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Charter Schools: A failed idea

Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, January 17th, 2013 - 36 comments
Categories: act, equality, greens, john banks, national, Privatisation, treasury - Tags:

I was just looking at today’s edition of the (Auckland) Western Leader and came across a full page notice by the PPTA saying that Charter Schools are a failed idea.  It says that submissions for the Education Amendment Bill (2012) close on the 24 January, timed to happen while most people are still on holiday.

The same notice is on the PPTA website, with links for making submissions.

Back in October, Anthony Robins cited evidence that shows why Charter schools are a bad idea.  In the conclusion to his post, Anthony said:

Charter schools do worse more often than the do better, are bad for education in general. Our public education system is already very successful and very cost effective. If we want even better results, the solution is to strengthen public education, not to throw ourselves under the ideological bandwagon of charter schools.

As Green MP, Catherine Delahunty stated last month,

Treasury documents on the creation of charter schools are in agreement with criticism from the Ministry of Education, showing the planned schools forced upon New Zealand children by the National / ACT coalition agreement should be dumped, the Green Party said today.

“The Green Party agrees with Treasury and the Ministry of Education that New Zealand kids need registered teachers, not unqualified adults pushing private agendas,” said Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty….

“Treasury warns of ‘performance risks for nearby state schools’ in areas where charter schools are formed, which could lead to ‘significant risks for the cohorts of students’ in these areas.

The Treasury document on Charter Schools (AKA Partnership Schools) are here.  Idiot/Savant posted on their significance, with a link to and quote from an RNZ article:

Treasury took the opportunity of the Friday before the holidays to dump a pile of documents – including advice showing that they think the government’s charter schools are a bad idea:

I/S quoted this from the RNZ link:

However [the documents] also show Treasury is not convinced the benefits of introducing the schools will outweigh the costs and risks.

The papers express scepticism that increasing competition between schools will improve the education system.

The documents show both the Treasury and Ministry of Education opposed the Government’s plan to allow partnership schools to hire unregistered teachers.

Treasury told the Government that teacher registration is an indication of a minimum level of quality.

Charter Schools are a failed idea, led by a failing politician.

JB+JK-I-dont-recalll

As indicated at the PPTA link above, there is still time to make a submission.  We have a high quality education system that will only be undermined by Charter Schools. There is room for improvement, but this also requires reducing the inequality gap in NZ.  Charter Schools will do nothing to reduce inequalities.

36 comments on “Charter Schools: A failed idea ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Charter Schools aren’t about producing better results, they’re about getting more government/public money into the hands of the capitalists.

  2. tc 2

    Reminds me of the scene in Blackadder II where the sea captain states he doesn’t have crew and there’s 2 schools of thought about that being a bad idea, his and everyone else’s.

    Banks will not front any debates, he’ll stick to the slogans and play the old man memory card.

  3. Rodel 3

    Charter schools may be next in the Asset ‘sales’…read ‘theft’…. beginning with OUR power companies.

    a quote from ‘ How We Happened to Sell Off Our Electricity’ by James Meek
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n17/james-meek/how-we-happened-to-sell-off-our-

    ”Are you an enemy of liberal principles if you question the fact that, when local electrical engineers dig up the roads in London, they’re working for East Asia’s richest man, the Hong Kong-based Li Ka-shing? In north-east England, they work for Warren Buffett;….” .and so on.

    It’s happening here mums and dads.
    Could this be the next quote from an article “ How we happened to sell off our Schools” by Banks, Key and Parata et al.?

    ”Are you an enemy of liberal principles if you question the fact that, when untrained teachers work in Auckland schools, they’re working for East Asia’s richest man, the Hong Kong-based Li Ka-shing? In Welington they work for Warren Buffett;….” .and so on.

    It’s happening!

    • joe90 3.1

      I’d imagine the arrival of the Gulen movement and schools would end the charter malarkey.

      • karol 3.1.1

        It’s not Islamisation of our schools that we have to fear, but the generally undermining of quality education for all. Our state schools are able to provide more quality education than Charter Schools. They just need adequate financial support and sensible government policies (i.e. not time wasting National Standards).

        And by “quality” I mean an education that prepares all young people to take an active part in a democratic society that provides for all: an education that enables them to critically examine policies and diverse aspects of society, and to develop skills that will benefit them and society.

        • Rodel 3.1.1.1

          Not specifically Islamist, but ‘charterisation ‘ ( my word) will change education from ‘free and secular’ to ‘paid and sectarian’ something that leading New Zealand educationalists were keen to prevent in I think, 1888 an issue that intellectually, Banks/ky are probably not aware of.

