This tag is associated with 16 posts

National Standards – which Parties will keep them and which will ditch them?

It’s election time again, but before choosing which Party to vote for, make sure you know what their education policies are – and pay attention to what isn’t mentioned, too.

This time we are looking at National Standards.

New Zealand Political Parties’ Policies on National Standards


“Labour will abolish national standards to return the focus to a broad and varied curriculum with the key competencies at the heart. Labour will ensure that the education system embraces and fosters essential skills and competencies such as attitude, communication, commitment, teamwork, willingness to learn, motivation, self-management, resilience and problem-solving.”

“Labour will abolish national standards and work with experts and stakeholders to develop a new system that better acknowledges child progress and focuses on the key competencies”

“Labour will scrap the current approach of measuring the success of schools by the number of students achieving national standards or NCEA, and will work with teachers, principals, parents, tertiary institutions and the Education Review Office (ERO) to develop more effective ways of evaluating the performance of schools”

“Labour will re-direct resources spent forcing “National Standards” on schools into teacher professional development programmes that assist students who are struggling”



“The Green Party will: Oppose the system of National Standards that was introduced in 2010, and remove the requirement for schools to report against them”

“The Green Party will: Work with teacher organisations to develop an assessment model or models that allow tracking of student progress against national data; to be used to inform further teaching and learning in partnership with students and their

“The Green Party will: Oppose the publication of league tables which rank schools on academic achievement.”


NZ First

“New Zealand First would abolish National Standards and re-establish professional learning and development support for the quality delivery of our New Zealand Curriculum with monitoring as to children’s progress based on curriculum levels.”

“New Zealand First believes that all students need to be literate and numerate but does not believe that the black and white National Standards imposed on our primary school children are fit for purpose. Our national curriculum documents, the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, have identified curriculum achievement levels that are progressive and overlapping – children are not expected to achieve at the same level at the same time.”

“New Zealand First will: Abolish National Standards in their current form and work with the sector to establish robust assessment measures for individual students and to identify nationwide goals for primary education.”



Mana will: “Replace National Standards with processes that help parents assess their child’s progress”



TOP will: “Reduce assessment, giving more time for teaching and learning.”

“TOP will delay National Standards until Year 6”



“National is [also] ensuring a better education through: Providing parents with better information through National Standards so they know how well their child is doing at school.”



The ACT Party’s education policy does not mention National Standards.


The Maori Party

The Maori Party’s education policy does not mention National Standards.


United Future

United Future has no education policy on its web page.



If you spot any errors or missing information relating to this post, please comment below and I will edit as quickly as possible.

Thank you,

Dianne Khan – SOSNZ

Charter school funding comes with a sting

Reading another worrying report about the New Zealand charter school experiment – this time looking at Villa Education and the Ministry’s poorly negotiated contracts – a friend commented that it’s almost like the Minister will throw any amount of cash at charter schools to make them succeed.

Meanwhile someone else commented on the stark contrast with state schools that are mouldy and falling apart and yet wait for ages to see any sign of being sorted out.

And another mused that in no other area of government would a private business be handed over such huge sums of money from the public purse with no way of reclaiming it should the business fail.

Many ask themselves, just what exactly is going on? But if you try to find out, the Minister, Ministry and Undersecretary will merely offer words to the effect of ‘no comment’.

(And for the love of all that is holy, don’t hold your breath trying to find anything out via the Official Information Act – people have lived and died waiting for those beggars to come through).

I don’t know why, but it all puts me in mind of Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

Uneven Playing Fields

So is excessive funding of charter schools really such a big problem? I mean, MBIE flings public funds around like money’s going out of fashion, so perhaps it’s just how government funding goes? Are charter schools merely benefiting from government’s lax purse strings? Hmm, nice try – but not all publicly funded entities are so lucky:

Charter schools are given funds for students they don’t have: Public schools are funded only for their exact roll.

Charter schools can and do spend the funds they are given to buy property that they then own and keep even if they fail: Public school land and buildings are owned by the crown and are reclaimed if a school is closed.

Charter school accounts can be hidden by use of a parent Trust company: Public school accounts are entirely public.

It all sounds a little, well, uneven. And not entirely sensible.

As Jolisa Gracewood put it in What’s Wrong with National Standards?:

“By the current government’s logic, it makes more sense to pour money into a brand-new charter school in a lower-decile neighbourhood than to direct that funding towards support programmes at existing schools or kura…”

Exactly. But why?

