Better education will reduce inequality

The biggest criticism against the proposals to improve educational achievement Labour leader David Cunliffe could come up with was that they don’t address inequality.

He’s wrong.

Education is one of the best ways to life people out of poverty.

One very good example of this is our newest minister, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga:

During his maiden speech to Parliament he said his father had walked from Ponsonby to Parnell to save the bus fare, while up to 16 people lived in his family’s three-bedroom house in Mangere.

How do you rise above poverty like that?

However his education, which he described as “the key to unlocking so many of the opportunities that I have enjoyed in life” has been impressive.

After attending Auckland Grammar, Lotu-Iiga studied law and commerce at the University of Auckland, before being employed at top law firm Russell McVeagh.

He then travelled to London where he worked as a financial analyst for the Bankers Trust, while completing an MBA at the University of Cambridge.. .

All children deserve the education which provides them with the key to unlocking opportunities.

They also deserve the loving and supportive family which he credits for his success too.

Addressing deprivation in that area is harder than improving education which was the focus of yesterday’s announcement.

But it’s not a matter of either better education or policies which address either problems, it just isn’t all together in one day.

Yesterday’s focus was education, other policies will follow.

25 Responses to Better education will reduce inequality

  1. Quintin Hogg says:

    Education is the key.

    An example.

    My mother taught at Brockville school in Dunedin.

    It was a challenging job for my mother as that suburb was at the bottom of the socio-economic pile in Dunedin

    She taught a young European/Samoan girl from the suburb.

    Her father was a metal worker and I am not sure that her mother worked.

    My mother recognised that girl was a gifted child so she made sure that she monitored the progress of this girl through intermediate and high school. she made sure that as the girl progressed through her teachers were aware of her ability.

    The girls father when she turned 16 wanted her to leave school and work in a production line at Fisher & Paykel on the Taieri. My mother got my father to have a quiet word with the employers of the girls father to ensure she remained at and completed her high school education.

    The girl, now a young woman, did exceptionally well at school. She left school and went to Otago University where she studied medicine. she is now, sadly a medical practitioner in Canada, although I do understand she will be returning to NZ in the near future.

    Without the education that she received this young woman might have been a process worker on the Taieri plains.


  2. Andrei says:

    Better education will reduce inequality” – no it wont
    and that’s a myth.

    Inequality is a fact of life which is very unfair – I don’t like this anymore than you do.

    Listen: Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga sounds like a thoroughly decent man who has transitioned from a working class background to an upper middle class existence and this has occurred because he has received some good breaks in life – starting almost certainly with parents who were thoroughly decent individuals prepared to invest whatever they possibly could into his welfare.

    And he got to go to the “best” boy’s school in Auckland which caters for boys from upper middle class backgrounds with upper middle class expectations and educate them accordingly – and there he learned the mannerisms and mores of the upper middle class so that he could move more easily in such circles.

    And this is great that this happened for him and that he has been able to make the most of the opportunities that have been presented to him.

    But how many boys from working class homes can you take to hob nob with the boys from Remuera stately homes and how many slots are there in society for lawyers anyway?

    It starts in Kindergarten Ele – there are the popular girls and the wallflowers, the ones that get invited to the birthday parties and the ones that don’t and it goes on from there.

    And all things being equal its the popular girls who will get the good breaks in life but it remains up to them what they make of them for better or for worse.


  3. farmerbraun says:

    There is fairly good evidence coming out of the long term studies that it is self-control, learned in the first years of childhood, that is the key to happy and successful lives.
    Education is very important , but the child must be able to take advantage of that.
    Given the importance of developing self- control at an early age, it is clear that parenting is the key factor in determining lifetime outcomes. Play school and kindergarten can only build on the foundation that the parenting has already laid.


  4. homepaddock says:

    Andrei – You’re right about inequality and life being unfair. I should have used poverty rather than buying into the left’s cause de jour of inequality.

    You’re also right that Sam’s parents were also very important.

    However, I don’t agree with your class arguments – children at any school can, and do, do well with good teachers.

