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Charter schools

Written By: - Date published: 2:30 pm, December 6th, 2011 - 112 comments
Categories: act, education, national, schools - Tags: ,

It is frankly disturbing that the Nats care so little about education that they make major policy decisions on the fly, as part of political agreements with minnow political support “party” ACT. Neither ACT nor National went in to the election campaigning for charter schools, and now without any consultation or (I’d bet good money) serious consideration of the evidence, charter schools are to be introduced.

They’re calling it a “trial” this time, instead of a brute force national standards approach, but it is clear that this development fits the Nats’ profit driven ideology.  Derek Cheng at The Herald has a reasonable first look at the issue and even manages to find some balance:

Schools plan ‘bulk funding in drag’

The Labour Party and teacher unions are panning a National-Act proposal for charter schools as a step towards privatising the education system with a proposal that neither party put forward before the election.

Charter schools – effectively state-funded private schools – will be introduced to South Auckland and Christchurch within the next three years as part of the confidence and supply deal between the National and Act parties.  The goal of charter schools is to lift the performance of low-achieving students by giving schools more flexibility and autonomy – including the possibility of for-profit private management, an independent curriculum and performance-pay for teachers, which teach unions are vehemently opposed to.

Charter schools will be expected to be faith-based with an academic focus on approved curriculum and qualifications. They can raise revenue through partnerships or sponsorship with iwi, community groups or the private sector. …

But NZEI president Ian Leckie said the Government had no mandate for charter schools. “Overseas experience shows they can take students and money away from existing schools, undermine communities and increase social segregation. They are also less accountable.  “New Zealanders should be very concerned that Act is suddenly shaping and dictating key education policy.”  Labour’s education spokeswoman Sue Moroney called the trial “bulk-funding in drag” and exposed National’s true colours. …

Charter schools overseas have had mixed results, with some improved learning outcomes amid accusations they have been used as a vehicle for religious indoctrination. … The New Zealand model will be based on the Knowledge is Power Programme in the US – which involves about 100 schools and 27,000 students from primary to high school- and to some extent the UK system.  KIPP has been lauded for improvements in maths and reading, but criticised for selecting the most motivated students; the National-Act proposal is for charter schools to have to accept all student applicants, regardless of academic ability.

As a very first look at the issue, concerns about the efficacy of these schools seem well founded.  Educational historian Dianne Ravitch used to be a strong supporter of charter schools (and national standards), but the evidence has changed her mind:

Scholar’s School Reform U-Turn Shakes Up Debate

Diane Ravitch, the education historian who built her intellectual reputation battling progressive educators and served in the first Bush administration’s Education Department, is in the final stages of an astonishing, slow-motion about-face on almost every stand she once took on American schooling.

Once outspoken about the power of standardized testing, charter schools and free markets to improve schools, Dr. Ravitch is now caustically critical. She underwent an intellectual crisis, she says, discovering that these strategies, which she now calls faddish trends, were undermining public education. She resigned last year from the boards of two conservative research groups.

“School reform today is like a freight train, and I’m out on the tracks saying, ‘You’re going the wrong way!’ ” Dr. Ravitch said in an interview.  Dr. Ravitch is one of the most influential education scholars of recent decades, and her turnaround has become the buzz of school policy circles. …

Here’s Ravtich on the efficacy of charter schools (in a piece critiquing a film on the topic):

The Myth of Charter Schools

… Some fact-checking is in order, and the place to start is with the film’s quiet acknowledgment that only one in five charter schools is able to get the “amazing results” that it celebrates. Nothing more is said about this astonishing statistic. It is drawn from a national study of charter schools by Stanford economist Margaret Raymond (the wife of Hanushek). Known as the CREDO study, it evaluated student progress on math tests in half the nation’s five thousand charter schools and concluded that 17 percent were superior to a matched traditional public school; 37 percent were worse than the public school; and the remaining 46 percent had academic gains no different from that of a similar public school. The proportion of charters that get amazing results is far smaller than 17 percent.

Like Ravitch, but for different reasons, the creator of charter schools in America has changed his mind on their value.  From the same piece:

… charter schools were created mainly at the instigation of Albert Shanker, the president of the American Federation of Teachers from 1974 to 1997. Shanker had the idea in 1988 that a group of public school teachers would ask their colleagues for permission to create a small school that would focus on the neediest students, those who had dropped out and those who were disengaged from school and likely to drop out. He sold the idea as a way to open schools that would collaborate with public schools and help motivate disengaged students. In 1993, Shanker turned against the charter school idea when he realized that for-profit organizations saw it as a business opportunity and were advancing an agenda of school privatization.

Once again, under National, we get to repeat an experiment that failed 20 years ago.  All cooked up on the back of an envelope in a coalition deal.  Education deserves much better.

112 comments on “Charter schools”

  1. grumpy 1

    The education system in New Zealand is seriously stuffed in providing decent education to low socio-economic areas.

    This proposal can’t be worse than the status quo and deserves a try.

    • King Kong 1.1

      Agreed. If the existing scheme was perfect and kids were not being left behind I could understand the union insisting that the status quo is the only acceptable method.

      Talented teachers will be over the moon about this.

      • Uturn 1.1.1

        Do you two qualify your statements or are we to just accept the idiocy at face value?

        I can play this game too:

        Schools are fine as is; excellent teachers everywhere getting good results; education results effected by larger environment; “seriously stuffed” is not an official measure; causes for children being left behind has wider implications than education; measures for academic success are wider than just mathematic ability; low-socio-economic does not equal low intelligence; people who support charter schools really don’t give a shit about low socio-economic anything; “can’t be worse than status quo” is not an intelligent reason for action.

        So there we are. Line in the sand. Step to your side, put your fingers in your ears and jump like monkeys.

    • RedLogix 1.2

      This proposal can’t be worse than the status quo

      All school systems struggle with lower socio-economic populations, for the simple reason that much of what determines successful outcomes happens in the home and is largely outside the influence of the school.

      But overall NZ’s education system rates pretty well globally; so the chances are that this ‘charter school’ proposal WILL be worse than the status quo.