Some say the Education Minister doesn’t know what on earth she’s doing. I disagree. She knows. But people misunderstand the purpose of these first charter schools.  Their purpose is to slowly get people used to the idea that privatising the  school system is not such a bad idea. As such, they will be supported and made to succeed (or seem to succeed) come hell or high water.

Of course you don’t have to trust me on this one – we can look to far wiser heads than mine and the conclusions of Massey University’s report, CHARTER SCHOOLS FOR NEW ZEALAND:

“In New Zealand, government initiated or ministry sponsored educational experiments have a long history of ‘success’: all innovations seem to ‘work’. The reason is, of course, that those who introduce them make sure that they are well funded and that the ‘evaluation’ is carefully controlled to ensure favourable outcomes.”


But why would anyone want to ensure the success of charter schools at all costs?

Privatisation Achievement Unlocked

shiny carrot

Oh, the shiny carrot

If ACT’s charter school dream comes true, all schools will be given the chance to become charter schools.

Of course, once large numbers of schools, wooed by the glint of better funding, convert to charter schools, the game will change:

The current level of funding cannot be sustained for huge numbers of schools.

What then?

The answer is, it won’t matter. Not to ACT or to National, at least, as the mission will have been achieved, which is to move the education system over to a privatised model.

Then the funding can and will drop, because the actual goal will have been met – privatisation of the public school system.

So to answer those wondering what’s going on with excessive charter school funding, the answer is simply this: it’s an inducement to jump the public school ship and board the charter schools cruise liner … but beware, that boat has holes.

~ Dianne Khan

Sources and further reading:

What’s Wrong with National Standards? By Jolisa Gracewood – Metro Magazine

CHARTER SCHOOLS FOR NEW ZEALAND, An investigation designed to further the debate in New Zealand on education policy in general and on charter schooling in particular, EDUCATION POLICY RESPONSE GROUP, Massey University College of Education, April 2012

Charter School secrets

For a party that espouses “individual freedom, personal responsibility” ACT isn’t half quick to hide behind a job title, eh?

 “The under-secretary position means Seymour will not be subject to questions in the House. It appears he will not be subject to the Official Information Act also.”  (1)

So now the charter schools saga will be *even more* secretive.  Ask yourself this – if it’s truly such a great idea, why would government want or need to hide the facts?

Also bear in mind that the little we have found out about the charter schools currently running has largely been through Official Information Act (OIA) requests regarding Ministry and the Minister.  It’s already a mare to get information directly about a charter school, because they are businesses and so not subject to the same openness that state schools are.

Seymour thinks

“charter schools had a huge potential to increase educational achievement. “We need to bed the policy in and make sure it keeps running well.””

But as yet we have not one solitary report, analysis or piece of research explaining why ACT has such faith in charter schools.  Nothing.  Just a closed door and more secrecy.

What’s the secret?

What is it about charter schools that will make such a difference?  No-one’s said.

How will they achieve this?  Hmmm…. nothing from the Working Group or Ministry or the Minister or Seymour on that.

top secretWhat can a charter school do for students that the same school couldn’t do as a state school?  Nope, no-one’s explained that mystery, either.

Can you show that charter schools are spending the tax money they get to the best effect for students?  Actually, they don’t have to show that.

Are the staff there well qualified?  Don’t have to tell you that.

How many students with special educational needs are they catering for?  Don’t have to tell you that, either.

Double Standard

In fact, they don’t have to tell the parents or taxpayers much of anything, and since they don’t have to have a community-based Board of Trustees, they can work behind closed doors.

Much better from the schools’ points of view to stay quiet and rely on The Herald and other on-side media outlets to spin stories based on PR.

Funny how working behind closed doors and a wall of silence is okay for charter schools, isn’t it?

Can you imagine the fuss if a state school refused to be open about how it operates and who it teaches?

So I ask again, if charter schools are truly such a great addition to the system, why all the secrecy?

~ Dianne


Suddenly Seymour…


“Really, John? You’re really going to let me tinker with

New Zealand’s state school system?

Oh thank you, sir, thank you…”


Playing (out) soon near you.


Brought to you by Charter Schools, GERM, and David Seymour.

Brace yourself for a NACT onslaught on education

Fight the GERMIt looks very much like ACT’s one MP, David Seymour, will become Associate Education Minister.

