An email from a Principal about Charter Schools

A principal emails my recent posts about Charter Schools. As the principal has said in other correspondence, “I am just a passionate educator who wants to make a real, true difference for New Zealand students.”

Here is the email to discuss.

Thanks for your blogs on 29 Jan & 2 Feb re: the Charter Schools.

I am a principal in a state school and would kill to lead a charter school – have tons of ideas as I have often struggled with the way we are meant to do things for our learners!

The unions are making it a case of  “guilty before proven innocent” in an effort to scare teachers and parents off – seems to be working as the negative hits the press far more than the positive!

No silver bullet … they are right there, there are a number of social issues that need addressing.

A chance worth taking for kids…damn right 100%

The video I posted yesterday is well worth watching again so that you can understand the philosophical battle between the unions and everyone else.


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  • Orange

    Video well worth watching!

  • cows4me

    Yeah Stossel is brilliant, it’s a wonder he’s still with us and hasn’t met with an unfortunate accident. The teachers unions are like a malignant tumor. Their poison will condemn the country to a population unable and unwilling to see they are been done over like a dogs dinner for generations to come. My own children use to go to a state school, my son actually thanked me before returning to boarding school at the start of the year. This is his second year at the private school, he’s thriving instead of stagnating. Of course the real issue here is ideology, Left vs Right and many teachers are simply useful idiots been processed from the universities to push the dark acts of socialism/ Marxism. Many are so indoctrinated they simply refuse to except they could be wrong and firmly believe they do Gods work. Look at the blind faith these principles had for the unions and their ways, despite the facts presented to them. Of course the unions are filling their pants, the jig is up if charter schools are embraced by the people, their privileged position and the dream of full blown socialism goes down the shitter.

    • StupidDisqus

      Their poison will condemn the country to a population

      Get your tense right: their poison has condemned

      my son actually thanked me before returning to boarding school

      That’s because you love him.

      Parents who love their children sent them to private schools. It really is that simple.

      • Teachersrock

        Lord you are an idiot.

  • Marc Williams

    Why does he use the Orwellian term “learners”? Have I missed something in the progress of education development, where students are now some new class of social experiment? This principal may well have some great ideas, and good on him for speaking up, but if he is reading from the same book as Ms Parata, then I fear for his ability to connect with the community he wants to promote (stakeholders?).

  • Bunswalla

    Unions are pathologically opposed to anything that threatens their patch. They’re less concerned about the outcome for the students than they are about their member.s This is neither surprising nor unusual, but the fact they dress up their bullshit by saying it’s all about the teachers makes them intellectually dishonest and worthy of contempt.

    Unions and leftards think that profit is evil, capitalism is evil, corporations are evil etc, and that “big business” will see charter schools as an opportunity to get in and make some quick bucks. It’s evident they haven’t really thought this through. The best and most successful businesses are founded and run by people with a passion for what they do. Charter schools are a classic example of this – with less (in some cases two-thirds less) than state schools are given per class/student, charter schools manage to get their students to achieve at much higher rates than state schools. You don’t get results like that without being passionate about your craft, committed to excellence and determined to help your students get the best possible start in life.

    The focus of the charter school principals and owners in the video was all about helping the children to achieve their best. They know that competition is good – teachers and children, and that they have to do their best or they’ll fail.

    By contrast, the focus of all the state/union principals and teachers was all about protecting their patch, keeping the competition out, ensuring they can never be fired and wanting more money. They’re behaving exactly the way they accuse big business of behaving.

    The union teacher or principal that said “We don’t focus on tests, we focus on teaching our kids….and…I can tell they’re learning by looking in their eyes” would be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragic. No doubt he’s never been out of the education system, but in the real world you don’t prove your qualification to do a job by asking the interviewer to look in your eyes. They want to see the evidence of your ability, and grades, percentages, degrees, honours and scholarships count. Having nice eyes and a sincere look doesn’t cut the mustard when there are 200 other people applying for the same job, and they have the results to show for it.

    • Vikingforever

      ah well you should learn to look at the eyes. The eyes are the window to the soul. The eyes tell you lots once you learn. Go do cold call selling for a living and you will learn that. Success comes from reading the eyes.

      • StupidDisqus

        Unionists are not independent human beings. They have no souls.

    • blokeintakapuna

      Right on Buns. Very well said.

    • StupidDisqus

      They’re less concerned about the outcome for the students than they are about their member.s This is neither surprising nor unusual

      More that that: this is their entire fucking Raison d’être (reason to exist, for those of you who went to state schools) and why any school, or indeed any other business that wants to be successful cannot permit unionism

      It’s why companies in the US are fleeing those blue (i.e communist) states in the US that permit unions, and flocking to those red (i.e. free) states that ban them.