    Farmerbraun – you’re also right about studies on self-control and that parenting is very important. But, as Quinton shows, good teachers can help children in spite of a poor start and disadvantages at home.


  5. Neil says:

    HP you have quite an altruistic view of education. How can you expect a child from a fourth generation welfare beneficiary family catch the learning desire. That 20 percent of learning failures have been there since the time beginning.
    Family outcomes must come first. Many of these failing kids have bigger concerns than the learning process- dad abusing mum, booze,crime, petty attitudes etc.
    Until we have a completely educated population we will not match places like Singapore,Taiwan,Korea and even China.
    Before that happens we need to develop a sense of community and family values in the population. We are starting down that path but have a long way to go.


  6. homepaddock says:

    Neil, it’s a complex puzzle. Good teachers and homes/parenting are big and important pieces of it.


  7. TraceyS says:

    The most important thing, which you have all apparently minimised or skirted, is that children are healthily loved by someone when they are young. Preferably, but not necessarily, this is their parent(s) but could also be a teacher or neighbour, a community leader or a grandparent, or someone else. One thing for certain is that it cannot be a government. Governments and political parties cannot love, nor can institutions like schools or businesses. Although the Greens do their level best to market themselves as the political party which loves our kids.

    Low socio-economic status, in itself, does not limit how much a parent can love their child. I know some absolutely fantastic sole parents who themselves had to grow up far too quickly, have only a minimal education, and have very little money. But they love their children appropriately and protect them, for the most part, from experiences which could later affect their children’s ability to love their own children.

    As these kids leave the nest (probably somewhere around the age of 15 or 16 like I did), with no support and empty pockets, they need protection from drugs, crime, and teenage pregnancy. If they manage to escape those then they’ll be OK. If they can get some further education on top of that then the sky is the limit. It would only be others’ perceptions of class status which could hold them back. That does happen and is an extra hurdle to leap but it is a smokescreen at the end of the day. Unfortunately it is not possible to see that until you’ve reached the other side and look back.


  8. robertguyton says:

    Zorr on Key’s education lolly-scramble (“nothing but flash and sizzle”)
    Zorr3 (commenting on The Standard)
    24 January 2014 at 12:03 pm

    “The last thing the education system needs right now is more money at the wrong end. I can’t understand those who see a policy such as this and, because it’s a lolly scramble in their direction, can’t see past the sweets.

    What point is there to paying our educators more if:

    a) They’re teaching to the test – get rid of National Standards already

    b) They’re not getting paid – fix payroll already and get rid of Talentless2

    c) They’re not socially respected – our neo-lib masters have been deriding the teaching profession for decades now as they are a bastion of organized, educated unions and this has resulted in a community that is divided over our education system

    d) We have not yet returned to evidence-based education policy – we previously listened to our experts, can we have this back before we throw more money in a pit?

    e) Stop out-sourcing schooling – if we are to be paying teachers for performing, then they should all be required to be meeting the same goals (I smell a potential rort right here for state-integrated and charter schools)

    The list could continue ad infinitum – the amount of damage done to the education system is almost beyond measure these days. We need to reset the broken bone and put it in a splint while we heal, not this sticking plaster. Without comprehensive policy changes to back this up, this is nothing but flash and sizzle.”


  9. TraceyS says:

    There is nothing in Quintin’s example which suggests the girl had a poor start at home. I think you’ve made a assumption there that low parental expectations = a poor start. A disadvantage, maybe, but homes with high parental expectations can have disadvantages too; like parents being distracted or too busy with their careers. Over the years I’ve met and been involved with some horribly disadvantaged individuals from upper-class families. It’s not an economic poverty, but an emotional one. The trick is to avoid both if you can.


  10. TraceyS says:

    This person states “[w]e need to reset the broken bone and put it in a splint while we heal…” but curiously does not say what broke the bone in the first place.

    I’m going to take a wild guess here that it had something to do with generation after generation of learners being written off as “unable to learn”. We now know that to be a cop-out. But it’s still handy to explain the 20%….

