Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: And so it begins

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  • Rich of Observationz,

    I would suggest the following steps for school boards:
    - forget to enable backups on the single computer with testing results stored it
    - accidentally type rm -rf * (or forget to lock the building overnight, if the school in question is in a 'hood where that would lead to instant larceny)

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    A dog ate my league table

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I would suggest the following steps for school boards:

    I’d suggest they just obey the law. If it's good enough for the Education Ministry, Hekia Parata and her staff...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I’d suggest they just obey the fucking law

    I think you might be missing the point that sometimes legitimate and valuable civil protest will break existing laws.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I think you might be missing the point that sometimes legitimate and valuable civil protest will break existing laws.

    Fine, Bart. I suspect you just don't care how dangerous it is to applaud people who say, in effect "I don't approve of how you might use the information, so go suck eggs" as a justification for flouting the Official Information Act. I'm sure there are plenty of politicians and wannabe Sir Humphrey Applebys who would heartily concur.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I’d suggest they just obey the law. If it’s good enough for the Education Ministry, Hekia Parata and her staff…

    I gather that the large majority of school boards are aware of and obeying the law.

    My beef is more with Fairfax. I wouldn't expect to change their minds on publishing this shitty data, but the more we can hold their feet to the fire, the greater the incentive for them to think really bloody hard about what they're doing. And the consequences of that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I suspect you just don’t care

    Actually I care a great deal. The OIA is tremendously important.

    But so is our education system and the publishing of league tables is, based on all the evidence from around the world, going to do tremendous lasting harm to the education of the children of New Zealand.

    Balancing those two very important things is not going to be easy. But if, for example, a school were to clearly articulate their reasons for breaking the law, as a protest against a damaging change to the education system ... then I tend to believe that such a protest action would be reasonable.

    I certainly don't dismiss the value of the OIA to New Zealand, far from it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Nathaniel Wilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Alternatively, we could all just send our children to the local high schools of the communities we've chosen to live in, and base where we live on the quality of the neighbourhood, not the schools. That'd circumvent both the Government and APN/Fairfax at the same time.

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Nathaniel Wilson,

    Alternatively, we could all just send our children to the local high schools of the communities we’ve chosen to live in, and base where we live on the quality of the neighbourhood, not the schools.

    But if past behaviour is a predictor of future behaviour, then no matter how worthless the data is, parents will do anything to send their children to the highest ranked school they can manage.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • barnaclebarnes, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Actually I care a great deal. The OIA is tremendously important.

    But so is our education system and the publishing of league tables is, based on all the evidence from around the world, going to do tremendous lasting harm to the education of the children of New Zealand.

    Fine - But one day there will be something that you care deeply about where the Government won't release information and you will be up in arms. Open Data should be released without caveats on its use. The public need to make up their minds on whether this is 'good' data and if they believe the analysis that Fairfax does on it. And if you want to educate the public then it will require a major PR push to get the message out (not by teachers, in this instance they have too much of a vested instance, much like you never believe Federated Farmers on anything.)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 90 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    ..And the consequences of that

    What would Gina Rinehart do, eh?

    One thing people who don't support this could do is stop buying Fairfax papers, using Trademe, plugging their products and articles, etc?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    But so is our education system and the publishing of league tables is, based on all the evidence from around the world, going to do tremendous lasting harm to the education of the children of New Zealand.

    Make that argument to your heart’s content, but the Office of the Ombudsman did its job. There is a very good reason why the OIA & LGOIMA don’t include “I don’t like what I think you’ll do with that information” among the grounds for non-disclosure.

    My beef is more with Fairfax. I wouldn’t expect to change their minds on publishing this shitty data, but the more we can hold their feet to the fire, the greater the incentive for them to think really bloody hard about what they’re doing. And the consequences of that.

    And whether I agreed with you or not, I’d heartily endorse you doing that. What makes me twitchy is those who appear to be encouraging schools to break the law – a law, incidentally, that can be a pretty powerful tool for empowering communities and individuals being stonewalled by school boards, public hospitals and local government.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Coup, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I would suggest the following steps for school boards:

    Either of which should result in staff being sacked for gross negligence.

    Most people aren’t pro league tables. But many are supportive of the open data efforts that are getting taxpayers more & more access to public information, which we all paid for. Agencies are told “publish early”, “imperfect data is better than no data”, “don’t license restrictively”, and so on.