      Of course this doesn’t mean that the status quo is perfect. You are doing what is called ‘binary thinking'; ie you are only allowing two possible choices in your mind… in this case ‘the existing system’ or ‘charter schools’. And in your mind you have decided that because the existing system is not perfect .. that your charter school alternative must be better.

      Do I need to point out the obvious fallacy here?

      • grumpy 1.2.1

        I am not saying that Charter Schools are better that the top performers in the state sector (that give the NZ rankings a high result) but it is better than nothing for those poor performing schools.

        Although not the universal panacea, charter schools have had some success in both the UK and USA.

        Obama has opened 5000 of them FFS.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1.1

          The UK and the US also brought in “National Standards” which brought about a decrease in education so I want to see proof of your assertion.

          BTW, “some success” is indicative of overall failure.

          • grumpy 1.2.1.1.1

            So, are you opposed the the Australian Labor Party’s education policy too, which has both National Standards AND League tables?

            • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1.1.1.1

              Yes, but what’s that got to do with this thread?

              Oh, that’s right, nothing. You’re just trying for another useless distraction.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.3

      The education system in New Zealand is seriously stuffed in providing decent education to low socio-economic areas.

      That would be why our students keep getting ranked in the top few…

      Oh, wait.

      There’s nothing wrong with our education system. What’s wrong is the resource distribution system that channels the countries wealth to the few and is otherwise known as capitalism.

    • Jackal 1.4

      grumpy

      This proposal can’t be worse than the status quo and deserves a try.

      Studies show that Charter Schools perform on average 20% worse than Public Schools.

    • Rodel 1.5

      Grumpy and King Kong.Ridiculous empty statements ..worthless… no evidence..as dumb as John Banks rubbish.

  2. r0b 2

    I see we’re going to get the usual “the school system is failing” nonsense from Right wingers in this thread.  Hello reality check:

    NZ near top in OECD education figures

    New Zealand’s education system has won major praise with it nearing the top in literacy, mathematics and science according to a highly recognised international assessment system.

    But the data points to some alarming gaps in New Zealand – especially socio-economic.

    Our education system does very well.  It’s problems are created by inequality.  The solution is to end poverty, not to tinker with failed educational ideology. 

    • grumpy 2.1

      “But the data points to some alarming gaps in New Zealand – especially socio-economic”

      Looks like we are saying the same thing………………

      • RedLogix 2.1.1

        So if the if these ‘alarming gaps’ are strongly correlated with ‘low income’, (while the educational system can be shown to serve most of the rest of NZ very well indeed)… then the most plausible root cause is:

        A. A deficient school system that needs reform to perform better?

        B. A deficient economic system that needs reform to distribute income better?

        • grumpy 2.1.1.1

          …but….the Left is not going to be able to “redistribute income” in the forseeable future (if at all) and have made a bloody poor job of it when Labour was last in power.

          The “redistribute income” option is not a goer – so option A is the only one on the table.

          • RedLogix 2.1.1.1.1

            Translated:

            “We don’t believe in doing the correct solution; so we’ll go with a demonstrably wrong solution that suits our preconceived ideological position.”

            Why am I not surprised?

            • grumpy 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Wrong translation.

              Charter schools have shown some success.

              How about this translation:

              “We lost the election so we’ll just oppose everything the government come up with, regardless of whether it might increase the opportunities for some children……”??

              • Draco T Bastard

                Wrong translation.

                No grumpy, that was a perfect translation. You really are saying that you’ll go with the demonstrably wrong solution on ideological grounds.

              • spratwax

                wrong again! “We have no ideas about economic policy but we must follow the current US idealogical bent, and after consultation with their people we will institute a way to prop up private schools with taxpayer money (socialisation of private losses again) and enforce free market competition in lower decile schools so we can squeeze more hours out of their teachers for the same money (or less, depending on how you look at it), resulting in the flight of ‘good, better qualified experienced teachers’ to ‘better’ schools in higher socio- economic areas, and the probability that lowest decile schools will close down because they don’t meet Government achievement levels.”

                Watch how public money will be channelled into private schools, and of course the system distributes quality teachers into these schools due to the free market application, – this is the Key to this policy, securing a brighter future for the elite in society and guaranteed dumbing down for the rest.

                …….and they complained about Helen Clark and social engineering! This is in a completely different league altogether.

                • Fermionic Interference


                  wrong again! “We have no ideas about economic policy but we must follow the current US idealogical bent, and after consultation with their people we will institute a way to prop up private schools with taxpayer money (socialisation of private losses again)

                  +many
                  well said and how so accurate.

                  as to the teachers who are the best actually choosing to wrok in these schools is 50/50 because the teachers who are best at inspiring students and helping them learn are more likely to be in the job for the reward of helping kids not money (or not just the fact that they too have to put food on the table).

            • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.1.1.2

              +1

      • fabregas4 2.1.2

        You’re not saying the same thing at all. What those who critique NZ Education and Educators say is “Teachers and schools are failing” without considering the impact that socio ecomomic and family factors bring into the equation. The research says that these two things have a greater influence on learning than anything else. Research also tells us that only Canada is better in the OECD at lifting achievement of children in poverty than NZ (and in NZ we spend less).

        There is no surprise that as poverty has risen in our country educational outcomes have fallen – rather it is surprising that as we grow poverty so quickly that our achievement levels stay so high.

        Rob is correct. The way to lift achievement of all children is to ensure that all children live without poverty. Not easy, but if we want our schools to achieve then something has to be done and it certainly isn’t labeling low decile schools failing and making them businesses.

    • King Kong 2.2

      Oh goody we are near the top of the tree.

      We needn’t bother with the kids that leave school unable to read or count because we are just about the best.

      We are near the top for not having homeless living on the streets but it doesn’t seem to stop you banging on about that,

      • Bored 2.2.1

        A gorilla of an intellectual effort KK. Have you ever bothered to work through what causes underachievement at school?

        Give you a little hint: teachers and teaching standards are pretty low on the list of causes. Underachievement has its causes well outside of the school gates.

