Charter Schools

Two Politicians, two very different parties but a common belief in a ‘ Fair go ‘

After the story of the Student teacher hit the headlines I approached three politicians for comment and their responses are below. Two of them have a common belief in a ‘fair go’ for the Student teacher which is heartening to see.

Labour Party’s Spokesperson for Education, Chris Hipkins

Chris Hipkins

Chris Hipkins,Labour Party’s spokesperson for Education.

I don’t comment on specific employment matters.

On the general issue, I would expect all trainee teachers to be given full support to complete their qualifications. They should not be discriminated against based on gender, race, sexuality, past employment, or future employment prospects.

– Chris Hipkins

Read more »

Union considers life-long ban on teachers who have worked in a Charter School


On the PPTA Blog I asked the following questions:

Given the PPTA’s stance on how to treat a student teacher if he is employed by a Charter school what does this mean for all the teachers currently employed by Charter schools?

Do the PPTA intend to blacklist from employment in State schools every single teacher who has previously worked in a Charter school?

Will they pressure State High School Principals and BOTs to not interview or employ teachers who have previously worked in a Charter school or will they be welcomed back to the PPTA-approved fold?

Remember that the majority of teachers currently working in Charter schools have previously worked in State schools and have paid union fees in the past.

I received the below response.

PPTA members will decide on the basis of this conference paper.

Read more »

DANGER Will Robinson

In my Charter Schools Investigation series I tried to present the information I had gained in a factual and balanced way. I did not want my articles to become opinion pieces so I avoided using these common journalistic techniques.

Slant a sentence of fact by adding in an adjective.

a) The student slouched in his chair as he told me how much he enjoyed P.E

b) The student was relaxed as he told me how much he enjoyed P.E

Omit information that will not support my opinion.

a) I spoke to a student who had been bullied at the school and was not happy with how long it took to resolve the issue.

b) I spoke to a number of students who all said that they have never seen any bullying at the school and that there are severe consequences for anyone who is a bully.

Ask questions that are likely to get an answer that will back up my opinion and avoid asking questions that may get answers detrimental to my opinion.

a) Tell me about your school’s NCEA results and how they compare to School X.

Seek out people for comment who will discredit any positive facts revealed by your investigation.

“Over time those results wither away and in many unfortunate circumstances the Government is forced to pick up the pieces  and re-integrate those kids back into the state system,” says New Zealand Education Institute national secretary Paul Goulter.

-3 News

So now that you are aware of the many ways in which a journalist can attempt to slant an article here is my Opinion piece on Charter Schools.


Read more »

Face of the day

Minister of Education Hekia Parata

Minister of Education Hekia Parata

Today’s face of the day spoke at an alternative education conference that I attended 2-3 years ago. I was impressed by her and thought her speech was entertaining and intelligent. She stood out as many of the others were not skilled public speakers and while well-meaning did not hold my attention. I told Cameron when I got home that I liked her and thought that he should tone down what he was writing about her at the time.

When I e-mailed Ms Parata the other day I had high hopes. This I thought, was an opportunity for me to show Cam how wrong he was. A strong statement from Ms Parata regarding the PPTA’s discriminatory actions and the governments full support of its Partnership/Charter Schools would go a long way to changing his opinion of her.

Read more »

Charter school success in America, the untold story

The Media and the PPTA keep telling us that Charter schools don’t work overseas so we shouldn’t be using them in New Zealand. Maybe they haven’t seen this video or heard of these two major Charter school networks in America, both of which have been very successful.

Comment of the Day

From George:

Comment to Angela Roberts, President PPTA:
Your response to Whaleoil is no more than political rhetoric.

It appears that you and the PPTA are engaging in “patch” preservation.

You are appointed to support your members in their endeavour to educate the children of parents who have chosen the state option.

It is not your directive to humiliate parents and teachers who don’t share your values.

They have the ability to make responsible choices unlike your insistence that discretion should be eliminated from education. Charter education will succeed or perish as a result of its performance. The negativity you generate will not determine this.  Read more »

Charter School Investigation: Vanguard Military School – the students

Student comment on Vanguard Military school's facebook page.

Student comment on Vanguard Military school’s facebook page.

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.


Vanguard Military school students

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 »

100% pass rates in charter schools. But Red Radio can find fault

Red Radio is sucking on this lemon big time.  First the facts and the good news

NCEA pass rates of 100 percent and surpluses as high as $600,000 are detailed in the first ever charter school annual reports and financial accounts.

The five schools set up last year had to report publicly on their 2014 performance before the start of this week.

The reporting was billed as an important part of the transparency and accountability arrangements surrounding the schools, which are a new arrangement that essentially sees the Government contract out schooling to third parties.

So how can Red Radio possibly slip the knife into this situation?   Read more »

Face of the day

Alwyn Poole(1)

Alwyn Poole, Principal and Academic Manager PHOTO- Supplied

Today’s face of the day has written a guest post over at Kiwi Blog that is well worth a read. You will remember Alwyn from my Charter school Perception series. He points out a few home truths about the PPTA and the Labour Party that deserve further sunlight. Charter schools have the goal of improving outcomes for the exact same students that the PPTA and The Labour Party say they care about. I suspect that the genuine reason behind their opposition to Charter schools is that it wasn’t their idea in the first place. They seem to oppose for the sake of opposition instead of acknowledging that Charter Schools can be an effective solution to the very ills that they demand be addressed.


…You would therefore think that any major disparity in University Entrance results would have opposition politicians, teacher unions and educationalists raging – and parents on the street.

The PPTA used to campaign on this. In a 2009 report they stated:

New Zealand has a tail of students with low academic achievement. Although internationally standardised test data for literacy, numeracy and science show New Zealand does very well in terms of its average performance, we have high quality but low equity achievement. Almost all of the students “at risk” are found in state schools, the highest proportion of which is in lower decile schools. The skewed nature of educational disadvantage correlates with family income and ethnicity. However, there is increasing evidence that genuine solutions can be found to reduce this problem.

The Labour Party manifesto in 2011 acknowledged the problem:

Some children are missing out on a quality education. A good education is a human right and we will work to make sure the most vulnerable students don’t miss out: Māori, Pasifika, children from low-income families, children with special needs, victims of bullying and violence, and those who struggle to achieve academically and don’t have a clear post-school pathway to work or higher education.

However, after the 2011 ACT/National agreement to introduce Charter Schools as a small part of a solution to address the problem for priority learners the issue stopped being of importance. Any effort to point it out might be seen as an endorsement of a policy that the Opposition and associated unions had chosen not to like. Since that moment almost all of their protest energy has gone into trying to eradicate Charter Schools as opposed to trying to find solutions to the huge disparities in the outcomes of young people in NZ. This expensive, false, and misdirected protest finally reached the point of outright comedy when Labour and the unions raged about how a Charter School spent money from multiple sources on a waka. They currently say very little about the outcomes for priority learners in many of our high schools. These schools that receive tens of millions of dollars every year. They have tied their own hands with the mantra of “world-class” that they dreamed up to imply that there was nothing to see here and no need for change. They have fallen silent about inequitable outcomes when this generation needs them to stand strong.

Recently the NCEA and UE qualifications data was released for 2014.

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 »