Charter Schools

Bulk funding gives Charter schools an advantage but is bad for State schools

As I read the following article I was amused. In all the critical articles written about Charter schools they describe bulk funding as an advantage. They say that Charter schools having the flexibility to spend the money how they want to allows them to do things that State schools cannot do.  They can provide free uniforms for example, free breakfasts, free stationery and can pay the teachers more. This is actually criticised as it is seen as giving Charter schools an advantage over State schools.

Unlike State schools, Charter schools are not supplied by the government with buildings or swimming pools or playing fields. The money they get has to pay for all of that, as well as teacher salaries, yet they have still managed to pay their teachers the same or more than State schools and provide their students with access to buildings, swimming pools and playing fields. They make use of public facilities to get the biggest bang for their buck.

Now that bulk funding is being proposed for State schools it has magically been transformed into a bad thing and the critics of bulk funding for Charter schools are concerned that State schools will end up paying their teachers less. One of the things about Charter schools that State schools should emulate is the managers who handle all of the budget, leaving the principal free to focus on education. Having an expert on money management on staff is a key difference between Charter schools and State schools.

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Bryan Bruce believes that in education less choice equals fairness

Journalist Bryan Bruce is not a fan of charter schools. He thinks there are other ways to fix our education system. Despite this mindset he still is able to admire what South Auckland Middle School has achieved and particularly admire how it is run. He believes that too much choice is a bad thing as it creates inequality. He is particularly concerned with administration (how schools are run) and he wants a light centralised system to keep things ” fair”.

Instead of less administration to take the burden off teachers, I think he should consider the model I have seen in three Auckland charter school where teachers do not have to do admin. Admin is for administrators and teaching is for teachers. You cannot get any lighter than that.

44 minutes of television airtime isn’t a lot for a topic as big as Public Education, so when it came to editing my recent documentary WORLD CLASS? one of the decisions I reluctantly made was not to include a discussion about Charter Schools.

Why? Because it seemed to me after listening to the arguments for and against Charter Schools that they are part of the larger issue of how much consumer choice a public education system can tolerate.

…Which brings me to South Auckland Middle School and my interview with Principal Alwyn Poole that I unfortunately could not find space for in my programme.

If I’d wanted to do a demolition job on Charter Schools I certainly wouldn’t have picked to film in South Auckland Middle School , because in terms of its teaching practice, pupil to teacher ratio , staff qualifications, the liaison with parents, the passion teachers have for their job and the engagement of children in learning and meeting their needs, South Auckland Middle School stacks up , in my opinion, as a pretty good school.

No. I asked to film at this particular Charter School precisely because it removes the quality argument from the debate and leaves us with the philosophical question  …

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If there was no bullying from the PPTA then why did Kamo High pull support?

The board of Kamo High School seem to be changing their story regarding the pulling of support from a local charter school.

They now say there wasn’t any bullying from the PPTA, despite originally claiming that was the case.

Kamo High School’s board chairman says there was no intimidation from the national teachers’ union after the school agreed to let a charter school use its facilities.

The Whangarei school had agreed to give charter school Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa access to its chemistry laboratory but letters released by Act Party leader David Seymour show the Post-Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) urged the school to withdraw their support.

Mr Seymour, whose party led the introduction of charter schools in New Zealand, said the PPTA had bullied the Kamo High School out of a “win-win” arrangement. However, the school’s board chairman said the school hadn’t been bullied but he could see both sides of the issue and supported the PPTA.

“I don’t think they are bullies, no one felt intimidated or forced to do anything,” he said.

“On an operational level we have state assets and it’s our view they be available to forward the education of the community.”

Not bullied?

I guess that just proves that Kamo High School are as spineless as a jellyfish.

PPTA president Angela Roberts said she was concerned about the charter school using Kamo High School’s facilities when charter schools receive funding equivalent to $28,000 per student, compared with $15,000 per student for a similar-sized state school.

“We don’t want these schools, which are being propped up by considerable additional funding, using resources at these state schools,” she said.

In a letter sent on May 10, PPTA’s Ms Roberts warned principal Joanne Hutt that sharing facilities could go against health and safety laws and would upset teachers who had voted not to support charter schools.

Two weeks later, the school told Ms Roberts that it had decided not to share its chemistry lab with Te Kura Hourua, saying the issue had become a distraction.

