It’s great to be a charter school!

Written By: - Date published: 9:15 am, July 2nd, 2015 - 48 comments
Categories: education, schools - Tags: , ,

Compare and contrast. Charter school:

Massive surplus for cash cow charter

A Whangarei charter school has banked an operating surplus of more than $2.4million, thanks to funding well above the amount regular schools receive.

Audited financial accounts released to the charities commission show the He Puna Marama trust, which opened a charter school last year received $3,897,323 in government funding to the end of 2014. Just $1,464,093 of this has been spent on setting up and running the school, which last year was funded for 50 students and six teachers.

This is the same charter school that came under fire earlier this year for the purchase of a $100,000 waka. At the time the school leadership hit back at critics saying that other schools simply ‘need better accountants’ if they cannot afford to buy such things.

State school:

Run down school’s long wait

Students from a damp and dilapidated school may be waiting two more months before the Government decides if it will fund new classrooms.

The “unacceptable” situation at Northland College in Kaikohe was deemed urgent by the Education Review Office in 2012, but the school is still waiting for new classroom plans to be approved.

Principal Jim Luders had thought the 280-student school might have word in two weeks, but yesterday acting head of the education infrastructure service Jerome Sheppard signalled it was likely to be longer than that.

Why are charter schools receiving funding up to five times more per pupil than state schools? Why are they unaccountable, and in some cases failing anyway? What couldn’t state schools achieve with comparable funding!

48 comments on “It’s great to be a charter school!”

  1. mickysavage 1

    I was stumped when I heard this and stumped again when I heard Parata try and justify it. Surely if the money was required to purchase land and build Government should retain it until it is actually needed.

  2. Old Mickey 2

    “A charter banks an “operating surplus” of $2.4 million, while state schools remain chronically underfunded.” or, as an alternate view ” A charter school, unburdened by teacher unions performs as expected”

    • tc 2.1

      got any evidence OM or is a NACT spin line the best you can do.

      comparitive wages bills from unionised V charter work force amounting to a few million savings, no rush now take your time.

      • Hayden 2.1.1

        It’s simple, once you realise that the difference between union members and non-members is $400,000 per annum, per teacher.

    • That’s not so much “an alternate view” as “an idiot’s view.”

    • mickysavage 2.3

      It is money earmarked for a property purchase. No magic, just money handed over with no guarantee that it will be spent on what it is intended for. And the trust gets to pocket the interest …

    • McFlock 2.4

      Imagine how well state schools would do if their funding were quintipled…

    • georgecom 2.5

      what an ignorant statement Old Mickey. Just ignorant.

  3. dukeofurl 3

    Is this the charter school that employed a inexperienced graduate as a teacher.

    Then when this ‘teacher’ enrolled as an extra mural Massey Dip Teaching, was asked to go to a real school for his placement ? They had no one there who was qualified to provide supervision and guidance in the classroom.
    Too bad for the students though

  4. ianmac 4

    The NCEA pass rates seem to good to be true. 98-100%. Mmmm. Be interesting to find out what subjects and what actual numbers. (A rural school near here published that they had 100% pass in Level3. But then helpfully pointed out that they had only 1 pupil sitting.)

    • Molly 4.1

      I have heard of a couple of prestigious schools “suggesting” to underperforming students that they not sit NCEA that year.

      This – of course – does not do anything of any worth to the student involved. But it does keep the stats – used for marketing – for the school up to par.

      Would not be surprised to see the same technique used by charter schools.

      • ianmac 4.1.1

        Christchurch Girls used to do that and it worked because their high success rate looked so good. Wonder if the Charter Schools had to explain/justify their pass rates. State Secondaries have their results moderated. Do Charter schools?
        Of course the Charter Schools do take on the kids at risk and otherwise failing. There is some good then.

        • Molly

          Also had a private school publicise locally that a candidate at their school won the top prize in NZ for English in the Cambridge exams.

          They didn’t explain that the candidate was a private candidate who was a home educated teen that just used them as a exam venue.

          (Follow up: the student was offered a full scholarship for the next year, so advertising material could more truthfully say it was a student that won the top prize).

