BIG NEWS: 11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Anyone got any info on this?

If a person is getting ACC, and ACC decided that, as that person could work 30 hours a week they were no longer entitled to ACC, they’d be removed from the scheme.

So what if that person gets assessed by Work and Income as not being fit for work for 15 hours a week . He is eligible for the Invalids Benefit. The person goes on the Invalids benefit, and because WINZ has said he can’t work, he appeals the ACC decision that says he could ( at least, appeals the decision regarding accident related injuries. But he loses, because ACC’s doctors say he can work 30 hours a week, even though WINZ doctors say he can’t.

And what does this say about the ACC review process? The problem is that it is pretty hard to get information on these transfers as ACC has no details on what their former claimants end up, and WINZ have few details on where their Invalids beneficiaries were prior to going on an Invalids Benefit. This could be because many are initially transferred to the Invalids Benefit from the Sickness Benefit with no reference to having recently come off ACC.

I wonder how many people have been in this situation during the past five years? And how many are now being quickly transferred to Sickness Benefits to get assessed for part time work?

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Leaked Ministry document says National Standards opponents are acting legally

A leaked document from the Ministry of Education states that the Ministry will struggle to assess school charters using the National Standards because of its own decision to move the date requiring schools to submit charters from the end of May to January next year. All updated charters have to be sent to the Ministry of Education every year and must be processed within 25 working days, as per section 63A of the Education Act 1989.
The leaked document[PDF] states schools joining the "Boards Taking Action Coalition" who have pledged to defer sending in the charters are acting legally. The Education Act does not specify when charters have to be sent to the Ministry, provided they are sent every year.

In practice, schools send in only the annually updated section of the charter, in the form of the annual plan. Training for Boards of Trustees on developing charters for National Standards only commenced this month. I blogged about the quality of that training here.

For schools that send charters that do not meet the requirements of the Act ( and we know that about 245 schools have pledged to send in charters that won’t meet the requirements) the Ministry determines when that charter takes effect. The leaked document states that charter processing will increase the workload significantly.
We anticipate that you will initially sift the charters to determine whether or not they meet the requirements, and identify those which need further work…. It may take a year or two for you to work out the best way to process this large influx of charters in a short period of time
A new or updated school charter takes effect on the 25th working day after the date that the Ministry receives it. How many school charters – with or without National Standards information - will take effect 25 working days after the Ministry receives them because they have not been processed in accordance with the Act?

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Surprise! Cannon’s Creek gives Fa’afoi the Mana by-election

The Porirua East flunkies have done it again - voted a candidate in an election purely because that candidate is standing on the Labour banner. Results so far are here, 2008 results here.The Greens candidate, Jan Logie got nearly twice as many votes as Matt McCarten, and had the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis candidate got 26 more votes, he would have got more than Act’s Colin du Plessis' current tally.

In fact, the Cannon’s Creek vote was so strongly Labour that Hekia Parata would have easily been ahead on election night had those votes been disregarded. More than 12 times as many people voted for Fa’afoi than Parata in Cannon’s Creek – I wonder how many of them are beneficiaries and would have voted Hekia Parata if she was Labour.

I recon if I was the Labour candidate I would have been assured of a seat in Parliament, after awaiting the result of special votes. There are 1352 special votes to be counted.

The fact of the matter is that Kris Fa’afoi was not the best candidate in the campaign. Many of the 2008 Labour voters who actually thought about their voting choice decided to vote for a candidate other than Fa’afoi. Fa’afoi won with 46.4 per cent of the total vote while National’s Hekia Parata won with 41.6 per cent, after getting 35 percent in 2008. Or to put it another way, Labour’s 6000 majority in 2008 was slashed down to an election night majority of 1080. And we know what 1080 is.

If Fa’afoi wins the election after the specials, perhaps he could shift his electorate office to Cannons Creek. Because, overall, the rest of the electorate wanted Hekia Parata as their MP.

