Alternative education

The Stupidity of the Left’s “Finland” chant for Education

In terms of education no one on the left is offering anything this election – just more BANS – to go alongside truck bans, man bans, foreign investment bans, Nigella bans etc.

The Green/Labour/PPTA/NZEI block simply plan to ban National Standards, Charter Schools and the $359 million of government spending directed at improving leadership, teaching and learning in areas where schools are failing.

The only glimmer of a proposal they give is to say – we need to be like Finland. The funny thing is that those groups would go even more apoplectic if some of the things Finland does were put in place – plus – those working in Finland recognise that the conditions that make it work there do not work anywhere else.

“Compulsory schooling begins at the age of seven, with only a broadly-outlined national curriculum, and students wear their own clothes and call the teachers by their first names.”

Problem 1: Schooling begins at 7. In New Zealand the Left blame all school failure on poverty in the home. So they would want to leave children in that situation longer – so when those kids start school they are even further behind? When the children don’t own clothes of a quantity and quantity acceptable to going to school it just given them one more things to be socially distinct on – the Left would be happy with that?

Problem 2: That change would put a whole lot of NZEI employees out of work and out of the union. I can just see NZEI marching in favour of that.

Problem 3: One of the complaints with Charter Schools from the clueless Left has been that they may propose a curriculum apart from the national one. So they would suddenly be in favour of the much greater curriculum freedom offered to Finnish schools? Would they happy for schools to simply be leaving out portions benefiting the Left’s social agenda that are in our current curriculum?

“PISA results show that Finland was 12th best in the world for maths – outside of Asia, only Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Netherlands and Estonia fared better. Britain was 14 places below Finland.”

Problem 4: Some of the Finland results are not that flash. The Left also complain vehemently about testing and whinge about PISA (especially when it calls into doubt their “world class” mantra). So – they want Finnish systems based on a testing system that shows quality but at the same time bag the testing system and don’t want it here? It must be confusing having to try and think this way.

“And a study by the Smithsonian Institution showed that the difference between Finland’s weakest and strongest students was the smallest in the world.”

Read more »

More evidence of the success of charter schools

Yesterday Josh Metcalfe, one of my commenters made this comment:

I’m all for parents having choice, but I’m wary of Charter Schools becoming a way to prey on underprivileged kids and put them on a single career path from an early age. And so you could have corporations locking these kids to work for them for life.

Now I’m not saying that this’ll definitely happen but it’s something to be mindful of.

Obviously the comment is loaded with the group-think and approved lines of the teacher unions, and he makes assertions with no evidence. Other commenters call him out and he then abandons any pretence of discussion and accuses other commenters of talking past each other. Yet he was the one making broad and bald assumptions without a shred of evidence. He goes on to make all the usual claims.

Clearly though he isn’t reading the building bodies of evidence that show that the union centric control of schooling is failing and that the refreshing and unrestrictive methods used in charter schools are achieving huge success in any jurisdiction you care to mention.

Quite simply the facts do not support the lies that the teacher unions are telling everyone via a compliant and uncritical media. As the model is bedded in across different places there is some good stuff coming out:

How can policymakers, educators, and parents know if charter schools are delivering on their promise of improving students’ lives? Test scores are the barometer most frequently used. While test scores can tell us a lot about school quality, they don’t always indicate how effective schools are at helping students secure a better future – from high school graduation, through college, and into the workforce. Now, for the first time, we have solid data about how charter schools not only improve students’ academic performance, but also give them a great start in life. Read more »

Teacher Unions and Green/Labour Opposition smack down the kids

Despite their attempts at rhetoric to the contrary the union and opposition stance against Charter Schools is looking more and more stupid. Especially the “there is no evidence of success overseas” approach.
Some pieces speak for themselves:

Recently, a leading education research center at Stanford University released a comprehensive study looking at the academic performance of students in public charter schools compared to their traditional school peers in 27 states.

The results of this study deliver promising news for students in Mississippi whose needs are not currently being met, especially for the two-thirds of our public school students who are growing up in poverty. Across the nation, charter school students living in poverty gain the equivalent of an extra 14 days of instruction in reading and 22 days in math each year compared to their traditional public school counterparts. African-American students in poverty who attend charter schools see an even larger gain with the equivalent of an additional 29 days of learning in reading and 36 days in math per year when compared to their traditional public school counterparts.