    I’m just not sure we can have it both ways. If we start down “well, not for <insert controversial topic>”, pretty soon there’ll be no open data, no OIA and we’ll be back to the 70s. No thanks. It must stay broad and without exceptions.

    People can get hold of data (education or otherwise) and “misuse” it already. And trying to stop them is like trying to stop Wikileaks or digital piracy – no amount of banning will actually achieve anything.

    So what can we do?

    - Not look?
    - Aggressively publicise and aggregate ERO data/reports as the best way to compare schools?
    - Discredit and actively refute Bad Science and Bad Comparisons made using data? A bit like NIWA did with the climate crazies.
    - ?

    [Edit: By "not look" i meant "don't collect data" - seems like a dumb idea to me, you can draw very sane conclusions and make good decisions from imperfect data. The problem isn't National Standards data, it's people drawing a "School X is Good/Bad" conclusion from it]

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Any beef should be with the government who directed the collection of this information knowing full well what might be done with it.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Wood,

    I dreamt last night that Fairfax used the data to show quite graphically and with righteous anger how ridiculous it would be to try to compile league tables, and the resulting disgust amongst regular parents rolled the government.

    Any offers for a syndicated psychic column accepted.

    Now back in Aucktown • Since Dec 2006 • 86 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Shitty data +1

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2539 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Rob Coup,

    It isn't legitimately public information*. It's the private information of the community of students that form the school.

    Do you think medical records should all be shoved up on an open website, so we can analyse how doctors and patients are doing, with pretty graphics and that?

    * yes, I know that isn't what the law says. The law doesn't recognise the rights of communities adequately in these sort of cases.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to barnaclebarnes,

    The public need to make up their minds on whether this is ‘good’ data and if they believe the analysis that Fairfax does on it.

    If Fairfax produces anything like a league table, they've gone most of the way towards destroying any actual research value in the data by making league tables an existential issue for schools. By the same token, schools will be forced to "teach to the test" as a matter of survival. Real teaching will suffer, the curriculum will contract and kids who don't fit the frame will be shunned. This isn't just supposition -- it's what's happened everywhere else.

    And if you want to educate the public then it will require a major PR push to get the message out (not by teachers, in this instance they have too much of a vested instance, much like you never believe Federated Farmers on anything.)

    That's just bullshit. Any degree of self-interest teachers might have here is utterly dwarfed by that in the attitude of farmers towards, say, environmental regulation. It's not even in the same solar system. The self-interest argument is spectacularly weak.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I would suggest the following steps for school boards:

    That would of course violate the Public Records Act, and place the offending institution at risk of a $10,000 fine (not to mention sacking).

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    It isn't legitimately public information*. It's the private information of the community of students that form the school.

    Do you think medical records should all be shoved up on an open website, so we can analyse how doctors and patients are doing, with pretty graphics and that?

    Straw man. We're not talking individual records, but aggregate data. And we have no problem whatsoever when hospitals are forced under the OIA to reveal e.g. their comparative rates of various illnesses, or of medical misadventure.

    (I don't like education league tables for exactly the reasons Russell describes. But the information is collected, it is official information and thus subject to the OIA. And that's the end of it)

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Coup, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    It isn’t legitimately public information*. It’s the private information of the community of students that form the school.

    Do you think medical records should all be shoved up on an open website, so we can analyse how doctors and patients are doing, with pretty graphics and that?

    Bullshit. So we shouldn't publish results of the census, or any medical research? Aggregating and suitably anonymising data to maintain privacy has happened for decades and is a known science.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2009 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Jonty,

    @Sacha: <Any beef should be with the government who directed the collection of this information knowing full well what might be done with it.>

    Precisely ... and Banks wins again.

    Katikati • Since Mar 2007 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Rob Coup,

    So you'd have no objection if the results were to be aggregated and published as the details for schools AAA-ZZZ?

    Once information informs negative actions against the people involved, it isn't suitable for publication.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Jonty,

    the right of the Nats win again by having him around as a figleaf

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • barnaclebarnes, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Any degree of self-interest teachers might have here is utterly dwarfed by that in the attitude of farmers towards, say, environmental regulation.

    The perception of the public will be of self interest by teachers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 90 posts Report Reply

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