International evidence has shown that charter schools (by any name) are ineffective and not good value for money. They have been linked to cherry-picking students, forged results, and closures that left thousands of students without schools.
Before I go on, I have to make it clear that I will be calling charter schools just that – charter schools. I refuse to call them partnership schools and join in the ridiculous re-branding that’s only been done to throw people off the scent that they are still, in fact, well… charter schools.
We are told that NZ charter schools will be allowed to innovate in how they educate our children.
Well that sounds fabulous.
Innovation is good. Flexibility is good.
But this leads me to ask two important questions…
– if innovation is so good, then why not just lighten up on all schools and allow all teachers more opportunity to innovate? Why does that need a new form of school? In fact, isn’t it the government who keeps putting in restrictions and boundaries for its non-charter schools meaning the school day is getting fuller and busier and requires so much more planning that it leaves no time for and the teacher with little energy for this lauded ‘innovation’?
– and what makes the government think that unqualified and unregistered staff (again, I refuse to call them teachers – teachers are professional educators, and you cannot have untrained teachers any more than you can have an untrained and unregistered doctor) – sorry, I digressed, where was I? Yes. Why are unqualified staff more able to innovate than qualified staff? Oh yes, because they are free of heaps of the constraints which that very same government put on the qualified teachers. Hmm… interesting…
So, if government just wants teachers to innovate more, just loosen the straps, lighten the load, and watch them fly. Far easier than creating a whole new school system.
So just what *are* they about?
SAVE MONEY AND SOD THE CONSEQUENCES
Professor Peter O’Connor of the University of Auckland states: “Internationally we know they really don’t make the difference in terms of the student achievement that the minister and the prime minister have talked about, they’re really about private companies taking control of publicly owned assets, it’s as simple as that really.” Read more and see video of interview here.
NZEI President, Ian Leckie, feels that “Allowing unqualified teachers into the school system will put our quality education system at risk and potentially expose New Zealand children to poor practitioners.” and that “Once again the Government’s action in education does not fit with its rhetoric. As with bigger class sizes, unqualified teachers will not lead to raising student achievement. It will have the opposite effect.” Read full article here.
Even journalists have noticed the irony.
A Pundit article by Tim Watkin pointed out that “The big tangle for the government is that just a few months ago it was dying in a ditch over teacher quality. That was SO important, it said, that class sizes had to be sacrificed to ensure better trained teachers. Just weeks later, it’s relaxed about entirely untrained folk teaching our kids. At the same time its spent years fighting for national standards, which compel schools to focus on reading, writing and maths at the expense of art, science and the rest. Now, all of a sudden, breadth and innovation is a good thing and if some schools want to ignore the curriculum altogether and teach lots of meditation or culture…” Read more.
And The Standard noted that government “wants unqualified teachers teaching the country’s most disadvantaged kids in charter schools. This is meant to close the gap with rich kids. Oddly, private schools opt for trained teachers. Also, oddly, it was only 2 months ago that the Nats were saying they wanted all teachers to have post-grad qualifications. Why the back-flip? It’s all about that well known route to economic and social success: driving down teachers’ wages.”
And bloggers are not missing the point either:
Tumeke tells us “You want increased educational achievement? Tackle child poverty, don’t create charter schools using taxpayer money not answerable to the same state school standards!” Read more of the Tumeke blog post.
Local Bodies is scathing: What [government] don’t appear to understand is that it is the quality of the teacher in the classroom that determines the quality of the teaching and learning and raising the status and improving the professional support for teachers would make the most positive difference. Allowing the likes of Brian Tamaki to receive government support to establish his own school, using his own curriculum and employing teachers who will only have to pass police vetting rings alarm bells for me. Read more here
Are you already worried? You should be. I’ll leave you to digest some of this, and I’ll post more soon.
Meanwhile, you might want to join groups like these and make sure you know what’s happening:
Save Our Schools NZ = on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/SaveOurSchoolsNZ
We Don’t Want Your Charter Schools – on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/237491956316493/
SOURCES AND FURTHER READING: