Alternative education

Act on the PPTA and Charter Schools and union blacklists

The ACT party ‘Free Press’ newsletter came out yesterday and provided this commentary on the PPTA and their attitude towards charter schools.

Seriously Unethical Behaviour

The Post Primary Teachers’ Association are plumbing new depths.  First they blacklisted a trainee teacher who worked at a Partnership School from doing training placements at schools where their members teach. The PPTA knows very well that training placements are essential to teacher registration, and their biggest criticism of Partnership Schools is that they can employ non-registered teachers. (As a side note, this condition only applies if the Partnership School provides suitable justification for doing so, e.g. no registered teachers have the skills they seek).

The Teacher Come Forward

The teacher was initially unwilling to speak publicly.  His story is worth reading: ‘Mr Kahukiwa started teaching te reo Maori and music at Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa in Whangarei at the start of the year. He sought out the school after meeting some of its students at the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Cassino in Italy last May, where he was with the Royal New Zealand Navy. “All of us in the military, when we met those kids, we knew there was something special going on,” he said. “I just thought, oh well, whatever a charter school is it works for these kids, I want to be part of it.”  Read more »

The only charter school to fail was, of course, run by and for Maori

The only charter school to fail was, of course, run by and for Maori.

Isn’t it time we face the uncomfortable truth that we can’t let failed and failing Maori be in charge of lifting failing Maori?

An announcement on whether one of the Government’s flagship charter schools will close will be made tomorrow.

Minister of Education Hekia Parata will address media in Auckland and end months of uncertainty for the school and its students.

The kura, recently renamed Te Pumanawa o te Wairua, was one of five charter or partnership schools to open at the start of last year.

Located on a farm 65km in Whangaruru, northwest of Whangarei, the kura caters for Years 9-13 students who typically have been on the margins of the education system.   Read more »

Charter School Investigation: Vanguard Military School – the students

Student comment on Vanguard Military school's facebook page. Screenshot-Whaleoil.co.nz

Student comment on Vanguard Military school’s facebook page.
Screenshot-Whaleoil.co.nz

The students of Vanguard have strong feelings about their school. I will let their own words tell you just what they think of Vanguard Military School and whether or not it is a system that works for them.

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Vanguard Military school students PHOTO-whaleoil.co.nz

Do you prefer this school to other schools you’ve been to?

If yes why? If no why not?

Yes because I actually learn things and I can excel in my subjects. It’s more disciplined and I like P.T

Yes, because it is strict which keeps your mind set in place.

Yes, because I want to join the forces and this school being a Military Prep School provides a great basis/foundation for my career in the near future.

A student from Vanguard Military School is accepted into the Navy. PHOTO-Vanguard Military school facebook page

An ex student from Vanguard Military School who has completed his basic training for the Navy. PHOTO-Vanguard Military school facebook page

Because I am doing so much better at this school and I feel like I kinda fit in here also I feel like people care if I’m passing and want to help me pass.

Yes because I am starting to be more responsible and getting taught more discipline.

Because it provides me with the discipline to succeed.

Yes because I am actually learning things and I feel like I have a purpose.

*NOTE Out of 23 responses not one student responded no.

Read more »

Charter School investigation: The teachers

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Engineering class room, Students and teacher at Vanguard Military school PHOTO-Whaleoil.co.nz

Here we have staff who give up their lunch times, their morning teas, they work what used to be their holidays. Why? Because we want the students to achieve. That is the carrot. It is not anything personal, it is a rewarding job to have but it is to see the kids that are struggling get across the line.

-Nick Hyde Vanguard Military School chief executive

The teachers at Vanguard were not put into their classrooms immediately after being hired. They were trained for a term before they were allowed to teach their classes solo. This was to ensure that they knew all of Vanguard’s rules and ways of doing things so that their approach to student teaching and management would always be consistent. Additionally the selection of teachers was not solely based on their academic and teaching ability. They also had to be supportive of the Military model concept as they had to not only follow the model but be role models themselves in how they present themselves and act.

Seven teachers answered my questions at Vanguard Military school so I have included a selection of  the most interesting responses to my questions.

Read more »

Another biased reporter shows her true colours via Twitter

David Farrar takes a break from arthouse play reviews to call out a NZ Herald reporter.

Ferald-bias

There’re three interesting things about this exchange.

  1. Portraying charter schools as exploiting vulnerable kids, rather than helping them
  2. Portraying charter schools as people making money. As far as I know every charter school operator in NZ is a not-for-profit entity
  3. The tweeter is the ’s specialist education reporter

If you were a charter school operator, teacher or parent what confidence would you have that the Herald will report fairly on your school, when the reporter seems to have such a negative view of them.

Read more »

Charter School Investigation: Vanguard Military School Part Two

In my new series investigating Vanguard Military School I once again ask the questions and report back the answers without spin. Today’s article is based on the second part of my interview with Vanguard chief executive, Nick Hyde as well as a shorter interview with Vanguard Principal, Rockley Montgomery.

A hand up. PHOTO: Vanguard Military School Facebook Page

A hand up.
PHOTO: Vanguard Military School Facebook Page

One of the criticisms is that you are stealing students away from other schools. Luring them with free uniforms et cetera but some of your students are ones that State schools have given up on anyway.

