley in shock Cabinet reshuffle

Education Minister Anne Tolley finds herself demoted to the backbenches in a shock Cabinet reshuffle announced by Prime Minister John Key today.

Tolley will be replaced by Merv Wellington, who previously served as Minister of Education in Sir Robert Muldoon’s Cabinet between 1978 and 1984. Wellington, plucked from backbench obscurity by Sir Robert, was a controversial figure in the 1978-84 government, presiding over substantial and wide-ranging cuts in education spending and decreeing that the New Zealand flag was to be flown at all school assemblies. He died in 2003.

“Anne has been a hardworking and competent Minister, said Mr Key, announcing the reshuffle. I am confident she will find something to do as a backbencher where her talents will be appreciated.

“However, Merv was a fierce advocate for excellence in education and those views put him ahead of his time. I have always thought he deserved another chance, and given the challenges of implementing National Standards and reshaping the Ministry of Education, I have decided Merv is the man for the job.”

The Prime Minister said he was relaxed about the constitutional precedent of appointing a deceased Member of Parliament to Cabinet. “Our Constitution is always evolving. The previous Government appointed Jeanette Fitzsimons and Sue Bradford as Government spokespeople outside Cabinet even though the Greens were not a part of that Government. I don’t think appointing the late Merv Wellington to Cabinet sets any greater constitutional precedent than that did,” he said.

When asked how she felt about her demotion, Mrs Tolley replied “Currently a large number of assessment tools are used by schools, and no one standard applies across them. That is what national standards are. So the existing assessment tools will remain in place, and the national standards will go right across all those tools, so that it will not matter which school a child goes to, or which assessment tool a particular school uses, because there will be a standard that is national. That is the essence of national standards, so the inter-school moderation is exactly that. Parents will know, whichever school their children attend— Well, it just shows that you do not understand— It just shows that you do not understand what national standards are…”

The late Merv Wellington was unavailable for comment, but a spokesperson said he was delighted with the opportunity to return to Cabinet to complete his unfinished business.

The short and incredibly happy life of Tolley

Tolley was born happy. She had a mother and father, and they had lots and lots of money. They loved each other, and they had lots and lots and lots of money.

Tolley was warm and cozy in whichever of her many houses she chose to live in. What more could she want?

Tolley loved the simple things in life. She loved to ride in helicopters. When she had an itch on her back, all Tolley would want was someone to scratch her back for her. She never wanted to be someplace other than up in a helicopter.

Tolley was never bothered with the problems workers have because she had lots and lots and lots of money. When she looked in a mirror all she saw was what she was. Tolley fell in love with money and power and became a National Party MP.

She was the most perfect and happy Tolley when the nice Mr Key made her Minister of Education.

She could ride in helicopters whenever she chose. She could cut Enviroschools and community education classes and school staffing levels and freeze wages and draw up league tables and read children’s stories to teachers.  She was the most perfect and happy Tolley.

She could ride in helicopters whenever she chose and the nice Mr Key would still be relaxed.

Sadly enough, the political life of a Minister of Education is short, and especially so when she is thick and incompetent.

[With apologies to Colin Thompson and Amy Lissiat]

Update: Roger Waters beat me to it – by over 30 years:

Can I have one with a moat please?

Well, seems it’s not just Bill English rorting the system. The NZ Herald reports a number of Cabinet Ministers own residential property in Wellington, most of which are rented out, but choose to live in Ministerial homes.

I don’t begrudge Ministers the opportunity to move their families to Wellington so they can spend more time with them, and a small apartment may not provide adequately for that.

But renting out their own properties in Wellington, while the taxpayer is paying for the full cost of their Ministerial homes, is scamming it. Even though it is within the rules, surely Ministers should have exercised the restraint they are expect from the citizens they govern and offered to offset the rent they receive from their own properties against the costs of the Ministerial homes they occupy.

Here’s the list of those with their snouts in the trough:

Tim Groser: Ministerial Services paid $8937 January-June. Also owns $540,000 apartment in central Wellington, which is being used as an investment property.

Tariana Turia: Lives in a Ministerial home. Also own $520,000 property in Wellington suburb of Broadmeadows [surely that would be suitable for her family to live in]. Refuses to say if she rents it out.

Phil Heatley: Ministerial Services paid $24,607 January-June. Also owns $360,000 Wellington apartment that is being rented out.

Anne Tolley: Ministerial Services paid $22,045 January-June. Also owns $295,000 one-bedroom Wellington apartment, which is currently rented out.

Wayne Mapp: Ministerial Services paid $18,878 January-June. Also owns $285,000 Wellington apartment and rents it out.

Murray McCully: Ministerial Services paid $12,865 January-June. Owns a Wellington flat and rents it out.

Then, of course, there is Bill English, who is in a category of his own, receiving $23,673 from Ministerial Services between January and June this year to live with his wife and family in their own home.

Perhaps they should consider following this precedent – its not too late to pay back the money they have scammed.

Lacking class

One of the areas that got battered the most by the budget was adult and community education.  Throughout the election campaign the National Party signalled it’s dislike for any kind of education that was not either literacy and numeracy or jobs training.  (Although, ironically funding to those areas got cut as well).

So, the government has kept its election ‘promises’ (read as ‘threats’) in astonishing fashion – as Sabine Schneider states in here blog:

More than 200.000 New Zealanders enrol in adult and community education (ACE) courses each year, most of which will not be offered from 2010. This is because of the 80 percent cut in funding our new and not-at-all-improved National government has announced in their latest budget.

The Tertiary Education Union covers the dismissive attitude the minister of education, Anne Tolley, has for adult and community education, or, as she calls it, “hobby courses”.

The Wellingtonian has an interview with the Principal of the high school where I have taken several ‘hobby courses’, Wellington High School’s Prue Kelly:

“I find it ironic that the demands of parents of children in private schools have been put before community groups, community card-holders, and second-language learners/English learners, all of whom have benefited from subsidised courses at Wellington High. These are the people who will be adversely affected by this change.”

So much for hobby courses. Not that there’s anything so wrong with hobby courses that they need to be wiped from the face of the country. But, even if that were the aim, an eighty percent cut is hardly a very surgical way of making sure you only get the hobby courses and not other important adult education.

Catherine Delahunty covered this topic very well last week on frogblog:

Two hundred co-ordinators and two hundred tutors will lose vital part time jobs in this “reform” which will no doubt be justified by the Govt as necessary in the recession. If the Government had a vision of sustaining communities through hard times they wouldn’t cut these programmes.

Since then the Community Learning Association through Schools (CLASS) has set up a stop the cuts campaign page with a petition and postcard you can sign.