Being Economical With The Truth?
How does the saying go… “being economical with the truth”?

The debate over how the National Standards are being introduced involves a wide range of groups with vested interests- individual parents, Boards of Trustees, their national organisation, the School Trustees Association, individual school principals, their local principals’ associations, their national organisation, the New Zealand Principals’ Federation, teachers, their union, NZEI Te Riu Roa, the Opposition, and, of course, The Government and the Minister of Education, Anne Tolley.

Parents want the best educational outcomes for their children, of this there can be no argument. They want the best information they can get on their children’s progress in school. They want schools to be honest in their reporting of their child’s progress and they want such reporting to be in language that they can understand.

Boards of Trustees want to represent the interests of those who elected them, parents and, by default the children who attend their school. They strive to make the best decisions for their school on a huge range of matters, and to do this they take advice from a range of sources- their parents, their principal, other Boards perhaps, STA (the School Trustees Association), ERO, the Ministry, and so on. [Of course they will at times receive direction of what they must do (as in this case) and when THIS happens they will inevitably undertake discussion and debate as a Board as to whether the required actions are in the best interests of their children. After all Boards of Trustees were established to allow for ‘self management’.]

Principals will always lead their school with a caring but professional desire to manage a process that is innovative, visionary, and delivers the best education for their students. They will discuss current affairs with their colleagues and their school management and staff, and based on best advice and personal professional knowledge will provide advice to their Boards.

All who are involved with schools policies and practices do what they do based on the best advice they can get, and expect that advice to be honest and based on good research and current educational experience.

In this instance we have a Minister of Education making grand claims of universal acclaim for the National Standards that she has directed schools to implement despite opposition from various sectors. Perhaps this latest instance (linked story) is the most worrying- moreso than her manner with professional groups- wagging fingers at Principals’ Federation conference attendees, for example. She is clearly making a claim that is not true if the STA executive are to be believed (and is there any reason not to believe them?)  This should be of real concern that a Minister of the Crown can have an attitude that is tantamount to “if I say it is so, then it is so”!


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