Charter school

Guest Post: The Point of Teaching

It is with growing frustration that I read press release after press release (and some reporters even pick up on it) that children cannot learn in NZ classrooms because of inequality or learning difficulties. A classic example is that of former NZEI President Judith Nowatowski:

“No matter how fantastic a teacher is, the socio-economic background of a child is by far the biggest indicator of educational success. We want every child to reach their potential, but that is difficult for children who live in transient, unhealthy homes with near-empty fridges,” she said.

While there are no doubt research correlations, and no doubt economic problems to be solved,  the very last thing any teacher should take into any classroom is a preconception that any individual child cannot succeed because….

Education is about ensuring that a child is a victim of nothing and teachers – collectively or individually giving it the … “you can’t because”… is not what they are paid for.

A key aim of teaching is to work with individuals to defy the odds. Teaching should always be 100% aspirational – never a finger pointing exercise. Teachers, parents, children and communities are all affected by negativity from those whose job it is to inspire and educate the next generation. (This was another NZEI bleat: “This government has tried to create a ‘crisis’ atmosphere in schools to justify its agenda that includes National Standards, charter schools and a competitive, business approach to education,” she said. “They’re trying to blame teachers for children not reaching their potential when poverty is the real cause.”)

It only takes one example to state why it is important for teachers/educators to never write children off – or even cite background – as a deterministic factor in why they cannot succeed. So, I have been doing some reading, and here are two extreme international examples to really fill the pot.

Wilma Glodean Rudolph was born premature and sickly on June 23, 1940, in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, the 20th of 22 children to parents Ed and Blanche Rudolph, and went on to become an African-American pioneer of track and field. But the road to victory was not an easy one for Wilma Rudolph. Stricken with polio as a child, she had problems with her left leg and had to wear a brace. It was with great determination and the help of physical therapy that she was able to overcome the disease as well as her resulting physical disabilities. She overcame her disabilities through physical therapy and hard work, and went on to become a gifted runner. Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics in 1960, at the Summer Games in Rome, and later worked as a teacher and track coach.

Read more »

Yet Another Teacher Makes Excuses

Pretend economist Peter Lyons (“if you can’t do it, teach it” archetype) gets to voice this in the increasing desperate NZ Herald.

As with others – the major thrust of left wing “educators” is their inability to be effective due to the background of their pupils (lets hope they don’t take credit for any success their students have as surely that is just “background” too).

They all seem to have forgotten that public education was set up to help students overcome problems – not to blandly accept them. Not even sure why they take an income if they regard themselves as being so currently ineffective.

Leave the job Peter – solve the country’s economic problems – then return to teaching when you can do the job.

Lyons’ first insult in this piece is to call students “raw material”.

 Star principals and teachers will advise under-performing schools how to improve their production processes. This ignores the differences in the raw material that different schools work with.

Lyons works for a school in the middle of Epsom – St Peter’s College that manages to significantly exceed the national failure rate at NCEA Level 1.

This was a school that in 2012 received no excellence endorsements at that level.   Read more »

The correlation between success in charter schools and union opposition to them

It seems union negativity towards Charter Schools increases in proportion with the success of the model.

Now Eva’s done it; really done it.

The already-controversial Eva Moskowitz committed the one sin that can only worsen the attacks against her and bolster attempts to block her plans to expand her Success Academy charter network: Her kids killed it on the state tests.

Whereas only 35% of New York City students scored proficient in math, 94% of her students rated as proficient. Whereas only 29% of city students met English standards, 64% of her students met the standards.

At her Bed-Stuy-1 school, where 95% of the students are African American or Latino, 98% passed the math test, with 8 in 10 scoring at the advanced level.

If your first reaction is to assume that these positive test results will ease Moskowitz’s pathway for winning the extra 14 schools she’s asking to be approved at the state level, your assumption is probably wrong.

The New York charter controversies are no different from the charter controversies in Boston, L.A., and San Jose. The better the charter, the bigger the pushback.

What sounds nonsensical actually makes sense: The most successful charters pose the biggest threat to superintendents and teachers unions that fear their expansion. Nobody likes competition.

That fear explains what just played out in Massachusetts, home to the top-rated charter schools in the nation. An example of that excellence is found at Brooke Charter Schools, which operates three K-8 schools in some of the city’s highest poverty neighborhoods.