If the Creekers were to wake up and get with the rest of the marginal electorate in 2011, Hekia Parata will be the next MP for Mana. Mana is no longer the ninth safest seat in the country - its not a safe seat for Labour at all.And it's not often that a candidate associated with the Government makes one of the safest seats in the country marginal - by elections usually swing against the government.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Pacific Island leader called a "dumb ass coconut" by former Porirua deputy Mayor

TV3 has reported that Porirua's former Deputy Mayor has called Liz Tanielu a "dumb ass coconut" becuase she happens to be a pacific Island leader who supports Hekia Parata in the Mana By-election. Tanielu heads the Teaaomanino Trust,the biggest Pacific Island service provider in Mana. Ah Hoi has hated Hekai Parata for a long time, and now her vitrol is coming out in the wash as she spends her time campaigning for Kris Fa'afoi.

Tanielu said some positive things about Hekia Parata in the media lately. Ah Hoi didn't like it so she made the offending comments on the Porirua Proud Facebook page.

When the media inquired about the comments, Ah Hoi was forced to apologise. Sort of
I, Litea Ah Hoi, on behalf of Porirua Proud apologise for the term ‘dumb-ass coconut’ being used. And if people are offended by it, can I suggest you put it in a bubble and blow it away.
It's not the first( or second) time Ah Hoi has been in the media for her intemperate language. She's the Porirua City Council equivalent of Hone Harawira.

Anyone know why the website for Porirua Proud is temporarily suspended? Is it because AH Hoi doent want you to see this
Hey people...Is Henry a PI or is he a kumara? What a jerk!!! Go Kris Fa'afoi!!!
This was written by Ah Hoi about a youth mentor from Partners Porirua, a not-for-profit organisation set up to promote and facilitate closer working relationships between the business and education sectors - and supported by Ah Hoi's Council.

update There's the full interview of Litea Ah Hoi wihich makes referene to the Kumara quote also.

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Ministry of Education can’t answer school trustees’ questions on National Standards either

It is well known that lots of teachers have been to training on National Standards. In fact more than 80 percent of teachers’ personal development has been on getting to grips with National Standards. However, the teachers and principals have said that many of their questions are not answered, and some princpals and teachers have boycotted further training..

The Ministry is now conducting training with Boards of Trustees. It is offering training to Board members on how to set goals in line with National Standards for their charters. School Charters have to be sent to the Ministry of Eduction early next year and all goals must be in line with National Standards. However, no clear guidance has been given by Ministry officials, hence the training programme for Boards.

While the training for boards is only starting now, trainees still can’t clearly answer questions, this time from Boards of Trustees. This is not good enough. It is clear that assessments of student achievement are consistent, but teacher judgements to make an assessments against the standards are neither clear or consistent.

If the Ministry can’t answer questions in a consistent manner to teachers, principals or Boards of Trustees, there is no way that Boards of Trustees throughout the country are going to be able to present data to the Ministry in a collectively consistent manner. Consequently, teachers will not be able to assess their own students under National Standards in a nationally consistent and valid way.

National Standards sounded like a good policy last year - which is why so many supported it. Support appears to be dwindling when parents, teachers and principals realise that officials can't answer questions on how the policy is supposed to work better than current assessment practices without National Standards adjustments.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

More on Mana

It’s becoming clear to many Labour supporters that Kris Fa’afoi is not the best candidate on the left for Mana in the coming by-election. Jan Logie has a better connection to the electorate and Matt McCarten sounds a lot more principled.

I think Labour could have put up a better candidate, and if Fa’afoi does win the by-election, many in the Mana electorate will be asking why they are being represented by someone who is not from the electorate, who has criticised others such as Matt McCarten for not being from the electorate, when Hekia Parata is currently working in the electorate.

Liz Tanielu heads the Teaaomanino Trust. It is the biggest Pacific Island service provider in Mana, and Tanielu has voted Labour. But Tanielu supports Parata. Tanielu took part in a debate at a fundraising auction earlier this year, organised primarily by Parata's Mana office, and raised more than $30,000 for Mana youth. So Tanielu is no bystander, she is involved in the community and has seen what Parata can do as an MP. She has also seen what Laban did as an MP and doesn't appear to think that Fa'afoi measures up.