These findings are not alone. Since 2010, four national studies and 11 regional studies from across the country found similar positive academic performance results.

Of course, the most important measure of a transformational education is whether students are graduating prepared for college and career. How do public charter schools fit in that equation? Mississippians must ask that question, especially considering we have one of the lowest social mobility rates in the nation.

Last month, Mathematica Policy Research announced some preliminary research results that measured the effects of charter schools on long-term educational attainment and subsequent earnings of public charter school students. They found significant evidence that charter schools are increasing educational attainment and are boosting long-term earnings of students — ending the cycle of poverty for many low-income students enrolled in charter schools.

Read more »

The collapse of standards in NY schools

There is a massive problem with NY public funded schooling.

It is to be expected with a left wing mayor intent on protecting the unionised education workforce.

Technically speaking, New York state Education Commissioner John King was correct when he insisted last week that “we are not retreating” on school standards. So true — it’s more like a surrender.

King’s attempt to put a happy face on the rout was wishful thinking, as the parade of white flags reveals. The commissioner has been admirably bold in pushing onward, but now marches mostly alone.

From Albany to City Hall, the education-reform movement is grinding to a halt. Meaningful teacher evaluations and standardized tests for students are either on hold or moving into the mushy world of educrat gobbledygook, where vapid self-esteem is prized more than real results.

To be sure, the collapse didn’t happen all at once. It recalls the Ernest Hemingway dialogue in “The Sun Also Rises.”

When a man asks, “How did you go bankrupt?” another answers, “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

So it is with the collapse of standards. What started as a trickle is now a gusher wiping away the tentative progress on accountability.

The biggest blow came with an innocuous-sounding press release from city Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. She announced a new promotion policy for grades 3 through 8 that “takes the temperature down around testing” while allowing “educators to make decisions about the students they know best while maintaining high standards.”

In plain English, that means that even if tests show Johnny can’t read, we’re giving him a gold star and sending him on to the next grade, where he’ll fall further behind before being passed on again. That’s the gist of social promotion, and it’s now ­official city policy.

Mayor de Blasio later boasted of the move, saying, “We’re ­going to in every way we can move away from high-stakes testing.”

Presumably, that means he favors low-stakes testing, which is testing that doesn’t matter. Welcome to the new mayor’s education plan, where he’ll be able to claim victory because failure has been outlawed.   Read more »

The PPTA doesn’t care about kids


The PPTa demonstrates why they should be deregistered as a union.

They don’t care about education or kids, they are hell bent on politicking and are so focused on revenge against charter schools they have implemented a boycott of them.

Like their preferred political party they are resorting to the nasty.

If you had one word to describe the feeling in the room at Mangere’s Rise Up school it would be hope.

The beginning of the new school year meant opening day for a new school in a struggling south Auckland community and parents and teachers are desperate for success. But even as it opens, the teachers’ union wants the charter school and others like it to fail, so much so they are banning their members from having anything to do with them.  Read more »

This is what Cunliffe wants Kiwi Kids to miss out on…

…so he can keep the teacher unions happy.

David Cunliffe keeps promising to close down the fledgling NZ Charter Schools. He doesn’t do that out of any care for NZ children – merely because the statement appeases the unions – and stops him having to take the time to research how good they are becoming.

Here are some hints on what current and future children in NZ (particularly those in the “Labour electorates”) will enjoy:

As charter operators have figured out how to succeed with children, they are doubling down on the best models. Successful charter schools have many distinctive features: longer school days and longer years, more flexibility and accountability for teachers and principals, higher expectations for students, more discipline and structure, more curricular innovation, more rigorous testing. Most charter growth today is coming from replication of the best schools.

In New York City, the average charter-school student now absorbs five months of extra learning a year in math, and one extra month in reading, compared with counterparts in conventional schools.

At KIPP, the largest chain of charters, 86% of all students are low-income, and 95% are African-American or Latino, yet 83% go to college.  Read more »

No ideas – no traction – desperation

Chris Hipkins has not come up with a valid idea since being Labour spokesperson for Education. His only method is to undo.

- Undo National Standards – even though the majority of parents love them.