Brooke students are posting some of the highest proficiency scores in the entire state. Not surprisingly, Brooke would like to expand, adding another middle school and a new high school for their graduating middle-school students.

But last month, the Massachusetts Senate snuffed out an attempt to raise the cap on charter schools, an action Brooke needed to build those schools.

The vote wasn’t even close, as senators, prompted by superintendents and union leaders, rushed to the microphones to denounce lifting the cap.

Read more »

Partnership schools working, even John Campbell has found that out

Campbell Live went to a Partnership school (Charter School) for a day to find out what is happening.

Remember that Labour has said they will abolish charter schools in the unlikely event they are elected, despite the wishes of parents and despite any evidence to suggest they are not effective. Labour simply does what the teacher unions demand.

From the outside, South Auckland Middle School looks like any other, but go back a year and you’d be hearing very different things about it.

Occupying part of the Elim buildings in Manurewa, South Auckland Middle School is one of New Zealand’s first charter schools – today Campbell Live spent the day inside to find out how it works.

Academic manager Alwyn Poole says it is actually much simpler than people have made it out to be.

“The Government has contracted with us and then funded us as a state school to provide something different for the children in this area,” says Mr Poole.

Principal Wendy Greig is a registered teacher – she says being in charge at a charter school hasn’t changed how she does her job.

“Ultimately, the school’s job is the same too,” says Ms Greig. “We are not there to compete with other schools – we have just a slightly different way of running a school”.

Inside, it looks like a regular classroom – so what’s different about this school?  Read more »

Charter Schools choice needed for Maori and lower socio-economic families

NZCER has recently released it’s National Survey on Education.

An important section talks about school choice:

School choice

Access to secondary schools starts with family choice. Many secondary schools have enrolment zones in place, to provide students with access to a local school. Single-sex schools and integrated schools draw from wider catchments. All but 9 percent of parents say the school their child attends was their first choice of school. This is much the same proportion as in 2009 and fewer than the 16 percent who said their child was not at their first choice of school in 2006. The low proportion and the trend over time both suggest that the degree of choice in the system is sufficient for the majority of families with secondary-aged students. However, Māori whānau are more likely to say their child’s school was not their first choice (14 percent), as are those attending a decile 1–2 school (18 percent). Forty percent of the 2012 parents responding chose a secondary school that was not their closest school. This is higher than the 29 percent who did so in the 2009 survey: but this difference may simply reflect the higher number of high-decile state-integrated schools in the 2012 sample. Only 13 percent of decile 1–2 school parents had chosen a school that was not their closest school, compared with 51 percent of decile 9–10 school parents.   Read more »

Charter Schools reduce risk taking behaviours

More good news from research on the effects of US Charter Schools.

A couple of key points make it clear that the only reason unions and the political Left are against these here is that it wasn’t their idea (or they don’t give a rats backside about kids).

Low-income minority adolescents enrolled in California’s high-performing public charter high schools are less likely to engage in risky health behaviors, according to a new study by the University of California – Los Angeles.

Researchers said that these adolescents also scored better on Math and English tests as compared to their peers from other schools.

The researchers conclude that public charter high schools in low-income neighborhoods can cause beneficial health effects and bridge the growing academic achievement gap between wealthy and poor students.

The finding is published in the journal Paediatrics.

Read more »

Over time Charter Schools getting better and better

In the USA Charter Schools have had time to bed in. Those that fail get closed and progress occurs in the others and the approval and evaluation systems.. The Stanford Credo studies of 2009 and 2013 showed significant growth and improvement.

A new nationwide US study produced from the University of Arkansas also paints a picture that will challenge the half-baked assertions from the NZ left/unions.’

A first-ever report released July 22 by the University of Arkansas, which ties charter school funding to achievement, finds that public charter schools are more productive than traditional public schools in all 28 states included in analyses of cost-effectiveness and return on investment.

The national report, titled “The Productivity of Public Charter Schools,” found that  deliver on average an additional 17 points in math and 16 points in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam taken by students for every $1,000 invested. These differences amount to charter schools being 40 percent more cost-effective in math and 41 percent more cost-effective in reading, compared to traditional Read more »

“Child Poverty Action Group” inadvertently advocate for Charter Schools

The Child Poverty Action Group has a range of ivory tower types who do the odd bit of research and then say all problem solving is up to the government. Families are responsible for nothing but are simply victims of socio-economics.

