Some more thoughts on today’s watershed Charter Schools article from Fairfax

A reader emails about Charter Schools:


Simon Day of Fairfax has gone where few have gone before him in NZ and gets some depth into the Charter School situation.

He notes the good beginning for Vanguard?Military?School and South Auckland Middle School?(which?comes out of Newmarket’s successful Mt Hobson Middle School.

Day even bothered to read the official ERO reports of the positive starts for Vanguard?and SAMS.

Even better, and perhaps more astoundingly – he went to the schools and found out things from Vanguard like:

The talented BMX rider spent most of his time at the skate park. This year at the Vanguard school, Berry has discovered he also has academic talents. “It was when I got my first excellence I realised how far I could push myself,” he says.

Now he has 70 credits and is certain to to pass Level One NCEA.

and from SAMS like:

At SAMS his teachers have reached him and motivated him. They know his needs and personality. His grades have lifted. “They are more like role models to me. I am not afraid of them any more,” he says.

Day even read overseas research (unlike the PPTA) and found that:

[I]n its 2013 report on the 6000 US charter schools, Stanford University found dramatically improved results, where achievement was either ahead or at the same level of public schools. It also showed key benefits for black students, students in poverty, and English language learners.

He also talks to Willie Jackson who sees the opportunity for the kids:

Jackson, a former Labour MP and trade union organiser, says he’s sick of “political nonsense” around charter schools and won’t denounce the idea just because it originated on the Right. “Our focus is about turning around our kids’ lives.”

Jackson’s organisation is putting aspiration for kids first.

Even the new opportunities to begin in 2015 are researched by Day – in Whangarei?and West Auckland.

Simon Day is a contrast to the tired Charter School opponents still sitting in small academic offices somewhere a very long way from the classrooms.

The classic here is a Palmerston North based professor who clearly needs to get out more. The professor reads:

Tamati Falwasser, 13, is being raised by his grandmother, who is also responsible for 10 other grandchildren whose parents failed them. It was her idea that he go to SAMS.

He was a self acknowledged troublemaker at his old school. Tamati says he was once choked by a teacher. He was in a place he describes as the “dark side”.

At SAMS his teachers have reached him and motivated him. They know his needs and personality. His grades have lifted. “They are more like role models to me. I am not afraid of them any more,” he says.

But somehow, even in the face of this situation, the professor attempts to find a negative, wants the kids to stay where it doesn’t work for them, and comments:

Students like Tamati come from a disadvantaged background, but a family which is more motivated and aspirational than the average. “You are taking good role models from those remaining schools,”

The good professor could follow Simon Day’s lead and get out more.

But, probably, the most helpful thing he – and others like him – could do, is donate their over-funded salaries to those who could use them better – maybe some of the families that haven’t yet got choices and have to stay in the schools that aren’t working for them.

It seems though that the good news about Charter Schools is starting to leak out beyond the imposed wall of negativity erected by the unions and promulgated by their pals in the mainstream media.

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