      • NoseViper (The Nose knows) 3.1.3

        looking at the link re Gulen movement is disturbing overall as well as its interest in education. It mentions among much info, the Rand Corporation. I didn’t know if this related to Ayn Rand (still don’t know but found other things to cogitate about). If we wonder where our policy ideas come from it appears that they may be being dreamed up by right wing well-funded think tanks, not our own eminent people with specialist knowledge of beneficial ones for our whole population.

        There is a connection between charter schools and powerful lobby groups with agendas I think most of us would not agree with if we saw clearly their beliefs and methods.

        Rand corporation and charter schools – there is much information on google.
        Achievement and Attainment in Chicago Charter Schools | RAND
        http://www.rand.org › Reports and Bookstore › Technical Reports
        by K Booker – 2009 – Cited by 9 – Related articles
        Over the past decade, charter schools have been among the fastest-growing … as a collaborative effort by RAND Education, a unit of the RAND Corporation; …

        Some things that came up while looking up think tanks on google –
        Think tanks – SourceWatch
        http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Think_tanks
        Oct 1, 2012 – There are twice as many conservative think tanks as liberal ones, and the … These FFRDCs include the RAND Corporation, the MITRE

        Interesting statement – twice as many!
        and
        Think tank – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
        en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Think_tank
        The Iona Institute is a conservative, Catholic think tank. …. set up the RAND Corporation in 1946 to develop weapons technology and strategic defense analysis.

        Sounds dark and devious to me.

    • millsy 3.2

      I note that it wasant till Thatcher had one stilletto out the door of number 10 before she sold off the British power companies (as well as the water)….

  4. Dr Terry 4

    The idea of not a “failing politician” but a “failed politician”. Charter Schools were Key’s vote of thanks to Banks for his “cup-of-tea loyalty”. Rather than talking about “competition in education we need to think upon “cooperation”.

    • karol 4.1

      Dr Terry, I initially wrote “failed” for Banks, then changed it to failing. I think he still has a little further to fall to a state of total failure.

    • tc 4.2

      The nat’s were going to do it anyway if they got back in, more public money into mates hands is what they’re about. Banks does as told, ACT is a subsidary of National.

      One of ACT’s objectives is to isolate the damage from National/Key’s brand, just like a company isolates liability from family trusts where all the wealth is.

      • Rodel 4.2.1

        tc..you are correct .’ACT is a subsidary of National.’ Actually ACT is national.
        It’s simple. They just put up two national candidates in Epsom, one of them high enough up the list to ensure safe inclusion and you have two for the price of one. (the Johns’ price was actually a pot of tea and our world class education system).
        Could this be a gerrymander type precedent for all electorates and all parties?

  5. PlanetOrphan 5

    John Banks reminds me of a 5 year old with a “Brilliant” idea, stomping aroung petulantly until everyone tells him what a “Brilliant” boy he is 👿

    We’ve all met 50+- year old children I’m sure, letting them into parliament to “Shut them up” is a serious mistake that we should never make twice !!

  6. millsy 6

    The whole idea behind charter schools in this country seems to be to break the teachers unions, and privatise education. 95% of what charter schools do in the USA our state schools do here, but our schools are run by parent-elected BOT’s and not corporate charities and church groups.

  7. chris73 7

    “It says that submissions for the Education Amendment Bill (2012) close on the 24 January, timed to happen while most people are still on holiday.”

    If you’re a teacher on 12 weeks annual leave maybe…

    • framu 7.1

      where in their contract does it state they have 12 weeks annual leave?

      or are you going by school holidays? If you are youve just shown that you have NFI what youre talking about

      • One Tāne Huna 7.1.1

        We need better wingnuts.

        @ Chris73: where did you get the notion that teachers have 12 weeks annual leave? Did you make it up or are you just repeating someone else’s lies, like a cross between a sponge and a parrot?

  8. Mike Steinberg 8

    Looking at the US experience it seems that the main benefit for children attending charter schools is that the schools have greater scope to keep out trouble makers. However, the idea that significantly lift achievement appears to be a pipedream. Obviously it’s not great for other schools either who then end up with the students with discipline issues. As this US teacher blogger notes:

    “Parents don’t care much about teacher quality. They care a lot about peer group quality.

    They are right to worry. Before I became a teacher, I’d read other teachers talk about how just a few kids can really disrupt a classroom, moving management from a no-brainer to the primary focus of the day. Now I am one of those teachers. I’ve worked in several schools in which the overwhelming presence of low income students who didn’t care about their grades has utterly removed the “stigma of an F” from the entire population, causing panic in the upper middle income white parents who can’t quite afford private school yet live in a district that worries about lawsuits if they track by ability. Their kids, particularly the boy kids, start to adopt this opinion, and white failure rates start rising.

