Word of the day

May 17, 2012

Impigrous – quick, efficient.


Thursday’s quiz

May 17, 2012

A reader, and question-poser, emailed asking me to repeat the participating quiz.

I’m happy to do so because I’m having another of those fortnights this week and I’m enjoying the response.

So the floor is yours – you ask the questions and anybody who manages to stump everybody will win an electronic batch of baking of your choice.


Right is right

May 17, 2012

The agenda for our annual managers’ get together yesterday included a session on NAIT.

The importance of putting tags in the correct ear, which also happens to be the right one, was emphasised by the presenter who said, “Just remember that right is right”.

Sounds like a good aide memoire for politics too 🙂


Quality teaching and leadership are the keys

May 17, 2012

Education Minister Hekia Parata was one of the guest speakers at the National Party’s Mainland conference. I heard her again at the Lower North Island conference last weekend.

One point she made very clearly both times was that the quality of teaching and leadership at a school make the biggest difference to pupil outcomes.

Another was the problem of the tail of under-achievement in New Zealand.

Every country has a tail but ours is bigger and the gap between the head and tail greater.

Our pupils are ranked 7th in the world but when they’re divided into ethnicity Pakeha are 2nd, but – and I’m going from memory so these figures might be one or two out – Maori are 34th and Pacific Islanders 44th.

This must be addressed and the extra $511.9 million towards new initiatives over four years is designed to do that.

“We have an education system that is amongst the best in the world. Four out of five kids are successfully getting the qualifications they need from school and we must celebrate their success and the professionals in the education system who make that possible every day.

“But our education plan is about getting five out of five.”

Evidence shows the single most important thing we can do to raise achievement is to improve teaching quality.

“In Budget 2012 we are not investing in more teachers we are investing in better teaching,’’ says Ms Parata.

“We will invest an extra $60 million over the next four years to boost new teacher recruitment and training.

“This money is in addition to the $304 million we are spending on professional learning and development for teachers in primary and secondary education over the next four years.

“By making this additional investment in quality teaching, we will ensure that initial teacher education is improved and stronger mentoring and coaching is provided.

“A post-graduate qualification will be introduced as a minimum for all trainee teachers, and schools leadership will be improved through the introduction of a new pre-principalship qualification.

“We want to create a flexible, skilled, culturally intelligent and professional workforce through these initiatives to support the development of teachers and principals.’’

To raise teaching quality we have to identify who is delivering successful practice and make that common practice, says Ms Parata.

“We will collaborate in the development of an appraisal system focusing on driving up quality teaching and quality professional leadership. Performance pay is but one of a basket of options to reward and recognise that.’’

This comes at a cost which has understandably raised concerns:

Ms Parata says given the current economic climate in order to invest in quality teaching, the Government has had to make some trade-offs.

“We will be making a small change to teacher/student ratios in the mid-years of a child’s education.

“These ratios are a funding formula – they are how we as a Government fund schools. The actual number of children in a classroom is set by the school.’’

Ratios will remain as they are for new entrants at 1:15, and for students sitting NCEA in years 11-13, will be standardised at 1:17.3

In the middle years, 2-10, there is currently a wide range of ratios, ranging from 1:23 to 1:29. To give schools certainty about how they manage their resources, we will standardise this ratio to 1:27.5.

These changes will free up just over $43 million, on average, in each year over the next four years, which will be reinvested back into education.

“About 90 per cent of schools will either gain, or have a net loss of less than one Full Time Teacher Equivalent (FTTEs) as a result of the combined effect of the ratio changes and projected roll growth. These changes will take effect over the next five years.

This is a very small change and is based on research that shows the quality of teaching makes a much bigger difference than the quantity of teachers.

The system, and people, which serve the majority of pupils well also fails far too many.

What happens out of school plays a big part in that but that’s not in the Minister’s brief. Her responsibility is what happens at school.

Addressing the quality of teachers and rewarding the better ones will be controversial but it should also make the important difference to pupil outcomes which is so desperately needed.


Media need thicker skin

May 17, 2012

Quote of the day:

The media’s role is often to be “hostile, aggressive and antagonistic” to governments and politicians when they merit it. That comes with the job of being the “Fourth Estate”. I was once so hostile, aggressive and antagonistic” that Prime Minister Jim Bolger banned me from his press conferences.

It is the media’s job to apply scrutiny, to critique, and to commentate on events and individuals. It is just a shame that it cannot stand it when others do the same to them.

Message to Media: Stop being so pathetically thin-skinned and get on with the job. Bill Ralston

He was commenting to the reaction to Prime Minister John Key’s observation that the media is tougher on a second term government.

He made the comments during an interview with Leighton Smith:

He is quite clear he is making observations, not complaining, that he wasn’t ” bent out of shape by that” and he expected it.


May 17 in history

May 17, 2012

152 Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, was executed for treason.

1536  George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford and four other men were executed for treason.

1590  Anne of Denmark was crowned Queen of Scotland.

1642 Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve  founded the Ville Marie de Montréal.

1673  Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette began exploring the Mississippi River.

1749 Edward Jenner, English medical researcher was born (d. 1823).

1775  American Revolutionary War: the Continental Congress banned trade with Canada.

1792 The New York Stock Exchange was formed.

1805 Muhammad Ali became Wāli of Egypt.

1809 Napoleon I of France ordered the annexation of the Papal States to the French Empire.

1814  Occupation of Monaco changed from French to Austrian.

1814 The Constitution of Norway was signed and the Danish Crown Prince Christian Frederik was elected King of Norway by the Norwegian Constituent Assembly.

