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Maxim Real Issues No. 130, 30 SEPTEMBER 2004

Maxim Real Issues No. 130, 30 SEPTEMBER 2004

Teacher training doesn't equal good teachers

Discrimination that doesn't exist

Working for families - new beneficiaries sought

Spring Evidence out now


Teacher training doesn't equal good teachers

The findings of an Education Review Office (ERO) study released this week on the quality of teachers in their second year of teaching are cause for concern. The study found almost half of new secondary school teachers are not fully competent and only 65 percent of new primary school teachers were fully effective.

These are serious findings. According to John Hattie, Professor of Education at the University of Auckland, "excellence in teaching is the single most powerful influence on [pupil] achievement". It's simple: good schools require good teachers.

The ERO study makes recommendations for changes in school practices to help better support beginning teachers. While this is important, it seems more likely that new teachers are not effective because teacher training institutions are not training them effectively.

The government has been aware of this problem for a while. In 1999, ERO released a review of pre-employment training for teachers to the Ministry of Education. It warned: "This evaluation does not provide assurance that pre-employment teacher training programmes are meeting the needs of the school-based system."

In an extensive review of New Zealand teacher training institutions conducted in 1996, Dr Geoffrey Partington suggested that they have suffered ideological capture which effects the quality of their graduates. He wrote: "Significant improvements would be made in teaching reading, mathematics, science, social sciences, and other curricular areas if a large part of current ideological baggage were discarded and more time spent on substantive knowledge."

It is time for the warnings to be acted on. Our children's education is too important not to implement major changes, starting with less ideological training and more professional input from outstanding teachers.


Discrimination that doesn't exist

Hearings on the Civil Union Bill and Relationships Bill continued this week before the Justice and Electoral Select Committee, with the vast majority of submitters opposing the two Bills. In its submission on Monday, Maxim Institute presented analysis that revealed commonly cited examples of 'unjust discrimination' do not exist in law or practice.

Hospital visitation rights and the ability to be named next-of-kin are frequently claimed to be areas of discrimination against de facto and same-sex couples used to justify support for the Relationships Bill. However, Maxim has found that there is no discrimination, and that the Bill has no bearing on these issues. The policy of 16 hospitals was presented which showed that none of the hospitals discriminate against de facto or same-sex partners -- existing laws and health codes prevent them from doing so already.

Maxim also submitted that the omnibus bill approach, amending over 100 Acts all at the same time, is inappropriate and does not allow sufficient attention to each amendment. Instead, any instances of unjust discrimination should be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis in the context of the purpose of each Act.


Working for families - new beneficiaries sought

Do you need a little extra help? The government’s latest publicity campaign has been encouraging you to find out if you qualify for an additional entitlement under the Working for Families package.

Steve Maharey was pleased this week to announce that the Working for Families freephone has received 42,000 calls since the package was announced in this year's budget. This comes as no surprise. Who doesn't want to take up the offer of a new taxpayer-funded entitlement?

Unfortunately, it is further entrenching an entitlement mentality and dependence on the state. All this does is return to families money they have already paid into the tax pot. In the process it is creating more bureaucracy to administer the redistribution.

It is a confused government that actively seeks to turn currently self-sufficient families into state beneficiaries. Helen Clark said, "by 2007 an estimated 61 percent of all families with dependent children will benefit from the cumulative increases to Family Income Assistance." Why doesn't the government just take less from families in the first place?

Families deserve all the help we can give them, but turning them into state dependents is not good policy. Wealth redistribution for its own sake is neither ethical nor helpful in the long-term.


Spring Evidence out now

The spring edition of Maxim's quarterly journal Evidence has just been published. A cover article, "The New Conservatives", investigates the apparent trend identified in opinion polls of young people returning to conservatism. Andrew Shamy asks who are they and what values are informing his generation.

Evidence is available in bookshops around the country, but is sent directly to Maxim partners. If you would like to become a Maxim partner and receive Evidence in the mail each quarter, please click here: http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/act_page/act_support.html

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - P.J. O'Rourke

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

Real Issues is a weekly email newsletter from the Maxim Institute. The focus is current New Zealand events with an attempt to provide insight into critical issues beyond what is usually presented in the media. This service is provided free of charge, although a donation to Maxim is appreciated. Items may be used for other purposes, such as teaching, research or civic action. If items are published elsewhere, Maxim should be acknowledged.

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