      • b waghorn 4.1.2

        What teachers not putting there pupils first ??!! Well I never!!!

        • Molly

          I would suggest that it is out of the hands of teachers in these cases.

          It is the priorities of market system that override the needs of a student, usually a decision of the administration of the school rather than individual teachers.

          Teachers are employees as well as mentors. Their directives come from administration and MoE policy.

          Choose your targets for disapproval with more accuracy.

          • b waghorn

            You can suggest all you want but teachers shouldn’t be sacred cows.
            At this school you mentioned did the teachers have any idea that it was being “suggested ” that some kids shouldn’t do ncea and if so what did they do about it?

            • Molly

              In this case, b waghorn, the administration is usually dictating the terms. It was the principal and BOT that contacted parents not individual teachers.

              Teachers are not “sacred cows” to me. Obviously, don’t know me or my family situation at all, or you wouldn’t suggest that is my perspective.

              But I try to see the root cause of problems, not the immediate knee-jerk targets.

              In a more personal vein, what stopped the parents from insisting their children sat exams? (Could it have been the handing over over of $20K a year to educational experts, who are now suggesting their child is a failure? Who then is to blame, the failure of a good service to be provided – or the failure of the parent to advocate for the right of their child to sit the exam regardless?)

              • b waghorn

                It should be mandatory for kids to sit exams and I try not to use my personal story to much but my parents where quite happy to not pay for me to sit maths as I was going to fail it. So making test free might remove that excuse at least.
                In an ideal world the parents would be invested in there kids education but there need s to be a system that fills the gap that slack parents leave.

                • Molly

                  I agree b waghorn – the choice to sit (and possibly fail) should be with the child at all times. My educational views are probably slightly different to yours, as I feel there are multiple ways for anyone to learn and achieve that are not limited to purely academic teaching and testing.

      • millsy 4.1.3

        Schools have always done that — and not just high end. Back in the 1990’s my old high school, which was a fairly middle of the road co-ed school, used to push pupils into ‘Alternative’ subjects, so they wouldnt sit School Cert/6FC/Bursary, then from there they would be pushed out the door into ‘TOPS’ courses, which used public funding to deliver dead end courses.

    • repateet 4.2

      Go to:
      May 21, 2015
      “More shonky NCEA manipulation – more support for networkonnet’s campaign”

      • ianmac 4.2.1

        Just spent the last hour reading Kelvin Smythe’s paper as per your link repateet thanks. The linked interview with Hattie “interviewing” Pasi Sahlberg from Finland, others might like to see Pasi Sahlberg putting Hattie quietly in his place. Hattie as adviser to National is not a good educationalist is he.
        I suspect he and Parata would be fans of Behavioural Teaching rather than Constructivis Learning. Sadly.

    • Kevin 4.3

      It’s a pretty well known fact that schools have been manipulating NCEA pass rates by for example pushing students into soft subjects. You didn’t really think that XYZ school that just a few years ago was an academic no-hoper is suddenly full of geniuses did you?

      • One Anonymous Bloke 4.3.1

        A pretty well known fact, is it?

        Right wing drivel masquerading as pedagogy has had this effect in the USA, so it would be no surprise if NZ were the same. I’d still like to see some citations but.

    • David H 4.4

      100% pass rate??? I would love to see and compare those answer papers. 100% of anything is near impossible these days, but a classroom full of children are all so exceptional that… Naaa someone’s telling huge Porkies here.

  5. greywarshark 5

    How kaind this government is to those dealing with the lesser classes! Anything to divest itself of direct responsibility for building capacity of the peeps! As Richard Prebble, I think, said about selling our toy train set to private investors, ‘I would have given it away acshually.’ Government of course could never manage to bring itself to get behind pilot schemes trialling new approaches, and include other values beyond market profit when judging our train system.

    And in education, if pilots of new ideas and approaches were successful, they must be dropped as if they were not. Because to carry them further and succeed nation-wide in reaching do-able goals, and showing definite and growing improvements, would spoil the whole continuing story of the uselessness and wastefulness and unproductive and inefficient government ways. Which are trumpeted by the government asset strippers and conduits of government bounty, as inherent and unchangeable in the government system. So the violence inherent in the privatisation system must be encouraged at all costs and the public system beaten down.

