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Charter Schools: F

Written By: - Date published: 7:52 am, December 4th, 2014 - 45 comments
Categories: national, schools - Tags:

So despite the vast amount more funding (5x more per pupil) to charter schools, 1 of the 5 first, Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru, is failing abysmally.

The Government has previously said that all their problems were fixed, or being fixed – but they clearly aren’t.

ongoing problems at the school include the quality of teaching, learning, management, leadership and student engagement.

The school’s roll was 47 last month – well below its guaranteed minimum roll of 71 and the 61 students who started the year.

So how does the government handle this?  Don’t include the school in your charter school reports.  And open 4 more new charter schools.

The public gets to keep forking out more for a failed model, with no accountability.

This government is showing it puts ideology over evidence.

45 comments on “Charter Schools: F ”

  1. failed model, with no accountability.

    Untrue. If certain donors stopped funding the National Party, the policy would be abandoned, so there is accountability of a sort…

  2. Chooky 2

    Basically the problem with low education attainment is socio-economic…in the USA they have tried to shore up private Charter School educational attainment by excluding children from poor areas…so falsified the results for private Charter Scools

    The only model that really works….and once worked in New Zealand (before ‘Tomorrows Schools’ and Rogernomics)…is the Finland model…which is very well funded ,professionally run, high quality free State Education; with highly educated well motivated professionally trained teacher/educators; a high regard and value placed on teachers and their profession and professionalism; non competitive schools model, concentration on student intrinsic motivation to learn;, not teaching directed at testing.



    • Lanthanide 2.1


    • Parental meddling is the single biggest threat to education. The professionalism of teachers is constantly threatened and compromised by it.

      • Rob 2.2.1

        How dare those parents have a say in the education of their children. Teachers and their performance should never be questioned.

        • framu

          your putting words in toms mouth and you know your doing it

        • ghostwhowalksnz

          Sure, why not bring all the parents to school and have them graded by the teachers as well.

          After all how much parents are supporting their childs learning is just as important as any single teacher.

          And we all know that classifying or shaming people is the way to go.

          • Rob

            and what happens if they are graded poor under your idea Ghost – sterilization?

            • McFlock

              But if children are negatively affected by the poor choices of parents, surely there should be some uniform assessment criteria, say a regional or even national standard, that can be used to impartially evaluate parental performance? 😛

  3. Lanthanide 3

    While it seems like the school has significant problems, it should be kept in mind that the kids they are trying to educate are those with some of the most difficult backgrounds and behavioural problems; the types of students that the public school system does its best to expel and exclude where possible.

    It’s a very difficult job, so I they should get credit for trying to actually take it on, rather than just throwing up their hands and giving up. I would also suggest that part of the reason the public school system let these kids down is because they simply do take more resources to deal with – more than the schools can afford to devote to the problem. So harping on about the funding being so much higher than a public school is a little bit of a red herring.

    Having said all of that, of course the schools must perform at the job they said they would do, and of course if they don’t really need 5x the money to do this job (maybe they could get by with just 1.5x-2x), then we shouldn’t be paying them that much either.

    • weka 3.1

      Apart from the funding model, what’s the difference between charter schools and school like Steiner ones?

      • ghostwhowalksnz 3.1.1

        You do know that Rudolf Steiner was essentially racist ?

        “One morning in a biology course, our headmaster laid out for us the overarching structure of the family of man. He explained that the various races stood at different levels of moral development — each was forging its own destiny. He said these things sympathetically, with no hint of condescension. Yet his words were jarring. The Oriental races, he said, are ancient, wise, but vitiated. The African races are youthful, unformed, childlike, he said. Standing near the center of humanity’s family are the currently most advanced races, the whites, he said.”

        • weka

          Yes I do. I’m also aware of the controversy around racism in parts of the Steiner community in NZ. Not sure what that has to do with my question though.

    • Lanthanide 3.2

      I’d also add, that expecting any new policy initiative to have 100% success across all sites is a bit of wishful thinking.

      But again, that isn’t an excuse to hide stuff under the rug; but it looks like the ministry are closely watching this school and making the requirements clear, as said in the linked article:

      The Ministry of Education has extended a review of the Northland school and put it on notice, saying it expects issues to be resolved “in a very timely manner”.

    • Nic the NZer 3.3

      Why didn’t the government take 5 very low decile schools and provide them the equivalent per-pupil funding as charter schools and see what happens as a benchmark for the charter school model. That would have been a roughly fair assessment and would isolate the funding question from the charter question. Why didn’t they, why don’t they!

      • Lanthanide 3.3.1

        That would have been a good idea on the face of it as an experiment.

        I guess one potential issue with that, is what do you do with those schools when the experiment ends?

        • Nic the NZer

          I think it would need to be clear that the additional funding is intended to be temporary. Funding would be used in certain ways and not others as a result. Otherwise it might depend what the lessons from the experiment showed.

      • NZJester 3.3.2

        It is simple.
        Their coalition partners didn’t ask for such a thing. Not even the Maori party.
        The Charter Schools idea however was the idea of a party with very little support in New Zealand but was just enough to prop up the current government the election before last. So it was tossed this policy as a bone to build a strong bond between them.

