Petty teachers in NZ

I have mentioned how sucky the NZ school system is before here and in this post and also here.

And now I am totally ashamed of the principals and teachers. They are being so arrogant and self-absorbed. Here, read for yourself:

Threat to fudge exam results

By NATHAN BEAUMONT - The Dominion Post

Schools are threatening to fudge test results and find the easiest tests possible to boost results and undermine the introduction of the Government's controversial national standards.
Hundreds of primary school principals have said they will boycott the Government's flagship policy unless changes are made to limit public access to schools' performance data.
Under the policy, pupils from years 1 to 8 will be assessed in numeracy and literacy against national academic standards, with performance data publicly available under the Official Information Act.
The Government has abandoned plans to fully introduce national standards in primary and intermediate schools next year, with schools not having to report back to officials on pupils' performance against the standards until 2012.
However, parents will still have to be told how their child is performing against the standards from the beginning of next year.
Principals are still concerned about the prospects of league tables and have aired their thoughts about possible ways to undermine them on an Education Ministry website forum.
Paul Heffernan, principal of Auckland's Laingholm Primary School, wrote on the forum: "We are going to teach the easiest test we can find. We are going to re-teach and re-teach baby.
"We will even fudge the results big time. My school is going to be top school on the league table so that my community will know I run a brilliant school. Parents will flock to my door. To hell with anything creative. And don't say this won't happen. It sure did with NCEA."
Auckland's Summerland Primary School principal Luke Sumich, who started the discussion, was pleased so many of his colleagues were having their say.
"We need to get our concerns clearly expressed and into the hearts and minds of parents and politicians. If we could all speak with one majority voice, perhaps then [Education minister] Mrs Tolley might accept that parents do not want league tables just ready access to their child's data."
He had not decided if the standards were good or bad but was annoyed with the prospect of league tables being produced.
"If you are in a poor area but the school does an amazing job, I may not get good results on a league table. They assume that a school ranked higher than its neighbour is performing better. They assume better teaching, but it does not tell the full story."
Mrs Tolley said most of the sector was working constructively with officials to raise pupils' achievement levels.
"Parents have made it clear that they support national standards."

It means that principals will cheat on the tests to make themselves look good if everybody gets to see the results.
Well, if they did their jobs correctly, they would be able to stand on their own merit!


Blogger hints 2

NOTE: Basically you just need to change one or two numbers, but this explanation contains a lot of information that you might need to feel comfortable enlarging your photos, so don't let the amount of words scare you.

This takes a little bravery, as you have to edit the html (language the blog is written in). If you aren't confident doing this but still would like to enlarge your photos, I suggest that you
  • click the 'layout' tab,
  • then click 'edit html'
  • then click 'download full template'.
This will save your current blog template to your computer hard drive.
That way, if you really DO mess it up, you can always upload the template again and all will be as before!

**Enlarging photos - Click on the 'edit html' button on the post you wish to change. There you will find html that looks something like the section below.
NOTE: I have taken out enough of the html so blogger won't try to read it as a photo and tell me I have errors!
/xJhBBlDnEr8/s1600-h/DSCF1673.JPG" onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} mg alt="" border="0" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5324641785610397602" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_dTM6CTqhDek/SeTtfiuCZ6I/AAAAAAAAOVU/xJhBBlDnEr8/s320/DSCF1673.JPG" style="cursor: hand; cursor: pointer; display: block; height: 320px; margin: 0px auto 10px; text-align: center; width: 400px;" />

OK, now...first:

Look for the 'height: 320px' and 'width: 400px' (in red above).

If you find this, simply change the 320 to 480 and the 400 to 640 and your larger photos should appear in 'preview'.

If you don't find those, then look for the /s320/ (in blue above) and change it to /s400/.

NOTE: If you change the s320 and it does not make the pictures larger in 'preview', then you missed the 'height' and 'width' numbers and need to search for them again.

That's all there is to it! And now you can say that you have edited html!


Blogger hints

I have had some new bloggers ask a few questions about blogging, so I thought I'd share the few shortcuts and info that I know.

**I try to keep the amount of words on a posts short. About two screens of scrolling is what I shoot for because I'm sure most bloggers are like me and have limited reading time.

**Memes - I mark my email calendar to send me a reminder on the day the memes are posted. After my post is published, I click on the title of the post so that it comes up on it's own page. That is the url I use when we are asked to link to a post instead of the entire blog.