In a by election, you should be voting for the person you want to represent you. You should not be voting for an MP based on the party he or she belongs to, not whether that person represents the left or the right of politics. That’s what Liz Tanielu is advocating for. However it appears that those who vote Fa’afoi wil be voting him because he is Labour, those who vote for Parata will be voting for her because she is Hekia Parata. Those who vote for Matt McCarten will be voting him because he is Matt McCarten. Therefore this race should be between McCarten and Parata, it’s just a pity that Logie appears squeezed out by the bigger names. And it is also a shame that Fa’afoi is even standing, because he is the wrong candidate for Mana.

If Labour wins this by-election, Logie will still be living in Mana, McCarten will return to the place from whence he came, and many will consider Parata the de facto electorate MP even though she will still be a list MP.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mana Samoan community supports Hekia Parata

It's not only the expected support of Hekia Parata from Porirua Deputy Mayor Liz Kelly that is making news, many of the Pacific community now support Parata to win the Mana by-election. I think Mayor Nick Legett would also be pretty happy if Parata won.

Labour's Kris Fa'afoi has been favoured to take the seat, not because he is Kris Fa'afoi, but becuase he is Labour. But the tide is shifting, particularly in the Pacifica community. Parata is not a hard right National member - she can draw support from both the left and the right - and she is doing that at the moment.

On the left, Trevor Mallard endorses Hekia Parata, perhaps not to win the by-election, but certainly as a front runner to be a Minister now that Pansy Wong has gone. Trevor Mallard thinks Parata may make a good education Minister. She can certainly defend National Standards better than Anne Tolley.

Many Mana voters realise that they want a person who is familiar with, and has worked in, Mana. Those who want this have only one choice. Other candidates live in the electorate, but dont work in the electorate. Fa'afoi and Matt McCarten do neither. If anyone deserves to win the Mana by-election it is Hekia Parata. It remains to be seen whether voters agree next weekend. If Fa'afoi wins Mana, some community movers and shakers won't be too happy.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

cool cities



I know which city I`d rather live in - the bottom one. Wellington is just so much better than Auckland- and this week the weather has been superb. In fact the weather has been superb ever since the local body elections.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

What the schools rebelling against National Standards actually signed up to

The Herald is reporting that a third of schools that have signed up as having no confidence in National Standards are in fact going to implement National Standards after the Ministry rang the school to find out if they were or not.

It is important to be clear that each principal of every rebel school supports the board’s actions. But boards did not sign up to boycott the National Standards. They did not sign up to report to parents without using National Standards. They did not even sign up to point blank defer sending achievement targets relating to National Standards to the Ministry. They did not sign up on instructions or pressure from the NZEI or any other union.

Here’s what they signed up to. They signed up to an expression of no confidence in the standards as well as ticking one (or both) of two options. If option one is ticked, that incorporates option two anyway.
1. Urging the Minister to engage in rebuilding the standards in partnership with the sector and to work together for an outcome widely endorsed by the sector, with the action of deferring setting student achievement targets against National standards in 2011
That’s not a boycott. While it is an expression of no confidence, these schools have not agreed to stop reporting to parents using National Standards. If the Minister appropriately engages with the sector, no schools will defer setting 2011 achievement targets against National Standards.
2. Urging the Minister to engage in rebuilding the Standards in partnership with the sector and to work together for an outcome widely endorsed by the sector
A school could completely comply with National standards and sign this section.

Its unclear how many schools ticked option two only, how many ticked option one only, or how many ticked both options. Nobody seems to know.

What is interesting is that there is little guidance as to what the Ministry of Education requires in terms of how 2011 achievement targets are to be reported when schools forward their charters to the ministry early next year. What happens if schools report what appears to be National Standards data, but really the data is actually the assessment data, not that data aligned with the National Standards. What if the assessment alignment to National Standards is just a data transfer – in other words a school decides to grade the same proportion of people who meet the assessments as also meeting the National Standards. Who is to know?

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Monday, November 08, 2010

Another political protest on National Standards

National Party supporter Peter McKeefry has a few kids at Clyde Quay school and has complained that his school has "boycotted" National Standards without consulting parents. If he looked at his school newsletters and attended the arranged meetings on National Standards - including one next week - he would have a better idea of what his schools position on National Standards, because as a parent he has been consulted. He just chose not to turn up. He has been given all the relevant information. Has he read it? Or is it easier to undertake a political posturing exercise by going to the media and sending OIA requests to the school to get information that is publicly available.

