WITH respect, I think Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is plain wrong on National Standards.
Waatea News tells us that “Associate Education Minister Tariana Turia is backing the release of national standards data as a way to improve the education of Maori children”.
Mrs Turia goes on to say that it’s time for educators and families “to step up so the next generation of Maori don’t face a future of unemployment or low-paid work”.
And, she says, she thinks Minister of Education Hekia Parata is doing a good job.
“People may not like what she’s saying and they may not like what she’s doing but it’s all research-informed,” Tariana Turia says. “It is taken from research that has been carried out over a number of years (and) she’s saying ‘we want that for Maori kids too, and we’re going to have it’.”
Well, that’s the thing — the release of National Stadards data will not improve the education of Maori children.
The data is meaningless. Firstly, National Standards are neither moderated nor standardised. This renders comparisons between schools largely meaningless.
Secondly, a different set of standards apply to Kura Kaupapa. So when Mum’s deciding to whether to send little Hemi to the local primary or the local kura, National Standards are a useless guide. To use a tired phrase, you’re comparing apples with oranges. As Northland school principal Keri Milne-Ihimaera says, standards for kura reflect “a Maori worldview and are quite different”.
Thirdly, National Standards (as they are) tell us nothing we don’t already know. Maori kids are failing. Are we supposed to be surprised by that?
It’s also worth remembering that National Standards are not an innovative new approach to teaching, nor do they encourage new approaches.
National Standards represent a yardstick. All we’re doing is measuring Maori kids against where the government thinks those kids should be.
Ka Hikitia, Te Kotahitanga, Whakahau Whakamana Whakahihi . . . these are innovative approaches to teaching. Pity the government is underfunding them.
So, National Standards are about measurement and communication. Apparently parents want to know “in plain English” how well or not so well their child is doing.
Well, what happens when the child is branded a failure and the parents are told? Nothing. National Standards, as they are, end there.
The $60 million spent determining who is below the arbitrary National Standards line would have been better spent on actually helping the underachievers rather than telling them they’re underachieving.
Isn’t that just common sense?
Morgan Godfery is a Wellington-based law student and regular commentator on Maori politics.