  • Vikingforever

    In the last 25 years 16 of those years have been National Govt.’s. Not until now has there been any attempt to make a serious change to education and even then it is half hearted.(like most stuff the Nats do.) And, that despite ACT’s core policy of voucher funding having been the best oppourtunity to get some change and at the same time beak down the unions. A policy that works and could have been implemented over the last 5 years had Kee had any guts and a decent Minister.

    Govt. will never break the unions monopoly while it continues with a huge Dept. Its self feeding and looks after its own interests. Govt. must break that up, provide guidelines for education and allow people to purchase education like they do other services.

    Govt. does not need to build schools nor own the buildings. (super funds will do that)
    Govt. doesn’t need to employ nor pay teachers. ( A lesson that is a current topic of course)
    Two private schools in Tauranga and growing every year. If they didn’t exist the Ministry would not be able to educate our kids. They are poor planner’s and worse they allowed schools and buildings to be built that all now need rebuilding, some completely, at huge cost to the taxpayer and no recourse to those responsible for the original builds.

    The biggest benefit of course in chopping up the education Portfolio and the Dept inopt different bits is that eventuall the inion influenece will wain and therefore the funding available to the Union Employee’s and the Labour Party will drop.

    Which to me is kinda the best reason to do something.

    Joyce may start to think this way about payroll. Why does Govt. need to pay 180Mill for a payroll when schools can join a number of existing programs that work for many other companies. Just plain dumb. Bulk fund the wages and let the school admins get on with it.

    • Patrick

      Under the MMP system that fight with the unions is far too risky, Politicians only think of what will get them re-elected (or not) at the next election not what is for the good of NZ. That is a big part of the problem.
      Bulk fund the wages? totally agree, why can’t the school have an admin person doing the wages & salaries like any other business? The would have a much better chance of getting things right (& quickly correcting errors) than the crowd currently attempting to do this. Local schools could club together & share the resource.

      • StupidDisqus

        Local schools could club together & share the resource

        And end up contracting back to datacom. or Novopay. Bulk funding makes 10,000 little problems, one for each school, instead of one big problem. At least that way the politicians/ministry would blame the schools, not have to take the blame themselves.

        The point is that schools don’t have to have a payroll person now. The real point is the vast complexity of teachers’ awards, which is completely due to the unions.

        The way to solve this problem is to break the unions, and then the payroll problem goes away.

    • Pissedoffyouth

      How does Superfund make sense to invest in school buildings? They won’t be able to sell them off unlike other assets

    • StupidDisqus

      get some change and at the same time beak down the unions

      No change is possible without breaking down the unions.

  • Teachersrock

    Meant to do things for our learners???

    If he has these ideas there is nothing stopping him going for it right now. Except himself.

    • Pissedoffyouth

      So if he goes off track slightly the Union wouldn’t scream bloody murder?

      • Teachersrock

        No, not at all. Unions do not control the NZC or how teachers deliver it. There are SO many things that you can do, I do not know what this principal wants to do, and it would have been nice for them to have noted a few things that he/she supposedly cannot do now. Because given the uniqueness of every school, I cannot see what they are not allowed to do.

        • StupidDisqus

          He can’t charge fees and he can’t ban the union.

          Beginning. End.

          • Teachersrock

            If that is it (oh and he/she won’t be allowed to ban unions from charter schools either, it’s illegal) then that is one of the most pathetic arguemnts for the flawed CS’s I have ever seen.

    • Stuarts.burgers

      Maybe it is a she, or do you know more than us about the Emailer.

      Of course you are a Union Member and a teacher so you must know more than us mere morals

      • Teachersrock

        You are correct, not sure why I assumed it was a he.

        But because of your stupid anti union comment I don’t think I will say sorry for my error.

  • Gazzaw

    And there are hundreds of young teachers who would kill to work for this principal. Tragic isn’t it that that old guard 70’s style unionism is holding them back. It won’t be forever though.

  • Jeremy

    Charter schools could be good if they give choice, but not if taxpayer money is going to be spent on producing soccer playing tambourine bashers who believe the world was created 6000 years ago!

    • Stuarts.burgers

      That is the thing about Charter schools, maybe we could have one that focused on the use of ” Citizen Journalism ” and another with a focus on SME’s and the skills needed. At the end of the day it should be about choice something that is not being offered at present.

    • StupidDisqus

      More reflexive radical leftist anti-religious hatred.

      At its core, atheism is leftism</b.

  • Lily

    “If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.”
    ― Frank Zappa
    Bring on Charter Schools!

  • thor42

    I am *100% certain* that charter schools will be set up in New Zealand.

    People with a *real passion* for education (like Alwyn Poole) will not be denied.

    There may well be a last-ditch stoush as the teacher unions (as usual) try to protect their patch, but it will be in vain.