    So charters become a way for parents to sculpt their school environments. White parents stuck in majority/minority districts start progressive charters that brag about their minority population but are really a way to keep the brown kids limited to the well-behaved ones. Low income black and Hispanic parents want safe schools. Many of them apply for charter school lotteries because they know charters can kick out the “bad kids” without fear of lawsuits. But they still blame the “bad kids”, not the teachers, which is why they might send their kids to charter schools while still ejecting Adrian Fenty for Michelle Rhee’s sins.

    As I’ve mentioned before, education reformers are now pushing suburban charters with strong academic focus, which are nothing more than tracking for parents who can’t get their public schools to do it for them.

    I really can’t stress this point enough: charters have succeeded because of their ability to control students, not teachers. Comprehensive schools are bound by legal requirements and the constant threat of disparate impact lawsuits. It’s really that simple.”

    http://educationrealist.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/on-the-ctu-strike/

    • karol 8.1

      I think part of the answer is to provide some hope for a reasonable life among the students who feel that education would be a route to nowhere for them.

      I think Charter schools are a way to avoid doing anything about social and income inequalities. There are ways to engage the failing students more, but it requires an intensive effort, smaller classes, and strong commuity connections.

      • Mike Steinberg 8.1.1

        Unfortunately, I don’t have much faith that would have a major impact on educational outcomes as even with equal environments you’ll still have major discrepancies due to genes.

        http://martynemko.blogspot.co.nz/2011/02/behavioral-genetics-most-important.html

        • NickS 8.1.1.1

          The Mismeasure of Man* strikes again.

          In other words, one doth thinks thou art ignorant about developmental biology (in terms of neurology), narrow sense heritability, statistical population thinking and plain old human variation.

          Oh, and that Chinese study? Funny thing, whenever we do something similar with other populations, the variation within the groups is usually similar or higher between groups. So frankly, I’d say that study is full of shit.

          Basic take home message from years of research always comes back to this: environment matters more than genes for the majority of the population in determining academic success.

          Do some people carry alleles which statistically significantly reduce their academic abilities (controlling for environment)? Of course, humans do not escape standard population genetics funtimes, but frankly it’s far easier to change environments and provide tools to help them and treat them as human.

          As for gene therapy, lol-fucking-wat? This isn’t just replacing a malformed protein, messing around with neurological development has the potential to cause a lot more issues, more so given we can’t control where a gene is inserted and whether or not it will be expressed at the correct time and place within the cells gene regulation network system and wider organ(s). And even then the genes you’re trying to change need to have been shown to be strongly statistically significant predictors of academic success…

          /sigh

          You’d think a person with a PhD would at least realise they had a knowledge gap and so hit the literature instead of forging ahead ignorantly.

          _______________________________________
          *Note – this robot does not take Gould as completely right in this book, but the general thrust of the book is fully on target.

          • M Steinberg 8.1.1.1.1

            Look, the Mismeasure of Man is a popular book but academically much of what Gould says doesn’t stand up. In fact, much of it didn’t stack up at the time but subsequent behavioural genetics studies and neuroscience has made the book obsolete in many ways. Ironically, a couple of years ago the New York Times ran an article on a new study showing that Gould had in fact significantly misrepresented one of the studies by one of the anthropologists he accused of doctoring data. In a way proving his own point about bias – but in this case his own 🙂

            http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/14/science/14skull.html?_r=0

            ***Funny thing, whenever we do something similar with other populations, the variation within the groups is usually similar or higher between groups.***

            You are referring to s ‘The Lewontin Fallacy’. In other words, individual genes vary more within groups but that overlooks the correlations. When you look at a significant number of gene alleles (say over 1000) you get group clusters because they occur in different prevalence across groups – hence average group differences.

            The other thing to remember is that most phenotypes (examples: height or various complex traits, which are fairly heritable, except in cases of extreme environmental deprivation), there is significant overlap between different population distributions. However, if you have an average population difference then you’ll see a significant difference the proportion of one group at the upper end. That is, Swedes might be taller than Vietnamese on average, but the range of heights within each group is larger than the difference in the averages. However, at the tails of the distribution one would find very large discrepancies: for example the percentage of the Swedish population that is over 2 meters tall (6″7) might be 5 or 10 times as large as the percentage of the Vietnamese population.

        • karol 8.1.1.2

          Mike, I taught for several years in special education (in NZ and London), and later in further education (in the UK and Aussie). The latter was on courses where a lot of the students had failed to get qualifications in school, and were having a second go or were doing vocational courses. Most of my teaching was in lower economic areas, especially in London.

