Importing low-wage migrants to cover gaps in our unskilled workforce while reducing our educational levels might accurately be described as dumbing down a nation.
One may speculate on who would benefit from the strategy but it is certainly not our young people.
The chairman of an expert panel convened to address the situation with mathematics, Gaven Martin is under no illusions as to what we are setting ourselves up for with the worst achievement levels in the English-speaking world.
"Maths has this gatekeeping role to higher-paying jobs, by and large, so decisions made by teachers, by students, by parents even early in a child's lifetime have pretty significant impacts further down the track."
Tracking who to blame for getting us into this trough is likely to lead in circles. But there are some likely suspects.
NZ Principals' Federation president Perry Rush says there's a "void" of leadership in maths education and schools are lost in a "soup" of competing maths programmes.
The ministry's deputy secretary for early learning and student achievement, Ellen MacGregor-Reid, says the ministry is concerned about "the pattern of decline" in achievement and is considering "specific actions needed in particular areas of learning including social-emotional, literacy and mathematics".
The ministry and the Government might argue that it's not so important how this deplorable situation developed, it's what we do about it now that matters. But that's not strictly true. Only by identifying how we got here and exposing the fundamentally flawed thinking behind it, can we remove it and avoid lapsing back into it.
One line of thought points to our national curriculum advisory service being abolished when schools became self-governing in 1989. Advice was contracted out initially to the universities but, in more recent years, schools have been left to buy their own advice from a list of hundreds of approved "facilitators".
This leaves schools bidding against each other for funding to pay for these facilitators, whose credentials, it seems, is no one's job to monitor.
Massey University associate professor Jodie Hunter says: "Anyone can set themselves up as a maths facilitator, there are some checks but not a huge amount. It's a huge mess, really."
Another area of concern is streaming children into ability-based groups where those who readily grasp concepts are pushed on ahead, leaving a proportion behind, still grappling with basic addition and multiplication. This keeps a school's overall achievement levels looking good but actively consigns whole groups of students into a form of "cattle class".
Some of these issues are already being addressed. The Government has promised to re-establish a "curriculum centre" within the Ministry of Education and to revive regional subject advisers in the proposed Education Support Agency.
An expert Royal Society of NZ panel, chaired by Gaven Martin, looks likely to foreshadow a major shakeup of the curriculum and the way teachers are trained and supported across all subjects.
Some ideological acceptance of incompetence has taken root and left a generation of New Zealanders with a fundamental lack of basic mathematics.
This must be expunged, as quickly as possible.