McKeefry is threatening to withhold donations to the school next year in protest at the boycott. Yet McKeefry knows the school has not boycotted National Standards because he reads his kids' school reports. While Clyde Quay School is reporting to parents on National Standards, it is considering whether to report their 2012 achievement targets to the Education Ministry. He said that his school was denying him his "legal right to know how my children are doing at school."

He's wrong - and he is unable to advise how his legal right has been denied.

It is debatable as to whether a school is breaking the law if it doesn't report concrete 2011 achievement targets to the ministry. While school charters have to give effect to education guidelines, including National Standards, it is less clear how that is to be done when teacher judgements are based on current assessments, but aligned to national standards.

As National Standards are like benchmarks, any charters sent to the Ministry of Education that report the standards will be a little like reporting on how a school is using a scaling system that tells students, parents and Boards of Trustees nothing extra about students' actual academic achievement.

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Friday, November 05, 2010

The debates on National Standards are about politics, not education


National Standards in schools are becoming a hot topic as of late. The Minister has said that National Standards are to lift student achievement, while her Ministry has publicly stated that they “won’t make the difference” (to a students achievement) as they are merely signposts.

The trouble with recent debates on National Standards is that the issue has become highly politicised and rhetorical, with much of the news coverage focused on ideological debate and mired in claim and counter-claim. Often the focus on children, schools, and the National Curriculum has been lost altogether. Schools like Balmoral School and Island Bay School, who are publicly outspoken against National Standards and have said they will not implement them, better hope they have good ERO reports or else their educational shortcomings will be highlighted. And one wonders, if Balmoral school Board of Trustees is not only refusing to implement National Standards, but is leading the campaign against the standards in their area, why their school’s charter states it is to report to the Board of Trustees on National Standards in the Annual report. One wonders why its strategic goals state that they will “undertake training and development in the use of National Standards so that the school can report to students, parents, the Board, the community and the Ministry of Education”, when they are publicly opposed to the standards.

So far about 240 Boards of Trustees [full list here] have said they will not implement National Standards. Some have rejected them, others have decided not to provide education targets to the Ministry, but are currently writing school reports mentioning National Standards. Education officials have been reported as saying that the Minister may sack rebel boards of trustees and replace them with commissioners if they don’t toe the line.

While the Education Act does provide for that, if the Minister was to take this approach to boards who do not implement National Standards, she’d be breaking the law. To sack a board or appoint a commissioner, the Minister must have “reasonable grounds to believe that there is a risk to the operation of the school, or to the welfare or educational performance of its students”.

I doubt whether any minister, let alone Anne Tolley, could provide any grounds, let alone reasonable grounds that a board is risking the welfare or educational performance of its schools by refusing to implement National Standards.

But it is not just some opponents of National Standards that are making things up, stating that the standards are setting kids up to fail, supporters are also writing letters to Ministers. One of them, from Island Bay School, sent his letter to David Farrar at Kiwiblog who blogged it - you can read it here( or in the comments below). Among the allegations he raised were: that the Board of Trustees had no paperwork in reaching the schools decision on National Standards; that parents were not consulted apart from one open meeting, and implied that the slides used at that meeting were unavailable unless requested via the Official Information Act. Finally the parent called for the Minister to dismiss the schools Board of Trustees.

As earlier mentioned, the board can’t be dismissed simply for ignoring National Standards. Also the school had consulted on more than one occasion. All paperwork is publicly available, including Board minutes, and the slides were publicly available through the Ministry of Education, so no OIA request is needed. Had this parent bothered to show interest and attend a Board of Trustees meeting, or any other meeting, he could have got some answers. But this man doesn’t want answers, he wants to play politics. Instead of writing to the Board of Trustees, he writes to the Minister stating that schools who refuse to implement National Standards are “ not doing their job”, consequently requesting that the Minister act in an unlawful manner in sacking the board.

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