Charter Schools

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 »

Charter Schools Perception Series: The Students

Display wall at South Auckland Middle School. -Photo

Display wall at South Auckland Middle School.

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.

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ACT and the budget Elephant in the Room

The fiscal elephant in the room is NZ Superannuation. Life expectancy continues to rise. In 2006 we had five working people for every one person over 65 years of age. By 2050 we will have just two people for every one person over 65. In just 15 years’ time NZ Super costs, as a percentage of GDP, will rise by 50%. We are just fiddling with the fiscal levers if this is not addressed.

Most people understand that we need to make some changes. NZ Superannuation is one of the simplest retirement income systems in the developed world. So long as we make the necessary changes to keep it affordable and fair across the generations, it is an effective pension system. But it is also a political football, and politicians have proven incapable of making these vital adjustments.

An ACT budget would signal that the future structure of NZ Superannuation would be decided by referendum. An expert committee would be formed to consult with the public and come up with reform options which, together with a no-change option, would be decided by the voters. I am confident that common sense and a sense of fairness would see the public support changes allowing NZ Superannuation to remain a sustainable pension system for all New Zealanders through this century. Oddly enough we have a process for this, but we are only using it to decide on a flag design.

David Seymour’s saying (writing) what we expect National to be saying.  Voters expect leadership in this area, and it is very obviously absent.  Instead we’re bickering over a flag, throwing in a few more cycle paths and bridges.  And if we let them, some spending money for Grant Dalton and a shiny convention centre for SkyCity.

Not looking flash, is it? Read more »

Charter Schools Perception Series: The Critics


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.

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The utter hypocrisy of Su’a William Sio

Su’a William Sio hates Charter Schools, he even speaks against them in parliament.

[C]harter 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?

Yet he is perfectly happy to attend openings of charter schools, and make speeches at them.

But his hypocritical behaviour gets worse.

In both of his 2011 and 2014 donations returns a Sally Ikinofo has donated a total of $28,200.

ikinofo-2011 Read more »

Face of the day

Tom Haig PPTA Blogger and critic of Charter schools

Tom Haig PPTA Blogger and critic of Charter schools

Today’s face of the day is Tom Haig a blogger at The PPTA Blog



Tom appears to be a master in the Art of ‘ Dirty ‘ Politics. Nicky Hager has explained to us all what Dirty Politics is. It is when someone whose views he does not agree with successfully influences public opinion by getting their stories/narrative into the Mainstream media.Tom has clearly achieved that as his blog post on the $100,000 Waka story went live on the exact same day it broke on the New Zealand Herald. Collusion? You betcha.

Screen shot 2015-05-02 at 8.07.48 PM Read more »

Charter Schools Perception Series: The Advocates Part TWO


Image –

Background: Karen Poole has a B.B.S. (Marketing) and is a Business Manager for the Villa Education Trust with over 25 years administrative and business experience in the education sector. She implements strategy, provides development and compliance, and has worked within a number of education establishments around New Zealand.

TELL me how this all came about and why you wanted to do it?

I am the Business Manager for the Trust so I am in charge of  the resourcing, the teachers, the enrollments, the building facilities. Alwyn will have already discussed with you what his vision was and he does the curriculum and the academic side of it. I help facilitate all that. Mount Hobson Middle School being a private school was obviously where we started, it was the only way to start. Then when the Partnership schools agreement came into force it was an opportunity for us to be able to provide what we do, for other students which was always our aim.

NOTE: Karen and Alwyn are a married couple who sold their home to 
fund Mount Hobson Middle School. 

YOU put a lot on the line at the start, with selling your house.

Yeah we did, but it was something we very much believed in and could see that there was a real need for it and it was just something we wanted to do.

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Teacher Unions (and the Left’s) Motivation Laid Bare

Recent teacher union protests in the USA make their basic life philosophies clear:

They do not like successful people.

They do not like generosity.

They love tax and spend.

Children come a distant second to protecting their patch.

New York City is the centre of change for Charter Schooling in the USA. Recent Stanford University data is pointing out how well urban children are doing under Charter schools as opposed to traditional public schools – and the unions are hating it.     Read more »

State Schools Cost 500% More to Set-up than Charter Schools

The Press in Christchurch have the details of a new school being developed in Rolleston. The cost is $53 million to set up and then high costs per student through until 2021 when it may finally become full – after starting with a projected 225 students in 2017.
You would expect the Left to be sreaming about cost in a situation like this but Labour and its teacher union allies (PPTA/NZEI) are desperately trying to protect their patch from Charter Schools and one claim is that the Charters are more expensive. The Charter schools get approximately $1 million to set up per 200 students. Rolleston is getting approximately $5 million per 200 students. All State schools currently being developed are in that price range.

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