        Which makes me pose some questions:
        1. Why do so many jerk offs expect teachers to pick up the pieces and get results?
        2. What makes proponents of Charter Schools so confident they can achieve results when every other organ of state cant get ahead with the same people / students?

        • King Kong 2.2.1.1

          So the children of the poor are mongs and there is nothing teachers can do about it so you may as well just leave them to play touch rugby.

          • Bored 2.2.1.1.1

            Where exactly did I say that????? Read it again King Mong.

          • Draco T Bastard 2.2.1.1.2

            No KK, that’s what you said. What needs to be changed is the socio-economic circumstances of the parents – not the teaching.

          • ianmac 2.2.1.1.3

            For 50+ years those who “fail” at school have been known. Who they are and why they are is well documented. The solutions to helping those “failing” kids are also known.
            Poverty.
            Lack of family support.
            English as a second language.
            Slow learners buried in classes to big.
            Testing to prove failure.
            What a pity that Government didn’t deal with those issues instead of rolling out unproven, worthless, expensive political projects.
            Ask a school or two where there are many failing kids just what they would do if they had money and resources at hand. They know what they would do.

    • insider 2.3

      But then you have schools which consistently have only a 50% pass rate at NCEA. Education is not just a symptom of deprivation it is a way out, so to blame society and income perhaps doesn’t do enough to motivate kids and their parents to make that next generation a step better.

      In a NZ system with integrated and independent schools, charter ones are just going to be a whiter shade of pale, not the end of education as we know it. If providing a bit more to the mix lifts some of the bottom end, that’s a good thing isn’t it?

      • McFlock 2.3.1

        But then you have schools which consistently have only a 50% pass rate at NCEA. Education is not just a symptom of deprivation it is a way out, so to blame society and income perhaps doesn’t do enough to motivate kids and their parents to make that next generation a step better.

         ???
        Because all liberals and socialists believe that children will do better if you just “blame society and income”. /sarc
          
        I like the way you pretended to care about the problems other people face in order to imply liberals just blame society and do nothing. Almost made you look like something other than a sociopathic spin-merchant.
         
         

      • red blooded 2.3.2

        Christ – our schools can’t win, can they? If too many kids pass NCEA, it’s being “dumbed down” and teachers are not demanding enough of students; if the bell curve (which, let’s remember, RULED School Cert and Bursary) starts to be seen again, the schools are failing kids and it’s a disgrace that 20% leave without Level 2 NCEA. How about looking at the half-full side of the glass 80%(!) achieve Level 2 (over time, and often with a lot of hard work from their teachers to support their learning).

        NZ kids consistently score in the top 5 OECD countries for both reading and maths skills. The US is nowhere near this! Why are we importing their (failed) ideas?

        Our biggest challenge is meeting the educational needs of kids who come to school without prior (and ongoing) reading experience, who have high absenteeism, live in families who can’t afford to give them the breadth of background experience that most middle class kids get… Nobody’s saying that working class kids are thick. Don’t be simplistic (and manipulative).

  3. Spratwax 3

    This tells me that Key and National have a direct line to their US ideological paymasters, just as Tory, David Cameron, has instituted policies from advice given by US right-wing reform experts.

    Read this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/07/britain-welfare-state-born-usa

    The similarities to what is happening here (and is probably being planned for the next 3 years) makes my skin crawl but I would wager that ‘tea party politics’ has been instilled in National and dictates their programme.

    • Bored 3.1

      I have a deep suspicion of schemes like this: follow the money and we might see whats behind it.

      Two probabilities pop up….
      1. Somebody wants to make a profit here running schools.
      2. Private schools see this as a progression toward full state funding without having to join the state system.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        Both. It’s another way for unaccountable, unelected people to tax the country.

      • insider 3.1.2

        I reckon #2 if going to make a choice. Many independent schools without large historic bequests seem to be begging to be integrated, particularly newer smaller Xtian ones. You don’t see many opting out for the bundles of cash they’ll make.

  4. Drawn up hastily on the back of an envelope during coalition talks?

    Possibly. I know that accepted wisdom is to choose incompetence over conspiracy but that ignores a third possibility – incompetent conspiracy.

    I find it hard to believe that, in the lift going to the 9th floor, Banks suddenly thought – “Ooooh! How about Charter Schools? – must mention it to John.” Some research must have been done on this prior to the election, at least by ACT ‘policy wonks’ (if they have such things).

    I also liked Mary Wilson’s roasting of both Key and Banks on Checkpoint last night over the lack of any mention in their respective campaigns about Charter Schools.

    Key brushed it off with words to the effect of ‘Well, ACT’s campaign is their business and, anyway, this is what you get with MMP coalition deals …’

    Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

    Nothing to do with Key, apparently – despite signing a deal that includes a significant policy that wasn’t mentioned by anyone on the campaign trail.

    Mr Moderate and Transparent strikes again. 

    • fender 4.1

      Yes Mary Wilson has to be the best interviewer in the country, she demands answers and stomps all over any attempt to deviate off topic. I love her pitbull method and would love to see Espiner, Garner, Sainsburry and those other TV hacks follow her lead.

      • Hami Shearlie 4.1.1

        TV hacks is right. Mary Wilson makes them all look so bad! Remember when Kim Hill and Linda Clark were on tv? The tv political reporters and interviewers now are so mediocre, so much personal bias and so little actual research, so little actual reporting of fact and so much of their own personal opinions which they try to pass off as facts!

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    Banks is a National Party man, so is Don Brash. I suspect that you’ll find that this is a National Party initiative being passed off as an Act Party initiative and that the “agreement” came about before the coup that replaced Mr Hide with Don Brash.

    • Spratwax 5.1

      Absolutely correct, Draco. Both Brash and Banks are National party through and through- ACT

      was a scam. National had to get rid of Rodney Hide to gain control of ACT. National and

      the ‘business elite’ will be looking to manufacture other parties (under their control) to use as

      coalition partners in the future- the nature of their politics in this country, puts them at a

      disadvantage under MMP, that’s why the campaign against MMP hasn’t yet finished as far as

      they’re concerned.