    The sticking plaster was NOT having National Standards or equivalent. Thus protecting us from seeing what we’d really rather not.


  11. TraceyS says:

    I apologise for quoting you again Robert, but your attitude concerns me to the bone.

    You don’t appear to realise that Green social and environmental priorities are diametrically opposed. Reducing reliance on fossil fuels, for example, will most disadvantage those at the very bottom of the heap for an indeterminable length of time.


  12. robertguyton says:

    You need never apologise to me, Tracey – you can’t help holding the views you do. I should instead apologise to you -not only have I got under your skin, apparently I’ve gone bone-deep with my pro-environment, pro-education comments. Reducing reliance on alcohol, for example, would involve providing less harmful alternatives that advantage the whole community; activities that take the place of binge-drinking and so on. Reducing reliance on fossil-fuels does not mean going cold-turkey, as you pretend, but instead, developing alternative fuels and options that are realistic. You will, as you always do, boil-down my words to the simplistic ‘greens say oil finished’, and I can’t do anything about that habit of yours (some people just can’t break old patterns).


  13. TraceyS says:

    Never said anything about going cold-turkey – that is you putting me in a certain box again.

    I am simply trying to figure out how reducing reliance on fossil fuel will help to increase our workforce and pay people more. At the moment, my equation is showing the opposite effect to that. This will be so until there is a completely synthetic replacement.

    (see, warning: GE content may offend some viewers)

    Electricity will not do it alone. Look at the blue-collar jobs. They are mostly very dependent on diesel being freely available at a reasonable price. I can see poverty proliferating under green priorities.


  14. TraceyS says:

    Btw, this is why a Labour/Green coalition makes no sense at all.


  15. robertguyton says:

    You can’t make sense of the Labour/Green coalition?
    Of course you can’t, don’t feel bad. There are a lot of things you’ve said you don’t understand.
    You are trying to “figure out” one piece of the puzzle but can’t/ won’t look at another piece that people are drawing your attention to as something very important. Will people be paid more, you ask, but what you don’t ask is, will fossil fuel use wreck all this and make my “pay” question redundant. That tunnel-vision thing of yours is why you can’t understand the Labour/Green coalition. You’ll have a terrible time of it later this year when they are the Government.


  16. robertguyton says:

    “Will National’s policy capture votes? My gut tells me no. Maybe because of tribalism, maybe because the press gallery think Key has just made a brilliant tactical move and I assume they’re wrong about everything, but mostly I can’t imagine parents getting exciting about the headmaster at their school getting paid an extra $50,000 to spend 40% of his time off helping run other schools. I just can’t see that swinging any votes.”

    Dim-Post (my bold)


  17. jabba says:

    seems Red Russ has had to run for cover regarding the fact Labour supports drilling for oil off our coasts .. Red Russ said THEY would agree to disagree on the subject when in Govt . gutless I say.
    Still trying to find what the Greens Education spokesperson has to say on the Govts education policy


  18. TraceyS says:

    And will you, I wonder, turn a blind eye to the immediate suffering while remaining locked onto that big “what if…”

    And when they fail to change their ways of work and living will you box them up and slap on an “unable to learn” label?

    I suspect you will.


  19. TraceyS says:

    Agreeing to disagree over an issue like this sounds like a recipe for an unmitigated disaster.


  20. TraceyS says:

    Robert, did you not learn anything when you were teaching? Smiling teachers make children smile, and smiling children go home and smile to their parents. Your Labour/Green party coalition preparation should have covered this stuff! Happy teacher = happy life! (for parents and caregivers anyway).

    David Cunliffe would do well to say this is marvellous news from the government and turn his attention to something different.


  21. jabba says:

    true TraceyS. Labour want to drill and the Greens MUST have their opposition to drilling as a bottom line to any coalition agreement. It will be interesting how the greens sell this flip-flop to their hillbillies supporters like the terror from Riverton.


  22. robertguyton says:

    You forgot ‘wave’, Tracey. It’s ‘smile and wave’, remember.


  23. jabba says:

    ho hum


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