ACT: Chris Hipkins’ Charter Schools Abolition Bill “irritating”

Strong Demand

Opposition to Partnership Schools runs against demand from educators and families. Twenty-six different groups applied for an advertised two contracts in the latest application round.  In addition, existing schools have filled rapidly and in some cases have had to construct waiting lists.

Maori Backing the Policy

Perhaps due to the poor outcomes in other school types, and the early success of Kura Hourua, the Iwi Leaders’ Forum declared an official position supporting the policy in 2015.  Labour, despite hoping to win Maori seats in 2017, have not acknowledged this.

Registered Teachers Not a Panacea

Opponents haven’t traded in the facts when it comes to Partnership Schools.  One example is that they say Partnership Schools employ ‘unqualified teachers.’  The law allows Partnership Schools to nominate a percentage of positions to be filled by staff not registered with EDUCANZ if they have the ‘skills, qualifications and experience’ to help kids.  Several Partnership Schools have used this freedom to hire outstanding individuals.

Funding the Same

Opponents are misleading the public that Partnership Schools are funded at a higher rate than other schools.  As recently as a week ago Hipkins had said Partnership Schools were funded at five times the rate of State Schools.  We suspect he’s known all along that all schools are funded more at start up and per student funding declines as the school approaches its target roll.

Hipkins not Doing his Job

Chris Hipkins has asked only 30 questions on education since the election, and ten of them were about Partnership Schools.  By contrast, the hard working Labour Health spokesperson Annette King has asked 45 questions about a wide range of health issues this term.

…Not Even Visiting a Partnership School

Chris Hipkins could promise to visit all Partnership Schools and apologise to the staff, students and community for spreading misinformation about them.  This would be a particularly brave and magnanimous move from someone who has previously declined all invitations from the schools.

Early Results Promising

ERO reports from new Partnership Schools have been glowing, for example: “Students respond positively to teachers’ high expectations. The students we talked to were very positive about the school. They reported that they get plenty of individual help from their teachers, and that, while some of the work is hard, they enjoy the challenge and variety of learning in this way.”

Charter Schools Succeeding Overseas

After claiming that charter schools have failed overseas, it’s time for opponents to accept they were wrong all along, with evidence from Stanford University’s Center for Research in Educational Outcomes on the U.S., the C.D. Howe Institute on Canada, and the Institute for Economic Affairs on Sweden showing the opposite.

Fast Closure is a Strength

The policy has closed Whangaruru school Te Pumanawa o te Wairua, having given it one chance to improve its operations.  Poorly performing schools should be closed regardless of type and Partnership Schools allow this to happen.

Greater Accountability

Partnership Schools are required to file quarterly reports to the Authorisation Board in addition to ERO reviews.  They can have their contracts terminated for breaching performance targets, as Te Pumanawa discovered.  No New Zealand schools have ever been held to this level of accountability.

Live and Let Live

Opponents of Partnership Schools require a basic change in attitude.  Partnership Schools are a useful initiative that may address one of our country’s more urgent challenges, educational inequality.  These schools are filled with real people deserving of respect and should not be politically abused.

Sadly…

Despite wonderful people doing wonderful things for kids in Partnership Schools Kura Hourua, Labour and the teachers’ unions can’t help but feel threatened so knock the schools at every opportunity.

The Luck of the Draw

Sadly Chris Hipkins’ Charter Schools Abolition Bill has been drawn from the members’ ballot and, if passed, it would end the policy and the schools as we know them.  The Bill will not pass, but it is rather irritating.

 

– ACT


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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