Brash visits a charter school and is “blown away”

Not so long ago I visited South Auckland Middle School, one of two partnership schools with a total enrolment of 280 operated by the not-for-profit Villa Education Trust.

Because I had read of President Obama’s recognition of the benefit which partnership schools have for disadvantaged Afro-American kids, I was predisposed to like what I saw.

At the same time, I had heard of the strong opposition to such schools on the part of the teacher unions, and I assumed that at least part of their opposition was motivated by genuine concern for the effect of such schools on the children who attend them.

If that opposition is indeed based on a genuine concern for the children, they should visit South Auckland Middle School with an open mind.

I was blown away by what I found.

Yes, the school is effectively bulk-funded, in principle enabling the school to employ unregistered or unqualified teachers. In reality, all their teachers are fully registered and fully qualified. Classes are limited in size to 15.

The school provides a school uniform and all basic stationery without charge, and no fees or “donations” are charged.

Erm.  Question:  How can they have smaller class sizes, registered teachers, school supplied uniforms and no need to “donate” anything.  Another question:  How are state-run schools not able to do this?  

Ah yes, critics argue, but partnership schools get a lot more money from the taxpayer than other schools do. Absolute nonsense.

All schools get a lump sum to start up and, because South Auckland Middle School has been operating for less than three years, taking its start-up money and adding it to the money it receives for its on-going operation makes it appear that it gets more money than state schools.

But the start-up money it received was much less, on a per student basis, than comparable state schools have received.

South Auckland Middle School received just $1.3 million for start-up with a target roll of 120, and receives less than $12,000 per pupil annually to cover all teacher salaries and other operating costs.

Rototuna Primary School in Hamilton, with fewer than 800 pupils, recently received $40 million for start-up, and plenty of schools receive as much or more for operating costs, together with additional support from the Ministry of Education.

The conclusion is inescapable.

Charter schools won’t be the answer to all of the education system challenges, but similarly, neither is the state-run and union-strangled one.  It does show that a well-run charter school can deliver results, and that any attempt to marginalise it will take an effective tool out of the education system.


– Don Brash, NZ Herald

  • Ross

    I don’t know why some people have this binary approach to educating kids. We should (well it seems we do here) the success of charter schools succeeding where state schools have failed. I’m glad charter schools get good publicity here – I certainly hope it leads to more people understanding the role played by these institutions.

    • Sailor Sam

      Is it not true that the socialists do not want a well educated population.
      It is in their interests to keep people as dumb as possible, so that these same people wil be forever grateful to them because of handouts and free money and thus vote for these socialists throughout their life?
      That is how the socialistst think.
      It is when people get educated properly and learn to think for themselves that the socialists lose their grasp.
      The socialist theory is no different from that preached by all religious organisations – keep people afraid of “gods”, don’t let them think for themselves but promising happiness in the hereafter.
      It is called brainwashing.

      • PersonOfColor:WHITE

        ..which is probably why socialists flock to the teaching profession….

        • Brian Dingwall

          the profession also insulates them from actually having to submit to the test of the marketplace anything or any idea that creates wealth for themselves….those that can do etc

        • contractor

          Or trying to teach the gullible by joining MSM.

    • LovetoTeach

      Amen. Children are not all the same – and no “one” school will be the answer.

  • cows4me

    “and I assume at the least part of their opposition was motivated be genuine concern for the effect such schools have on the children that attend them”, is Brash having a senior moment or is he trying to flatter the teacher unions ? What tosh, the bloody teacher unions don’t give a toss about the effect of schools on children but what effect the schools have on teacher unions. Charter schools have what unions hate the most in the world, freedom of choice. Freedom to choose what they teach and freedom to choose who teaches.

    • PersonOfColor:WHITE

      ‘Teach’ > quite often ‘indoctrinate’