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Maxim Institute - Real Issues - No. 92

Maxim Institute - Real Issues - No. 92

Maxim Institute

real issues.

this week: No. Ninety-Two 4 DECEMBER 2003

Contents:
---------
* Flyer offensive but not illegal New Zealand First is back in the news on immigration issues but do we want or need a 'rights-based' culture?

* In Harm's Way - reports expose education myths How are New Zealand pupils doing in relation to international benchmarks?

* Worldview expert to visit Compass Update on a Maxim-sponsored training event not to be missed.

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Flyer offensive but not illegal

- New Zealand First's controversial immigration pamphlet has been deemed offensive and misleading - but not illegal - by the Human Rights Commission (HRC). It ruled on the matter yesterday having receiving two official complaints. Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said: "The circular irresponsibly targets vulnerable groups for political ends, but that has to be weighed against safeguarding freedom of speech."

Mr de Bres is right. Freedom of speech is fundamental. In a healthy democracy the unpopular voice must be safe. Mr Peters's pamphlet may be simplistic but in a civilised nation, the open critique of a virtuous people is preferable to legal sanction. Its tools are reason, sane stigma and satire. To reduce human relationships to race, gender and class, as human rights now tend to do, is not helpful.

There is a fervent attempt in the West to shape human meaning and destiny by creating a multi-cultural environment. This is done by eliminating various 'isms': racism, sexism, ageism, classism, heterosexism ('heteronormativity'), anti-semitism, as well as violence and other identified forms of 'oppression'. Free speech is hedged-in by the political correctness of human rights, and morality is turned into politics. Government coercion is being wielded increasingly against reasoned and open criticism.

Despite Mr de Bres's ruling, the HRC is committed to a 'National Plan of Action' and creating a 'rights-based' culture. What, exactly, will this look like? Presumably, rights will become the lens through which we will see and interpret all experience, particularly conflict. Ironically however, that it is more likely to entrench polarised and implacable views than eliminate conflict. Whose rights are most right, and who makes that decision? When, for example, parents' rights are diminished because of an increased emphasis on children's rights, to whom can parents appeal?

So what's a better way? Commissioners and new laws may police 'tolerance' and 'diversity', but history has a habit of showing that people rebel against state coercion, especially when laws don't match reality. Showing genuine respect and acting responsibly provide a far better context for understanding human rights.

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In Harm's Way - report exposes education myths

- This new Maxim publication compares the educational achievement of New Zealand pupils with others internationally. One of the reports cited, The Innocenti Report Card, No. 4, was issued by UNICEF in November 2002. Fifty-two nations participated in this review which focused on 10-15 year-olds.

What the Innocenti Report tells us:

In international comparisons, New Zealand scores poorly in mathematics, reading and science.

12.2 percent of New Zealand 13 to 15 year-olds scored below a fixed international benchmark in three international tests. This means that approximately 7,000 out of 59,000 Year 10 pupils are failing to meet the basic literacy and numeracy targets deemed appropriate for day-to-day living.

There is a very serious gap between New Zealand's average and lowest achievers in mathematics, reading and science.

The gap between average and poor performance in these subjects is the second worst among 24 participating nations.

Heavy spending on education does not necessarily correlate with pupil achievement.

Small class-size (low pupil to teacher ratios) does not necessarily correlate with high pupil achievement.

Income inequality does not necessarily predicate success or failure in pupil achievement.

In Harm's Way contains international evidence to back-up these claims and is a timely reflection on compulsory education in New Zealand. For a more detailed review, and details of how to purchase a copy visit: www.maxim.org.nz/ri/harmsummary.html

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Worldview expert to visit Compass

David Noebel, author of Battle for Truth, Understanding the Times and co-author of Mind Siege has confirmed he will speak at the Compass leadership retreat in January 2004. Dr Noebel is an authority on worldviews and an outstanding communicator.

Compass is a 10-day summer retreat aimed at providing the intellectual skills and confidence needed to respond meaningfully and make a real difference in our nation. It will focus on what's real, what's relevant, and how to become a leader to a generation desperately looking for authentic leadership.

Compass runs from 10 - 20 January 2004, at Snell's Beach north of Auckland. Applications close on Friday December 12th.

For more information check out www.compass.org.nz or email Amanda McGrail at info@compass.org.nz

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THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - Adlai Stevenson (1900 - 1965)

- My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.

(Speech, Detroit, 1952)


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