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Maxim Institute - real issues - No 230

Maxim Institute - real issues - No 230
9 November 2006

www.maxim.org.nz

MAXIM INSTITUTE LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE
NEW RESEARCH SHOWS THAT MARRIAGE OUTLASTS DE FACTO RELATIONSHIPS
TXT SPEAK APPROVED FOR EXAMS

IN THE NEWS:
INFANTICIDE RE-CONSIDERED IN THE UK
BILL TO RAISE DRINKING AGE FAILS AT SECOND READING
MPS CHOOSE NOT TO SHRINK THEIR NUMBERS

MAXIM INSTITUTE LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE

This week Maxim Institute is delighted to announce the launch of its new website www.maxim.org.nz. This is just one part of a new look for the Institute which is fast approaching its fifth birthday. On the new website you can read more (http://www.maxim.org.nz/index.cfm/About_us) about what motivates us, what we value, our key personnel, and answers to some frequently asked questions.

Maxim Institute continues to undertake leading research and policy analysis on a variety of important cultural and policy issues including: education, family, law and human rights, civil society and much more. New information is being added to our website regularly.

Read a Research Note (http://www.maxim.org.nz/index.cfm/policy___research/article?id=614) on the impact of a father's involvement in the life of his children.

Read an Issue Snapshot (http://www.maxim.org.nz/index.cfm/policy___research/article?id=626) on the Bill to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act.

Read an article (http://www.maxim.org.nz/index.cfm/Media/article?id=634) on the recent retrospective legislation on election spending by Maxim's Legal Counsel, Alex Penk, published in The Independent Financial Review this week.

The Take Action (http://www.maxim.org.nz/index.cfm/Take_Action) section is packed with helpful information on central and local government, referenda, the electoral system and more. It also provides tools and tips on making effective submissions, communicating with your leaders and giving feedback on broadcasting and advertising.

Do you ever want to respond to an article in Real Issues? Now you can submit a letter to the editor (http://www.maxim.org.nz/index.cfm/real_issues/send_a_letter_to_the_editor). Letters must be 200 words or less and must relate to a specific article. A range of letters will be published online each week.

NEW RESEARCH SHOWS THAT MARRIAGE OUTLASTS DE FACTO RELATIONSHIPS

The Bristol Community Family Trust has recently released a research report showing that children are more likely to suffer family breakdown if their parents are cohabiting rather than married. Family breakdown is a risk factor that correlates with high involvement with crime, anti-social behaviour, school failure and adverse psychological well-being. The report analysed the results of a study involving 15,000 British mothers. It is important as it shows that marriage can help families stay together and therefore avoid these risks.

The report confirms the findings of earlier research showing that young children are more likely to experience family breakdown if their parents are in de facto relationships, when compared to those who are married. In fact, according to this research, "The odds of a cohabiting couple with a young child splitting up are more than twice that of a married couple of equivalent age, income, education, ethnic group and benefits." This is significant because hundreds of studies have found that when parents separate there are long-term negative consequences for children.

This report calls into question the decision of the UK government to abolish marital status from its official forms. Indeed as the idea that all family forms have equal outcomes becomes more prevalent in western society, research such as this will become rarer as the type of family people come from will no longer be recorded.

To read the report in full, please visit:

www.bcft.co.uk (http://www.bcft.co.uk/Family%20breakdown%20in%20the%20UK.pdf)

TXT SPEAK APPROVED FOR EXAMS

NZQA has approved text language as acceptable in written school exams, provided the meaning is clear, and the answer shows the required understanding. Abbreviated text language is popular among students in contexts where space is limited, resulting in abbreviations such as "c u l8r" and "gr8".

NZQA still encourages candidates to use standard English in exams, but markers will be instructed to give credit so long as the answer is correct, and demonstrates the required understanding of the subject.

NZQA insists that in exams such as English, where good language use is expected, text language will still be penalised, but the permission granted by NZQA does grave violence to the ideal of examinations. Examinations should expect a decent standard of formal written English regardless of the subject. The standard of language that is acceptable when writing a message to a friend is different from that which should be required in a formal exam. Examinations are supposed to be a test of more than just skill and ability in the subject. They also test the pupil's ability to communicate coherently under time pressure and their knowledge of academic and grammatical conventions; the same conventions they will be expected to adhere to when writing a business letter or a job application.

Education not only trains students in "required understanding" of a subject, but also in the conventions and expectations of the wider community they live in. The English language might be evolving, but NZQA is allowing students to make up the rules as they go along. This is far from prudent adaptation to cultural change, and more like condoning linguistic anarchy in a setting where it is entirely out of place. NZQA should think again.

IN THE NEWS

INFANTICIDE RE-CONSIDERED IN THE UK

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has told the British Nuffield Council on Bioethics that active euthanasia ought to be considered as an option for severely disabled infants. As medical technology advances, and more severely disabled infants survive, proponents argue that "a disabled child means a disabled family", and that the pain and emotional distress of both families and infants can be stopped when their lives are ended or shortened. This proposal is an affront to the dignity of disabled people, including disabled children and a triumph of the utilitarian ethic. Human life is precious not because it is 'normal' or 'useful', but because it is human life and as such has inherent value.

To read more, please visit:

www.rcog.org.uk (http://www.rcog.org.uk/resources/Public/pdf/nuffield_prolonging_life_in_fetuses_newborn.pdf)


BILL TO RAISE DRINKING AGE FAILS AT SECOND READING

The Bill to raise the purchase age of alcohol has failed at its second reading, going down in a 72-49 conscience vote. Supporters of raising the age accused the government of "interference" by announcing a review of the supply of alcohol to under-18s just before the vote and that the review would proceed only if the Bill failed. The Ministers responsible deny attempting to influence the vote, saying that the review was "an alternative vehicle" for addressing concern about youth drinking.

MPS CHOOSE NOT TO SHRINK THEIR NUMBERS

MPs have also voted down a Bill to cut the size of Parliament. Rejecting 112-9 the attempt to reduce the number of MPs to 100, opponents said that internationally, New Zealand was not over-represented with MPs, and MMP would not work with fewer MPs due to the workload of select committees. ACT and New Zealand First voted for the Bill.

TALKING POINT

"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock."

Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826)


ENDS

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