You might wonder why this is.  You might think it’s a terrible move.  But from National’s point of view, it’s a clever move, and here’s why:

Firstly, National can point to ACT as the reason for dreadful policies like charter schools and the soon-to-become-real horror of a voucher system.  The hope is that ACT can take the party blame and National can deflect as much as possible.

The second, similar, reason is that by putting Seymour in an education role they hope that anger at unpopular policy will be pointed at him personally, much as it is with Hekia Parata at times.   The hope will be that people will focus on ACT’s 0.7% vote or that they have only one MP.


That ACT got 0.07% and one MP is frustrating, but the fact is that ACT is in now and we must resist the urge to talk about the person and instead focus on the policy.

POLICY is what matters.

Every time a new policy is suggested, read it, consider it, ask what effects it may have, read the news, the blogs, talk to others about it.

Do not take anyone’s word for what might happen as a result of any new policy – not my word, not Seymour’s, not Parata’s, no-ones.

Think about it yourself.

Read, learn, question.

And if you decide the policy is going to damage our education system, I implore you to fight it.

Because this next three years is going to be one hell of a roller-coaster for education.

In the words of Bachman Turner Overdrive, You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.



Are ACT’s charter schools fiscally responsible? – PPTA


PPTA ACT cahrter schools flier 1




PPTA ACT charter schools flier 3



PPTA ACT charter schools flier 3

Teachers to Epsom voters: Don’t let ACT wreck our education system

PPTA ACT Charter Schools Epsom

Epsom voters have an opportunity to protect the New Zealand education system this election.

PPTA is launching a campaign today to inform voters in the electorate about ACT’s disastrous charter school policy – with posters and leaflets being distributed (see attached sample).

“ACT’s education policies are based on an extremist ideology which has no basis in evidence,” PPTA President Angela Roberts says.

A single ACT MP brought in charter schools in 2011 and 2014 ACT Epsom electorate candidate David Seymour has boasted about his involvement in the policy and has committed to expanding it, she said.

“PPTA welcomes good education policy from whichever party advances it, but ACT’s policy is fundamentally broken.

“Its goals of expanding competition and market forces in education have been shown by international and local evidence to be worthless for raising the quality of the school system, and simply entrench social inequity,” Roberts said.

“Charter schools are an expensive and unnecessary experiment.  Even the National-led government’s other single electorate support partner, Peter Dunne, voted against them and has said that they are not required,” she said.

Seymour said charter school students would get “no more or less” funding than students at public schools, Roberts said.

This year, the 350 students at charter schools are costing the taxpayer over $7million to educate, not including the start-up grants given to the schools in 2013. This would have been $2.5 million if they had stayed at public schools.

Contact: PPTA president Angela Roberts: 021 806 337
Authorised by Kevin Bunker, PPTA, 60 Willis St, Wellington

NZ Political Parties’ Education Policies – a guide

vote buttonAs it’s election year, you will want to know the education policies of the people clamouring for your vote.  The rhetoric and mainstream media reporting doesn’t always give a clear picture.  Mind you, policies sometimes don’t either… but it’s still a good idea to read, think and discuss them.

After reading, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are.  Is there anything more you would like to ask?  Anything you want to challenge? Anything you’re pleased to see, or think is missing?  Also, feel free to add your comments or links to additional party policies at the bottom.



The policies below may be out of date.



While education for many children is among the best in the world, we have a well-known “long-tail” of underachievers, who become the next generation of under skilled, unemployed, disengaged citizens.  After 70 years of state controlled and mandated education, we have a situation where around 20% of our children left school last year unable to read or write sufficiently to fill out a job application.

