There is no “transition pathway” for Charter schools

Happy school children whose school is not under threat of closure by the Ardern led Labour government because it is a union-backed state school

During question time PM Ardern repeatedly mentioned the words “transition” and “pathway” when talking about the threat of Labour closing down Partnership schools. She insisted that they weren’t focussed on closing down schools and were providing them with the opportunity to transition to a different pathway.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: […]There is a pathway forward for them and we’re working with them.[…]

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I’ve said, we’re not focused on closure; we’re focused on giving them options to make sure that if they continue to teach the curriculum and have registered and qualified teachers, there is a pathway for them to remain open.[…]

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: My objection is that the member is implying that we’re closing those schools rather than working alongside them to transition them away from that old, failed model into a model that simply asks that they teach the curriculum and that they have registered teachers.[…]

As promising as those words sound I have to report that they are weasel words designed to make the public think that all the schools will have to do to stay open is to have registered teachers, follow the NZ curriculum and have the same funding as state schools. Unfortunately, that is not the case at all.

[…] Hon Nikki Kaye: Will the Prime Minister guarantee that all partnership schools with contracts will remain open if they meet the three criteria that she just mentioned: registered teachers, following the curriculum, and comparable funding?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As our Minister of Education has said, that’s a process he’s going through as we speak.[…]

So why was the Prime Minister refusing to answer that very simple question? It might have something to do with the fact that she told Alwyn Poole face to face that their Special Character policy is inadequate. Labour is not re-writing their inadequate policy so there is no clear “pathway” for the Partnership schools to transition to as promised.

Despite What PM Ardern claimed during question time the Ministry is not offering a transition pathway. What they are actually telling the partnership schools is that that they must close and then potentially apply for another option.

The other option is likely to be one that will not allow bulk-funding to continue ( a key aspect of Partnership schools’ ability to attract top staff and to provide free uniforms, stationery and breakfasts) Also to appease the teacher unions Partnership schools will be forced to put all their staff on a collective contract. They will no longer be able to reward excellence.

The PM also seems unaware that all of the schools already follow the NZ Curriculum and have registered teachers and that they are already funded at equivalent levels apart from the much cheaper costs of setting them up at only 5% of what it costs to start a state school and all with no extra funding for expansion despite their waiting-lists.

Why won’t the PM visit these students? Does she not value the children in these schools? Almost all of them are in Labour electorates and certainly many of them have experienced child poverty. In fact, the free uniforms, stationery and breakfasts provided by these schools is a big part of why they are able to attend and thrive.

At first, I thought that Labour wouldn’t close charter schools because it would be a PR nightmare to close schools filled with the poor mainly brown children of their voter base. I thought that their weasel words meant that they would let them exist with a different name to save face. Now I think that their plan is to shed crocodile tears as the schools close one by one, claiming that they were given a choice but that they refused to meet the criteria.” We didn’t close them,” Jacinda will weep into her handkerchief, “they refused to re-open” ( sniff)

-parliament.nz


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