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    The purpose of charter schools is to funnel government guaranteed money and profits into private hands. They have no other purpose.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1


    • Rodel 6.2

      DTB I agree- said it before and will say it again. We are in Mafia country. Voters don’t realize it and like the old Mafia many of the current members themselves probably don’t realize it or are unable to admit it..

    • adam 6.3

      I call bullshit on your statement Draco T Bastard.

      Maori and Pacific has been the losers under the education system for some time. Indeed the system has been so bloody rigid, there has been virtually no change to Maori and Pacific failure rates for the last 30 odd years. Ministry of Education, do one good thing – they keep good stats.

      Hating on charter schools is fine and dandy – but if people had been listening to Maori and Pacific educators, then charter schools would never have got off the ground. And if the only option to guarantee a good education for your mokopuna is to embrace charter school. Then you embrace charter schools. Oh and look, some of the charter schools are producing good results for Maori and Pacific. Who would have thought it ah – schools who actually listen to Maori Educators, getting good outcomes.

      So no it’s not the only reason we have charter schools, and there are other purposes. And quite frankly until Pakeha pull their collective socks up on this issue – we will keep having a expanding charter school programme.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 6.3.1

        Who says they’re producing good results? Is it something that can even be determined so early in the piece. Um, no, it isn’t.

        • greywarshark

          I think adam has a point. And though it is early for assessment of the accuracy of these outcomes, and the reporting systems aren’t really strong because of the almost laissez faire system they are set up under, the majority charters could have positive outcomes. Not because of better teaching than those of the state, but because they are not being constantly undermined by conservatives and denigrating officials and politicians.

          They will be free from carping right wingers like AcT;s Rodney Hide doing perk busting duty because one alternative school used to take pupils down to a golf driving range using it for their sporting outdoor interest. Oh no that couldn’t be done said Rorting Rodney. It was paying for dropouts to have a good time. As bad as having good meals in prisons.

          The weight of narrow, hateful, destructive right wing criticisms finished off this chance of succeeding with alternative education. The kaupapa was to help numbers of pupils get skills, improve their reading, writing and communication, and acquire self-discipline enough to carry a plan for their future with positive outcomes for them and society.. They might not have had all the NCEA credits others had, but they would have a plan for their future, an ability to work towards it and stay on track, and a knowledge of what to avoid which could derail them.

        • adam

          So you can’t say there bad either?

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            Sure, if you’re utterly politically naive you can ignore the context into which they’ve been thrust, and the massive funding disparities involved, and all overseas experience, and pretend that the National Party is competent and trustworthy.

      • millsy 6.3.2

        Do you really think privatisation is the answer to Maori/PI educational achievement?

        IMO it would be better to more Maori teachers, more Maori principals and more Maori on BOT’s.

        • greywarshark

          It is not a simple matter to get better Maori education, that suits all Maori, just from having more Maori in charge. The problem is bigger than just having more Maori input, expertise and leadership. Some great Maori schools have been closed because of the problems they seem to have been unable to control. Many Maori leaders have attended them yet the schools were unable to cope with problems, of bullying or violence for instance, and ended up being closed.

          Latest –
          Google heading – Jun 18, 2015 – High profile doctor Lance O’Sullivan is threatening legal action against embattled Maori Catholic school Hato Petera, saying it is failing students who are being …

          And I have grave doubts about charter schools and the lax way that government has allowed them to run, when all children should be entitled to care and overview from the state. But I am sure that some will do wonders. But others could develop into schools for rugby thugs, or other unhealthy outcomes.
          If they could be monitored by university humanity academics as in a longitudinal study, and co-operate with them from the knowledge of related studies and experience it would be helpful. To get away from MOE theorists and Soc Welf disdainful norms could be the answer.