They have failed there already. Would you keep your child in a school where they had just failed? We have kids travel from Waiuku South. They are making a conscious choice to come here. It is not the lure of uniforms and things like that it is the environment we are giving them. It’s the fact that if your son or daughter doesn’t turn up by 8.30am we have rung you to ask why. We are monitoring everything. It is an ‘Old School’ mentality. You are not suddenly going to find out that your son or daughter has skipped three weeks of classes, you are going to know on day one.

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A board in the Staffroom records all absences as well as the reason for absence at Vanguard Military School. PHOTO-Whaleoil.co.nz

Read more »

Charter School investigation: Vanguard Military School Part One

In my new series investigating Vanguard Military School I once again ask the questions and report back the answers without spin. Today’s article is based on my interview with Vanguard chief executive, Nick Hyde.

Vanguard Military school's impressive NCEA results were not included in newspaper article. PHOTO-Whaleoil.co.nz

Vanguard Military School chief executive Nick Hyde pointing out that Vanguard Military school’s NCEA results were not included in The Herald newspaper article.
PHOTO-Whaleoil.co.nz

Within ten minutes of arriving at Vanguard I had been told the bad news and the good news.

The bad news:

The day before my interview with Nick, The Herald published Auckland schools’ NCEA results and left  Vanguard Military school off the table. Vanguard was the only school out of the approximately 80 schools in Auckland that was left off.

The good news:

Vanguard achieved a 96.2% pass rate at NCEA Level 1 and a 100% pass rate at NCEA Level 2.

Both these results are well above the average for secondary schools across the country and a result like that after only one year of operation is unarguably newsworthy. When the omission was brought to The Herald’s attention they told Nick that it was because they hadn’t been provided with a full set of data. Vanguard confirmed that NZQA who hold all the results had sent them to the Herald. The Herald then updated the table on line to include Vanguard’s results. It was of course far too late for the paper version which had omitted Vanguard’s results from its table.”

Our results put us at 11th in Auckland at level one and 1st equal at level 2. Many people out there in the public domain would have been very keen on seeing our school measured against other schools. I have harped on about trying to make Vanguard a top ten school in Auckland over a five year period. To be 11th after the first year in one area and first equal in another is totally outstanding.

Read more »

Charter schools work and there is proof, let’s see the unions produce some evidence

The National Center for Policy Analysis reports:

In June, 3.3 million American teenagers will graduate from high school. Just 80 percent of them graduate in four years, a share that declines to 65 percent among African-Americans. Yet in the last 40 years, school funding has exploded.

One reason all this spending has not brought better outcomes is that teachers’ unions are more concerned with protecting their members than with helping students.

  • Pay and staffing decisions based on seniority, not skill, do not serve students’ needs and also leave some American public school teachers disillusioned.
  • Charter schools offer many of the same benefits as private schools, since they are free from the stranglehold of teachers’ unions. This leaves them able to experiment with and adopt new education methods, including uniforms and stricter discipline and to attract successful teachers.

Stanford University economics professor Caroline Hoxby found that a student who attended a charter school would close 86 percent of the “Scarsdale-Harlem achievement gap” in math and 66 percent in reading. The gap represents the difference in student achievement, measured by test scores, between one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the New York metro area and one of the poorest.  Read more »

Charter Schools Perception Series: The Students

Display wall at South Auckland Middle School. -Photo Whaleoil.co.nz

Display wall at South Auckland Middle School.
-Photo Whaleoil.co.nz

When I visited Mt Hobson, South Auckland and West Auckland Middle School my son took the photos and my daughter ( Miss Whaleoil ) interviewed the students. The questions she asked were written by her as I wanted a student’s perspective. Many of her questions were closed yes/no questions unfortunately but she did manage to gain a reasonable snap shot of what the students of all three schools think about their school. ( Mt Hobson is not a Charter school but is the original model on which South and West Auckland Middle school are based.)

Rather than write a question and answer for each individual student interviewed, under each question you will find a range of replies have been labelled A) B) C) etc so you can tell one student’s answers from another ones. Some students were not asked all of the questions.

I have written the students’ replies as they were given, including slang and incomplete sentences.

Read more »

Charter Schools Perception Series: The Critics

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Partnership Schools or Charter Schools came about after the 2011 General Election due to an agreement between the National Party and the Act Party. The legislation passed with a five vote majority.The Charter School model was criticised by other political parties, educational authorities and teacher organisations as well as some members of the public.

A summary of the key concerns that they raised at that time are below:

1) The concern that that the National-ACT alliance had a hidden agenda which was to set up charter schools as an alternative to state schools in order to eventually replace them.

‘The Government’s plans for charter schools are a stealth privatisation of education’

-Young Labour Press release

One of the Charter schools I visited, Vanguard Military School, includes amongst its students those rejected by the State School system, students who have been expelled or suspended. The other two Charter schools told me that compared to State Schools the number of ex home schooled children on their roll is very high. That indicates to me that the purpose of Charter schools is to provide education for students who are currently not doing well in State education, rather than to replace State education.

Read more »