  6. Gravedodger 6

    Of course the socialist oppose any initiative to give the bottom 20% a chance to escape the welfare trap, how else do they maintain that dependent base for their electoral hopes every three years.
    Add another 20% of dreamers to the greens moonbat base and Bob’s yr uncle and hes stayin the night.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1

      What a load of bullshit. Like you give a fuck about the “bottom 20%”, when in the next breath you’ll be off slandering them as “bludgers” or claiming that 80% of the minimum wage is all they deserve.

      Go long on guillotine manufacturers.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.2

      Of course the socialist oppose any initiative to give the bottom 20% a chance to escape the welfare trap…

      No we don’t. We just recognise that these charter schools won’t actually do that. To get people out of the poverty trap requires paying them more and this government is determined to pay people less just as John Key promised.

  7. ianmac 7

    Hey . How about setting up Charter Schools where the bottom 20 percent of kids are chosen to go. (No chance of picking off just the great learners like Private Schools do now.)
    Fully funded, expertly staffed, and curriculum designed to be in context with kids’ lives.
    Wow. That would show that the pollies really really care. And by next year the long tail will be gone- forever! Roll on Charter schools just for those in need!
    Let our excellent State Schools get on with what they already do so well.

    • King Kong 7.1

      Great idea Ianmac. The ability of Iwi to get involved in this scheme means that you can even specifically target poorer Maori and tailor the delivery to the audience.

      Why the assumption that this is only targeted for smart rich kids? Just because Danyl says so doesn’t make it true.

    • insider 7.2

      Even better, why not encourage schools that aren’t mass market blancmanges, but that specialise in things like languages, science, art, culture, sport, disabilities or music so that aptitude is nurtured in a focussed setting, and then allow children to go there and not be penalised for being out of zone.

  8. Looks like the main difference between the proposed “charter schools” and our existing “schools” is that private schools will be publicly funded. All this “give the bottom 20% a chance to escape the welfare trap” blather is just bullshit – what’s actually being proposed is privatisation and union-busting. If it does turn out the privatised schools do better than the regular ones, the Johns will no doubt look on it as a bonus, but it will be tangential to the actual purpose of the exercise.

    • ianmac 8.1

      By the time evidence of success/failure appears, those who chatter for chartering will be long gone. 8-10 years?

  9. Stevo 10

    This is the great leap backwards…..faith based anything. But that’s the nats for you..blind faith in their ideologies counter to the best evidence provided by Treasury, history or even scientists.

    The cult of Key. The responses in this thread in favour of this un- capaigned for policy proves it is real.

    The National party IS a cult, their supporters nodding away like the dog in the back window of an Austin 1100 on the holiday highway to hell.

    How soon till we have the…Destiny State Funded Faith Based School?
    How soon till we have a state funded Muslim schools then?

    This will only create separatism. I am surprised at the right supporting opening the door to religion in our education in this way. They should know better.

    • insider 10.1

      We already have

      the papist opus dei state funded faith based schools (Catholic integrated)
      the English heretic Faith Based Schools (Anglican integrated)
      the hippy Green Faith Based Schools (Steiner integrated)
      the rapturist Faith Based Schools (various fundie cults represented)
      The libertarianz Faith Based School of choice (Montesorri)
      and not forgetting the future islamofunditerror faith based school (Al-Madinah in Mangere)

      So your fear of the cult of Key is about 30 years too late

      • mik e 10.1.1

        Insider trader these private schools have a worse pass rate than the public schools

        • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1.1

          Got link?

        • mik e 10.1.1.2

          I just read the exam results every year in the paper and private school in my area -private schools have a lower academic achievement rate than most of the public school including lower decile schools, all that private schools do is set up cliques for life so their networking is more important than their school working.

  10. ianmac 11

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/michigan-privatize-public-education
    The list of initiatives reads like a grand plan to dismantle public education as we know it: Slash education spending. Outsource public teachers. Curb collective-bargaining rights. Kneecap teachers’ unions. Open the floodgates to charter and “cyber” schools.
    Sound familiar? This is in Michigan but could be here and coming to a school near you. (Thanks to Millhouse for spotting this on “Mother Jones.”)

  11. Nick C 12

    http://www.nber.org/~schools/charterschoolseval/how_NYC_charter_schools_affect_achievement_sept2009.pdf

    “On average, a student who attended a charter school for all of grades kindergarten through eight would close about 86 percent of the “Scarsdale-Harlem achievement gap” in math and 66 percent of the achievement gap in English. A student who attended fewer grades would improve by a commensurately smaller amount.”

    Note that the study uses random lotteries which account eliminate any selection bias. It also finds benefits to children who dont go to the charter schools due to the increased comeptition.

    • spratwax 12.1

      The Hoxby study has been thoroughly discredited due to flawed methodology.

      Read this instead: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/03/education/03ravitch.html?scp=2&sq=Diane%20Ravitch&st=cse

      • Nick C 12.1.1

        Oh I thought you were going to link to evidence that the study has been discredited, rather than just asserting that it had..

        • Colonial Viper 12.1.1.1

          this is all shit, bet you any equally resourced public school could match those results easy.

          [lprent: please no betting. We all remember the unfortunate fate of the mods and myself having to reread the fallout after big bruv made that unfortunate bet with bLip. Never again… ]

        • Draco T Bastard 12.1.1.2

          Found this one but it doesn’t say much. Just that the methodology of the report sucked. Of course, methodology is everything. If the methodology sucked then the report is useless.

          And this one which calls it misleading, rips it a new one while also praising it and then it’s pointed out that it hasn’t been peer reviewed. I think sums it up though:

          but to make matters worse, the authors present (again, in their executive summary) the finding that, for each year students attend a charter high school, they are seven percent more likely to graduate than are comparable students in regular public schools.…What the authors fail to mention in their summary is that this result is not statistically significant at any conventional level.

          Dodgy seems to be a good description of that report you linked.

        • Spratwax 12.1.1.3

          Here’s the link then: http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=981

          Hoxby is also a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, which is funded by corporates and is a right-wing public policy think tank. I notice your avatar seems to refer to the american flag- another sad sack promoting the americanisation of NZ. Everyone knows that research results merely reflect the wishes of the those that fund the research.

