Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The hilarity ensues itself

Previous posts all bulging at the seams with foreshadowy goodness have had occasion to mention our very own ACT party. Nominally a standard-bearer for libertarian ideals, this is now a subsidiary of the ruling National Party for purposes of general deniability, allowing the latter to present each lurch back towards the taxation policy, social welfare coverage and economic inequality of the Plantagenet period as a concession extracted from them by the wily bargaining skills of the sole ACT MP. The current incumbent of this post being one John Banks, in the time he has left over between (a) trading favours with German billionaires and (b) forgetting those dealings.

Which brings us to the 'Charter Schools' policy, or the "Tradition, or an old charter or something Schools" Policy to give it its full title. This was announced after the last election as a keystone of the coalition agreement between National and ACT, to the surprise of the blue-rinsed Epsom dowagers who voted for Banks, for it had not featured in the campaign. Nor indeed was it familiar to the ACT Policy Committee when they held their regular meeting in a Parnell bus-shelter.

No-one is quite sure where Charter Schools will fit into the current dispensation of State Schools, Private Schools catering to the scions of one or other elite group, and Special Character Schools.¹ The principal points seem to be that (1) they will be untrammelled by the inflexible straitjacket of centralised bureaucratic curricula, and (2) they will make profits for someone, and (3) they will probably be re-branded as 'Liberty Schools' as the dire outcomes of 'charter schools' in the US leak out from under the carpet.²

So a 'Charter School Working Group' has been recruited to investigate them and report back what a really good idea they are. The head of the Group being one Catherine Isaac, who lacks qualifications or experience in education... but she is a colleague of John Banks, i.e. a member of the sadly-diminished ACT party, looking for work (on account of the voters of New Zealand failing to recognise her fitness to represent them). Indeed, it appears that "Creating a well-paid niche for Catherine Isaac" is the primary purpose for the group's existence, although that name is admittedly unwieldy.³ Before anything else:
The decision has already been made to nominate Catherine Isaac as the Chair of the Group.
One might conclude that when ACT ideologues argue that the role and the staff of Gubblement should be shrunk to the absolute minimum, the one irreducible residual function that they see for it is "Employing ACT ideologues".

¹ These being private schools which lose more money than the customers are prepared to pay and thus require a subsidy from the Education Department.

² There is a fine tradition of National Gubblements waiting for this or that fine-sounding policy to be tested overseas and proven to be an abject failure before adopting it here, on account of Level Playing Field and such as.

³ The alternative title "Is there No Help for the Widow's Daughter Working Group" was also considered.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

How about the ECI ACT Act?

(Employ Catherine Isaac of ACT)

mikey said...

Nah, all the cool kids would use a recursive acronym.

Like how 'bout ACTUP?

That would be "ACT Unemployment Prevention". "ACT" referring to the party itself - the calls are coming from INSIDE the ideology!!

Bamboozlement requires either confusion or ambiguity. This would have the rubes scratching their heads (could be Weta-sized lice, but we'll go with bafflement) long enough to loot the treasury.

Up here, we go with ambiguity. Mitt won't take a position on anything: "Did you pee today, Gov. Romney?" "Well, you know, peeing is an important bodily function and should be done regularly, but it can also be an indicator of infection or kidney disease, so I would avoid recommending it unreservedly..."

Helmut Monotreme said...

I am surprised that in the vast jungle of schools that is private education, there has not been a revival of the stoic academy. Schools that teach history and science with a skeptical focus.

For example, teach history, but emphasize that it was written by the winners. Show that history's losers had some valid arguments, but lacked the critical smallpox resistance to argue their case as forcefully as they might have preferred.

Teach math. Teach Statistics. Teach lying by statistics. Teach how to spot when someone is trying to lie to you with statistics.

Teach science. Teach how to read science articles and tell when they are biased or exaggerated or wrong. Teach how to read a bibliography and follow up with reading the sources.

Teach rhetoric. Teach logical fallacies and how to spot them.

teach civics and law. How to be a good citizen, and how to check a voting record. Teach how to read a budget and a press release.

Teach economics. Show how it can be and is used as an instrument of class warfare. teach micro economics. Teach what a good house costs and what a good education costs, and how much one can expect to earn at a different jobs. Don't make them pick a career at age 12, but get them thinking about one.

Teach physical education with an emphasis on life long health rather than team sports.

Teach health. Teach how to cook and eat healthy meals. Teach what medicine is and what alternative medicine is and why you should stick to the first and avoid the second. Teach what mental health is. Teach what a mood sing is, and what depression is and how to tell the difference.

Sorry to go off the rails with an off topic comment, but every charter school i've ever hear of is more of the same crap I learned in public schools. Or they are so liberal arts focused they are only suited to turn out not-particularly-business-savy artists and unprepared elementary school teachers.

Rachel said...

Too bad the U.S. has set the bar for integrity so low, but your New Zild political characters stoop rather well!

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Schools that teach history and science with a skeptical focus.

Whoa, can't have students questioning the received wisdom of their betters. We need cookie cutter kids who will grow up to be placid, complacent working drones.

Another Kiwi said...

Mr Banks is learning about that dancing with the one what brung you, thing. And helping them out when they end up in jail.
Due to the voters of his electorate and our political system, this clown with trousers full of custard, is in the fecking government having their wet dreams of factory fodder education made real.
I'm not complaining about the voting system, merely about the selfish wankers who are fucking the country over for their own gain.

Substance McGravitas said...

Like how 'bout ACTUP?

Possibly controversial.