Seven Sharp undermines Government, educators, schools, teachers and parents

The Government and the Ministry of Education plus many schools and teachers have been working hard setting up learning from home programmes and resources ready for Term to start today.

Last night Nigel Latta on Seven Sharp undermined a lot of this, saying if kids didn’t want to do any school work they should be allowed to sit and watch TV instead.  Apart from sending the opposite message to kids on the importance of keeping up with studies, this also undermined the battle we have been making here to reduce excessive screen time and get a lazy teenager off the couch for at least part of the day.

Many parents and grandparents and caregivers have already been doing some teaching from home and preparing children for schooling from home when the term starts.

On the eve of term 2 Seven Sharp had an item they are now promoting as  How to cope with kids learning at home during the lockdown

Term two will begin with online classes soon with Nigel Latta providing some tips for stressed parents.

We decided to watch this with a 15 year old grandson who we spent some time with yesterday preparing for the start of the term.

The message from Latta completely undermined this and the work we have been doing over the last three weeks.

Asking “How much home schooling do children really need during the lockdown?” Latta replied:

“Well, the simple answer is none. Need versus want.

“So there’s some kids that will want to do school work and that’s great because teachers have worked really hard and there’s lots of good content for them to do, and if they want to do it, and they enjoy doing it, and it’s easy for the parents to do, and it doesn’t add stress, great, do it.

“If you’re trying to juggle work and a bunch of other things and the kids don’t want to do it and it’s just adding stress, don’t do it, and it will do them no harm at all.”

So kids listening to that who don’t want to do any school work will figure that stressing their parents may get them off.

Hillary Barry:

“That will be so reassuring for so many parents, honestly, because as we go into this third week that seems to be the growing anxiety amongst adults who have children at home, that they’re worried kids are going to fall behind during this period”..

Latta:

“Yeah. They totally will not fall behind and you absolutely shouldn’t worry about this. We’re talking about a few weeks, and honest my boys are older now but if my boys were school age, little kids age and they were at home, and they wanted to do school work, I couldn’t be saying ‘Are you sure? You could just watch tele like’, like literally, honestly that’s what I’d do because it would just be less stressful.

“If kids want to, and they enjoy it, great, do it, and teachers are working really hard to put good resources online, but your kids will not be any worse off…”

“The most important thing is keep your home calm and settled, and that’s the thing that will be of most benefit to your children, and don’t add in fighting and anxiety about school work when you don’t need to”.

The message I get from this is that kids should be able to choose what they do, and if they don’t want to do something and watch tv instead all they need to do is kick up a fuss and cause stress to get their own way. Parents battle against this all the time.

Given the choice most kids will choose not to do school work. A lot of kids would choose not to go to school. But there are good reasons for guiding them with their activities, and not just letting them lie on the couch watching television all day.

Latta:

“Your job, if you’re a parent your most important job has nothing to do with anything else, it has to do with you providing a safe and calm environment for your kids.

“And if that means no school, and more playing and a bit more screen time or maybe just playing games as a family or helping doing some baking or whatever, that’s completely fine.”

Of course that’s all fine, many parents and caregivers have been doing all that for the last three weeks with their kids. But that doesn’t mean letting kids do whatever they want to do, and not doing things they can’t be bothered doing.

“…honest to god, I’d be saying to my boys, ‘there’s tele, we could just watch tele, like there’s no one can see us, it’ll be fine'”.

Many parents already have to fight against too much aitting on the couch, too much tv time, and too much device time. They can be useful pastimes and babysitters at time, but if you give kids free choice it can become a big problem – and in itself stressful.

Up until here it was vague about which age group Latta was referring to. There’s a big difference between the needs and free choice of 5 year olds versus 18 year olds. He was next asked specifically about secondary school kids.

So for secondary school kids it’s a bigger deal and they all feel pressure. One of the things I think parents should be saying to secondary school kids is, what we know from what happened after the Christchurch earthquake there was a lot of concern about how that would impact on kids NCEA results, and in fact the disrupted schools NCEA scores went up, they improved after all the disruption and the shifting around from the earthquakes.

I doubt that’s because the kids were given free choice about whether they did any school work.

“So again their stuff isn’t as fragile as they might think. It’s just about working through with your kids, helping them to kind of calm themselves down and to focus and to do the level of school work they want to do, and again, don’t get into fights with your teenagers about school work either….

“Don’t fight with your teenagers about school work. You should encourage them if they do have NCEA stuff coming up, I’d be doing that if I had teenagers, but I would not be adding stress that I don’t need to add in….

“Your most important job with teenagers is to keep things calm and settled”.

‘Calm and settled’ for many teenagers means doing as they please, which is as little as possible. Stay up as late as they like, stay in bed all morning, spend most of their time on their devices, on the internet and watching TV.

But that can be quite stressful for parents and caregivers, seeing teenagers vegetate and reinforcing laziness and not care about others in the household, and no care about their futures.

Teenagers can use stress, create stress by kicking up a storm, to try to get their own way. Latta has given them a signal that more of this will get them what they want – doing as little as possible.

I’m currently caring for a 15 year old who actually doesn’t mind doing school work when he’s made to, he likes achieving things academically. But he’s bone idle lazy and given a choice would do no school work, wouldn’t help around the house, wouldn’t shower, would live off convenience and junk food, would want to take control of the tv and sit all day on the couch on the internet. After watching Latta he got two more cushions because he was getting a little uncomfortable from lying on the couch.

Latta has undermined what we’re trying to do to instill self responsibility and also joint household responsibility, and to instill a work ethic in a lazy teenager. We’ll work through this and get a school work from home programme organised today, but Latta has made our job a bit harder.

It’s actually less stressful here when teenagers contribute some effort into the household and into their academic futures and don’t complain about being bored and don’t keep asking to use youtube and get more games on their smart phone.

 

Dunedin school to close after student tests positive for virus

Until now New Zealand schools have been left out of large gathering bans to try to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus, but today a Dunedin school pupil tested positive and is in self-isolation, and his school will close for 48 hours at least.

ODT: Pupil tests positive, school to close

A Logan Park High school pupil has tested positive for coronavirus, meaning his school will close for at least 48 hours.

The Otago Daily Times was told that parents of pupils at the school received emails this evening confirming the news.

The pupil is the son of a Dunedin man who recently returned from Germany and has also tested positive for the virus, the Southern District Health Board said this evening.

The SDHB announced earlier today that contact tracing was under way after the man – in his 40s – tested positive and that results for two other family members were expected back today.

This evening it was confirmed the pupil had tested positive and the school would close for 48 hours as a consequence.

The DHB said contact tracing was now being undertaken to identify anyone who may have come into close contact with the parent, and it would be working with the school and family to identify any close contacts of the student over the next 24 to 48 hours.

Close contacts will be contacted by Public Health staff and will go into self-isolation for 14 days from their last contact with the student.

The school was working with both education staff and public health officials.  It will now close for at least 48 hours while close contacts are traced and put in self isolation and casual contacts given advice about what to do if they become unwell.  The school will be carefully cleaned before reopening.

So the first school to be shut down due to the virus. There is likely to be more, if not a blanket shutdown sooner or later.

And spread is inevitable.

Meanwhile, shortly before learning about the testing at Logan Park, a Dunedin mum whose teenage son goes to that school learned her youngest son was also being tested.

The woman, whom the Otago Daily Times is not naming, said her three-year-old son had been tested for the virus after being sent home sick from daycare.

She was expecting to receive results within 24 hours.

I don’t have much personal concern, but this is close to home. Logan Park High School is the closest secondary school to where I live, and there are possible ways people I have contact with have had contact with the Dunedin cases. I guess the contact tracing will identify any of this.

It brings home, or close to home, how this is affecting all of us and could affect us significantly more.

 

Labour/Government spending on schools

In her Speech to the 2019 Labour Party Conference Jacinda Ardern gave details of plans provide money to all schools for maintenance.

…next year almost every single state school in New Zealand will receive a one-off payment of up to $400,000 to upgrade their classrooms and facilities.

This is the biggest cash injection for school maintenance in at least 25 years.

It will create jobs in every community in the country while helping to make our schools the special places they deserve to be.

Every school will get a payment of $693 per student, capped at a maximum of $400,000, while no school will get less than $50,000 regardless of how small their roll is.

@henrycooke: The funding maxes out at $400k per school but also has a $50k floor. This creates some wild ratios, eg: Auckland Grammar, with 2421 students, will receive the max of $400k – $165 per student. Papanui Junction School, roll of 7, will receive the minimum of $50k – $7k per kid.

Be it classroom upgrades or extensions, ensuring classrooms are warm and dry so our kids can learn, replacing coal boilers with new clean and energy efficient heating, improving play areas with resurfacing and landscaping, replacing roofing and guttering – this money is to ensure that the projects that schools have often had to defer can now get done.