    • dave brown 12.2

      Those kid’s ‘ll close that Scarlem gap lightnin quik when they occupy their skools. They will learn to count as the bankers drop from the sky over Wall St and spell as they rename all the parks and streets after the working class heroes and martyrs. On the index of cmopteiiton they will score in the 80th percentile behind the intifada and Arab Spring teams. Performance art, music, poetry, will break out everywhere led by the rapsta Banksta from Ouckland NooZeeland performing ‘I done a deal, its a steal, those black queers make me squeal.’

  12. joe90 13

    The Myth of Charter Schools

    First, I thought to myself that the charter operators were cynically using children as political pawns in their own campaign to promote their cause. (Gail Collins in The New York Times had a similar reaction and wondered why they couldn’t just send the families a letter in the mail instead of subjecting them to public rejection.) Second, I felt an immense sense of gratitude to the much-maligned American public education system, where no one has to win a lottery to gain admission.

  13. DS 14

    If this was such a brilliant move, why did no-one campaign for it?

  14. Mike Smith 15

    As I predicted in October http://thestandard.org.nz/is-key-going-where-goves-gone/. Sell assets to fund charter schools – classic Tory bait and switch. No mandate for this either.

    • DS 15.1

      One wonders what other non-disclosed and non-campaigned-upon policies are going to come tumbling out of the woodwork.

  15. Michael Bott 16

    Earlier this year John Key announced in a public meeting in Masterton that funding was going to be cut for the Wairarapa’s flagship last chance school Ohorere Student Transition Programme. That school has a proven track record with an 85 percent success rate at taking troubled young children and getting back on track to return to and complete mainstream education. It cost just $150,000 a year to run (the same prices as 10 minutes of fireworks used to open the Rugby Worl Cup). It has ERO report after ERO report congratulating the school on its success. It is shameful that a school which has a proven record of success with some of the children from the poorest levels of our communities, is going to be binned when Mr Key can find millions of dollars to plough into charter schools, just to make a deal with a former National Party cabinet minister, when the bulk of research suggests charter schools are a failure

    • Stevo 16.1

      perhaps mainfreight will fund it, with logoed shirts n all

      • Puddleglum 16.1.1

        Here in Christchurch, Banks is hoping that construction companies like Fulton Hogan will ‘invest’ in schools. Why?

        Banks said yesterday that Christchurch was chosen as a trial area because of the opportunities that had arisen from the earthquakes.

        He refused to name the groups that wanted to set up charter schools in the city, but hoped business interests in the building industry would work closely with a charter school to bring workplace education into the classroom.

        Banks said he envisaged building and construction companies co-funding charter schools, which would focus on getting pupils into the work force.

        “This will give opportunities for education to become very relevant to people like myself who were not interested in school work,” Banks said

        So, here we have it pretty plain and simple. Those (low socioeconomic) pupils who – curiously – are particularly predisposed to work with their hands and are “not interested in school work” are being ‘helped’ to become the ‘work force’. Coincidentally, large corporations get to make money out of it and provide themselves with a ‘captive’ population of future workers.

        But, what about all those poor souls who are the children of Fendalton and Merivale people who will miss out on this amazing opportunity to become part of the manual workforce and who are “not interested in school work”?

        Why should they be denied this wonderful opportunity to be freed from the expectation to become lawyers, doctors, accountants, teachers, etc.?

        Seems unfair. 

        • joe90 16.1.1.1

          .

          The British Secondary Technical Schools were supposed to do the same thing but very few were ever built and most kids were turned into factory fodder at a Secondary Modern School.

          And oddly enough the country had numerous post secondary trade schools, I attended the NZED trade school in Mt Wellington, but the eighties reforms closed the lot.

  16. logie97 17

    There are many issues regarding charter schools, but one out of left field is some tidy real estate a few years out.

    The Nats know it. ACT knows it.
    And if those who are currently investing their time in the state system would open
    their eyes they should know it as well.

    The state school sites will be valuable real estate.
    Our schools are going to change through the influence of new technology. The delivery of the curriculum will see children learn more and more through private providers on-line. The rapid growth of the home schooling movement is also testament to this. (The Correspondence school is tailor made for on-line learning.)

    So the traditional school as we know it will become surplus to requirements, and the savvy industries who are going to be able to get into these charter schools will have a foot in the door when they come to be sold off.

    And what about the staffing of the charter schools? While the government is pushing for a post graduate degree required for new teachers in the primary sector, there is still a large pool of youngish teachers with diplomas (who currently get paid $12000 pa less than those with any sort of degree) who could suddenly be in demand to staff the charter schools.

    In the meantime, how is the government able to float the need for the charter schools? Some nebulous argument that the tail can be catered for. We are told there is a need for these initiatives – the public perception of a failing state education system is being formed and influenced by a concerted attack on the profession by the government.

  17. mik e 18

    this is just union busting nothing more.

  18. Dr Terry 19

    One picks up on many words and phrases among these comments: restraint “has only just started”; “faith-based” – exactly what does this mean – faith in Messiah John Key (or Banks)?; a “business opportunity” (you bet!); perfection – what in hell IS “perfect”?; “some success” will do (in fact this is minute); the solution is to end poverty (much closer to reality!); “a deficient economic system” (good again, except for the word “system”; “a brighter future for the elite in society” (what else would we expect?); finally, and most important of all “what other non-disclosed and non-campaigned upon policies” – we have seen nothing yet (but so much of the country has begged for what is coming!!)

    With the enormous input of giant intellects Banks and Dunne (added to that of Tolley!) what educational marvels should we expect? We are going down the gurgler.

  19. randal 20

    Unlike gullivers travels where he only had to deal with small people now we have to deal with complete loonies who seem to want to destabilise society just to appease some groups who want to pay off politcial support with patronage with suspect education.
    the country has gone bonkers.

  20. ionmannz 21

    So they can select their students can they? Well what about the students they dont select? And note that they will only do it in areas where there are large numbers of students so they can choose (cherry pick) and not take in disruptive, aggressive or special needs students. Here is a challenge – go to Mangakino or Murupara or a similar socially deprived area where there is only one school and you have to take all students – ie no cherry picking!! I’ll wager they never will!

