New Orleans

The Economist clarifies why Unions hate Charter Schools

The Economist gives us a good insight as to why it is that unions hate Charter Schools.

Just two points suffice:

1. Outcomes for children improve.

Under the new regime, schools have sharply improved. In 2004 just 16.5% of pupils in New Orleans’s schools beat Louisiana’s state performance score; by the end of the most recent school year, 31.1% did, according to the Cowen Institute at Tulane University. High-school graduation rates have risen from 55% before Katrina to 73% now; drop-out rates have fallen by half.

The way the NZ Unions have tried to bluff this out is to repeat ad nauseam that it is a “failed policy overseas” and hope that they public is as stupid as they are.   Read more »

No.1 Reason why the Left rant about Charter Schools: Fear of Success!

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 »

NZEI Motive Revealed – Control – not kids

Education is for kids. Almost as soon as the government announced the introduction of Charter Schools in New Zealand the NZEI bought an activist from New Orleans – Karran Harper Royal – who complained in all sorts of ways about the schools.

Wrong state and wrong person to bring. Latest out of New Orleans is:

“Our model is about empowering educators that are closest to the children, to give them the autonomy to have great schools, but to have a strong accountability system in place,” says RSD Superintendent Patrick Dobard. One of the RSD’s key roles is “ensuring there is equity and access throughout the whole system.”

The academic gains have been dramatic. The city has surpassed the state average for high school graduation by several points, with 77.8 percent of the class of 2012 graduating within four years – up from just over 54 percent in 2004.

One measure regularly used in Louisiana is the Growth School Performance Score, which is based on test scores, graduation rates, and other factors. Based on those scores, in 2004-05 only 12 percent of students in New Orleans attended ‘A’ or ‘B’ schools while nearly 75 percent attended ‘F’ schools, reports New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO), a nonprofit that incubates and supports charter schools. By 2012-13, just 17 percent of students were in ‘F’ schools, while 34 percent were in ‘A’ or ‘B’ schools.

Yet another bright point: the percentage of students qualifying for college scholarships from the state based on ACT scores and grade-point averages. Prior to Katrina, less than 6 percent of students in 14 high schools later taken over by the RSD qualified for these scholarships, NSNO reports. In 2013, 27 percent did.

While there’s still a long way to go, “on the whole, the schools are unequivocally better,” says Michael Stone, a spokesman for NSNO.   Read more »

Why do they just repeat PPTA/NZEI nonsense without questioning anything?

Why do Herald reports like Kate Shuttleworth just repeat PPTA/NZEI nonsense without questioning anything?

First she quotes at length a Nelson teacher who claims to have managed Charter Schools in many places around the world like Jordan, UAE and Pakistan and spent 10 years “repairing the damage”.

Right – sure he did. And how relevant are those countries and how important are anecdotes like that to a country like New Zealand trying to improve the lot of those kids the NZEI/PPTA system is failing?

Then clearly without having read the latest Credo report or the Swedish data released at the end of 2012 Shuttleworth does no background research into the New Orleans Charters School situation but quotes at length a mother from New Orleans who appears to have taken personal offence.

Maybe Kate could have found a few articles on google from credible journalists that say things like:

“The reforms had begun before Katrina, but the pace was accelerated after the disaster. It is now the only US city where a majority of public school pupils – around eight in ten – attend charter schools, which are non-unionised and enjoy a rare degree of operational independence from government. (no wonder the unions here are worried)  Read more »

NZEI/PPTA Arguments – based on New Orleans – DESTROYED

The Partnership Schools model is aimed at helping the bottom 20%. New Orleans is a city in the US historically struggling in the education of children.

The teacher unions brought Karran Harper Royal from New Orleans to say how bad Charter Schools had been for that state. First thing she admitted on Close Up was that some are working well (Ian Leckie and Robin Duff must have choked).

Turns out that there was a lot more for her to admit – as things mature in New Orleans for this model there is plenty of good there too:

Some key parts of the article:

The goal in New Orleans is to reverse years of educational decline. Before Katrina, state schools here had become starkly segregated on race and class lines as white and middle class families removed their children.

In the years since Katrina, student performance in tests has improved, and fewer students now go to failing schools. Students have achieved a higher average score in the ACT test, which measures readiness for college.

John White, Louisiana’s state superintendent of education, argues that decentralisation has freed schools to act in children’s best interests. Charter schools, state-funded but independently run by non-profit groups, are now the norm in New Orleans. In the past school year, 78% of public school students were enrolled in charters. The proportion will rise this year. Such schools enjoy great flexibility in managing their time and allocating resources.