          Reducing income and social inequalities, doesn’t mean every body will achieve the same things. It’s curious that the so-called “bad” or anti-social behaviour happens more in lower economic areas, with students largely from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Yes, some students will exhibit anti-social beahaviour, whatever their background, but relatively few from well-off families end in special education because of it. Most cope OK in mainstream classrooms. Although John banks will not agree as he had a son who only succeed once he was sent to a school with a special curriculum (military training as I recall.)

          There are ways of helping most young people with learning, physical, intellectual or behavioural disabilities so that they can live independent and/or fulfilling lives. It just takes the right kind of resources, knowledge and time, and a society that is based more on cooperation than competition.

          • Mike Steinberg 8.1.1.2.1

            ***It’s curious that the so-called “bad” or anti-social behaviour happens more in lower economic areas, with students largely from lower socio-economic backgrounds.***

            It is, although the causation is multidirectional. Parents with those behavioural issues are probably going to find it more difficult to get ahead economically. You then get the children inheriting traits from their parents + being amplified by environmental factors such as negative peer influences, unstable home environment etc. There’s a pretty good review of the literature on the various causes of juvenile delinquency here.

            http://tinyurl.com/autnd55

            ***There are ways of helping most young people with learning, physical, intellectual or behavioural disabilities so that they can live independent and/or fulfilling lives. It just takes the right kind of resources, knowledge and time, and a society that is based more on cooperation than competition.***

            I think it’s pretty awesome that you are able to make that kind of a difference for kids.

            • karol 8.1.1.2.1.1

              It’s a while since I worked in the area, and I’m not up in the most recent research. But I have yet to see an reports that contradict a basic understanding I formed a couple of decades ago:

              * that teasing out environmental and genetic factors is extremely difficult. Environment starts impacting on a child’s capabilities in the womb.
              * I also saw too many times that the children in most need of help had disabilities they were born with that were compounded by environmental factors.
              * The majority of children in special schools and classes had multiple problems, and of those factors, the majority were from low income and disadvantaged backgrounds.
              * Children with the same inborn disabilities, but no environmental factors, plus a family on a reasonable income, were able to cope in mainstream education.

              I also understand that poor health and nutrition in childhood can impact on the physical constitution and health of the next couple of generations at least.

              It was the impact of (largely income) inequalities that caused me to move from special education towards sociology and to focus on social causes and social change. Education and/or therapy for those with disabilities tends to work on an individualistic, philosophy of pathology, while the underlying social and economic conditions contributing to the situation are ignored.

              Thanks for the link. The document is too long to read and digest right now as I already have a long reading list on some other topics.

    • millsy 8.2

      I read somewhere that a charter school head in the US kicked out a whole lot of students because of academic underacheivement.

  9. Mike Steinberg 9

    I should add that in terms of impacts on student achievement, in the US these are inversely related to students’ income levels. However, these benefits are unlikely to scale because you’re shfiting the worst students elsewhere.

    “However, impacts were insignificant or positive for more disadvantaged students and negative for more advantaged students, and this same pattern persisted across groups defined by baseline test scores. There was also considerable variation in impacts across schools. Those in urban areas or serving more disadvantaged populations had more positive (or less negative) impacts than those in non-urban areas or serving more advantaged populations. These results provide rigorous evidence for the patterns suggested by previous studies, which have estimated negative or insignificant impacts for geographically diverse samples of charter schools, but positive impacts for charter schools in urban areas.”

    http://mathematica-mpr.com/publications/PDFs/education/charterschools_WP.pdf

    • karol 9.1

      And, of course, the US is not a clear comparison with NZ as the NZ state school system is generally more successful (as measured by international statistics) than that of the US.

  10. tracey 10

    We cant even get private schools to publish student results so we can se how well they are doing…

  11. dan1 11

    Diane Ravitch changed from being a vocal supporter of charter schools in the US to an articulate advocate against.
    I include one of the many interviews with Ravitch:
    http://prospect.org/article/diane-ravitch-effort-destroy-public-ed

    We must remember too that NZ has had the local input into schools for 25 years or so. All public schools in NZ already have charters.

    I would agree with Millsy that the NACT party’s main motivation is not educational but anti-union. Such was the case in Washington DC when Michelle Rhee pushed her reforms.

  12. Megan Pledger 12

    The thing that worries me the most about this legislation for charter schools is if it is used in combination with the tran-pacific partnership agreement. Both of these together will mean that American (including the Gulen) charter school chains will be able to open up here without any oversight from New Zealand Authorities. They’ll be able to teach whatever American creationist crap/the supremacy of Turkish Islam and the taxpayer will have to pay for it and have no means of controlling it.

    If these schools are abject failures noone will ever know because they don’t have to report to the Min of Ed about how their students are performing.

    If worse comes to worse, we could lose sovereignty over our children’s schooling to American corporations and hedge fund managers.

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