Charter Schools

Will the PPTA protest this?

The government has announced a $5.2 million upgrade of Tolaga Bay Area School. Which is on top of its ongoing running costs of $12,500 per student.

Students at Tolaga Bay Area School, East Coast, are set to enjoy a $5.2 million classroom upgrade, Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye announced today.

“New blocks will be built at the school, to replace four older buildings and classrooms that are no longer fit for purpose,” says Ms Kaye.

“The new blocks will comprise 12 new learnings spaces, with ICT and wifi technology to enable learning in a digital age.

“Other work as part of the upgrade will include structural improvements to the school’s gymnasium, along with a new roof and upgraded shower facilities and repairs to the library.

“As with all major school upgrades, the Tolaga Bay project will see traditional classrooms replaced with more flexible, open plan learning spaces.

“This is about providing students with an environment that excites and inspires them to learn and achieve more.”

Local MP Anne Tolley visited Tolaga Bay Area School this morning to share news of the upgrade with students and teachers.    Read more »

Catherine Isaac on charter schools

The Dom Post yesterday published a piece by Catherine Isaac on charter schools.

For some inexplicable reason the masses can’t know about this because they haven’t put it online.

Lindsay Mitchell however has scanned it.

Bold educational initiatives deserve a fair go 1 Read more »

Su’a William Sio is a true Labour party MP: a story for every occasion

Here he is, in parliament, raging against charter schools

Talk to Associate Professor Damon Salesa of the University of Auckland, who spent 10 years in the United States and whose children attended some of the local charter schools there. He will tell you that, as far as he is concerned, charter schools are not successful, particularly in reference to minority groups, particularly in reference to low-income groups. They are not successful in the United States. How can we then expect that they are going to be successful here in New Zealand?

And yet, here he is again, at the opening of a South Auckland charter school on Wednesday   Read more »

Charter School defenders proven wrong

As you may recall,  Te Pumanawa o te Wairua School, in Whangaruru, Northland is a charter school that has been given four weeks to get its act together or face closure.   I’ve criticised Hekia Parata of this mess on two fronts.  One, she should never have allowed this school to come about in the first place – the warning signs were there.  Two, she should have closely managed its success, as the Charter School flagship schools could not be allowed to fail.

The school faced a clear list of shortcomings, but many people, including my own readers, oddly enough, defended Parata and the school blaming the ‘difficult’ kids who had been out of the school system too long.  I found this gob smacking.  That was a known going in.  That was the very issue that needed fixing.

A report was released yesterday that also totally debunks it being the kids’ fault.

Documents released today, including an annotated report written by the ministry’s deputy secretary or sector enablement and support Katrina Casey , identified school management as the cause of the issues – which include truancy, a falling roll and underachievement.

“The on-going issues present at the school are directly attributable to the quality of the leadership and management running the school,” it said.

Next to that comment, Ms Parata had written: “YES”.

The report went on to say the Ng? Parirau M?tauranga Trust, which had the contract to run the school, needed to replace the leadership team with suitable appropriate and experienced personnel. Only in that case could it make a swift recovery.

It said a trust member had taken a part time operational role in the school this year, but it was “not clear they have the required skills to effectively manage the Education Director or the operations of the school”.

Read more »

Trouble in coalition land?

We’ve had two terms when the National-led coalition government did a pretty good job at presenting a united front.  With the exception of Peter Dunne, who already went troppo over the last few years (did this coincide with legal highs?), the other partners didn’t openly defy National.

That has changed.  In spite of National being returned with a record-breaking 3rd term majority under MMP, its coalition partners and indeed National itself are now openly fighting in front of the kids.

There won’t be a referendum on national super while John Key is Prime Minister.

He has shot down ACT leader David Seymour’s call for the people to decide how superannuation should be funded.

Mr Seymour told his party’s annual conference on Saturday the current scheme wasn’t viable in the long term and there had to be changes to make it financially sustainable.

He wants an expert group appointed to come up with options for a referendum, and says raising the age from 65 isn’t the only one available.

Mr Key isn’t interested and says Mr Seymour, a government ally, didn’t talk to him before raising the issue.

“I read about it in the newspaper,” he said.

“There won’t be a referendum. The National Party is clear on super – the age should stay at 65 and the entitlement at 66 percent (of the average wage).”

During the 2008 election campaign, which he won, Mr Key pledged that if there was any change to national super under his watch he would resign from parliament.

There you go.  “Don’t broadside me in the media, son”, says Key to minnow David.   “We do these things behind the scenes where I can tell you to stop playing games.”

Says one commenter:

John Key has no problem spending $26 million on flag referendum but unwilling to spend any money on one as important as the future financial security of our country and how to fund superannuation.

But add this to Peter Dunne and the Maori Party being extremely vocal against sending New Zealand troops to Iraq, and in public at least, this coalition government looks far from a cohesive team.

I don’t get a sense this is by design.   Key’s having trouble with his back bench, can’t see eye to eye with Joyce who wants to keep giving money away to SkyCity and Team New Zealand no matter the public opposition, had to pull the plug on Parata’s charter schools, is getting constant static from Bill English over delivering a surplus, and he’s now bickering with coalition partners through the media.

To seasoned observers, these are interesting developments.