But this isn’t just about schools – it’s about jobs. And especially trades jobs.

We want schools to engage local builders, plumbers, carpenters, roofers, landscapers – this is an opportunity for work at a local level in every town and city in the country.

Now this is just the first part of our infrastructure package, and one element of our work to rebuild New Zealand.

And it will leave a visible mark on every school in the country.

Now I know that what happens to our school buildings is one thing but what happens within them matters even more.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, text

She also announced a Ministry of Education offer to pay all school support staff at least ‘the living wage’.

So I want to finish by acknowledging that on Friday, the Ministry of Education made a new offer to settle the school support staff collective agreement, which, if accepted, will see teacher aides and other support staff receive at least the living wage.

Today, I can also announce that we intend for the Ministry to extend the living wage offer to all non-teaching staff in schools including cleaners, caretakers, and grounds people.

A lot of people will like this expenditure, and many will benefit from it. It won’t do any harm for Labour’s election chances next year either.

School pupil climate change protests

Thousands of school pupils took to the streets today in protest about a lack of action on climate change. They had also protested on 15 March but that was overshadowed by the Christchurch mass shooting.

It’s good to see teenagers prepared to speak up about issues that are important to them, and to many, climate change inaction is of extreme importance and urgency.

RNZ:  Thousands of children across New Zealand turn out for climate change strikes

The second round of climate change strikes have been taking place today with thousands of school and tertiary students around Aotearoa skipping classes to take part.

Around 1000 turn out in Auckland

The Auckland Schools Strike for Climate wrapped up after 1000 students lay down on Queen St in protest with students from at least 20 schools taking part.

They were chanting and holding signs, and with police escorts, shut down entire blocks of Queen St as they lay down, and chanted “Wake Up”.

Wellington students call for declaration of climate change emergency

In Wellington, student leaders at the school strike for climate have urged the government to toughen up its zero carbon bill.

Thousands of students marched from Civic Square, through downtown Wellington to Parliament in Wellington, where they urged MPs to move the goal for net zero carbon emissions from 2050 to 2040.

They also called for Parliament to declare a climate emergency.

Strike leaders told the rally the world is in an emergency and political leaders need to act.

Christchurch students also turn out after 15 March strike cut short

More than 200 students and parents gathered in Christchurch, where the first school strike on 15 March was cut short by news of the mosque attacks.

Zahra Husseini said the well-being of the environment is emphasised in her religion.

“It’s very important we look after our nature, our environment because it affects our personal well-being as well in our community.”

‘Our education won’t mean anything … if the world is in flames’ – Nelson student

In Nelson, hundreds of students from schools throughout Nelson and Tasman marched down the main street.

A large crowd gathered on the Church Steps, before the students chanted their way along Trafalgar Street, attracting huge support from onlookers.

Stuff: Kiwi school students strike again for urgent action on climate change

Thousands of youngsters nationwide dropped pens for placards on Friday, calling for urgent action on climate change for the second time.

In Wellington, students gathered in Wellington’s Te Ngākau, Civic Square, before marching through the streets to Parliament.

The crowds shouted “no more coal, no more oil, keep your carbon in the soil”, calling for “climate justice” and drastic action by political leaders to enforce change. Adults shouted support to protesters as they bee-lined toward the Beehive.

Stuff – Hear our voice: Waikato and Coromandel students demand climate change action

In Hamilton, about 300 students converged on Civic Square on Friday afternoon to chant slogans, wave banners, and to grill politicians on environmental issues.

In Thames, students called on MPs and the council to take urgent action to address climate change.

Meanwhile, south of Hamilton, the Cambridge Tree Trust put on its own climate strike outside Cambridge Town Hall.

Charlotte Matthews, nine, took the day off school to support the protest and said politicians need to treat climate change as an emergency.

ODT:

School pupils and students marched along George St in Dunedin today, as part of strike action aimed at sending a message to New Zealand politicians about the urgency of climate action.

Zedd reports from Dunedin:

just got back, about an hour ago.. about 1000 attendees, mostly school kids, but also; quite a crowd of ‘we older folks too’

whilst they are often seen as ‘all noise’.. at least they are out there making it, as opposed to APATHY !

nga mihi ki a koutou 🙂

Expect this to be ongoing.

Climate change protests versus school

More in the build up to Friday’s climate change protests that have already been effective at raising attention.

@BenThomasNZ:

If anyone is still interested in “should kids go on the the climate strike” takes, this one by a teacher I know is probably the best

If it’s a one-off or occasional thing I have no problem with children (teenagers) taking a bit of time off school to take part in an organised protest. It is likely to inspire them a lot more than just another day at school.