    The results are too good, and the economics are too good for charter schools to be kept out. They are being set up all over the world.

    It’ll be just like the huge “ports stoush” in the late 80s. The watersiders fought tooth-and-nail, but they eventually lost and stevedoring companies were set up. The dinosaurial teacher unions will face the same fate.
    Fewer and fewer teachers are joining the unions.

    As for the standard union whine about “profits being made from schools” – WHO CARES?

    If the children get a really good education, THAT is what counts – nothing else.

    Heck – *anyone* who is able to give a child a really good education DESERVES to profit from it!

    • blokeintakapuna

      All teachers currently “profit” from education employment, so their point simply doesn’t stack up… But it does help fit the unions propaganda and scaremongering as they attempt their patch protection.

    • StupidDisqus

      If the parents can’t be bothered paying, then the kids don’t deserve “education”.

      (but if we could extract their blood I’m sure it would find a good export market.)

  • AnonWgtn

    Why am I getting more and more the idea that Novopay was never going to be accepted by the Schools Payroll Officers.
    I am learning that many of them have been teachers, having retired, and have “accepted” this part time role in their old schools (or from friends). Many are now quite mature and are frankly inarticulate in computer matters, which Novopay requires. Email probably ok.
    They, like many older people, are not articulate to change, to a computer based system – with better stricter actual financial controls, such as regular audit balancing..
    Remember the PC was only invented 30 years ago – now look at the advances.
    It is becoming obvious from the public media that this has not been accepted by these mature users of Novopay (and was never going to be).
    They are stiil hankling over a hand written “Kalamazoo” type paper base concept that they have become used to over many years.
    The previous pay system was also fraught with regular stuff ups, which is why they will not now take the role back from Novopay.
    Bulk pay funding is the only answer in the short term then the Payroll Officers can sit back to a quieter life as the expected when they took on the role some years ago.
    Computer based systems are anathema to older people today. Time will eradicate that as Schools employ more savvy computer staff, who are not afraid of the computer.
    I spent the last 3 years of my retirement/working life in a part time job teaching people of mature years not to be afraid of change as computer systems have brought.

    • StupidDisqus

      The problem isn’t school payroll offices, and isn’t solved by bulk funding.

      Hell, how did most schools handle bulk funding – contracting back to the original fucking payroll provider. There are reasons why most companies contract out payroll processing – and schools are just small/medium sized companies.

      The problem is the complexity of the teacher awards, created by the teacher unions. Going to bulk funding solves nothing in practice because the teachers are still under the same awards. Being able to direct a few thousand dollars from swimming polls to teachers salaries (or vice versa) doesn’t really change anything at schools – that’s why Labour were able to change it back with surprisingly little effect.

      If bulk funding really had changed things, principles and parents would have died in the streets to protect their schools. This is of course why unions are totally afraid of Charter schools – because at National+Conservative government will give each BoT the option to switch to charter status – and even the most leftwing BoT will be severely tempted (if only to get out of National Standards and NCEA!). Fuck it will be great seeing Labour & the NZEI actually defending National Standards!

      But anyway: the problem is the teacher unions. Charter schools will slowly undermine the unions from below, as all newly-founded charter schools will be completely non-union, and the state conversions will become non-union over time. (Except for a few left-wing holdouts that might dump Natl standards and go to a closed shop).

      But what needs to happen is a full frontal assault on teacher unions from to top. Ban them, dismiss union teachers, break all the teaching awards back to minimum wage, on a single flat hourly rate. And once that is done, hell a schoolkid with NCEA level 3 computing could write the 100 line program it would take to run the payroll for all the teachers in the counter!

  • le sphincter

    So he/she wants to ‘try things’ while the taxpayers pay for it all.

    Nothing to stop opening his own school right now and ‘trying it’.

    of course he doesnt get all the freebies that charter schools get, like having untrained underpaid teachers , or even the facilities handed to him on a plate

  • Problem with schools today is that they try to squeeze all students into one mold. It is known that people think differently and also learn differently..

    here’s a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson “bring on the learning revolution.”

    i found it very enjoyable.

    • a plug for above linked clip.

      Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we’re educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.

      Why you should listen to him:

      Why don’t we get the best out of people? Sir Ken Robinson argues that it’s because we’ve been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies — far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity — are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences. “We are educating people out of their creativity,” Robinson says. It’s a message with deep resonance. Robinson’s TEDTalk has been distributed widely around the Web since its release in June 2006. The most popular words framing blog posts on his talk? “Everyone should watch this.”

      A visionary cultural leader, Sir Ken led the British government’s 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, a massive inquiry into the significance of creativity in the educational system and the economy, and was knighted in 2003 for his achievements. His latest book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, a deep look at human creativity and education, was published in January 2009.