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 »