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Maxim Institute - real issues. this week: No. 113

Maxim Institute - real issues. this week: No. 113, 3 JUNE 2004


* Parents opinions on education attract attention

* Discipline tops list of parents concerns

* Questions on the rise of republicanism

* Change Agent Workshops - Southland

Parents opinions on education attract attention

- On Monday Maxim Institute released its latest education report entitled "A Snapshot of what Parents think of Schooling in New Zealand." It is based on independent qualitative research, and records what 54 parents, representing 137 children, think of different aspects of the schooling system. The report has received substantial media attention, which shows the need for research on parental opinion.

To gain a clear and in-depth understanding of what parents think, Maxim commissioned an independent researcher to conduct focus group research. Fifty-four parents were selected by Consumerlink to ensure they were representative of parents throughout New Zealand.

Interviews lasting more than two and half hours produced over 330 pages of transcript and revealed that parents care deeply about the education of their children. This comprehensive response from a diverse group of parents showed that they are well informed and would relish the chance to be more involved with the schooling of their children.

The report highlights that parents are concerned about discipline in schools (see below) the funding of schools, the quality of teachers, the NCEA, boys education and the curriculum. It also shows that parents are frustrated with school zones and carefully consider the atmosphere of the school, discipline policies, and the teachers of the school before sending their children to that school.

To read a summary or the full report, along with a range of media reports, please visit: www.maxim.org.nz/ed/ed_snapshot_home.html

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=113.1

Discipline tops list of parents concerns

- "A Snapshot of what Parents think of Schooling in New Zealand" reveals that discipline concerns parents most about schooling in New Zealand. In fact, more than 75 percent of the diverse cross section of parents said they are concerned about discipline in schools.

Parents recognise that good classroom discipline is essential to their children's education. An Auckland participant commented, "[My son] is not focusing because of the distraction going on around him, and because of the chaos and unorderliness of it. Now if there was more order in the classroom, I think his chances would be far better."

These concerns are backed up international research, such as the _Programme for International Student Assessment_ (PISA) 2000, which shows that classroom interruption negatively affects pupil achievement. The PISA study found that countries where learning was hindered 'a lot' by disruption of classes by pupils, scored on average one full proficiency level in reading literacy below those countries that recorded no significant disruption. One proficiency level in this study represents a significant difference in ability to read.

Schools need to have higher expectations for their students and the confidence and ability to take more effective action to ensure a disciplined environment. However, this is not just an issue for school but for families and communities. The report shows that parents want schools to support the discipline and values of home to bring discipline in the classroom and generate consistency.

A summary and the full report is available on Maxim's website www.maxim.org.nz/ed/ed_snapshot_home.html

If you would like any more information please email: snapshot@maxim.org.nz

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=113.2

Questions on the rise of republicanism

- More New Zealanders than ever before appear to support our nation becoming a republic. A Sunday Star-Times/BRC survey shows 41 percent of Kiwis want to choose our head of state. Mike Moore wants a constitutional convention. Jim Bolger says a move to a republic is overdue and MP Tim Barnett reckons that our "constitutional arrangements are vague".

But how would 'The Republic of New Zealand' be a better place? How would it make us a more self-sustaining and independent nation?

A significant problem lies in our contemporary fixation with identity. The assumption is that our own understanding of our identity will improve if we become a republic. It will be an exercise in maturity - we will grow up. But there are many big questions. Part of our unique tradition is that our constitution is not enshrined in a single document. The rule of law is inherent in the practices and conventions of government and law as traditions that are 800 years old.

So what would be the foundation of the rule of law if we became a republic? When a democratic society loses confidence in its foundation, the centre of power must move from the people to the state.

The virtue of the present system is that it ensures the liberty of the citizen by promoting the rule of law which citizens for generations have made for themselves and to which everyone, including the Prime Minister, must yield. The rule of law is not a government invention, neither is it the creation of one generation. For the security of the future we need to understand the importance of the foundations of law and ask how any proposed constitutional changes will be an improvement.

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=113.3

Change Agent Workshops - Southland

- If you live in the deep south and are concerned about education, prostitution and civil unions, then come be informed on the issues and be equipped with tools to make a practical difference. Change Agent workshops will be held in Gore, on Friday June 25 (7:30-10pm) and in Invercargill, on Saturday June 26 (10am-1pm). For more information visit: www.maxim.org.nz/ca/deep_south.html

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - Abraham Lincoln

- The philosophy of the school room in one generation is the philosophy of government in the next.

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