Lee said: “Schools receive a report card now, parents are savvy – they research online and see how a school is performing. It’s no longer the neighbourhood school; it’s really parent choice.”

In Louisiana, the state sets clear limits on the marketplace. In the end, accountability to its testing regime trumps choice: the government will close a chronically underperforming public school even if parents continue to choose it.

The change in two years is evident to the students, who come up unprompted to tell outsiders of their pride in the school. One student, Henrietta London, said: “This school used to be a mess; children were learning nothing. My mum sent me here because they’re rebuilding the school and changing the culture.”

The pale blue corridors of Sci Academy, housed in a cluster of prefabricated blocks in New Orleans East, are lined with inspirational mottoes: “Chase perfection, catch excellence,” reads one. Another declares: “We’re never done, we’re never finished”.

Parents will love the next one – Duff and Leckie hate it.

The words are directed at students, but could apply just as well to the teachers, who are evaluated on each lesson. Staff here are regularly observed and receive constant feedback on their performance.

White is uncompromising about the virtues of choice, even if that means weak schools being driven to the wall. “I think competition is always to some degree destabilising to those who can’t compete,” he said. “I have no problem with a school that is failing parents and kids being essentially destabilised because parents aren’t choosing it.”‘

And the headline of the Article:

What the opponents of this model in NZ have not even begin to grasp is that education is about children and their families. The scare mongering crap being talked by NZEI & PPTA is exactly that…crap. it is time to put kids first and not to keep protecting their patch for political gain. Time also for Labour and NZ First to put children ahead of using this for their own political aspirations. Labour need to stand against the unions on this one – caring for kids may even help them.

Time for parents in NZ and all organisations involved in working for children in struggling areas to also see this opportunity and make a public stand for it. Don’t let the unions stuff up one fifth of the next generation just to retain their power base and maintain their protection of mediocrity.

This guy is just confused, Ctd

NZPF’s Paul Drummond is home from his state funded junket to Melbourne but not much better informed.

Directly from his latest update. World news: New Orleans suffered a Tsunami and not a Hurricane.

“I am mindful of what happened in the US in the wake of the ‘Katrina’ tsunami. The Government took advantage of the disaster to establish charter schools which have been found retrospectively to be performing poorly compared with the system prior to the tsunami.”

Not afraid to politicise human suffering – he cannot be bothered being accurate (surely he must publicly apologise for this). There are many reasons schools in New Orleans are not doing was well after the Hurricane and the place is still massively damaged. He clearly is researching nothing.

He does thoughtfully tell the Principals who have just been in Melbourne (while the children are at school) to:

“Enjoy your holiday break, take at least some of the time out for yourself and recharge for the final term.”

This is the standard of Principals in our “world class” education system. Is it any wonder that kids are failing when the head of the NZPF can;t even get basic facts correct.

Obstruction for What?

[Imported from Whale Oil Beef Hooked on Blogger]

The Opinion Journal has an interesting take on the indictments of “Scooter” Libby. Essentially Libby is charged with lying about a crime that wasn’t committed!!!!

The indictment itself contains no evidence of a conspiracy, and Mr. Libby has not been accused of trying to cover up some high crime or misdemeanor by the Bush Administration. The indictment amounts to an allegation that one official lied about what he knew about an underlying “crime” that wasn’t committed.

The culmination of the article investigates whether this is in fact a case of trying to criminalize politics.

In a statement yesterday, Mr. Libby’s counsel zeroed in on this point when he said, “We are quite distressed the Special Counsel has now sought to pursue alleged inconsistencies in Mr. Libby’s recollection and those of others’ and to charge such inconsistencies as false statements.” He added that they “will defend vigorously against these charges.”

On the answers to these questions hang a possible 30-year jail term and $1.25 million in fines for a Bush Administration official who was merely attempting to expose the truth about Mr. Wilson, a critic of the Administration who was lying to the press about the nature of his involvement in the Niger mission and about the nature of the intelligence that it produced. In other words, Mr. Libby was defending Administration policy against political attack, not committing a crime.

Mr. Fitzgerald has been dogged in pursuing his investigation, and he gave every appearance of being a reasonable and tough prosecutor in laying out the charges yesterday. But he has thrust himself into what was, at bottom, a policy dispute between an elected Administration and critics of the President’s approach to the war on terror, who included parts of the permanent bureaucracy of the State Department and CIA. Unless Mr. Fitzgerald can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Libby was lying, and doing so for some nefarious purpose, this indictment looks like a case of criminalizing politics.