  21. randal 22

    this has nothing to do with education but everything to do with ignorati who think they know better and have the political clout to pull it off.
    the country has gone mad.

    • Draco T Bastard 22.1

      +1

      We’re seeing the rise of the dictators and psychopaths that will bring our civilisation down.

  22. Draco T Bastard 23

    Scott ovewr at Imperator Fish sums up NActs arguments:-

    * If the teachers unions are against it then, by God, it must be a good idea!
    * Oh well, bad luck, that’s MMP for you.

  23. Descendant Of Smith 25

    It would be simpler and easier to simply put more funding into low socio-economic schools.

    The school my kids went to gives everyone a chance at education – those who have been rejected or kicked out of other schools included.

    They have the best outputs in the area I live for the improvement from entry to exit, but the second lowest for actual NCEA outcomes.

    Does that make them a good school or a bad school?

    Two different outputs and no measure at all of outcomes.

    One of the low socio-economic pressures on these kids is the pressure to go to work at an early age to help support the family – the same pressure that meant my father left school at 15, my aunty left school at 15 to help raise the younger children, and so on.

    The past pressure that used to mean kids worked in coalmines.

    The teachers can do little about that pressure apart form instill in these kids a passion for ongoing learning, by conveying it them that in this modern world you still have some access to educate yourself further.

    The trouble is some of those outlets have been destroyed by this government – e.g. adult learning classes, which not only removed an option but also removed funding from these schools – about $70,000 per annum from my kids school. That money was taken to put more funding into private schools.

    What I also know is that there is a world of difference between the school I went to (NPBHS) with a vast old boys network, a trust that owns the racecourse in New Plymouth, The land NPGHS is on, the land the polytech is on, an education minister at the time who was an old boy (Merv Wellington) who quite happily ensured that the school got funding for a new gymnasium etc in time for the school centennial, and so on.

    If my kids school had half the external funding and support that NPBHS has they could probably do quite a bit more – but still wouldn’t necessarily overcome all those barriers that exist.

    It might mean however that some poor kids for instance could afford to do sport – the school has to provide for most of the costs associated or it doesn’t happen. It was quite evident at the NI champs that our kids had none of the personal coaches, spiked running shoes, gymnasium access that many of the kids they were competing against did.

    Fuck if business are that keen to get involved all they need to do is give money to the low socio-economic schools – no strings attached. If they are concerned about the plight of these kids – give their parents a job. Give the schools some cool resources and donate some salary money for additional teachers.

    They don’t need to set up more schools with more buildings and more infrastructure – though they could provide funds to improve some of the existing infrastructure.

    There’s heaps they could do right now with hardly any effort. They could seriously lobby for the funding to stop being reduced e.g. the change to funding based on term rolls for high schools – high rolls drop off as the year goes on – another $40,000 loss in funding for our school. Primary schools on the other hand who have rolls that go up as kids turn 5 apparently aren’t good enough to be funded this way.

    In saying that there are businesses and businessmen who do support the school and for that no doubt the school is eternally grateful – though no doubt they would rather be properly funded through taxation and have to spend time teaching the kids and not figuring out how to get foreign fee paying students and filling out funding applications instead of administering the school.

    • burt 25.1

      It would be simpler and easier to simply put more funding into low socio-economic schools.

      Right, so ease of administration. IE: A state run monopoly with a highly unionised workforce operation under a simple collective takes less administration… shit it must be the best way!

      • Descendant Of Smith 25.1.1

        No it’s more cost effective .

        Even replacing the $110,000 a year in funding lost from my local school in the last 2 years would help.

        Tell me how that $110,000-00 taken from that schools budget – much transferred to private schools (who are clearly less cost effective because they operate on a much higher $ per student basis) has helped these students do better.

        The reality is my local school is run much more cheaply than NPBHS, Auckland Grammar, etc and that’s just state schools.

        If the minister wants to produce some tables show the cost per pupil that each school has from all sources of funding. Put that table against the NCEA outputs and lets compare schools.

        Tell me burt should a young person from a disadvantaged background get more, less or egalitarian equal funding applied to them in order to make them a contributing member of society, to counter that disadvantage?

  24. Dv 26

    Good comment DOS.

    • Descendant Of Smith 26.1

      Apart from not proof-reading it – that’s my two fingered typing rather than my spelling and grammar. Sorry for the bits that need a little deciphering.

  25. AB 27

    Over time, the best way to improve the performance of low-achieving kids is probably to increase the incomes of their parents.
    So $15 min wage, WFF for beneficiaries, free early childhood education, etc.That’s the ‘long game’ – reduce inequality over time.
    Dopey tinkering round the margins of the education system won’t help. That’s not to say there isn’t a ‘short game’ too, but I doubt this is it.

  26. lilli2000 28

    NZ has one of the best education system in the world and this nonsense about 1/3 teachers failing and 20% of children failing is rubbish. Has anyone ever challenged the govt on where they get their facts? Oh from bullshit tests they designed to fail %50 of those who sit them. The National Standards are based on closing ones eye, opening the curriculum and letting ones finger fall on page and announcing that that is the standard. They were not developed by teachers or educators, they were designed by business people who have limited understanding of what happens at school these days, but they went to school once so they know.

    Education costs money and they want don’t want to spend money on education… they want to spend money on tax cuts for the rich. So they are figuring out ways to cut spending on education so they can.

    If they cared about children they would have teacher ratios of 1:12, they’d have one teacher aide to every five children, they’d pump money into class sets of kindles, they’d better resource schools.

    But they don’t see education as an investment, they see it as an expense.