ACT believes that if we continue to do what we’ve always done, we will continue to get the same results that we’ve always had.  The education system must do better for these New Zealanders.  What we have done for too long is run education as a centrally planned, Wellington-dictated bureaucracy that gives little autonomy to schools and little choice to parents.
Meanwhile, education policy in Australia, Sweden, parts of Canada and the United States, and Great Britain is showing the benefits of making education more market-like and entrepreneurial.  Such policies lead to a wider range of education opportunities being available.   ACT supports decentralisation in education, giving more autonomy to principals and teachers and more choice to students and parents.
In the last parliamentary term, with ACT’s pressure and support, the government:
 Introduced Aspire Scholarships, allowing disadvantaged children to access any school of their choice, public or private;
 Undertake a review of education in New Zealand, leading to the ACT Party’s minority report Free to Learn, a comprehensive roadmap for reforming education towards a more market-like and entrepreneurial service;
 Increase the subsidy for private schools, to reduce the extent to which those who send their children pay twice (once in taxes and once in school fees);
 Value the special education sector more, with a special education review resulting in new directions described in the report Success for All: Every school, every child.
ACT will keep working for a more vibrant and dynamic education system.  A Party Vote for ACT is a vote to:
 Continue awarding Aspire scholarships to underprivileged children;
 Increase the autonomy that local principals and staff have in running their school.  Boards and principals should be able, for example, to set teacher remuneration at their discretion like any other employer, rather than having a rigid, seniority based pay scale;
 Further increase the subsidy for independent schools so that parents who choose independent schools for their children do not lose so much of their child’s share of education funding;
 Encourage choice in assessment systems, whether they be NCEA, Cambridge International Examination, International Baccalaureate, or other qualifications.



The policies here may be out of date.


Green party logoGreen Party 

Key Principles

  • A free education system that fosters participation, sustainability, equality and peace.
  • High quality teaching, learning environments, and curriculum that fosters peace in our communities.

Specific Policy Points

  • Ensure state schools are fully funded such that high quality education is not dependant upon fees, private donations, fundraising, nor private investment.
  • Increase the Operations Grant to reflect the real cost to schools of educating children.
  • Change the staffing formula to enable incremental reductions in class sizes, and improved teacher-child ratios in early childhood services.
  • Centrally fund all teacher and key support staff salaries.
  • Review the governance structure in Tomorrow’s Schools and trial alternative models of school governance.
  • Support pay parity for early childhood, primary and secondary educators.
  • Support the continued improvement of the NCEA, and work with teachers to review the three levels of NCEA assessment.
  • Retain and support local and rural schools.
  • Better and safer transport services to rural schools.
  • Set standards and guidelines for healthy food provided in schools.
  • Incorporate ecological sustainability into the core curriculum at all levels.
  • More funding for Maori language, immersion and bilingual programmes.
  • Work towards te reo and tikanga Maori being available to all learners.
  • Ensure that Correspondence School has the capacity to deliver quality education to its diverse students.
  • Use an independent authority for appeals in the case of enrolment, stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions.
  • Allocate Special Education Grant based on numbers of enrolled children with special needs, and increase ORS funding.
  • Resource schools and Group Special Education to fulfill government obligations to children with special education needs.
  • Ensure schools have adequate provision to meet the needs of their ESOL students.
  • Establish support for networks of ‘not for profit’ early childhood services, including playcentre, kohanga reo, Pacific Island language nests.



The policies here may be out of date.


Labour party logoLabour

Labour on dyslexia and learning difference

The Labour Party stands for an inclusive education system in which every New Zealander is given the opportunity to achieve to their full potential. We recognise that everyone is different, we all learn at different rates, and we all have different strengths and abilities.

Every school a great school
Every New Zealand child has the right to attend their local school and to have any individual learning needs they may have catered for at that school. Labour wants to ensure that every school is a great school, and every teacher a great teacher. We will invest heavily in teacher professional development, including programmes that equip teachers to cater to the diverse range of learning needs our students have.

Equal opportunity for all
Labour is increasingly concerned about the growing inequality within our education system. No one should have their options limited because of the part of society they are born into. Labour is committed to addressing the issue of child poverty.

Equal access to support 
We have been vocal in raising concerns about unequal access to Special Assessment Conditions for NCEA candidates and have made clear out commitment to ensuring that every student gets the support they need, regardless of what school they attend. No student should be denied access to SAC because their parents are unable to pay for the specialist assessments required to apply for it.

A change to special education funding
Labour is concerned that the current funding system for special education relies too heavily on individual learners meeting the criteria imposed by the system, rather than the system catering for the individual needs of each learner. We want to turn that around so that every student with an identified learning need gets the support necessary for them to achieve to their full potential.

Chris Hipkins
Education spokesperson
March 2014



The policies here may be out of date.


National party logoNational

National’s unrelenting focus is on raising achievement for all our students.  Most of our kids are successfully getting the qualifications they need from school and going on to enjoy the opportunities a great education provides.  But our plan is about getting all of our kids achieving education success and raising achievement for five out of five.

We believe high-quality education is vitally important. It provides the opportunity for any child from any background to get ahead and make the most of their life. Research and experience show that providing an intensive package of support for students with complex needs in their local schools results in better outcomes for students.