Raewyn Tipene of the He Puna Marama Trust told One News the charter school needed to work in a chemistry area and believed there wouldn’t be a problem to ask the nearby high school.

If that isn’t bullying then it is a clear case of gutlessness from the board of Kamo High School.


– NZ Herald

The inconvenient truth about Vanguard Military school

I will let the percentages and students speak for themselves. Vanguard Military school is a Partnership school ( charter school ) that is achieving exactly what it set out to do. It’s success and the success of other charter schools like West Auckland and South Auckland Middle school is an inconvenient truth that the Teacher Unions and the Labour Party choose to ignore.

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Vanguard Military school hosts David Seymour’s big announcement

PHOTO-Vanguard FB page

PHOTO-Vanguard FB page

Yesterday I covered a story unknown to the MSM as Chris Hipkins did not invite them. In a historic move after years of turning down invitations, Chris Hipkins finally visited two charter schools; Vanguard Military School and South Auckland Middle School. We need wonder no more at the reason for his change of heart as yesterday David Seymour made a big announcement at Vanguard Military school, the day after Chris Hipkins visited it for the first time.

Now that Charter schools will once again be in the news, I think Chris Hipkins has decided to protect himself from the questions that have been asked of him repeatedly over the years.

” Have you visited a charter school Mr Hipkins? ”

” Why haven’t you ever visited a charter school Mr Hipkins?”

It really has been a bad look that as Labour’s spokesperson for education, he has criticised partnership schools for years despite never having set foot in one. Now with David Seymour’s big announcement it has become clear why the pressure was on for Mr Hipkins to quickly visit two schools.

The Government has announced seven new charter schools will open in 2018 and 2019.

The new schools will expand the flagship ACT policy that saw five schools open, mostly in Auckland and Northland in 2014 – one of which, in Whangaruru has since been closed by the Education Minister – and another four in 2015.

A third round of applications is currently underway and more schools are expected to open as a result early next year.

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Shhhhh don’t tell the Media, Chris Hipkins visits two Partnership Schools

Whaleoil has a scoop that you will not read anywhere else. I was contacted yesterday by two of the charter schools I visited to report the astonishing news that the Labour Party spokesperson for education Chris Hipkins, has finally visited them. Both Vanguard Military school and South Auckland Middle school were visited yesterday by Chris Hipkins.

Both schools have an open door policy to all politicians and a number have accepted their invitation.Chris Hipkins’ office originally made contact with Vanguard Military School on the 26th of April to try and visit on the 27th with just 24 hours notice.  This was in the second week of the school holidays and would have meant no students and no staff at the school.  This offer was declined and his staff was asked to come back to the school with a more suitable date. When Mr Hipkins arrived at Vanguard he was on his own with no aides and no media.

Until yesterday Mr Hipkins was in the astonishing position of having never visited a partnership school despite consistently criticising them for years. I wonder if he told the students he met that his party intend to shut their schools down or force them to become State schools?Perhaps that harsh fact is the reason why he wanted to fly under the radar and the media were not invited?

Prior to actually setting foot in a charter school this is what Chris Hipkins has been saying about charter schools.

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“World Class” education or the system is failing?

Have you ever noticed that when the media and the teacher unions are attacking charter schools they always describe New Zealand schools as world-class? Our teachers are the best in the world they tell us, there is no need for charter schools. Our Maori and Pacific students are doing just fine they tell us; they are not falling through the cracks.
When a story is not about charter schools then all of a sudden the cracks are allowed to show. Have you noticed that they always claim that the education system is failing when they are attacking the Government?
To prove my point here are some quotes.

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PPTA blogger sees value in smaller class sizes for disruptive students

In an interesting article on the PPTA blog site, blogger Tom Haig admits that smaller classroom sizes are one solution for dealing with disruptive students. In the same article he mocks charter schools’ ability to remove a disruptive student from the classroom yet he acknowledges the pressure within mainstream schooling to integrate these disruptive students into the classroom. Despite saying that he supports this mainstream ideology of integration of disruptive students he also acknowledges that they impact negatively on the other students.

Eric Crampton, from the New Zealand Initiative, pointed out some research recently…

It’s about the impact of disruptive students on their peers… concludes that they have a significantly bad impact on their educational attainment

…the final sentence of Eric’s post got me thinking. He writes  “The benefits to disruptive students of being in mainstream classrooms would have to be substantial to make integrated classrooms desirable overall.”