Their latest outburst is for Massey University long-term trough muncher John O’Neil telling the country the all teachers in lower decile schools are not doing their job.

He effectively calls them no better than useless – not a popular man I would have thought – unless you are looking for an excuse.

They have forgotten that compulsory schooling up to 16 years of age is there to break cycles – not accept them.

O’Neil starts with:

“You cannot allow today’s generation of children to suffer because of some political argument that teachers need to do better.”

Read more »

No.1 Reason why the Left rant about Charter Schools: Fear of Success!

There are only 5 Charter School in NZ so far. The unions rant about them, misrepresent them and exaggerate their funding. Hipkins and Cunliffe (who also exaggerate their funding) refuse to even visit, let alone explain – face to face – to parents and children why they threaten to close down something that is working already. See South Auckland Middle School or Vanguard Military School.

As the data set grows for Charter Schools the NZ Left’s biggest fear is exactly what is occurring – success and community empowerment without union or centralised control. Keep in mind that the NZ Left is years behind the play (best guess – 1970s) – Obama’s administration does understand that education is for children and their families.

The other thing that is clearly frightening NZ’s left is that major philanthropists in the US are seeing that the schools are avoiding the bureaucratic black holes of time and money and are actually getting results for needy kids – therefore they are prepared to help.

The Philanthropy Roundtable of the USA have just issued a book: From Promising to Proven about Charter Schools in the USA. It will frighten the unions and the political Left in NZ so much that they will avidly avoid reading it (as will most of the MSM). They prefer to blame the economy for any education failure and to see schools and teachers as helpless victims. The book has a different message so a number of points are summarised for them here (full references are in the book):

Bill Gates explains that after his foundation decided in the mid‑1990s to focus on U.S. schooling, it poured about $2 billion into various education experiments. During their first decade, he reports, “many of the small schools that we invested in did not improve students’ achievement in any significant way.” There was, however, one fascinating exception.

“A few of the schools that we funded achieved something amazing. They replaced schools with low expectations and low results with ones that have high expectations and high results.” And there was a common variable: “Almost all of these schools were charter schools.”

Other philanthropists had the same experience. Eli Broad, one of the biggest givers to education in the U.S., observed that “charter school systems are delivering the best student outcomes, particularly for poor and minority students. They are performing significantly better than the best traditional school district systems.” Ted Mitchell of the NewSchools Venture Fund drew some bold bottom lines: “Good charter schools have pretty much eliminated the high-school dropout rate. And they’ve doubled the college‑going rate of underserved kids.”

Some broad strengths of charter schools

  • They attract more entrepreneurial principals and teachers into the field of education
  • School autonomy allows wide experimentation with new ways of educating
  • This same flexibility is used to circumvent bureaucratic obstacles that often block conventional schools from succeeding
  • Charters sidestep the dysfunctional labor relations of many urban districts
  • They erode monopolies and introduce competitive energy into public education
  • Research shows that charters are more effective at recruiting teachers who graduated in the top third of their college class
  • Charters give parents who cannot afford private schools, or moving, another choice besides their neighborhood school
  • They give nonprofits and community organizations practical opportunities to improve the education of local children
  • Their emphasis on student outcomes fosters greater accountability for results
  • By functioning as laboratories and alternatives, charters foment change in conventional schools as well

In the 2013 U.S. News and World Report rankings of public high schools, for instance, 41 charters made it into the top 200. Read more »

Smart People see the great opportunity of Charter Schools

Mark Zuckerberg has just put $120 million in.

“The latest gift, which also comes from that fund, will help “improve education for underserved communities” over the next five years, Zuckerberg said. Some of the $120 million will help start new public and charter schools in the Bay Area while the rest will pay for equipment, training and other programs at existing schools. The first $5 million will go to needy schools in the Ravenswood and Redwood City school districts and other “high-need” neighborhoods of San Francisco.”

The Gates and Walton Foundations are generous. Andre Agassi is doing incredible things. There is also opportunities for NZ philanthropists now (I am sure the schools wouldn’t mind a contact). Given that the Left in NZ is now completely in the pocket of a millionaire capitalist they no longer have any grounds to complain.  Read more »