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Attempt Does Not match The Facts

Minister’s attempt to manufacture an “education crisis” doesn’t match the facts

Proving once again that you have to create a crisis if you want to make dramatic and unpopular changes, Education Minister Hekia Parata has alleged that New Zealand students’ achievement is dropping compared to students in other developed countries.

In a media statement* today, Ms Parata claimed, “New Zealand’s education system is performing less and less well next to other OECD countries. We must increase our system performance and increase the equity in the system as the benefits to the students themselves and to the economy are significant.

NZEI President Judith Nowotarski said it was irresponsible and inaccurate for the Minister to be making such statements as she headed overseas for an OECD Education Ministers’ meeting.

The truth is that New Zealand’s reading, science and maths results are significantly above the OECD average, and that New Zealand’s performance – alongside Finland and Canada, for example - has been remarkably stable since 2000, in spite of unacceptably high child poverty rates.

Analysis of the OECD’s PISA 2009 report shows that amongst the top socio-economic quartile of each of the OECD countries, New Zealand ranked first for reading. Even amongst the bottom socio-economic quartile of each of the countries – the so-called “long tail of educational underachievement” – New Zealand ranked sixth.

However, New Zealand schools’ funding levels are only 2/3 of Australia’s and half of the UK’s, according to the OECD’s Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA).

NZEI President Judith Nowotarski said it was clear that our teachers and students are doing very well on very little, so Ms Parata needed to stop denigrating the public system.

“If Ms Parata wants to increase equity in the system, she could start by funding public education to the level of other systems that she so admires, rather than experimenting with charter schools and National Standards,” said Mrs Nowotarski.

“A basic rule of propaganda is that if you repeat something often enough, people will eventually believe it. But it’s time New Zealanders heard the truth,” said Mrs Nowotarski. “Teachers and schools are always trying to do their best and want to spread and share effective practice. The Minister using statistics inaccurately to manufacture a supposed “crisis” does not help students, teachers or schools to improve.”



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