National’s aim is to achieve a fully inclusive education system with confident schools, confident parents, and confident children.  We want to see all schools demonstrating inclusive practice.

The wraparound service approach supports the findings in the Special Education Review 2010, the Government’s key themes for special education, and the Ministry’s commitment to achieving inclusive practices through improved systems and support as outlined in the Positive Behaviour for Learning action plan.  This plan focuses on supporting parents and providing teachers in all schools with the skills and knowledge to deal with behavioural issues.



The policies here may be out of date.


NZ first logoNZ First

UPDATED – Latest policy as at 5/9/14 is HERE:

New Zealand First is very aware of the current lack of support for students with the educational challenges faced by those with Dyslexia.  And while there have been some steps towards providing support for these students at NCEA level.   It is our view that not only should these supports in the later educational years be strengthened but that these solutions must be delivered down into the earlier education years.

New Zealand First is a strong advocate for “front ending the spend”.  And I am currently working on a policy presentation around enhancing the collection of School Entry Assessment data so that children with educational needs can be identified earlier and provided with these supports, along the lines of the Finnish education system, earlier rather than later when damage to self-esteem has already taken place.

It is our view that it is inappropriate for any students family to have to privately fund an educational psychologists report in order for their child to access academic support for dyslexia.  At a recent financial review of NZQA I raised the topic of digital independence from human reader/writers for our NCEA students.  For example, a screen reader is an essential piece of software for a blind or visually impaired person which could be also be of use to those with dyslexia. Simply put, a screen reader transmits whatever text is displayed on the computer screen into a form that a visually impaired user can process (usually tactile, auditory or a combination of both).  It does not take a large stretch of the imagination to see that this technology could be used to “read” for those with dyslexia.  And the fact that there are several screen reader programmes that are free to the user and we see that cost now no longer becomes a factor.  What about the challenge of writing for our dyslexic students – well voice recognition has been around for a very long time now and with many schools moving to a “bring your own device environment”  a headset microphone and cool earphones should not even raise an eyebrow in a modern learning environment.

It is our view that National Standards has not identified anything new for these or other New Zealand students.  New Zealand Teachers were already aware of those children who were having difficulty due to a variety of reasons.  New Zealand First would have preferred to spend the close to $38 million budgeted to date for National Standards on the actual identification of children with challenges and providing the appropriate resources to support them participate to their best ability inside our schools.   While current and recent governments have finally acknowledged that Dyslexia exists they have taken no concrete steps to assist these students as early as possible through the appropriate resourcing of schools to support these students with identification testing (as you are aware dyslexia has an enormous range and require very individual assessment) and digital resources so that the student, at the earliest possible time in their development, can learn alongside their peers with pride, can meet success inside an educational environment that supports their specific challenge while celebrating the alternative and creative perspective these same students bring to the classroom environment.

Should New Zealand First have influence after the 2014 election this is an area we would seek to invest in. (end)

So there you go – the main parties’ policies and statements on education.  What are your thoughts after reading them?  Anything more you would like to ask?  Anything you want to challenge? Any other policies or information to add? Comment below.

If it inspires to you to ask more, or to share your thoughts, you can use these links to reach your local MP and the main NZ newspapers:

Click here for a list of  New Zealand MPs’ email addresses

Click here for email addresses of NZ Newspapers

And last but not least … do remember to VOTE.



The policies here may be out of date.



Sources and further reading:

Party policy information and links

Labour Party – Education

My submission to Stuff Nation, by Boonman

“They are developing policies not to benefit children but to benefit those who wish to invest heavily in a privatised education system.”

Since the current National government slipped through a policy on charter schools as part of their deal with John Banks and the ACT Party, the education system in New Zealand has started to resemble a chaotic mess.

This chaotic mess was started not to benefit New Zealand children but to open the education system up to wholesale privatisation. It has nothing to do with education children or improving standards or anything of that nature. These current education policies are drawn directly from Neoliberal Education Policy 101. They are utterly ideological and utterly doomed.

Their policies are full of contradictions. On the one hand the government say teacher quality is the single most important contributor to student success yet they are allowing unqualified and unregistered teachers to front classes in charter schools….”

A brilliant letter to the editor by Boonman.  Read the rest here: My submission to Stuff Nation.

via My submission to Stuff Nation.

