National’s Luxon may be glum about his poll ratings but has he found a winner in promising to raise scholastic achievement?

National Party leader Christopher Luxon may  be feeling glum about his poll ratings, but  he could be tapping  into  a rich political vein in  describing the current state of education as “alarming”.

Luxon said educational achievement has been declining,  with a recent NCEA pilot exposing just how far it has fallen: a staggering two-thirds of students are unable to meet the minimum standard in reading, writing and maths.

“National will not allow this to continue. National will make sure every child leaving primary and intermediate school can master the basics so they can succeed at high school and lead fulfilling lives,” he said.

This is  something that will resonate  with parents. It follows last  week’s  strike by tens of thousands of teachers who were demanding – wait for it – better pay and conditions.  In  forcing the closure of schools across the country, the  teachers  had apparently  little  concern  for the plight of their pupils.

For  some time   it has been evident that  standards in state schools  have been slipping.  Blaming it on Covid is too simplistic. Continue reading “National’s Luxon may be glum about his poll ratings but has he found a winner in promising to raise scholastic achievement?”

When does history become “ancient”, on Tinetti’s watch as Minister of Education – and what of the compound adjective?

Buzz from the Beehive

Auckland was wiped off the map, when Education Minister Jan Tinetti delivered her speech of welcome as host of the inaugural Conference of Pacific Education Ministers “here in Tāmaki Makaurau”.

But – fair to say – a reference was made later in the speech to a project

“… which supported 60 learners and their families in South Auckland to stay engaged with their education”. 

Tinetti proceeded to say in her opening remarks:

“Aotearoa is delighted to be hosting you all.”

She opted for Aotearoa on 22 occasions, including–

“I know that, standing here before you, in my first international engagement as Aotearoa Minister of Education that I have a lot of work to do.  

The speech is among the latest posts on the Beehive website: Continue reading “When does history become “ancient”, on Tinetti’s watch as Minister of Education – and what of the compound adjective?”

Major issues on the table in Mahuta’s  talks in Beijing with China’s new Foreign Minister

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has left for Beijing for the first ministerial visit to China since 2019.

Mahuta is  to  meet China’s new foreign minister Qin Gang  where she  might have to call on all the  diplomatic skills  at  her  command.

Almost certainly she  will  face  questions  on what  role NZ  might  seek  to  play in the AUKUS defence pact involving Australia, the UK and the US.

President Joe Biden’s National Security Council co-ordinator for the Indo Pacific, Kurt Campbell, was  reported  this week as saying the US is looking for other working group partners now that the ‘critical components’ of the Indo-Pacific alliance have been launched. Continue reading “Major issues on the table in Mahuta’s  talks in Beijing with China’s new Foreign Minister”

CHRIS TROTTER:  Te Pāti Māori’s uncompromising threat to the status quo

  • Chris Trotter writes –

The Crown is a fickle friend. Any political movement deemed to be colourful but inconsequential is generally permitted to go about its business unmolested. The Crown’s media, RNZ and TVNZ, may even “celebrate” its existence (presumably as proof of Democracy’s broad-minded acceptance of diversity).

Should the movement’s leader(s) demonstrate a newsworthy eccentricity, then they may even find themselves transformed into political celebrities. The moment a political movement makes the transition from inconsequentiality to significance, however, then all bets are off – especially if that significance is born of a decisive rise in its parliamentary representation.

Te Pāti Māori (TPM) is currently on the cusp of making that crucial transition from political novelty to political threat. The decision of the former MP for Waiariki, Labour’s Tamati Coffey, to step away from his parliamentary career at the end of the current term will be welcome news to TPM’s male co-leader, Rawiri Waititi, who took the seat from Coffey in 2020. There is a good chance, now, for Waititi to turn the Māori seat of Waiariki into TPM’s anchor electorate.

Continue reading “CHRIS TROTTER:  Te Pāti Māori’s uncompromising threat to the status quo”

More Māori words make it into the OED, and polytech boss (with rules on words like “students”) is promoting the use of others

Buzz from the Beehive 

 New Zealand Education Minister Jan Tinetti is hosting the inaugural Conference of Pacific Education Ministers for three days from today, welcoming Education Ministers and senior officials from 18 Pacific Island countries and territories, and from Australia.

Here’s hoping they have brought translators with them – or packed the latest edition of the OED.  The publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary last week announced the OED has deepened its coverage of New Zealand English by adding 47 new entries.

The new words include Kiwiness (1967)a noun signifying the quality or fact of being from New Zealand and to characteristics regarded as typical of New Zealand or New Zealanders.