Compulsory te Reo Māori in schools?

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori  (Māori  Language Week) is being used to promote wider use of the language, and calling for compulsory te reo Māori in schools.

There has been some teaching of te reo Māori in schools for years, like days of the week, counting in Māori and other basics alongside cultural awareness and more. Schools in Dunedin with very small numbers of Māori pupils have popular kapa haka groups.

So I think the question is how much te reo Māori (and Māori  culture and history) should be taught in schools.

I’m happy for a continuation of what is being done with te Reo Māori in primary schools now, and perhaps an increase, alongside all the other specific and general topics on the curriculum. Fundamentals like reading, writing and arithmetic are essential, as well as art, music and physical education. Māori history, Aotearoa history and new Zealand history are important for kids to know something about.

All of these subjects are compulsory at Primary level now, so there’s no reason to change that. One question is whether to increase how much is taught.

And probably the biggest question is whether conversational Māori should be taught. I’d be happy if it was, to an extent. It should at least be promoted as a positive thing to learn.

But when it comes to Secondary level I don’t think Māori should be compulsory. Most subjects at this level should be choices for pupils.

Is English still compulsory? I expect so, and I think there’s a good case for this, especially to say Form 5 (now year 11). Everyone benefits from a good working knowledge of English in this country, and it is useful in many places around the world.

But I think that Māori, and French and Japanese and Chinese and any other languages, should be optional rather than compulsory at Secondary school.

 

Hipkins clarifies Northcote school rebuild not by-election related

Labour’s candidate in the Northcote by-election, Shanan Halbert, tried to capitalise on a school rebuild announcement in his campaigning.

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins clarified – albeit a day later – that the rebuild had nothing to do with campaign promises, it would have happened anyway.

Another mass shooting, more prayers, Trump flips

Mass shootings in the US seem to be about as common as violence in the Middle East, and are far more common and more dangerous than terrorism.

Paltry prayers have been offered, demands have been made again that something must be done, but President Trump is now up to a flip flop flip on doing something about rampant gun violence.

Reuters: Texas Shooting Suspect Had Message for Classmates: ‘You Will Pay,’ Witnesses Say

A 17-year-old student confessed to opening fire at his Texas high school on Friday, killing 10 people, and told investigators that he had spared certain students “so he could have his story told,” the authorities said.

A Galveston County Sheriff’s Office investigator wrote in an affidavit that Dimitrios Pagourtzis had waived his right to remain silent and had given “a statement admitting to shooting multiple people” at Santa Fe High School. The investigator, identified only as J. Roy, also wrote that Mr. Pagourtzis had said that “he did not shoot students he did like so he could have his story told.”

Mr. Pagourtzis’s apparently well-planned assault in this rural community of about 13,000 people was the deadliest school shooting since February, when 17 people were killed in Parkland, Fla. But investigators said that Mr. Pagourtzis had given no overt indications that he was planning a mass shooting.

“Unlike Parkland, unlike Sutherland Springs, there were not those types of warning signs,” Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said, referring to the Florida school attack and a siege at a church last November.

Mass shootings are awful, but not unfortunately not unusual in The United States of America.

The Gun Violence Archive statistics for the year so far, including the Santa Fe shooting.

  • Total number of incidents 21,938
  • Number of deaths 5,433
  • Number of injuries 9,877
  • Mass shootings 101

Horrific, and horrible that the US seems powerless to do anything substantial about the problem.

This compares to an estimated 512 terrorist attacks world wide with 2,692 deaths – see Terrorist Attacks.

President Trump has responded saying mass shootings have been ‘going on too long in our country’, but not long ago promised a National Rifleman’s Association rally that he would protect gun rights.

Politico: Trump says mass shootings have been ‘going on too long in our country’

The president says he is ‘determined’ to protect students after the latest school shooting leaves at least 10 dead.

President Donald Trump on Friday said mass shootings have been “going on too long in our country” and promised action after a Texas community was rocked by a school shooting that left at least 10 dead.

“My administration is determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools and to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves and to others,” Trump said, speaking at a White House event on Friday. “Everyone must work together at every level of government to keep our children safe.”

He indicated he would do something after the Parkland shooting in February.

Trump, who briefly alarmed gun-rights activists by suggesting aggressive measures after the February shooting in Parkland, Fla., did not specify what sort of actions his administration might take.