    New Zealand’s education system is great, but yes we do need work and resourcing to move it to excellent. Here are some facts, feel free to google to check them for yourselves:

    Nz’s Education system ranked best in the world by the Legatum Prosperity Index 2010.
    92% people feel that children are learning & growing every day (Gallup World Poll, as cited in the Legatum Prosperity Index 2010).
    New Zealand leads the world, along with Norway & Australia, in the 2010 UN Human Development Index, which measures education, health, & income.
    At tertiary level, many more students come to New Zealand to study than leave New Zealand to study overseas
    Ranked second in the world by the OECD in terms of entry rates to diploma-level study (Education at a Glance 2010).
    Ranked second in the world by the OECD for the share of people aged 25 to 64 with a qualification at Level 4 or above.
    The NZ early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, when it was developed in the 1990s, was a world-leading early childhood curriculum document. It is still considered an international exemplar.
    New Zealand 15-year-old students’ overall reading performance was substantially higher than the average for the 34 OECD countries (PISA 2009).
    Of the 65 countries or economies participating in PISA 2009, only two OECD countries, and two non-OECD partner economies performed better than New Zealand.
    Close to one in six of New Zealand students were top-performing readers (PISA 2009).
    Only one OECD country and three non-OECD partner countries or economies achieved a higher mean scientific literacy score than New Zealand (PISA 2009).
    Mew Zealand primary school students finished in 5th place on World Maths Day 2011, and one New Zealand student took top place in the 8-10 yr old category.
    New Zealand is the most peaceful place to be a student – listed as the world’s most peaceful country in the 2010 Global Peace Index.
    The National Education Monitoring Project (NEMP) at the University of Otago found in 2009 that out of 14 subjects, mathematics is the second most popular subject for year 4 students and the third most popular subject for year 8 students. At least 85% of students in both years were positive about doing mathematics at school.
    The National Education Monitoring Project (NEMP) at the University of Otago found in 2009 that the percentage of year 4 students who indicated that they practised basic facts and tables (mathematics) in their own time (not at school) increased by 11% to 47% from 2005 to 2009.

    • Draco T Bastard 28.1

      Education costs money and they want don’t want to spend money on education…

      Had a short conversation on twitter with a suspected RWNJ. I pointed out that properly funding education would bring about as good or better results than charter schools and his response was:-

      so throw money at schools, (great idea) and where does this money come from ?

      He didn’t seem to appreciate that that was all that the government was doing with the charter schools (they’ll spin it as costing nothing but in reality it will be massively expensive) and that nothing is free.

      But they don’t see education as an investment, they see it as an expense.

      They’re RWNJs, they seem to see everything except themselves as an expense and they see themselves as the Great Creators.

  27. red blooded 29

    Well, I guess we now know why Key wanted Banks in – so he could impose a raft of loopy, ideologically driven ‘experiments’ on us and tell us he had no choice. National have wanted this (or something like it) for years. I remember arguing it off in seminars during the Bolger years.

    A few facts on the table, though:
    1) NZ ALREADY HAS one of the most extremely devolved, community controlled schooling systems in the world. Each school is run by a locally elected Board of Trustees, who have control over all employment and most curriculum matters. For heaven’s sake – our schools don’t even have to use our national qualifications system (NCEA) to asses students.
    2) There is already a significant amount of competition between schools (too much).
    3) Not only do all schools develop their own characters, and their own areas of specialisation, but along with competition between the various state schools in any one area, there are likely to be integrated schools. These are ALREADY ‘special character’ schools that receive state funding and are allowed to accept and reject (ie, cherry-pick) their students, as the proposed charter schools would be.
    4) On top of that, we have fully private schools, which (bizarrely) also receive state funding, even though they have no obligation to teach the NZ curriculum (and can accept/reject/cherry-pick as described above).
    5) Note – teachers in these private schools are not members of NZEI or PPTA and so are paid whatever their school decides (as Key and Banks want for the charter schools).
    6) All NZ teachers have to have prior qualifications and teacher training (although the Nat.s want to dump this and let people train on the job, but that’s another story…). They have to be registered with the Teachers’ Council and have their registration renewed every 3 years. This is only possible if they have been professionally assessed and judged to be competent each year. They must also take part in professional development training on a regular basis.
    7) There is no automatic progression up a pay scale. Again – this depends (at first) on ongoing reviews of competency, then on taking on extra responsibilities.
    8) None of the requirements for qualifications, training, registration or professional development described above are planned for staff in charter schools. This is idiocy. Not only that, it’s irresponsible and extreme.

    It’s always been obvious that Key and Tolley don’t value state education. Let’s remember that their 1st decisions for secondary education after the last election were to give an extra $30 million to independent schools (basically stolen from state schools) and to lift the caps on the numbers of students funded at integrated schools (even in areas where there were state schools with extra space, and equal or better academic records).

    The other thing they don’t value, of course, is the education sector unions, which still have 90%+ membership and considerable strength of purpose. These are not just ‘self-interest groups’ as Banks & Key claim, though. There is a strong focus on education policy driven by a sense of professional calling. It’s also telling that other education sector expert groups like the absolutely apolitical Teachers’ Council (a government body) and the (usually right wing) School Trustees’ Association are also against this extremist experiment.

    One last thing (I know this is too long – sorry); whoever said that schools were becoming irrelevant because of digital learning, think again. Students need human interaction. Their learning can certainly be scaffolded around some great digital material, but they still need teachers, and to get a chance to be with their peer group. Plus school is much more than happens in the classroom, now. Schools are vital, challenging places that offer kids the chance to explore all sorts of interests and abilities outside of classtime.

    The NZ education system needs to keep asking itself some pretty hard questions, but we need to crate our own answers, based on our own issues. The last thing we need to do is import another failed policy from a system that we so consistently outperform.

  28. Ari 30

    The details of this policy look very disturbing, despite the fact that in principle I like the idea of experimenting with different policies.

  29. Hocuspocus 31

    Talk about reactionary. The empirical evidence is equivocal – (http://shankerblog.org/?p=4201). Some charter schools have done exceedingly well. Others not as well. The same could be said of public schools. On average they tend to be no better nor worse. If that is the case (and the evidence suggests that it is) then the world isn’t going to end if some (a small minority of schools) become charter schools.

    The US expert quoted in the herald this morning suggests that external accountability is key in ensuring charter schools do well (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10771435).

    The Nat/Act confidence and supply agreement suggests that accountability for the proposed for the charter schools will be no less than that for public schools.

