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Insights 36: 27 September 2019
Dr Oliver Hartwich appeared on Newshub Nation to launch our new report, In Fairness to Schools, and explains the results from our ground-breaking school performance tool
Dr Patrick Carvalho comments in the National Business Review why New Zealand needs to embrace technology, not treat it as a threat.
New Report - In fairness to our schools: Better measures for better outcomes.

In Fairness to Our Schools
Joel Hernandez | Policy Analyst |
Determining what works and what does not is important for any business developing better products and services. And keeping a close watch on quality control matters a lot too.

Unfortunately, in education, quality control has been slipping. Student outcomes on international tests in maths, science and reading have been flat or declining. And neither the Ministry of Education nor the Education Review Office (ERO) have been making use of the opportunities available for vast improvements in evaluating what works and what does not.

Last weekend we launched our latest education report, In Fairness to Our Schools: Better measures for better outcomes. The report presents its revolutionary school performance tool and explains how it can help improve outcomes for every student in New Zealand.

We linked information on student outcomes to data on those students’ families in Statistics New Zealand’s world-leading Integrated Data Infrastructure to build more accurate measures of school performance, and to stop unfairly blaming or rewarding schools for differences in communities they serve.

This will, for the first time, allow the Ministry and ERO to fairly compare school performance, so they can learn from the schools that do well and better support those schools that need it.

In the report, we demonstrate the tool’s potential and show how the Ministry can use it. Our extensive analysis of nearly 400,000 students across 480 secondary schools shows there are 42 decile 1 and 2 schools outperforming 75% of every other secondary school in the country when evaluated on University Entrance.

Using the insights gained from our tool, the Ministry and ERO can identify what the top-performing schools are doing to improve the education outcomes of their students and then spread those practices across every school in the country.

In addition to this, regular reports generated from our tool could be sent to every principal at every secondary school in the country, providing them objective, data-driven evidence on how their school is doing.

More can and should be done to learn what works best to improve the education outcomes of students in New Zealand. This report is the first of several that will demonstrate what is possible when we use data to inform our decisions in education and how it can be used to lift the education outcomes of every student in New Zealand.

The report is available here.

Property rights and Ihumātao blues
Dr Bryce Wilkinson | Senior Fellow |
The apparently successful illegal occupation of private property in Auckland’s Ihumātao is potentially a serious setback for the rule of law, and thereby New Zealanders’ wellbeing. Also disturbing are the more immediate implications for Auckland housing and the Treaty of Waitangi claims process.

There are several aspects to property rights. The aspect in dispute at Ihumātao is the right to determine land use.

The legal owner, Fletcher Building, in conjunction with the local iwi, Te Kawarau a Maki, wants to build houses on it. The occupiers oppose that land use.

The principled solution to such disputes is for the non-owner to make the legal owner a sufficiently attractive offer. 

To make such an offer, the occupiers would have to raise the funds. That would tangibly test the depth of their support.  The crowdfunding campaign in 2016 to buy a beach property in Abel Tasman National Park for public access illustrates this principled approach.

In contrast, calls on the government to buy the Ihumātao property seek to avoid this test and make victims of taxpayers. 

Government will put much at risk if it succumbs to this demand or expectation. First, there is the chilling effect on housing development. Why bother if an illegal occupation can kill any housing development with the government’s blessing and without compensation for all the development costs? Second, it would weaken the ability of other iwi to make credible development commitments. What is their word good for if dissenters can break the law with impunity? Third, there will be public indignation that ‘full and final’ settlements are starting to look like a con.

These concerns about property rights are fundamental. Well-defined and enforced property rights provide the basis for our sense of self, privacy, cooperative coexistence, liberty, peace and prosperity, and conservation.

The legal right to exclude others is the essence of private property. Our fences and locks reflect that right. “Thou shalt not trespass” is even one of the Ten Commandments. Maōri particularly know what can happen when property rights are not respected.

Such rights are meaningless if not enforced. Only the law of the jungle is left if anyone can violate our person or property with impunity.

In short, if all that activists have to do to stop development is to illegally occupy private land, we are on a road to division and ruin, and not just in housing.

Local Attention
Toby Fitzsimmons | Research Intern |
“In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve,” said the 19th century French philosopher Joseph de Maistre.

Looking at the mayoral candidates in New Zealand, it is hard to fathom what Kiwis have done to deserve this year’s contenders.

The election seems to be a gag at least for one candidate. On Auckland Council’s website, Fiona, says she will give “running the city a good go.” While the can-do attitude is admirable, one wonders whether comedian Tom Sainsbury’s alter ego has the necessary experience, having never “worked a job, per se.”

Nonetheless, Fiona promises to draw on her practised belief that “wine is the key to true happiness” to create policy. Plastic straws will be banned and replaced with glass straws because they “help with wine-drinking so that you don’t get lipstick on your teeth.”

Fiona will also “tackle the housing crisis.” Who knows, anything is better than KiwiBuild.

From comedy to the intellectual. Don Newt McDonald, running to be Wellington’s mayor, wrote this in his statement: "Even 1 (1/2) (1/3 1/4) ... (5'6'7'8'.) Annually. Convergent Series 1.5 .5.5 nudge infinity.”

Don’s mathematical genius is well beyond the comprehension of voters.

A “plain talk” candidate, Don will tackle Wellington’s economic problems. After all, “Resource exhausted 1-2-3. Nothing left… Mind spend$$g. Growth so bad xWgtn mayor.” Maybe Don has political experience. He must be writing Trump’s tweets.

Some candidates’ ideas are more articulate, even if a bit ambiguous.

Tricia Cheel wants to integrate welfare for the homeless and defence by getting the military to create 24/7 ‘caring hubs.’ Apparently, these hubs would mainly organise carpooling.

A candidate for Waikato District Council, Andrew Anderson believes “the Government needs to create a Nazi nation.” What would this involve – invading Australia for Lebensraum?

Apparently, the demand for a Nazi nation just means a radical stance against income inequality.

Hamilton candidate Lisa Lewis is famous for streaking at an All Blacks game in 2006.

No drama this time, though. Her bio on her campaign website is boringly about how, in 2003, she “balanced part-time study studying Spanish and Photography part-time at Dallas Community College,” while living with her then husband and stepson.

Not all mayoral candidates have streaked publicly, but most are putting attention-seeking above good policy.

Unlike in other countries, these candidates will not become president, but Kiwis deserve better.

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