This seems somewhat out of touch with how our schools work.  The reality is almost all schools in New Zealand see integration (of disruptive students) as desirable. Removing students, from class or from school, is heavily frowned on by the powers that be (unless you’re a charter school apparently), and the vast majority of schools agree.

It is amusing that Mr Hague mocks charter schools for removing disruptive students from the classroom, or from the school, when the alternative education provider that I used to work for gained almost all its students from local mainstream high schools who had removed them because of their disruptive behaviour.

An example of this is from a very traditional boys’ school I visited a few years ago which had just got rid of the ‘withdrawal room’ where students were sent to cool off when they were playing up in class. Now teachers were expected to deal with the problem; the message teachers were given was “be more interesting and the boys won’t cause trouble”.  This is consistent from the top down, when the Minister praises schools for getting the rates of suspensions and expulsions down, and the Ministry of Education’s PB4L action plan is about keeping students engaged and at school.

There are a lot of good things about this, and there are good reasons to believe that school practices can reduce the rates of disruption. But, like with student achievement gaps, school practices on their own almost certainly won’t be able to eliminate the problem.

But Eric also seems to assume that there’s a reasonable alternative for ‘disruptive’ students, which isn’t being in mainstream classrooms. Currently there are around 1800 students in Alternative Education (AE) centres, which are where some of the ‘most challenging’ students end up .

And AE is only for students aged 13-16 who are “genuinely alienated from the education system”, and specifically not for students who are “difficult to manage in a mainstream setting”.

If by ‘genuinely alienated’ Haig means chronic truants then, yes, many of my students were. It also means that they were suspended, expelled and excluded from mainstream education for smoking, violence and drug use. It meant that they had run out of options because no mainstream school would take them. Haig says that AE is not for students who are difficult to manage in a mainstream setting yet, in my experience, it did include them as well. One student I taught in AE had ADHD and various schools had tried to manage him unsuccessfully despite him being put on Ritalin and other drugs. Another student had dyslexia. Yet another student had suffered brain damage and his ability to learn was impaired.

So of the around 230,000 students aged 13-16, there are places for 1800 highly alienated ones in AE centres. What else is there? Very little.

Mr Haig is quite right that there is very little around for these students, which is why charter schools like Vanguard Military School are so fantastic. Military discipline works well for many disruptive students who desperately need boundaries and guidelines, a sense of belonging and family.

…So what else can be done?

Accepting that we shouldn’t, and can’t exclude disruptive students from mainstream education, but that they do, as the research indicates, have a serious impact, particularly when there are multiple disruptive students in a class, maybe the solution is about reducing the numbers of disruptive students in each class?

One way to do this is to dedicate staffing to low decile schools where disruptive students are more prevalent. If classes in those schools went from 25-30 students with 3 or 4 disruptive students to 15-20 with 1-2 that would significantly improve their peers’ learning.

-PPTA Blog

Charter schools are certainly achieving great results with smaller class sizes.



Nothing to see here either Chippy – Status Quo for the Education System Works Fine?

Chris Hipkins wants to close down Charter Schools that are making a difference to Maori and Pasifika families because the unions are telling him to tell the country that the system works fine for everyone anyway and that there is plenty of “choice”.

The statistics speak for themselves but Hipkins either can’t hear them or read them and he definitely can’t understand them.

Roll Based Statistics 2015

 Y11 NCEA Level 1 % Pass

Asian 88
European 82
Pasifika 73
Maori  64

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ACT: Chris Hipkins’ Charter Schools Abolition Bill “irritating”

Strong Demand

Opposition to Partnership Schools runs against demand from educators and families. Twenty-six different groups applied for an advertised two contracts in the latest application round.  In addition, existing schools have filled rapidly and in some cases have had to construct waiting lists.

Maori Backing the Policy

Perhaps due to the poor outcomes in other school types, and the early success of Kura Hourua, the Iwi Leaders’ Forum declared an official position supporting the policy in 2015.  Labour, despite hoping to win Maori seats in 2017, have not acknowledged this.

Registered Teachers Not a Panacea

Opponents haven’t traded in the facts when it comes to Partnership Schools.  One example is that they say Partnership Schools employ ‘unqualified teachers.’  The law allows Partnership Schools to nominate a percentage of positions to be filled by staff not registered with EDUCANZ if they have the ‘skills, qualifications and experience’ to help kids.  Several Partnership Schools have used this freedom to hire outstanding individuals.

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