The Partnership Schools model is aimed at helping the bottom 20%. New Orleans is a city in the US historically struggling in the education of children.
The teacher unions broughtÂ Karran Harper Royal from New OrleansÂ to say how bad Charter Schools had been for that state. First thing she admitted on Close Up was that some are working well (Ian Leckie and Robin Duff must have choked).
Turns out that there was a lot more for her to admit – as things mature in New Orleans for this model there is plenty of good there too:
Some key parts of the article:
The goal in New Orleans is to reverse years of educational decline. Before Katrina, state schools here had become starkly segregated on race and class lines as white and middle class families removed their children.
In the years since Katrina, student performance in tests has improved, and fewer students now go to failing schools. Students have achieved a higher average score in the ACT test, which measures readiness for college.
John White, Louisiana’s state superintendent of education, argues that decentralisation has freed schools to act in children’s best interests. Charter schools, state-funded but independently run byÂ non-profit groups, are now the norm in New Orleans. In the past school year, 78% of public school students were enrolled in charters. The proportion will rise this year. Such schools enjoy great flexibility in managing their time and allocating resources.
Lee said: “Schools receive a report card now, parents are savvy â€“ they research online and see how a school is performing. It’s no longer the neighbourhood school; it’s really parent choice.”
In Louisiana, the state sets clear limits on the marketplace. In the end, accountability to its testing regime trumps choice: the government will close a chronically underperforming public school even if parents continue to choose it.
The change in two years is evident to the students, who come up unprompted to tell outsiders of their pride in the school. One student, Henrietta London, said: “This school used to be a mess; children were learning nothing. My mum sent me here because they’re rebuilding the school and changing the culture.”
The pale blue corridors of Sci Academy, housed in a cluster of prefabricated blocks in New Orleans East, are lined with inspirational mottoes: “Chase perfection, catch excellence,” reads one. Another declares: “We’re never done, we’re never finished”.
Parents will love the next one – Duff and Leckie hate it.
The words are directed at students, but could apply just as well to the teachers, who are evaluated on each lesson. Staff here are regularly observed and receive constant feedback on their performance.
White is uncompromising about the virtues of choice, even if that means weak schools being driven to the wall. “I think competition is always to some degree destabilising to those who can’t compete,” he said. “I have no problem with a school that is failing parents and kids being essentially destabilised because parents aren’t choosing it.”‘
And the headline of the Article:
What the opponents of this model in NZ have not even begin to grasp is that education is about children and their families. The scare mongering crap being talked by NZEI & PPTA is exactly that…crap. it is time to put kids first and not to keep protecting their patch for political gain. Time also for Labour and NZ First to put children ahead of using this for their own political aspirations. Labour need to stand against the unions on this one – caring for kids may even help them.
Time for parents in NZ and all organisations involved in working for children in struggling areas to also see this opportunity and make a public stand for it. Don’t let the unions stuff up one fifth of the next generation just to retain their power base and maintain their protection of mediocrity.