Let Them Eat Cake

Who is David Wales, and what does he know about school uniforms? Well his official titles are acting head of sector enablement and support for the Ministry of Education as well as head of Special Education.

Wales in a recent New Zealand Herald article about the costs of school uniforms http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11793406  said that it was up to parents to make informed choices when deciding which school to send their children to, he went on to say that “Parents should ask about the expectations and likely cost of school uniforms before they enrol their children.” This was in response to the assertion made by that the cost of school uniforms was a barrier to some children’s education and that 70% of parents surveyed wished that a generic {read less expensive” option for school uniforms was widely available.

Wales has an impressive Cv and no doubt he is an expert in some fields however his knowledge of school uniforms and the impact of that upon children is extremely small.  I would even go out on a limb and say that Wales is a prat, or in the words of Oscar Wilde he is a cynical prat, he knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.  At this time of the year many parents quake and indeed some lose sleep about how they are going to pay for the costs of school uniforms let alone the other start-up costs of stationary etc.

This dilemma is to a degree economically classless, the costs of housing for average wage earners means that even those with two jobs earning 100,000 a year can struggle, never mind those who exist on low wages or benefits.  Here is a small fact for Wales, having choice about where children go to school is not always available, zoning transport work are all factors in school choices. His simplistic ideological response to the costs of school uniforms highlights the neo-liberalism that has pervaded the various ministries that support Government to deliver things like Education, Health, Housing, Welfare etc.

I would doubt that Wales has ever had to consider which school his children (if he has any) attend.  Such weighty pronouncements are indicative of how far out of touch many ministerial advisers and experts are. Given that he is in charge of Special Education in New Zealand then the public should worry.

In Wales defence however is the fact that he doesn’t operate in a vacuum.  Philosophy and culture comes from the top down and Hekia Parata has demonstrated that neo-liberal ideology has an important place in that. Hekia Parata stands down this year as Minister of Education her tenure will be remembered as being divisional, confrontational and generally an abject failure.  As to David Wales, well his legacy will be his advice, empty and meaningless, people will just say who was he.



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