        • adam

          No privatisation is not the answer. But, when Pakeha won’t listen, or “Know best” – what’s the choice? Really how many times do you have to be ignored before you go – “bugger it, this lets run with this. “

      • Molly 6.3.3

        Charter schools are the old divide and conquer mentality. As a home educator who has been on both regional and national committees, this approach is a boon to those of us who want more government funding for our own children.

        The problem is long-term, the use of charter schools runs down the resources available to state schools. State schools get put on probation and then closed down, then the educational “choice” is removed.

        Then the monopoly of education in a region is held by a profit-making company, whose “clients” are required by law to attend their institution. Guess what happens next? The services provided are reduced in cost and quality and profits soar.

        I have had many discussions with home educators who can see immediate benefits for themselves and their families (surprisingly, many home educators are from the teaching profession). This benefit to themselves in the short term, has a negative consequence for ALL down the line.

        I would say the same is true for Maori and Pasifika students.

        Despite being someone who would directly benefit from the creation of a charter school for my own family, I remain completely against this model of delivery of education by our government.

        There are many examples of failed charter schools (and accompanying diminished public schools as a result) in the US.

        • adam

          Nicely put Molly. I don’t support charter schools I really don’t – but I do see why people would want to.

      • Then why did the Maori Party help the NACTs into government – twice – when they were always going to underfund public education? Weren’t they listening to the Maori and Pacific educators?

        And as someone who is using a special character school (integrated), I would have vastly preferred to have had our local school providing the basic services we needed.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.3.5

        Maori and Pacific has been the losers under the education system for some time.

        One wonders why because it’s got nothing to do with genetics. Sure, the system isn’t perfect but I don’t believe high failure rates in it has anything to do with being Māori or Pacifica.

        Indeed the system has been so bloody rigid, there has been virtually no change to Maori and Pacific failure rates for the last 30 odd years.

        That’s just it – it hasn’t been rigid for quite some time although Nationals’ National Standards are putting paid to the flexibility that had been built up.

        but if people had been listening to Maori and Pacific educators, then charter schools would never have got off the ground.

        Really? And just where had the Māori and Pacifica educators got their knowledge of education from? Would that be the same universities and educational institutions as everyone else?

        Please note, before National implemented National Standards every school was quite capable of being just as flexible as a charter school. In fact, IIRC, there were quite a few Māori schools that were doing quite well for Māori and some were getting better than standard state schools. Given a bit longer and I suspect their practices would have been rolled out to other state schools.

        Oh and look, some of the charter schools are producing good results for Maori and Pacific.

        [citation needed]

        All I’ve seen through the MSM is articles about failure and massive over funding.

        All I get from you and others who demand instant change is that you want a quick fix now and don’t accept that the change is going to be years in the making. Unfortunately, the ‘quick fix’ is going to make things worse.

        • adam

          “All I get from you and others who demand instant change is that you want a quick fix now and don’t accept that the change is going to be years in the making.”

          Nope not what I said. Don’t agree with charter schools – think they are a bad idea. Just raising the point – politics is not black and white. Well…

          “Really? And just where had the Māori and Pacifica educators got their knowledge of education from? Would that be the same universities and educational institutions as everyone else?”

          Feels suspiciously like it spoken by someone from the dominate culture…

          “All I’ve seen through the MSM is articles about failure and massive over funding.”

          Now I’m sure I’ve seen you dismiss our media?

          So is essence you agree charter schools have more political components – than your original analysis? It’s not just about money and that some people have embraced the idea for other reasons. I don’t personally think charter schools are a good idea. However, I’m all for finding out why folk want them, and workout what’s wrong with what came before.

  7. rob 7

    and yet idiots keep giving this govt. their vote. this minister is just a complete joke oops all Nat minister’s seem complete jokes.
    why then do they keep getting voted in?
    something is amiss big time.

  8. Clemgeopin 8

    We have a government of the liars, by the liars, for the gullible.

  9. Smilin 9

    That does it, Keys got to go this is corruption.

  10. Sable 10

    Rather than pay out money in taxes why don’t we simply pile it on the floor and set it on fire? The outcome would be the same. My wife and I pay hundreds of dollars a year in school fees (voluntary donations….yeah right) to subsidize this kind of scandalous waste….

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