The usual thoughts and prayers:

At a prison reform event at the White House, Pence and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner voiced sympathies for the victims.

“We’ll continue to monitor the situation and we will make all federal resources available to first responders and school officials in the wake of this incident,” Pence said.

“I just want to send our thoughts and prayers to the people of Santa Fe,” Kushner added.

Trump, in remarks near the end of the prison reform event, offered a somber tone as he told those affected by the latest shooting that “we’re with you in this tragic hour, and we will be with you forever.”

But he recently pandered to the NRA:

However, Trump returned to more strident language during the National Rifle Association’s annual convention earlier this month, telling attendees that their Second Amendment rights “will never, ever be under siege as long as I am your president.”

As lethal sieges at schools and other public places continue unabated in the US.

Trump proposes more guns to combat too many guns

President Donald trump has a proposal to combat shootings in schools – let teachers carry concealed handguns. In a country with far too many firearms and far too many killings, he has proposed more firearms.

He said this in front of people who went to the White House to implore him to do something to prevent more shootings.

In the shooting in Las Vegas last October where 58 people were killed and 851 injured, concealed handguns were no use.

Chicago Tribune: Trump’s solution for school shootings: arm teachers, post veterans with guns

Seated between teenage survivors of the Florida school shooting, President Donald Trump said during an Oval Office listening session Wednesday that arming teachers and posting gun-toting veterans in schools could deter or stop school shooters.

His comments came during an emotional meeting that included Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and school-shooting survivors and families who had lost children to gun violence, including a father who buried his daughter just last week. They poured out grief and anger over the lack of efforts to stem school shootings.

Trump talked about strengthening background checks and increasing mental health resources. But his most pointed and specific remarks came when he spoke about adding security to schools by arming teachers and posting gun-equipped veterans.

Trump posited that if Aaron Feis, a popular football coach, has been armed, he could have stopped the gunman who killed Feis and 16 others last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“If the coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy – that coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives, I suspect – but if he had a firearm he would not have had to run. He would have shot and that would be the end of it,” Trump said.

He then proposed to arm 20 percent of schoolteachers and to hire veterans as armed school guards.

“A teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They’d go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer be a gun-free zone,” Trump said. He suggested that an armed teacher on campus could reach a school shooter faster than responding police officers. “You’d have a lot of people that would be armed, that’d be ready.”

His proposal to make 20 percent of public schoolteachers ready to fire back at a school shooter would mean training and arming about 640,000 people nationwide.

I’m not sure how much ongoing training the 640,000 armed teachers would require. There’s also likely to be a reluctance by many teachers and schools to become armed fortresses.

The idea got a warm reception among some parents, but was met with swift backlash from teachers’ groups nationwide.

“Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence. Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms,” said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, the largest teachers union. The group represents 3 million educators in K-12 schools and on college campuses. “We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that.”

“This is bar none, the worst theory of action I’ve ever heard,” said Shanna Peeples, a former educator who worked in Texas when she won the 2015 National Teacher of the Year award. She shared her thoughts on Twitter. “Texas law allows schools to arm their teachers. That’s not a good thing. None of us are trained to respond to threats in the way law enforcement is.”

Strictly limiting the number of high capacity assault weapons that can be bought and owned would be a more sensible approach.

Florida school shooting

Another horrific mass shooting in the US, this time at a school in Florida.

Reuters: FBI was warned about alleged Florida gunman, could not locate

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was warned last year about an ominous online comment by the 19-year-old man accused of killing 17 people in his former high school but was unable to locate him, an agent said on Thursday.

Authorities said the ex-student, identified as Nikolas Cruz, walked into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, near Miami, on Wednesday and opened fire with an AR-15-style assault rifle in the second-deadliest shooting at a public school in U.S. history.

Cruz may have left warning signs on social media. A person with his name wrote a comment last year under a YouTube video that read “I‘m going to be a professional school shooter.” The man who posted the video, Ben Bennight, a Mississippi bail bondsman, was alarmed and contacted the FBI, according to a video he posted online late Wednesday.

Wednesday’s shooting was the 18th in a U.S. school this year, according to gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety. It stirred the long-simmering U.S. debate on the right to bear arms, which are protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

President Donald Trump addressed the shooting in a White House speech that emphasized school safety and mental health while avoiding any mention of gun policy.

“It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference,” Trump said at the White House. “We must actually make that difference.”

The big question is, given the number of guns and the lax gun laws in the US – how? There is no obvious answer that the NRA lobby and politicians they fund are likely to accept.