    • Craig Glen Eden 3.4

      The funding is not a red hearing at all Lanth. If the state schools got 5 times the funding they get now for the difficult kids they manage they would get crucified if those kids were not achieving National Standards.
      The so called tail, the failing so called 1 in 5 is made up of Children who are very high needs special education children and children who have only been in the country a short while, classified as ESOL. Many of these Children have intellects below a 5 year old but still count against the Schools National Standards data.

      “some of the most difficult backgrounds and behavioural problems; the types of students that the public school system does its best to expel and exclude where possible.”

      It is in fact very hard for any school to expel a student, they will have been given multiple opportunities and support to change their behaviour. So Schools don’t do their best to expel difficult children that is a blatant lie. Finally if a School does expel a student the school will do their best to find them another school so as to give the child a fresh start.

      • Lanthanide 3.4.1

        “So Schools don’t do their best to expel difficult children that is a blatant lie.”
        Actually I said “does its best to expel and exclude *where possible*”. Obviously they follow all the rules and procedures they are required to do, but once a child is seen as a problem child, how much leeway is that child given when they move to a new school? Are the teachers and principal there quick to judge and start down the same route again? What if a child is kept back from school because of their parents for whatever reason?

        I was also talking about the school system as a whole, not individual schools. Are schools actively going after and enrolling kids that have been out of the school system for 2-3 years, but who legally are required to go to school?

        Anecdotally there seem to be a fair few of these kids around.

        • Craig Glen Eden

          The state schools dont get the funding to go after theses children but if they got 5 times the current funding maybe they would haver the resources to bo after them and support their learning better at a public school.

          • Colonial Rawshark

            You might think that more efficient as you wouldn’t have to build a whole bunch of new schools and new systems from scratch, but supporting current state schools with extra funding wouldn’t shift a whole lot of spending into the private sector, which is clearly the aim of this exercise.

    • framu 3.5

      yep – but that raises the question of why this factor wasnt addressed up front in planning before funding approval

      from what i know everyone from the school to the govt knew what kind of kids and what kind of issues would be in the school once running.

      • Lanthanide 3.5.1

        As my comment at 3.2 says, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect 100% success from every initiative in a new policy area. And it appears the ministry of education is closely monitoring this school – are they doing enough? I don’t know.

        But this article from Ben Clark is very quick to judge the system, and ironically says the government is following ideology over evidence, when he’s the one saying “these things have been running a short time, it’s obviously an unmitigated failure that we can’t recover in any way, so lets shut it down”. Ideology much?

        • Colonial Viper

          when he’s the one saying “these things have been running a short time, it’s obviously an unmitigated failure that we can’t recover in any way, so lets shut it down”. Ideology much?

          Oh fuck off. You’ve ignored the basic question when it comes to ideology – and that is the question of purpose.

          There is just one purpose here, of course. The main mission of Charter Schools is to transfer large amounts of tay payer funds into private hands.

          That’s how they are set up, that’s how they are run, that’s the main concrete outcome which was planned from Charter Schools, and that is the main concrete outcome we are seeing.

          And the more kids fail and drop off a Charter School’s roll, the more profitable it becomes. It’s a total win.

          • Lanthanide

            Fundamentally that can’t be true, or the government would simply write a cheque and hand it over and not bother with all of the service provision in the middle.

            Therefore, educating children along the way is obviously part of the mission of Charter Schools, if even only as a cover-story.

            If they fail in that part of the mission, the whole thing will be wound down, so it be-hooves those involved in running the schools to meet (or appear to meet) those objectives.

            Now that charter schools have been set up, the opposition realistically can’t do anything constructive about them for another 3 years, I think it’s much more important to pick your battles and critique the things that matter, rather than running around like Chicken Little declaiming everything is disaster and it’s all so terrible, when actually on the face of it things aren’t too bad.

            If they want to dig under the surface of how things appear and show that there really are true problems, then do that. So far they haven’t.

            • Colonial Rawshark

              Fundamentally that can’t be true, or the government would simply write a cheque and hand it over and not bother with all of the service provision in the middle.

              Therefore, educating children along the way is obviously part of the mission of Charter Schools, if even only as a cover-story.

              Sigh. You do remind me why I roll my eyes at the well meaning, social liberal upper middle classes. It’s a rort which is sucking money out of ordinary schools and here you are shrugging saying just let the experiment run and see what happens/how much money it finally drains out of the education budget.

              • Lanthanide

                Tilting at windmills isn’t going to change much, except make the public think the left are out of touch.

                Once there is actually a scandal to jump on, sure, jump on it. There isn’t one, yet.

        • Colonial Viper

          As my comment at 3.2 says, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect 100% success from every initiative in a new policy area.

          And this is pathetic too. Who the hell was expecting 100% success? Although for the ***huge*** amount of money spent per pupil would 90% be asking too much?

          • Lanthanide

            Well we’re currently getting 80% success, and given it’s impossible to get 90% success in a sample of 5, I don’t think that’s bad.