**Small print - Press the 'control' key and move the wheel on your mouse. Everything on the screen will get larger (unless, of course, you are turning it
the wheel the wrong way!)

**If you are continuing a thought about something you already posted, be sure to tell your readers that and provide a link to the original post. If they don't know what you are talking about, they won't stay and read.

**Don't put a lot of pictures in a post--divide them into 2 or 3 posts. It takes slower systems too long to load and, before broadband, I have been known to lose interest and move on to another page before it was fully loaded.

**Put your larger widgets (games and music and such) at the bottom of the page so your readers will not have to wait for them to load before any reading can be done.

**I usually read blogs with the sound off. It's nice that folks want to share songs with me, but, unless it's from the '60's, it's not usually something I really want to hear.

**You can schedule posts to be published at a future time. Just click the 'post options' button at the bottom of the composing page, click 'scheduled at' and fill in the date and time, then click 'publish post.'

**If you get lost in the many pages of a blog, just click the header and you will be taken 'home' to the latest post that was made.

These are just one person's opinions. I hope they are helpful. I will post more later.


A Kiwi education?

My first impressions of the New Zealand school system was 10-year-old Otterboy not being able to read the comments I wrote in his book because he wasn't ever taught cursive writing. Not impressed at all.

Since then, I have had to make sure that both he and Missy used correct punctuation, since bad grammar of any kind was rarely corrected on their work and they were never marked down for not using capital letters or punctuation. What am I saying? They don't even get marks here...just that #&$@# 'good work' crap that doesn't teach them a thing except that they don't have to put in any effort if they don't want to.

I was an evil stepmom and made them both memorize their multiplication tables. What an ordeal! But, at least they see that it was a good thing after all.

The spelling words that Otterboy has in 8th grade are pitifully under his grade level and don't even come close to the ones that are his level according to the internet.

It's a wonder they learn anything at all, since his class (and Missy's too at that age) was off on some field trip every other week and swimming 3 or 4 out of 5 days the last three weeks of the school year. And, don't even get me started on the money for these trips.

I did complain to the Ministry of Education and the principal spent an hour and a half proving that he did all that was required of him. He's a nice guy, but he was so defensive and never really answered any of our concerns.

I know that year-round schooling takes different structuring than what I was used to in the States, but I still feel that we pay teachers to teach them. In the classroom. So going on a week-long trip before the first month of school is over every year is not my idea of teaching.

Missy spent her first year of high school (9th grade) just going through the motions because the class was so disruptive that the teachers couldn't teach without other adults in the classroom.

Now in her second year of high school, she is streamed into more appropriate classes and she's enjoying most of them. Yes, she is pretty smart, but I still fear she won't be prepared for the real world in a few years.

I was talking to a lady whose daughter graduated last year from this same high school and she had to have tutors at university just to get through her first year.

Another lady said that she thought the NCEA testing has lowered it's expectations so that more of the kids could be considered for uni. Sadly, I fear she is right.

I just don't know about this Kiwi school system. But, then, I suppose it probably isn't worse than any other place. Am I worrying for nothing? *sigh*


How do they find me?

I really like my feedjit widget. I keep it specifically so I can see how internet surfers find my blog. I don't look at the 'real time' clicks very often, but I always find a giggle there.

'Dark Sucker Theory' searches usually come in bunches, especially when one person links me on a forum board.

'Rude Kiwi' comes up a lot from all over the world. Just for the record, I define the difference between Kiwi friendliness compared to US as rude--although, I understand that it's simply a cultural difference. Very frustrating.

'Maori Potatoes' is a popular search. I guess lots of places know that the Maori term means 'poo'.

My 'Eltham Toy Wall' post got several hits because someone linked my post on their website, http://www.elthamnz.com/sites.html .

'New Zealand Trivia' comes up a lot. Glad to help!

Today there was a search for 'Chicken Trivia about New Zealand'...I really don't want to know.

A search for 'New Zealand cabin best' got to my 'cabin fever' post.

The 'Bumper Sticker' posts get quite a few hits.

I'm pretty sure they are surprised at my opinion on 'NZ school system'.

Recipe searches find my Pound Cake recipe.

'Patheticat' searches find my posts about our cat, Bubba.

'US and NZ comparisons' searches find their way to me.

