Tom Haig, on the PPTA blog, has brought up an old chestnut. The PPTA are fond of bringing up the same old chestnuts against charter schools. It is almost as if they have an approved list.
PPTA-approved charter school attack chestnuts:
- Students at risk because of non-registered teachers
- Charter schools get more money than State schools
- Charter schools steal students from other schools
- If you want to help the students who are falling through the cracks give more money to State schools
- It is privatisation by stealth
- They have higher expulsion rates than State schools.
Chestnuts one to four I have already covered in detail in previous posts. Today I have responded to number six by discussing one of the Charter schools they attacked: Vanguard Military School.
So the government has built a brand new school called Rototuna Junior High school. As you all know Partnership schools also known as Charter schools are constantly attacked by teacher unions who claim they are too expensive. Since Rototuna is a brand new school let’s do a comparison.
It is always interesting to distill down the arguments for and against charter schools in New Zealand. After watching a New Zealand debate on the topic I have now summarised for Whaleoil readers the key points raised by people from both sides of the debate.
These are not direct quotes but are accurate summaries of what was said.
AGAINST CHARTER SCHOOLS:
- We want to see ALL New Zealanders succeed but we don’t think that charter schools are the answer.
- Charter schools are an answer to a problem that doesn’t exist.
- It is a solution for a problem we don’t have.
- Poor schools and bad teachers and bad principals failing Maori students is not the reality.
- The rise of charter schools is directly connected to the Maori failure rates.
The PPTA have protected their patch by taking Teach First to court. They were successful in their mission to have the student teachers ruled illegal and now schools have lost valuable, educated staff in their classrooms. The Teach First student teachers have been praised by parents and principals for their contributions and schools are dismayed that the groundbreaking teacher training programme has been destroyed by the PPTA’s actions.
In New Zealand the Charter School policy is aimed at helping the long tail which is predominantly made up of Maori and Pasifika students – more typically in lower socioeconomic situations.
The NY Times has this kind of thing to say about the effects of Charter Schools for this type of group:
Charter schools are controversial. But are they good for education? Rigorous research suggests that the answer is yes for an important, underserved group: low-income, nonwhite students in urban areas. These children tend to do better if enrolled in charter schools instead of traditional public schools.
A consistent pattern has emerged from this research. In urban areas, where students are overwhelmingly low-achieving, poor and nonwhite, charter schools tend to do better than other public schools in improving student achievement.
Charter schools in Boston produced huge gains in test scores. A majority of students at Boston’s charters are African-American and poor. Their score gains are large enough to reduce the black-white score gap in Boston’s middle schools by two-thirds. Boston’s charters also do a better job at preparing students for college.
- PPTA stuck record Article one.
- How Charter schools do superbly Article two.
- NZ Herald Education reporter swallows another line and regurgitates Article three.
- State school cost versus Charter school cost Article four.
Maori and Pasifika are embracing charter schools with 18 of the 25 applicants for new charter schools coming from those communities.
Clearly there is massive dissatisfaction with current education models.
The authorisation board said 25 organisations had applied to set up more of the publicly funded private schools to open in 2017.
It said much of the interest was from educators and community groups representing Māori and Pasifika people, and most of the applications were from the North Island.
The board’s chair, Catherine Isaac, said the level of interest reflected confidence in the charter school system and showed it worked well.
“We do see it as a vote of confidence in a policy that is connecting innovators with disadvantaged students whose needs are not being met by the existing state school system.”
Ms Isaac said the board would evaluate the proposals over the next two months and announce its decisions by next year.
Tom Haig in his article on the PPTA Blog writes disparagingly about a recent report’s findings on Charter Schools. As he highlights each positive statement from the report I can almost hear the scorn dripping off his fingers as he types.
“It’s a private commercial organisation” , a very profitable one too ”
Guess what? Charter school students love their small class sizes and feel like teachers really have time to work with them as individuals.
That’s the stunning new finding from the just released round one evaluation.
This report feels a bit like a brochure for a cruise ship holiday. Yep, cruise ship customers love it. But let’s not talk about the impact on the islands where the ships stop, discharge tourists and waste, and move right along.
With school Principals saying that the government should be shutting down or merging schools in the face of multi-billion dollar problems with school property their comments only reinforce the Charter School model. The schools that I visited in my investigative series leased their premises. They faced none of the issues that small state schools currently face regarding ongoing maintenance costs. Charter schools don’t have to build new libraries or maintain sports fields as they use the local library and public sport fields.
Principals told Radio New Zealand’s Insight programme that earthquake strengthening, leaky buildings and roll growth meant there was not enough property funding to go around, even though the government was expected to spend $6 billion over next 10 years addressing the issues.
With money short, they said, the government should consider closing schools instead of fixing them.