1849 A fire threatened to burn St. Louis, Missouri to the ground.

1860 German football club TSV 1860 München was founded.

1863 Rosalía de Castro published Cantares Gallegos, her first book in the Galician language.

1865 – The International Telegraph Union (later International Telecommunication Union) was established.

1868 Horace Elgin Dodge, American car manufacturer, was born (d. 1920).

1873 El Paso, Texas was established by charter from the Texas Legislature.

1875  Aristides won the first Kentucky Derby.

1877 The Victorian Football League was founded.

189– The first Omonoia station of the Athens metro was inaugurated in Greece.

1900  Second Boer War: British troops relieved Mafeking.

1902 Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais discovered the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient mechanical analog computer.

1911 Maureen O’Sullivan, Irish actress, was born (d. 1998).

1914  The Protocol of Corfu was signed recognising full autonomy to Northern Epirus under nominal Albanian sovereignty.

1915 The last British Liberal Party government (Herbert Henry Asquith) fell.

1919 War Department (UK) ordered the use of National Star Insignia on all airplanes.

1922 – James Liston, the assistant Catholic bishop of Auckland, was found not guilty of sedition.

1927 U.S. Army aviation pioneer, Major Harold Geiger, died in the crash of his Airco DH.4 de Havilland plane.

1933  Vidkun Quisling and Johan Bernhard Hjort formed Nasjonal Samling — the national-socialist party of Norway.

1935  Dennis Potter, English writer, was born (d. 1994).

1936 Dennis Hopper, American actor and director, was born  (d. 2010).

1939 The Columbia Lions and the Princeton Tigers played in the first-ever televised sporting event, a collegiate baseball game.

1939 Gary Paulsen, American author, was born.

1940 World War II: Germany occupied Brussels.

1940 World War II: the old city centre of the Dutch town of Middelburg was bombed by the German Luftwaffe, to force the surrender of the Dutch armies in Zeeland.

1943 The United States Army contracted with the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School to develop the ENIAC.

1943 – World War II: the Dambuster Raids by No. 617 Squadron RAF on German dams.

1949  Bill Bruford, English musician (Yes), was born.

1954 The United States Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education which declared that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students and denying black children equal educational opportunities unconstitutional.

1956 Sugar Ray Leonard, American boxer, was born.

1961 Enya, Irish singer and songwriter, was born.

1962 George Wilder escaped from New Plymouth prison.

George Wilder escapes from prison

1963  Bruno Sammartino defeated Nature Boy Buddy Rogers in 48 seconds in Madison Square Garden for the WWWF Heavyweight Championship. It begins the longest heavyweight championship reign in professional wrestling history.

1967 Six-Day War: President Abdul Nasser of Egypt demanded dismantling of the peace-keeping UN Emergency Force in Egypt.

1969 Venera program: Soviet Venera 6 began its descent into the atmosphere of Venus, sending back atmospheric data before being crushed by pressure.

1970 – Thor Heyerdahl set sail from Morocco on the papyrus boat Ra II to sail the Atlantic Ocean.

1971 Princess Máxima of the Netherlands was born.

1973 – Watergate scandal: Hearings begin in the United States Senate and are televised.

1974 Andrea Corr, Irish singer (The Corrs), was born.

1974 Police in Los Angeles raided the Symbionese Liberation Army‘s headquarters, killing six members, including Camilla Hall.

1974  Thirty-three people were killed by terrorist bombings in Dublin and Monaghan.

1980 General Chun Doo-hwan of South Korea declared martial law in order to suppress student demonstrations.

1980 – On the eve of presidential elections, Maoist guerrilla group Shining Path attacked a polling location in the town of Chuschi, Ayacucho, starting the Internal conflict in Peru.

1983 U.S. Department of Energy declassified documents showing world’s largest mercury pollution event in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (ultimately found to be 4.2 million pounds), in response to Appalachian Observer’s Freedom of Information Act request.

1983 Lebanon, Israel, and the United States signed an agreement on Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon.

1984 Prince Charles calls a proposed addition to the National Gallery, London, a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend,” sparking controversies on the proper role of the Royal Family and the course of modern architecture.

1987  An Iraqi fighter jet fired two missiles into the U.S. warship USS Stark (FFG-31), killing 37 and injuring 21 of her crew.

1992 Three days of popular protests against the government of Prime Minister of Thailand Suchinda Kraprayoon began in Bangkok, leading to a military crackdown that resulted in 52 officially confirmed deaths, many disappearances, hundreds of injuries, and more than 3,500 arrests.

1994  Malawi held its first multiparty elections.

1995  After 18 years as the mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac took office as President of France.

1997 – Troops of Laurent Kabila march into Kinshasa. Zaire is officially renamed Democratic Republic Of Congo.

2004 Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage.

2006 The aircraft carrier USS Oriskany was sunk in the Gulf of Mexico to be an artificial reef.

2007 Trains from North and South Korea crossed the 38th Parallel in a test-run agreed by both governments. This was the first time that trains crossed the Demilitarized Zone since 1953.

2009 Dalia Grybauskaitė was elected the first female President of Lithuania.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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