            • tricledrown

              If you pick your students then spend 5 times the state schools spend on each child I would expect a 100% pass rate.
              Especially given class sizes are 1/2 that of state schools.
              Their are many state schools which have just as high.
              Ideological Failure.
              Everytime Nactional get in our education standards go down further every year they are in power!
              Teacher bashing is Nationals policy nothing else.
              Demoralizing our world leading teachers.

              • Lanthanide

                “If you pick your students then spend 5 times the state schools spend on each child I would expect a 100% pass rate.”

                I’m not talking about 100% pass rate in terms of educational achievement on a test. I’m talking broadly as whether the school is a failure or not. It seems of the 5 charter schools, only one is ‘failing’ at the moment.

                Also, if a kid is enrolled in your fancy charter school, they’re going well for the first 8 weeks when it seems like a novel-new-fun thing, everything is good. Then the rot sets in and they start being truent etc.

                Just like the vast majority of beneficiaries are decent reasonable people, there are a few who really are bludgers and could do more for themselves if they tried. There are also some students, who when given the best opportunity and support, still won’t reach their potential. The charter schools are set up to deliberately target these difficult students, so again I think it’s unreasonable to expect 100% success from all participants in the initiative, especially early in the initiative’s life.

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  FFS profit is the primary motive of these organisations, and their excessive funding deprives other schools. It is an unethical, expensive experiment.

                  • adam

                    CV (R) you summed that up rather well. But, some are buying into the charter school experiment because the state school system has failed Maori and Pacific youth, over and over.

        • framu

          i think your some what missing what im saying

          im not talking charter schools per se – but a very specificly focused charter school where a very obvious issue appears to have been ignored right up till things went wrong

          they knew they would have difficult and extreme students and the action plan for dealing with it should have been in place and scrutinised before funding was approved – not asked to be put in place when things started going wrong

          ie: lax implementation from the word go

          now i might be wrong with my timeline a bit there – but that appears to be what has happened

          i actually applaud anyone who is willing to give such students another chance

          • Lanthanide

            Ok yes, I agree if that is what’s happened.

          • repateet

            Have they got “difficult and extreme” students? How do you know? If they do have those, what percentage of the roll? Do other schools have difficult and extreme students where allowances are made for similar shoddy management?

            • framu

              because the focus of the school was to deal with such students, kids that have been expelled so often that no school will touch them – as far as im aware that was the rationale given when applying for funding –

              ergo, an action plan for the type of students they anticipated should have been in place before getting funding – not after when the shit hit the fan

              im actually crticising both school management and govt here

        • Ben Clark

          The government was following ideology over evidence when they started this – there’s plenty of evidence from overseas that charter schools don’t work.

          That 4 out of the 5 schools being paid 5x as much per child not being unmitigated failures doesn’t imply 80% success.
          Once we get past the whole school failing we can actually look at how kids are doing in those schools cf to other schools

          You’d think that National would be able to very carefully select a whole 5 school proposals that have a decent chance of running somewhat appropriately with the level of funding.

          Once we look at children rather than schools – these schools most definitely are not all students that have been kicked out elsewhere – they had general advertisements to get people to enrol (and they could afford to advertise with their expansive budgets!). There are a decent amount of parents local to the schools who fancied having 5x as much spent on their children than at the local state school. And having much smaller class sizes.

          In the case of this school a decent number have then had to pull their child out again – with great disruption to their education.

          I like Nic the NZer’s idea of giving 5 decile 1/2 schools the same level of funding and seeing how they do. That’d be a very interesting experiment… (I think food in schools would happen pretty fast!)

    • Murray Rawshark 3.6

      If those extra resources were given to public schools, rather than John Banks’s mates, maybe they could do something worthwhile with those kids?

      • repateet 3.6.1

        So those kids who have big problems “failed” at their schools, got kicked out or simply didn’t turn up and suddenly special schools (charter) are set up for them.
        If the per capita funding had been given to the public schools they attended in the first place would the end problems have been averted? Who knows, a matter of total conjecture, but that is a perspective.

        In reference to my earlier post: Are all of the 47 at Whangaruru at the extreme end of dysfunction? If it is that 13 fit that description, has the school been set up and all that expense used to create that environment for those pupils rather than use the money directly for them in established schools ?

        And its not about them anyway – they are the excuse. The excuse to privatise schools and as a sop to the Act Party.
        (Has the Patron Saint of Charter Schools visited Whangaruru in his spare time, in their hour of need, or is he busy on preparatory Mayoral candidate stuff? What did the Epsom Minister of Charter schools find on his visit there?)

  4. NZJester 4

    Wait your telling me a system that was well proven to be an abysmal failure overseas has also not worked out in New Zealand. Even with all the extra funding tossed at it that they stopped schools who really needed it form getting?

    Just imagine what all the lowest decile schools could have done with all that extra money!

  5. millsy 5

    The only reason why people support charter schools is because they have an ideological oppostion to “New Zealand Government” being on the titles of existing state schools.

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