When I started blogging, I never thought I'd be this involved in the blog world. I have fallen into the clever blog trap set by nefarious people with too much time on their hands.


Great show of water...

I got this link in an email and found this fountain quite fascinating.


A litter problem?

I find it interesting that this country thinks it has a litter problem. Anyone visiting from overseas notices how clean NZ is right away, as I have blogged before.

But, I guess even places that seem under control have the 'problem children' to deal with, so one Taranaki District is trying to keep it under control.

New Plymouth District Council crackdown on littering looms

By RYAN EVANS - Taranaki Daily New

Hefty fines could be on the way for people caught littering around New Plymouth.
The worst offenders could face fines of up to $400 under a proposal being considered by the New Plymouth District Council.
People caught committing less serious littering offences would attract fines of between $100 and $300.
The move comes against a backdrop of growing community concern over the problem of littering, rubbish dumping and broken glass on public and private land. In the year to June 30, the New Plymouth District Council fielded 654 littering complaints, 239 of which related to broken glass and 40 related to rubbish dumped on reserve land.
The council's roading and parks departments spent a combined total of $860,000 a year for routine cleaning and litter collection around the district.
We were in New Plymouth yesterday taking photos of the beach and were approached by the writer of this article for our opinions (which we were more than willing to share!).

I have to admire the steps this country takes to keep it litter-free and fines might be a deterrent. But I'm convinced that instilling a sense of responsibility will be of much more use.


Bin Inn and my apologies

When I lived in the States, I was always aware of food co-ops and 'health food' outlets. Of course, I also always thought they were pretentious. Yes, judgmental me. Mostly, I guess I really didn't appreciate the service they provided the community to get home-grown foods in bulk. Well, now isn't my face red...!

Since I can't find simple things like dried pinto beans, I have had to change my plan of attack on such matters.

Enter the Bin Inn chain of stores. They make shopping fun, at least for me, with the rows of bins of all things cookery, all nicely covered in see-through plastic, each with their very own scoop!

I can get several kinds of beans that I like, but only after having a talk with the clerk and translating from US to NZ.

I think I found corn meal, too, at least if 'corn grits' are the same thing. They look suspiciously alike and I shall see if cornbread turns out with the texture I remember. Making it with cornflour has the same taste, but it's way too smooth.

This marvelous place called Bin Inn also has soaps and cleaners that you can buy by weight, so you can fill your own bottles from home. And I can find things that are not sold in the grocery stores.

So, to all of you that knew the advantages of such buying before I realized it's worth, my apologies for thinking you were snobs. I have now come over to your side.


A rant about people....

Sometimes, don't you just want to grab somebody by the shoulders, shake vigorously, and say, "What the **** were you thinking?"

If I could insert the following into their brains, I'd feel much better...

  • You are the parent, quit letting 2-year olds make choices--that's why they HAVE parents

  • Life is full of choices--even choosing to trust or give the benefit of the doubt

  • If you are going to be a leader, be a leader by example, not just a title

  • Don't ask questions that you don't want an honest answer to

  • If you think your kid will hate you for a bit of discipline, take that chance, we, as a society, will appreciate that he didn't break into our house because of it
  • Yes, you do have emotions but try to control them. We don't need or want to hear about every little thought that goes through your head

  • Even after many years of 'knowing' someone you can be wrong, so don't assume

  • Revenge, even on a small scale, is not a good thing. Not every actions needs an immediate reaction

  • If you don't know what your opinions are, take a bit of time to find out. Then stand by them. Don't flip-flop--it isn't pretty

  • If YOU teach your kids about acceptable behavior, it will be much easier on them than the bully in the school yard doing it

  • If you care, then care all the way, 24/7--not just when it's comfortable (because I guarantee there are times when they aren't comfortable with you, either)
  • Sometimes, you should be content with the fact that you did the right thing without having to have it noticed

  • If you think about 'things' more often than people, you have some serious work to do on yourself
  • Gossip does NOT make you look important, no matter how juicy it is or how many times you repeat it

  • Believe it or not, there are more numbers on the 'anger dial' than just zero and 10. Sometimes a simple touch or word can help you decide that there's no need to be angry at all.

  • Moms, you are the ONLY ones that care about your toddler being able to express himself in the grocery store--the rest of us aren't interested and, even behind the faux smiles, are thinking, "Shut your freakin' kid up!"

  • If you can look yourself in the mirror and like who looks back, it's all good.