Square this circle for me if you can. Hekia Parata:
Focus on quality will raise achievement
Education Minister Hekia Parata today said the National-led Government’s focus on teaching quality will raise achievement and ensure our young people get the skills they need to reach their potential. … “The single most important thing we can do to raise achievement is to improve teaching quality.”
Key: Don’t worry about unqualified teachers
Prime Minister John Key says people should not be “hung up” on the fact that teachers without qualifications will be able to teach New Zealand children at charter schools.
So you need better teachers in traditional state schools, but not in partnership schools? The logic is hard to suss.
Armstrong also notes Key’s answer to a question regarding his own choices:
John Key gave the wrong answer when asked on Friday whether he would have happily sent his children to a charter school. His instant and firm “yes” when put on the spot was the natural reflex of a politician …
Like Key’s infamous preference for small class sizes for his own children, the school that he has chosen states that “King’s College is committed to employing well qualified staff”. What parent wouldn’t want that for their kids? Only the poor targeted by charter schools, apparently. Tim Watkin at Pundit sums up:
Charter schools & mixed messages — is this an intelligent design?
…The government announced more details this past week — the schools will be called partnership schools (although I don’t seen anyone rushing to use that new moniker) and those employed to teach the kids will be able to be unregistered and unqualified. The schools will be free to innovate, which means able to go right off curriculum. And they’ll be able to be run for profit. This new type of school will appear in 2014.
The government insists none of the obvious concerns that stem from that are anything to worry about because they’ll all be strictly monitored. But that won’t stop the teacher unions pointing out the risks to teaching quality and child safety that comes from letting just any old Tom, Willie or Harriet take over a classroom.
None of those launching this policy did so with any real gusto, however. You see, it’s awkward for all and sundry.
Education minister Hekia Parata flew in from Samoa to be at the announcement, but she was perfunctory in her comments, eager to hand over to her associate minister John Banks.
National is fulfilling its coalition duty here — charter schools was what ACT really, really wanted from Santa after the election — but they seem to be lying back and thinking of England on this one. Just look at how Key stressed any failing charter schools would be quickly closed down. Parata was refusing interviews saying this was just a tiny part of her portfolio covering no more than a handful of schools.
The big tangle for the government is that just a few months ago it was dying in a ditch over teacher quality. That was SO important, it said, that class sizes had to be sacrificed to ensure better trained teachers.
Just weeks later, it’s relaxed about entirely untrained folk teaching our kids. At the same time its spent years fighting for national standards, which compel schools to focus on reading, writing and maths at the expense of art, science and the rest.
Now, all of a sudden, breadth and innovation is a good thing and if some schools want to ignore the curriculum altogether and teach lots of meditation or culture, well that’s just super.
And what about child safety? Back in February Parata was shocked when a convicted sex offender was found to have worked in schools. You might think she’d be feeling the pressure from parents to have a closer eye on who gets to care for kids in schools, not loosening the rules.
You can understand why National’s not exactly singing this from the rafters.
The Nats don’t believe in their own education policy. Although they’re using ACT as an excuse, they have no need to pander to the walking corpse of that party. It can only be about diverting public money to private enterprise. As usual it is the kids who will suffer.