Politics and payback before pupils


Last year Kelvin Davis threatened to resign if two partnership schools in his electorate closed.

. . . The MP Kelvin Davis said Māori wanted a measure of autonomy over the education of their children.

“So if they were to close they would no longer exist, that would be a bottom line for me, so the fact is they can exist as special character schools, that’s the bottom line to me.” . . .

Last year Willie Jackson said Labour wouldn’t close his charter school.

. . . But should it win September’s election, Mr Jackson says Labour has no plans to close his school.

“Andrew Little, Chris Hipkins, they’re very supportive of our schools. They’ve been clear to me about that right from the start, otherwise I wouldn’t have joined,” he told The AM Show on Friday. . .

This year Education Minister Chris Hipkins is threatening the schools with closure:

Hipkins introduced the Education Amendment Bill today, which would formally end National Standards and charter schools.

“The Government’s strong view is that there is no place for them in the New Zealand education system,” Hipkins said. . . 

The bill would mean an end to future charter schools, and allow existing ones to continue while the Ministry of Education considers options – such as becoming a designated character school – on a case-by-case system.

Unlike charter schools, a character school is part of the public education system, is funded like other state schools, and must adhere to the national curriculum.

Five charter schools were scheduled to open in 2018 and will no longer open. Eleven existing charter schools have a combined roll of about 1300 students.

Hipkins wanted existing charter schools to wind up before the end of their contracts by mutual agreement.

“If, however, early termination is not agreed by both parties, I am reserving my right to issue a notice of ‘termination for convenience’, under charter schools’ existing contracts, by the middle of May 2018. This would take effect at the end of the school year.” . . 

The schools were part of an agreement between Act and National and National leader is an advocate for them.

English said closing the schools was “nasty and vindictive behaviour” and was ideological.

“And the victims of it will be young children who could have done better in a school that suited their needs.”

He said although Labour had dismissed concerns because the schools had only 1000 students in them, he said those students deserved the opportunities the schools gave them.

He said it was ‘shameful’ that had challenged Ardern to visit the schools in person to explain the decision to the children.

“I think it shows the PM is uncomfortable with the policy and certainly uncomfortable with facing the impact on the children. I’ve met these kids, I’ve met their parents.

They meet the needs of those kids. There might only be 1000 of them but they matter.”

He said a significant proportion of the students in the schools were Maori and Ardern had promised Maori up north to deliver to them. . .


Labour is putting politics, and paying back teacher unions before the needs of pupils.

All the schools, their staff and most importantly their pupils face uncertainty and the knowledge they could be axed at the whim of the minister.

He might give Davis and Jackson some wriggle room by renaming three schools to allow them to continue, but what about the other schools and more importantly the pupils who are succeeding after failing at conventional schools?




Waging war on success


Why would anyone oppose schools which are proven to be successful?

. . . All four Harlem Success Academy charters serve primarily minority student populations (all are 93.5 to 97.1% black and Hispanic) and low-income households (75 to 80% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch), and yet all are ranked academically higher than about 97% of all schools in New York state based on standardized test assessments in math and reading.

What a truly amazing academic success story!

Q: With those kinds of impressive results for some of the city’s most at-risk student populations in Harlem, couldn’t that proven record of academic success be replicated in all public schools? Wouldn’t you think that these Harlem charter schools would be recognized as academic models for the rest of the city and the state?

A: In a more sane world where students and learning are the No. 1 priority, the educational establishment would be “falling all over itself” to copy the proven educational success of charter schools like the ones in Harlem profiled above. But in the insane world of New York City, the liberal mayor and liberal teacher unions are waging a war on the city’s successful charter schools like the ones operated by Success Academy Charter Schools. Preservation of the status quo and a continuation of the current failed public school model, and preserving its power, are the primary concerns of the teachers unions and their administrative enablers, which now includes the new New York mayor. . .

This sounds familiar.

New Zealand’s first partnership schools have only recently been established but unions and opposition MPs aren’t giving them a chance.

Opposition parties and unions have already damned charter schools here.

Conventional schools work well for most pupils but they don’t work well for all..

Those young people who for a myriad of reasons fail in, or are failed by, conventional schools should be given a chance to succeed in partnership schools.

Damning them before they’ve had a chance to show what they can do is playing politics with pupils most in need of something more than business as usual in conventional schools is offering.

PPTA puts politics before pupils


The PPTA is ideologically opposed to charter schools and is putting politics before pupils:

The PPTA’s promise to isolate charter schools has been labelled as being on par with apartheid.

The union’s junior vice president Hazel McIntosh says it’s considering a boycott on the new schools, going so far as to refuse to partake in sports matches with them. . .

What is the union saying – that it would stop members from participating in inter-school activities when the school had made the decision to take part?

What is that teaching the children to whom teachers should be providing a positive example?

Choice is good


Mike Hosking gets to the nub of charter schools:

. . . Being a charter school isn’t the trick. The trick is what it potentially allows. It potentially allows you to do things differently and some people want and like that. It potentially allows you to focus on specialist areas of learning instead of a broad brush approach, and some people like that as well. There might be some with a religious element or a sporting element or an artistic element, and some people think that’s exactly what they need. But what it indisputably does is provide more choice, and why you’d be afraid of that bewilders me.

Here’s the other bit that makes all the opponents’ arguments null and void – none of it is compulsory. You don’t like it? Don’t go. You don’t believe in it? Don’t enrol your kids. You think it will be a disaster? Stay away.

All that a charter school is is choice, and choice is good.

Charter schools won’t work for all pupils, just as the many variations of schools we already have don’t.

But they will provide choice and opportunity for children who need something they’re not getting from what’s on offer now.

Only a handful of charter schools are being established. No-one will be forced to teach at or attend one and they shouldn’t be regarded as a threat to existing schools.

They will complement other schools not compete with them.

Schools could radically change lives for good


Opponents of charter schools have used overseas examples to show what’s wrong with them.

But there are local examples that do work.

 Alwyn Poole, academic manager at Mt Hobson Middle School, writes:

The recently released charter schools proposal may be the most exciting idea for improvement for some groups in the New Zealand education system over the past 20 years. Parents and pupils ought not leave this to the unions, professional educators and politicians to fight over and water down. It is an opportunity to give genuine choice and bring parents far closer to the decisions that matter for the children that they know best. . . 

This is the opening paragraph of an opinion piece which is worth reading in full.

Petulance is never pretty


Quote of the day:

The hysterical over-reaction to the charter idea tells you a lot about those who claim to speak for the country’s educationalists, and it’s not pretty.  The fact  so many of the country’s school leavers are not equipped to read a bus timetable or do basic maths has been a national scandal for 30 years. Govts on both sides have paid lip service while wringing their hands, as have the teacher unions, but nothing has changed. The use of bogeymen shows nothing more than a petulant determination to avoid addressing substantive issues. Trans Tasman

One of the frustrations of employing young people is their lack of numeracy and literacy.

Working as a shed hand on a dairy farm doesn’t require high standards of reading, writing and maths but it does require a familiarity with a bit more than the basics and too often those who turn up looking for work haven’t got that.

The reasons for educational failure are complex but having one in five school-leavers unable to cope with words and numbers sufficiently to hold down a job is a national disgrace.

Charter schools won’t be the answer for all, but as the Dominion Post says:

 . . . If  children who are failing can be helped to succeed by a different prescription – think kura kaupapa or Rudolf Steiner, for example – the trial is worth conducting to see what can be learned from it.

People involved in or interested in education, should understand the value of a differnt way of  learning, especially when it could help those children who, for a myriad of reasons, aren’t learning enough in conventional schools.

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