However, most of the words in this latest update are borrowings from Māori – or te reo – one of New Zealand’s official languages. The Māori renaissance that began in the 1970s has seen Māori language and culture moving from the margins to the centre of national life in New Zealand, and this is reflected in the substantial number of Māori words that have become part of the vocabulary of both Māori and Pakeha (non-Māori) speakers of English, several of which are now making it into the OED for the first time.

Continue reading “More Māori words make it into the OED, and polytech boss (with rules on words like “students”) is promoting the use of others”

Letter to the NZ Herald: NCEA pseudoscience – “Mauri is present in all matter”

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  • Nick Matzke writes –  

Dear NZ Herald,

I am a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland. I teach evolutionary biology, but I also have long experience in science education and (especially) political attempts to insert pseudoscience into science curricula in the USA.

I just read the NZ Herald article on mātauranga Māori and NCEA: How mātauranga Māori is being rolled out in schools, Rangi Mātāmua explains the knowledge system.

Unfortunately, I think the NZ Herald is uncritically repeating an overly rosy take from NCEA and the Ministry of Education. At least amongst scientists and science teachers, there has actually been a huge controversy over the NCEA Level 1 Chemistry & Biology draft curriculum. Continue reading “Letter to the NZ Herald: NCEA pseudoscience – “Mauri is present in all matter””

BRIAN EASTON: Radical Uncertainty

  • Brian Easton writes –

Two senior economists challenge some of the foundations of current economics.

It is easy to criticise economic science by misrepresenting it, by selective quotations, and by ignoring that it progresses, like all sciences, by improving and abandoning old theories. The critics may go on to attack physics by citing Newton.

So it is with considerable pleasure that one engages with John Kay and Mervyn King’s Radical Uncertainty. The authors are senior economists who have taught at major universities. Each has much practical experience. Kay left senior positions in the academy to work as a consultant and as a columnist and he has written a number of earlier books (some of which I should have reviewed); King was Governor of the Bank of England from 2003 to 2013 so that he oversaw the central bank during the Global Financial Crisis.

Because it is a serious critique of economics, the book has to go back into the foundations of the discipline. A useful starting point is the distinction between ‘risk’ and ‘uncertainty’ which faces anybody thinking about, or preparing for, the future.

Briefly, risk is about where there are probabilities attached to future events; uncertainty is where there are not. The latter events include the ‘unknown unknowns’, or as Kay and King call them ‘radical uncertainties’. Continue reading “BRIAN EASTON: Radical Uncertainty”

Financial capability services are being bucked up, but Stuart Nash shouldn’t have to see if they can help him (not yet)

Buzz from the Beehive 

The building of financial capability was brought into our considerations when Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced she had dipped into the government’s coffers for $3 million for “providers” to help people and families access community-based Building Financial Capability services.

That wording suggests some Building Financial Capability services are not community-based and are not being helped with government funding.

The ministerial press statement further suggests someone should sort out which initial letters in words should be capitalised and which should not – or, even better, why any of them should be capitalised.

In the headline and the first paragraph, the initial letters of Building Financial Capability are capitalised, but not the initial word of services.

But then the minister says:

“Demand for Financial Capability Services is growing as people face cost of living pressures. Those pressures are increasing further in areas affected by flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle.”

“We’re reprioritising an additional $3 million to invest in MSD-funded Building Financial Capability services to support demand.”

Continue reading “Financial capability services are being bucked up, but Stuart Nash shouldn’t have to see if they can help him (not yet)”

Greens don’t shy from promoting a candidate’s queerness but are quiet about govt announcement on clean energy

There was a time when a political party’s publicity people would counsel against promoting a candidate as queer.

No matter which of two dictionary meanings the voting public might choose to apply – the old meaning of odd, strange, weird, or aberrant, or the more recent meaning of gay, homosexual or LGBT – “queer” would be regarded as a dubious attribute to promote for winning popular support.

Nowadays, clearly, the word is no longer shunned for vote-winning purposes and the Green Party today has injected an element of gay pride into its news that:

Green Party Announces Gina Dao-McLay As Candidate For Mana Electorate

The Green Party is proud to announce Gina Dao-McLay as their candidate for Mana. Gina is a queer young person living in Porirua, the Co-Convenor of the nationwide Young Greens network and the former Co-Director of  of Make It 16, the campaign to lower the voting age which won their case against the Government in the Supreme Court.

Mind you, geography probably plays a part in the extent to which queerness should be promoted on the hustings.

According to Time magazine, Republican lawmakers in Florida appear likely to expand provisions in the Parental Rights in Education Act, or so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law, with a host of new restrictions on what teachers can and cannot say in their classrooms about gender, sex, and sexual orientation. Continue reading “Greens don’t shy from promoting a candidate’s queerness but are quiet about govt announcement on clean energy”