    One can only surmise that teacher and principal unions are opposed to change (Change Obama Can Believe In) for interests other than student achievement particularly given the selective quoting of evidence (as this post also does).

    • Puddleglum 31.1

      One can only surmise that teacher and principal unions are opposed to change (Change Obama Can Believe In) for interests other than student achievement particularly given the selective quoting of evidence (as this post also does).”

      Given that you claim there is no difference, overall, in the effects of student achievement between public and charter schools and that the ‘success’ of charter schools (up to the point where they provide equivalent outcomes to state schools) depends on ‘accountability’ and that the only assurance we have of that accountability is motherhood and apple pie words in the coalition agreement – then, surely,

      One can only surmise that those who support the charter school proposal are doing so for interests other than student achievement, particularly given the selective quoting of evidence

      Those other interests might be (a) undermining teachers’ unions; (b) providing further areas for private profit in the economy; (c) channelling low socioeconomic pupils into the construction and industrial workforce (where they ‘belong’)??

      Wouldn’t you agree? 

  30. neoleftie 32

    oh if one studies the chosen model type, its language and framing one can see that it simply turns a few chosen schools in a few carefully selected areas into private like schools with selected and limited entry.
    Me, i’m more concerned between the obvious lack of support, infrastructure and funding between socio eco areas after visiting ECE centres in my local area.
    Make no mistake this is about expanding schooling for the elites in a few selected area’s, depowering the teachers union and other groups. Objective = create more elites = more stabalised right leaners.
    We all know the ideology of the right and it aint about floating the boats for everyone…more likely improving the lot, control and connectiveness of the selected few…almost time for the barricades.

    • ‘Make no mistake…’

      I think you are making a mistake trying to frame this policy as part of a conspiracy before you have any idea how they intend implementing it.

      We should wait for details and discuss and explore it surely? That’s better than closed mind ideological entrenchment.

      • neoleftie 32.1.1

        PG – both idiological sides frame events, objectives, policy through the narrow framework of the party blue coloued specs and red coloured specs – any other observation is naive in the extreme…
        Trouble is once the detail is available that allows discourse the policy is basically in motion and unstoppable.
        Also i’m a realist there PG,but one who believes in opportuntiy for all and not just a selected few. the help is needed at the bottom..so bottom up not top down approach with meaningful and measureable solutions to real issues

        • Pete George 32.1.1.1

          Trouble is once the detail is available that allows discourse the policy is basically in motion and unstoppable.

          That’s why we should be discussing and exploring this policy now, rather than putting up instant ideologocal barriers.

          I agree the bottom up approach is important, but we need – and will get – top down proposals. We need to establish better ways of meeting in the middle and working together.

          • rosy 32.1.1.1.1

            This is ideologically driven from the right, Pete. If you’ve read this thread it appears there is no research to support charter schools, and plenty to show they are not effective. It’s not an ideological position from the left and there cannot be a meeting in the middle when the proposition under discussion will probably leave those that are subject to it worse off.

            • Pete George 32.1.1.1.1.1

              It pays to read more than just one thread rosy. Like this..

              In 2009, the most authoritative study of charter schools was conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University. The report is the first detailed national assessment of charter schools.

              It analyzed 70% of the nation’s students attending charter schools and compared the academic progress of those students with that of demographically matched students in nearby public schools.

              The report found that:
              17% of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools
              46% showed no difference from public schools
              37% were significantly worse than their traditional public school counterparts.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_school

              Doesn’t it make sense to see how the 17% better was achieved and see if similar can be done here?

              • rosy

                It makes even more sense to understand what 37% significantly worse off means before announcing changes, don’t you think? BTW that report is discussed on this thread.

              • felix

                Jesus, Pete.

                Your own quote states that it’s twice as likely to make things worse than better.

                • Yes, so we should avoid what makes things worse and learn from the 17% better outcomes and consider utilising what might make things better.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    So we study those 17% and then duplicate the processes in our public schools. No need for the extra complication of charter schools.

                  • felix

                    “Yes, so we should avoid what makes things worse”

                    And I agree with you on that. In this case it’s charter schools, according to what you quoted.

              • Draco T Bastard

                I’d be more concerned about the 37% worse off. According to that research, charter schools will leave our children worse off.

  31. oftenpuzzled 33

    What really upsets me is that we the tax payer have to contribute to this scheme through our taxes. We already contribute far too much to the private school system. If the money that goes to Private schools from the public purse went into the public school system our schooling and educational achievements would be even higher. I don’t care how many and in what form private schools take but let the creators and attenders/families of these schools pay their own way and not call on the public purse.

  32. Gruntie 34

    this is classic Shock Doctrine – Christchurch post earthquakes is our version of New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina – make no mistake – this is a far right, neocon move to privatize schools – the thin end of the wedge

    http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine/excerpt

  33. Dv 35

    http://www.apple.com/asia/education/profiles/escondido/

    This study reports on impressive lieracy improvement using an ipod touch.

    I suspect that there are major gains to be made by the use of the new techologies tablet, kiddle, ipads
    And i suspect it is extremely cost effective learning tool.

    If any teachers reading this who are using the new tecnolgies, could you comment on their effectiveness.

  34. stever 36

    Slightly related…too big to fail??…”corporate” (they’re a mutual???)….Southern Cross ask for Govt subsidies….

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/property/news/article.cfm?c_id=8&objectid=10771374

  35. KJT 37

    Why? when we have one of the better performing education systems on earth, as well as one of the most cost effective, do we want to emulate two (UK and USA) which are way down the scale.

    Shouldn’t we be looking at taking the best from systems which do better than ours?
    What the new NZ curriculum was set up to do. Now being dumped to emphasize failed right wing policies.

    Nationals backers spy a new way of extracting more wealth from us. Methinks!

  36. randal 38

    the same idiots who want to f*ck the school system must be the same ones that believe in aliens and ufo’s.
    the ignorati rule.

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  • Farewell at Phillipstown
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    7 days ago
  • The CIA Torture Report
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    1 week ago
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  • NZ should formally recognise Palestine
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