- NZN via 3 News

Read more »

Government’s confidence takes a knock over charter schools

If they work (and they do), we need to have more of them, but the Government has put a stop to more Charter School applications.

The Education Minister has ruled out any chance of a third round of charter school applications this year.

Hekia Parata’s statement, made to Parliament today, comes amidst concern over a Northland charter school.

Earlier today, it was revealed Parata had signed off on Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru charter school in Northland, despite ministry concerns the school had not outlined a “safe environment” for students.

Parata received a glowing reference for Whangaruru school, near Whangarei, from the authorisation board and after considering both sets of advice she authorised the school to go ahead in September 2013.

The school has since lost a quarter of its roll and has dealt with issues of attendance, bullying, drug use and management infighting.

So Parata has one (rather spectacular) failure, and that’s it?  No more charter schools?   Read more »

Speaking of National and arrogance… Hekia Parata


Charter schools are an important and effective step towards solving a problem with children that are on the fringes of the current education system.  Charter schools are also a political hot potato.  The opposition and the media are looking for any excuse to expose them as failures.

Education Minister Hekia Parata ignored advice from her ministry and signed off on a Northland charter school that has been plagued with problems since opening last year.

It can be revealed that Parata received a glowing reference from the charter school authorisation board regarding Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru and signed a contract with the school’s sponsor in September 2013.

That was despite ministry concerns the Whangaruru school had not outlined a “safe environment” for students and had not spoken with local iwi about their plans.

Since the school opened, the Education Review Office has identified a number of problems with the quality of teaching, learning, management, leadership and student engagement.

The quality of teaching, learning, management, leadership and student engagement.  That’s not a minor list of complaints.   Read more »

A remarkably insightful, level and sensible Herald editorial. (I think I need a lie down)

With the recent OECD report being used by Labour and National alike to beat each other around the ears, and used by the Greens as a “told ya so” exercise, you’d think we’re all going to economic hell in a hand basket.

Not so.

The OECD, often described as a club of rich countries, has produced a report supporting a view that a widening gap between rich and poor within its member states is not only bad for their society but also harms their economic growth. The report is of particular note to New Zealand because it names this country as one of those in which income inequality has widened most since the mid-1980s. It estimates that rising inequality has cost New Zealand more than 10 percentage points of possible economic growth since 1990, which appears to be more than any other member of the club.

In one sense this is not a surprise. New Zealand was a highly protected economy until the mid-1980s with a strongly unionised labour force, high taxation and universal benefits. It had removed these arrangements rapidly by the mid-1990s, conscious that it was opening itself to world markets later than most and with trade disadvantages of distance and scale. Even now, with its income gap having grown more than most, inequality in New Zealand is no worse than the OECD average.

Well, isn’t that a welcome bit of info?   And the editorial gets even more calming.   Read more »

Delahunty Needs to Withdraw and Apologise re: Charter Schools

It is a disgrace that the Greens have Catherine Delahunty as a spokesperson. She is proud of not having completed a degree – brilliant example to NZ youth – and she talks nonsense and treats the NZ public as idiots.

Yesterday she banged on about the high apparent cost of a Charter School and the falling role of a Year 11 – 13 situation without finding out that many of those children have moved out because they had come in, achieved the qualifications (which they hadn’t done in State Schools) and moved on. I wrote earlier about that precise example, but have now done some more research to show out of touch the member for Mars is.

Delahunty would prefer they failed and stayed – which is what the Greens do in Parliament.

She also knowingly compares vastly different funding situations – i.e. lies to the public by omission. The Charter Schools are in start up situations and their costs include all costs (i.e. buildings and centralised services). Ask Delahunty to do a similar comparison with the two Hobsonville Point schools for instance.

The Charter Schools average around $1.3million for all aspects of set up. Here are some comparative figures for State School set-up;

Ormiston Senior College: $50m

Murupara upgrade: $10m

$350 million for 9 new Auckland schools; $50 million for Western Springs re-build.

$22 million for Gardens School Manurewa rebuild

Albany Senior High $47+million

Hobsonville Points PPP (2 schools) $113million

All of this is publicly available information and yet the lazy Green party and equally lazy media just repeat their tired old lies.  Read more »

Why the PPTA wants to snuff out Charter Schools: they work (too well)

Makes you sick to the stomach to know that a teachers union is dedicated to eradicating educational success to protect the average and the ineffective among its members – no matter the human cost

On the completed entry tests for next year’s intake of students at the Vanguard Military School, one of New Zealand’s first charter schools, there were plenty of 16 and 17 year olds who failed to spell ‘encourage’, ‘describe’, or ‘national’ correctly.

They couldn’t subtract 27 from 74. They didn’t even attempt to answer the simple division and multiplication questions.

Isaac Berry, 16, used to be one of those kids. Last year he only achieved 14 credits towards his level one NCEA. You need 80 credits to pass.

“I kind of forgot to go to school last year,” he said.

The talented BMX rider spent most of his time at the skate park. This year at the Vanguard school, Berry has discovered he also has academic talents. “It was when I got my first excellence I realised how far I could push myself,” he says.

Now he has 70 credits and is certain to to pass Level One NCEA.

I’ve been tracking the success of Vanguard Military School since its inception, and if nothing else, if the kids can now spell “national” correctly, I can see why the PPTA would be unhappy! Read more »