Friday, June 16, 2006

In the ballot XII

Another batch of Member's Bills currently in the ballot. Previous batches are indexed here:

Education (National Standards of Literacy and Numeracy) Amendment Bill (Bill English): This bill would set allow the Secretary of Education to set national literacy and numeracy standards for schools (in terms of pass rates etc), and require schools to report on their performance in achieving those standards. Currently, schools get to set their own standards, making interschool comparisons difficult. The bill isn't evil in itself; it all depends on what the standards are and what is done with them. It is however easy to see it as laying the groundwork for a future No Child Left Behind-style setup, in which schools are set impossible standards, then punished for not meeting them; the goal being to brand the public education system as a failure and thereby promote privatisation.

Teen Health Check Bill (Barbara Stewart): This bill would require DHBs to provide a free health check to every year 9 (4th form?) school student. The exact checks to be conducted would be specified by the Director-General of Health, but must at minimum "must include the examination of ear, eyes, nose, throat, and teeth, and general physical and mental fitness". DHBs would be required to provide free followup treatment. The bill is likely to be expensive to implement, and may therefore be subject to the government's financial veto.

Corrections (Contract Managed Prisons) Amendment Bill (Simon Power): This would amend the Corrections Act 2004 to allow private prisons. Whether you think this is a good idea or not realy depends on which you care about more: corporations being able to profit, or the fact that they would be profiting from human misery.

As usual, I'll have more bills as they trickle in.


Year 9 is third form from memory.

My students get a big test (chest x-ray, height, weight, blood, mental wellness) every year, and a piss test twice a year.

Posted by Stephanie : 6/16/2006 05:01:00 PM

I was about to say the same.

I don't really know how the ballot works, but didn't you say the other that that a sort of pre-ballot was held in which Simon Power's bill, being a bill substantially the same as Judy Turner's was sort of de-selected?

Will that happen again before the next draw?

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 6/16/2006 08:21:00 PM

If they both put their bills in again, yes. Standing Orders bar bills from addressing the same topic as another bill in the ballot, or a bill which has been recently debated. Though this is interpreted quite tightly; the various easter trading laws which have been drawn recently were considered different enough to be voted on.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/16/2006 08:54:00 PM

As somebody who went through three years of NCEA, I really don't think it's too intrusive on teaching time: most classes, the entire last term, or more, was spent on revision (a.k.a. busywork to fill time until their x-many legally-required half-days are up). That's a statement that gets thrown around that simply isn't true.

There is sometimes a problem in that some schools attempt to... not exactly game the system, but certainly try to increase their pass rates by including scammy unit standards (which, to be clear, are different to NCEA acheivement standards) and thus bumping up their credit totals. That does intrude on teaching time, but is more of a PR exercise by the school's management who want to tout high pass rates than a consequence of the NCEA.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/16/2006 10:54:00 PM

Anon: And the obsession with league-tablings and rankings simply encourages those sorts of games. I don't expect English's bill to help on that front.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/16/2006 11:06:00 PM


To provide some context and an example, I had an ex-girlfriend at a particular integrated school in Wellington, who took an additional four unit standards in Level 1 Mathematics, worth around eight credits. These standards added nothing to the 24 credits from achievement standards (the standard Maths programme), except another eight credits and almost assured Level 1 numeracy for the students: and seven days of lost class time. It has however given them an artificially inflated ranking (and it is artificial, because it's a genuinely terrible school), so I'm sure the school is pleased.

I'd support a bill to close that loophole, but I can't for the life of me think how. Additional unit standards do serve a purpose sometimes. If English could quit his attempted political point-scoring and do something actually useful for education for once we could all be grateful.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/16/2006 11:35:00 PM

I/S: you did 3 years of NCEA? just how old are you? pretty bloody young....

Posted by Anonymous : 6/17/2006 04:31:00 AM

Anon: I think you're confusing me with the anon who posted immediately before me.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/17/2006 09:52:00 AM

Stewart's bill is eminently sensible. I hope the government does place due weight on the
advantages that such programmes
could produce for low-income
families who ration doctor's
visits for monetary reasons-
as well as downstream spending
savings if they stop the onset
of adverse health conditions in
their tracks.

Wonder if the Greens'll support it?

Craig Y.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/17/2006 10:00:00 AM

Craig: it may be sensible, but if they want it to happen, they need to get the public firmly on their side. Otherwise the government can say "no - this would upset our budget" regardless of what the final vote is.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/17/2006 10:16:00 AM