Real Issues Blog

What I didn't know about ISIS and Iraq

Jeremy Vargo
19 August 14

First of all, ISIS stands for “the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” ISIS was formerly a branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq that has been rebuilding over the last 3 years after it was decimated by the US military in 2006. Their intention is to set up a new Islamic state—or “caliphate,” an extreme Islamic theocracy ruled by an imam or “caliph”—in an area that takes in northern Iraq and a large chunk of north-western Syria. + more

MMP refresher - the paths to power

Jeremy Vargo
18 August 14

Last week, my friends got into a heated discussion regarding David Cunliffe’s statements about Internet Mana. He said he wouldn’t have their MPs in his Government, but he would work with them. “Isn’t that the same thing?” they asked. The answer is no, but to make the distinction there’s a few key things about the way we do politics in this country that we have to wrap our head around. + more

When Freedoms Collide | 2014 Sir John Graham Lecture

Professor Helen Alvaré
05 August 14

I want to now turn to the level of conscience protection in the End of Life Choices Bill proposed by Maryan Street. Does the Bill provide enough protection for conscience when it requires objecting doctors to refer a patient to someone they know will carry out euthanasia, rather than allowing them simply to say they can’t help, without making any other referral?+ more

School Leadership: Our quick explainer

Luke Fenwick
24 July 14

Our policy paper, Joining Forces, asks whether sharing expertise across schools helps to improve student outcomes. There is evidence that it can, and we apply this evidence to analyse the leadership aspects of “Investing in Educational Success.” Here we summarise our nine recommendations for how the Government can effectively harness school leadership as a lever for system improvement.+ more

Cherry-picking statistics for political point-scoring

Kieran Madden
21 July 14

There’s always going to be an incentive to choose (or more cynically, cherry-pick) the stats that best support a pre-conceived stance or will score the most political points. Evidence-based policy is a good thing, but we need to be wily consumers of the evidence we’re offered—not all is equal and none of it is purely objective. + more

A look at Labour's education plan

Luke Fenwick
14 July 14

Labour leader David Cunliffe pulled the covers off Labour’s shiny new education policy at the recent Labour Party Congress. With Education spokesman Chris Hipkins on his right shoulder and Deputy Leader David Parker on his left, he promised Labour will invest $873 million into education over the next four years. This includes smaller class sizes and more teachers, subsidised netbooks for all students, and initiatives to promote expertise-sharing among schools. + more

"How many single mums stay single?" - and other things you find out from quality research

Kieran Madden
08 July 14

On my 30th birthday, a dear friend gifted me a copy of A. A. Milne’s “Now We Are Six.” The launch of the third report from the “Growing Up In New Zealand” study, similarly entitled “Now We Are Two: Describing our first 1000 days” brought the memory of that gift back to mind. I’m not sure whether the report’s title was inspired by the whimsical goings-on in the 100 Acre Wood, but the comparison brought home to me that childhood is a special time, and not only for sparking imaginations.+ more

Political fizz not recommended

Jeremy Vargo
01 July 14

Next time you’re reading, watching or listening to the news, try this: analyse how much time is spent talking about the real issues. Compare that with the space given to speculation about polling, thoughts on how voters will respond to an embarrassing tweet, or arguments over whether or not a minister should resign.+ more

A summary of Maxim Institute's poverty issues paper

Kieran Madden
01 July 14

Maxim Institute has released The Heart of Poverty – matching passion with precision for struggling New Zealanders, an issues paper aiming to stimulate and contribute to the current debate about poverty in New Zealand.

Poverty is unacceptable. Yet we still have a persistent poverty problem in New Zealand today, and not for a lack of debate...+ more

What's happening with National's school leadership policy?

Luke Fenwick
23 June 14

Remember how the National Party announced a $359 million School Leadership policy in January this year? Earlier this month we caught another glimpse of what the Government’s “Investing in Educational Success” (IES) programme might look like. The Working Group assigned to hammer out the finer points of the policy has released their summary report and a background paper. + more

How hyperbole hurts the poor

Kieran Madden
23 June 14

The first step towards truly helping New Zealanders in poverty is to agree on the extent—or even the existence—of the problem of poverty here in Aotearoa. Poverty is completely unacceptable, and as such we have a moral obligation to help those whose lives are blighted by it. The people who wish to sidestep this moral obligation to alleviate poverty will use one of two arguments to do so: to deny that “real” poverty exists in New Zealand, or to claim that the “poor” deserve to suffer because of choices they’ve made. + more

Poverty and "kids these days"

Kieran Madden
19 June 14

When it comes to humans, one-size-fits-all descriptions rarely cut it. While there is often a kernel of truth in generalisations like “Gen-Y,” the ethos of an entire generation cannot be captured in a few words. Thankfully, good research can be pretty darn effective at breaking down wearying stereotypes and painting more vivid, nuanced pictures of how complex we all are. + more