Is Anne Tolley the first Cabinet Minister to demand that information be released, and at the same time that it be withheld?
Mrs Tolley has demanded that “pupils from years 1 to 8 [be] assessed in numeracy and literacy against national academic standards from next year,” and that schools “have to report on the percentage of pupils above, below or well below the standard, broken down into groups including Maori, Pasifika and gender.” And now she’s all smiles about striking a deal yesterday with teacher unions, who are desperate for parents not to know what goes on at their member’s schools, she also “confirmed [she] will make it as difficult as possible for the media to produce league tables that rank schools” from all that information that’s been supplied.
So she demands that schools collect this information; she demands they pass this information on to government, who will use it to see how well schools are doing; she insists it be passed on to parents, who will use it to see how well schools of doing; and she demands of everyone else that they don’t use it -- especially not if they work in the media – and more especially not if they they want to see how schools are doing. They may not use use it even if they’re a parent who works in the media (and what would those odds be, eh).
Information, according to Mrs Tolley and her new partners, does not set you free – it gives you ulcers. And so, apparently, does common sense.
One is at a loss to explain the thinking here, if I can use that verb. Mrs Tolley is apparently opposed to the premise articulated by Abraham Lincoln and posted here yesterday:
"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts."
She is clearly not a student of logic. (It’s hard to demand of information that it be both used and not-used.)
And she is demonstrably opposed to the very principle of free speech. (Hard to go past that phrase “the Government has confirmed it will make it as difficult as possible for the media” as a statement adumbrating the very model of a censorious state.)
So she’s not a fan of freedom, not a fan of truth, and certainly not of setting it free. And nor is she a not a student of political philosophy or of logic or of any bloody clue how exactly to bring about this ban of hers (maybe she’s assumed a can-opener?). What she is a student of, however – or what she was a student of – was Computer Programming. She has a diploma in it. That this is the only qualification she holds should not however be seen as any impediment to her holding firm views on things she clearly knows nothing about – which is, after all, the primary qualification to be a cabinet minister. (Having no qualifications or any kind of real work record is not the real problem – having no basic common sense is.)
So just to summarise the week’s two big political stories so far: Yesterday the government were combating the idea that taxpayers should pay for free rugby on on one TV channel by having taxpayers outbid themselves to put the rugby on another channel. And today they’re insisting that information be both released and be not-released.
And to think there are some people who think they don’t know what the hell they’re doing!