- Undo Charter Schools – because the unions are terrified they are losing their patch.

- Prevent any performance pay – and stay under the illusion that all teachers are the same and deserve an incremental pay step every year – regardless of what the actually achieve.

Hipkins has got no traction and is now begging for it on the “Stand up for Kids” facebook page (another of the little left wing protest pages):  Read more »

NZEI Motive Revealed – Control – not kids

Education is for kids. Almost as soon as the government announced the introduction of Charter Schools in New Zealand the NZEI bought an activist from New Orleans – Karran Harper Royal – who complained in all sorts of ways about the schools.

Wrong state and wrong person to bring. Latest out of New Orleans is:

“Our model is about empowering educators that are closest to the children, to give them the autonomy to have great schools, but to have a strong accountability system in place,” says RSD Superintendent Patrick Dobard. One of the RSD’s key roles is “ensuring there is equity and access throughout the whole system.”

The academic gains have been dramatic. The city has surpassed the state average for high school graduation by several points, with 77.8 percent of the class of 2012 graduating within four years – up from just over 54 percent in 2004.

One measure regularly used in Louisiana is the Growth School Performance Score, which is based on test scores, graduation rates, and other factors. Based on those scores, in 2004-05 only 12 percent of students in New Orleans attended ‘A’ or ‘B’ schools while nearly 75 percent attended ‘F’ schools, reports New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO), a nonprofit that incubates and supports charter schools. By 2012-13, just 17 percent of students were in ‘F’ schools, while 34 percent were in ‘A’ or ‘B’ schools.

Yet another bright point: the percentage of students qualifying for college scholarships from the state based on ACT scores and grade-point averages. Prior to Katrina, less than 6 percent of students in 14 high schools later taken over by the RSD qualified for these scholarships, NSNO reports. In 2013, 27 percent did.

While there’s still a long way to go, “on the whole, the schools are unequivocally better,” says Michael Stone, a spokesman for NSNO.   Read more »

Charter schools are working, but New York’s mayor wants to stop them

Labour, the Greens and the teacher unions all hate charter schools.

They can produce no evidence to support their claims, they just hate them because they do not like the challenge to the hegemony and control of the unions in our schools.

The same irrational opposition is also evident overseas.

OF THE 658 schools in Chicago, only 126 are charter schools—publicly funded but independently run and largely free of union rules. Fifteen more are due to open this year. More notable, though, is that four of the most recently-approved charters are in areas where the city recently decided to close 49 public schools—the largest round of such closures in America’s history.

Most of the closed schools served poor black children, and were in parts of the city with a shrinking population. The city government argued that these schools were under-used, and that closing them would save $233m that could be reinvested. So it has been: in new science labs, computers, wireless, libraries, art rooms and air conditioning in the charters that took in children from the closed schools.

Charters have worked well in Chicago. Most parents like them, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Board of Education are behind them. The Noble Network, which already runs 14 charter high schools, has just been given permission to open two new ones. Around 36% of the 9,000, mostly poor, children enrolled with Noble can expect to graduate from college, compared with 11% for this income bracket city-wide.

A 2013 study by Stanford University found that the typical Illinois charter pupil (most of them in Chicago) gained two weeks of additional learning in reading, and a month in maths, over their counterparts in traditional public schools. One city network of charters, Youth Connection, is credited with reducing Chicago’s dropout rate by 7% in a decade. Overall, however, the city’s public schools are in a sorry state: 51,000 out of 240,000 elementary-school pupils did not meet state reading standards in 2013.

Some will always argue that charters cream off the brighter children and leave sink schools, deprived of resources, behind. The teachers’ unions hate charter schools because they are non-unionised. So they remain a rarity nationwide, with only 5% of children enrolled in them. But a PDK/Gallup poll last year found that 70% of Americans support them. Small wonder: a study of charter high schools in Florida found that they boosted pupils’ earning power in later life by more than 10%.  Read more »

Maths (and honesty): Why Hipkin’s could never be Minister of Education

In Parliament today Hipkins stated;

“that National wanted to spend more money of Charter Schools than they’re willing to put into the state school system.” (4:15)

Maths check:

Charter Schools: $19m over 4 years. Divided by 4 it is $4.75 million per year.  Read more »