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Maxim Real Issues No. 173, 8 SEPTEMBER 2005

Maxim Real Issues No. 173, 8 SEPTEMBER 2005

Parents want more information on their child's schooling

Confidence in the face of a crisis

When the candidate vote counts

New features on nzvotes.org

Your last chance to attend a Political Forum

Tertiary student's essay competition closes 23 September

Parents want more information on their child's schooling

A new report released this week shows that a significant majority of parents would like information on their children's schooling that is currently not available to them. The Parent Factor: Information for parents reveals key findings from Colmar Brunton research of 1001 parents' views on schooling in New Zealand.

89% of parents indicated that they would like more information on the quality of the teachers who will be teaching their children.

89% of parents either strongly agreed or agreed that they wanted to know what areas a school specialises in.

79% of parents would like to know which schools in their area have the best and worst exam results.

61% of parents agreed that they wanted more information about truancy rates, stand-downs and expulsions to help them choose a school for their child.

Despite the Ministry of Education spending $54 million on information provision in the 2004-2005 year, parents still cannot find and compare basic information about their local schools, such as exam results and areas of specialty. New Zealand has taken steps to improve openness and provide better information for parents, including websites such as www.edcentre.govt.nz, but other countries seem to be further ahead. States in Australia must publish information such as teacher qualifications and the average results for pupils leaving secondary school. Parents in Scotland have access to a website that allows them to search and compare schools.

Information for parents makes a number of policy recommendations which would ensure that central education agencies provide information which more closely reflects what parents want. In particular, Maxim recommends that the Ministry of Education disclose more of the information it already holds to parents, and that the examination results of all schools be collected and published.

To download a copy of The Parent Factor: Information for parents, please visit: http://www.maxim.org.nz/parentfactor/report3_informationforparents.php

Confidence in the face of a crisis

It is not easy to make sense of Katrina's aftermath. And anyway, it is probably too early. But one thing is significant: the role of men, particularly young men. Their strength and impetuousness can be variously a blessing and a curse. In our sanitised and perfumed society we tend to forget or even reject the importance of male protectiveness, particularly in its youthful guise.

Beneath the veneer of good order always lurk the demands of human appetite. Understanding this foundational reality should help us comprehend some of the inexplicable behaviour which arises in the midst of a crisis. As Plato pointed out, all of us are driven by our heads or our bellies. Our heads would take us up to the angels and our bellies down to the level of beasts. In New Orleans, it would seem that the belly has had too many victories.

Young men are always found on the front line. When they have a vision of the heroic and conscience informed by fortitude (courage), they can rescue those in need. Without such character, they can cause great suffering, particularly in a crisis. Every society needs its young men to be of good character. A society that does not foster character in its youth will never confront a crisis with confidence.

One cannot really point the finger at New Orleans or even the U.S., but we should remember a timely warning. Young men must be given a challenge inspired by the heroic and taught virtue. Then when the floods come, they will pull us out rather than push us under.

When the candidate vote counts

The campaign for the party vote has dominated this election, and rightly so. Under MMP, parties which qualify for representation in Parliament are allocated seats according to the proportion of the party vote which they win. The party with the most party votes has the most MPs. But for the five parties this election who have recently been polling close to or below five percent, the candidate vote may be their lifeline if they don't cross that threshold.

The ACT party has realised this; shifting its focus off campaigning for the party vote and onto asking Epsom voters to give their candidate vote to ACT leader Rodney Hide. Winston Peters' Tauranga seat may hang in the balance - along with the future of New Zealand First.

The United Future party will be thanking Peter Dunne's supporters in Ohariu-Belmont if they return him as their local MP, as will Jim Anderton's Progressive party, whose presence in Parliament will be secured by voters in the Wigram electorate. The Maori Party too are polling substantially under five percent, but will have MPs in the house if candidates win electorate seats. This makes the candidate votes in these particular electorates very influential.

New features on nzvotes.org

New features are regularly being added to www.nzvotes.org. Candidate profiles for candidates standing independently and parties not currently represented in Parliament have recently been added to ensure voters can compare every candidate standing for election.

Not sure where to vote? Need to cast your vote in advance? Simply log onto www.nzvotes.org and find your electorate. Here you'll find details on where you can cast your vote before Election Day if you can't make it to the polling booth on September 17 as well as details on where to vote on the day. Summaries of the political polls and a campaign diary are coming soon.

Your last chance to attend a Political Forum

With the general election taking place next Saturday there are few opportunities left to see MPs and candidates in action. Political Forums coming up include:
Whakatane Friday, 9 September
Manakau City Youth Forum Monday, 12 September
North Shore Tuesday, 13 September
Cambridge Wednesday, 14 September
West Auckland Wednesday, 14 September
For details of these events, visit: www.maxim.org.nz/events

The Epsom Forum on Tuesday night was a major highlight of the road show, with rivals Rodney Hide, Richard Worth and Keith Locke joining John Tamihere, Peter Brown and Bernie Ogilvy on stage before a packed audience at the Greenlane Christian Centre in Auckland.

You can read the New Zealand Herald's report, at: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/search/story.cfm?storyid=%1E%FB%F8%C5%29%B7%BFL

Maxim has asked several Forum organisers to share what motivated them to volunteer their time and energy to inform their community this election. You can read their stories in an abridged version of Democracy in the spotlight which will feature in the spring issue of Evidence.

To read the article, visit: http://www.maxim.org.nz/ri/DemocracyInTheSpotlight.pdf

Tertiary student's essay competition closes 23 September

Would $2000 make a dent in your student loan? The Centre for Tomorrow's Leaders' tertiary students essay competition closes on 23 September. First prize is $2000, second prize is $1000 and third prize is $500. This year's question is: What role, if any, does religion (both personal and institutional) have in the political sphere of a society?

Further details available at: www.maxim.org.nz/essay

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - Charles Caleb Colton (1780 – 1832)

Physical courage, which despises all danger, will make a man brave in one way; and moral courage, which despises all opinion, will make a man brave in another.

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