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Orwellian education coverage continues

September 5, 2012

Government ignores own ministry, Fairfax bury the story.

Fairfax Media are once again guilty of treating education in New Zealand with abject contempt. 

News that the National-led Government have ignored the advice of experts in their own Ministry of Education was picked up by the New Zealand Herald today, under the headline “Reckless policy ignored ministry’s advice”.  The story relates to the Government’s dogmatic desire to impose charter schools on New Zealand’s children, despite all the international evidence showing them to be detrimental, and the advice of New Zealand’s own education ministry around the importance of employing registered, trained teachers.

The Government, who have consistently pushed simplistic, dogmatic, Rightwing “solutions” on New Zealand’s education sector at the expense of research, data, and international best practice, are once again ignoring the experts.  And, once again, John Key’s very good friends at Fairfax have done their best to keep this information from readers and voters.  The version of the story that appeared on today was accessible only by an ambiguous link reading simply “No unregistered teachers: advice”.   Even more revealing is the fact that the link didn’t appear at all on either stuff’s main page, or, astoundingly, in the politics section.  In other words, Fairfax buried the story deep in the education section, where the average reader wouldn’t see it, let alone follow it to the apologetic version of the story they published.

The Herald’s piece looked like a real news story, with the intro: “The Government has been accused of ignoring the advice of its own ministry by allowing unregistered teachers to work in charter schools”.  But, over at Fairfax, the well hidden version – presumably only published at all in a desperate attempt to retain some kind of credibility – was less than ten sentences in length, and contained no comment whatsoever from anyone in the Opposition.

I have frequently accused Fairfax Media of sidelining the Opposition and using their political coverage as little more than a mouthpiece for the National Party.  If this wasn’t the case, why did they ignore the Press Release from Labour’s education spokeswoman Nanaia Mahuta, released at 10.29 yesterday morning? 

The answer is probably the same as the reason they ignored news that over 100 leading education academics had written to Education Minister Hekia Parata calling for a halt to league tables.  Quite simply, research-based facts don’t suit the argument of Rightwing educational idealists, so Fairfax simply apply an Orwellian avoidance of inconvenient news from actual experts.  As I noted on this page on that occasion,  marginalising intellectuals is not a good look.  In fact, historically, this has only ever led to a sharp lurch towards extremism, as fanatical rhetoric and dangerous dogma take the place of research, moderation and open debate.  It’s a slippery slope indeed, and Fairfax must be held accountable for their ongoing crusade against democracy in New Zealand.

The problem for them, is that those who peddle ignorance will always be opposed by those who are well informed, and the very nature of these two camps means that the latter will be smarter, and will ultimately win the real debate.  This can only damage Fairfax Media’s credibility even further.

If Fairfax were really interested in providing readers with anything other than Rightwing propaganda, they would surely have included this important story in their politics section, and provided a voice to the Opposition in a genuine news format, as the less partisan New Zealand Herald did.  The Herald, who quoted from Mahuta’s press release, informed their readers with a strong argument against the Government’s intentions. 

According to Nanaia Mahuta: “The Government’s own experts advised it that the “potential for a negative impact on students’ education from teachers who do not meet the minimum standards for the profession is high.” So why go ahead and allow unregistered teachers into the classroom? It is reckless and doesn’t make sense.

“The Ministry’s advice states that teacher registration is “one of the most influential levers in raising teacher quality.” And it says leaving charter schools to operate outside the programme of work to improve teacher quality will “significantly damage the credibility of the Crown.”

“The Government quite rightly makes a song and dance about teacher quality. But its decision on charter school teachers shows it is all talk. It doesn’t really care at all.

“John Banks, Hekia Parata and John Key should tell the public why they know better than the Ministry of Education. Better still they should admit they got it wrong on charter school teachers, and require teachers in all classrooms to be registered.”

If you’ve had enough of propaganda posing as news from this one-sided media corporation, please join our movement on facebook!/groups/fearfacts/, boycott Fairfax’s publications, avoid, and tell your friends to do the same.  With ever-growing numbers, we can and will make a lasting difference to the way news is reported in New Zealand.


From → Uncategorized

  1. Interesting development; the story no longer even appears in the education menu…

  2. You’re right, Neil.

    “Ministry advised against unregistered charter teachers ” – the story was so short and superficial that I wondered why John Hartevelt bothered. Talk about a “once over lightly”!

    The Herald article, by comparison, was far superior in length and depth.

    • Yeah, pathetic eh?
      Another case of a Fairfax editor going “um, can we cover this without turning it into an actual news story? Forget all that inverted triangle stuff you learned in training, and try to go easy on the National Party here. Oh, and tell the web editors not to put it on the main page, or in the politics section, or anywhere else where voters are likely to see it!”
      What a joke they are.

  3. Amazing isn’t it?
    Stuff avoided all comment from the Opposition in their “hidden” education story earlier in the week, despite Labour’s education spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta sending them a strong press release the previous day.
    No effort whatsoever to get hold of Mahuta in Wellington, yet when David Shearer makes a major education announcement, Fairfax (and ONLY Fairfax) bend over backwards to get a statement from John Key in Vladivostok, Russia within minutes.
    Little wonder Fairfax were the only major media company to escape Key’s police raid threats last year.

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