Boonman tells it as it is: The right hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.


My favourite bit:

Ok then, what do we do next? Do we open the education market up? Let free enterprise reign supreme and provide the panacea to all our education woes?

Yes. BUT…. what do you mean, yes BUT?

Yes BUT we don’t believe the private sector should have to front up any of the cost for this enterprise.

Sorry? Aren’t you the party that has been arguing for years – two decades nearly – that there should be very little government and the markets should be freed up and allowed to rule?

Well… um… yes… um… sorry, what was the question? Ooooh look, isn’t that a pretty cloud up there in the shape of Jesus on a piece of toast (scuttles away hurriedly).”


(you really should – it’s a good one. ~Dianne)

My Thinks

Hello y’all.

This week has been pretty cool. As a teacher that is. It’s been the first week of the year (yes, that’s right, year!) where I’ve managed to do a whole week of teaching in the classroom with little or no interruptions.

Little or no interruptions? “What are you talking about Mr B?” I hear you asking… Being a Year 5 & 6 class there is the seemingly continuous issue of what I’m sure Mrs Parata would call non-core subjects.

So far this year my “learners” as her highness would call them have been on a week-long camp, have swum every day in the school pool, and attended the local swimming sports. All this non-core stuff comes nowhere near being measurable by any national standard AND is far more valuable to a kid’s long-term growth than being able to work out 9 + 7 by changing it to 10…

View original post 935 more words

The Kiwi Charter School Scandal

Charter Schools - Privatisation of education by stealth and with NO mandate

Charter Schools – Privatisation of education by stealth and with NO mandate

Please everyone share this – tell people!

Ordinary Kiwis have no idea!

According to the government’s plans for charter schools:

  • They can PROFIT from our kids’ schooling (Money paid to them can be spent however they like and kept as profit by the company running the school)
  • They can teach them how they want (goodbye National Curriculum, despite being such a world renowned document)
  • And they can do all of that in secret (no ombudsman and no Official Information Act will apply) (update – some ombudsman powers have been agreed but still no OIA)
  • They are allowed to have NO BOT (goodbye community involvement)
  • They are allowed to have staff with NO TRAINING (yes, that is bound to raise achievement)
  • …and for all that they will be allowed to make a PROFIT from the taxes our government GIVES them to run the bloody school.

It is the biggest scandal ever.

These are YOUR taxes.

This is YOUR country.


No to charter schools.

No.  No.  No.

Education not for sale

Please everyone share this – tell people!

NACT facts: random information or spin that National and ACT have drummed up and presented as fact (n)

Catherine Isaac has moved on from the USA and UK charters and is now trying to tell us Sweden is the saviour of education.  Truth?  Or dare?

Catherine Isaac has moved on from the USA and UK charters and is now trying to tell us Sweden is the saviour of education. Truth? Or dare?

Charter schools.  Are they going to revolutionise our education system and lead to brilliant gains for our children, particularly Maori and Pacifica children?  Catherine Isaac says they will, and she wrote a wee article for her friends at the New Zealand Herald to  show just that.

But is she being honest with her ‘facts’?  Is she telling the whole story?  Is there another side to this coin?

You bet your ass there is.

Let’s take a look at Isaac’s NACT Facts

NACT Fact 1:  “The many undoubtedly positive features of regular state schools …  such as parent representation on school boards, and the requirement of schools to produce detailed annual plans with targets and employ teachers registered with the Teachers Council, have not saved 52 per cent of Maori students and 41 per cent of Pasifika students from failing to achieve NCEA level 2.”

Truth or Dare:  Where is the evidence that REMOVING those ‘undoubtedly positive features’ from schools will raise achievement?  HOW?  Give us some of that data you guys like so much.

And as she is implying they must be removed to raise the bar (somehow) for underachievers, why are they also to be removed from charters with pupils from other groups that are not deemed to be underachieving?  Hmmm, so removing the democratic process from schools and taking the community OUT of it, will help children from disadvantaged groups and poorer communities improve….   yeah that sounds, well, just plain ridiculous.

Getting those communities MORE involved with schools, encouraging MORE of them to join BOTs, getting MORE links, that is what would strengthen the home/school bond and help to improve things, not breaking it all apart.

Catherine, that NACT fact was just plain silly.

NACT Fact1 (part2):  You say Iwi argue that there is “no respite in sight from an unresponsive and unempathetic mainstream system”

Truth or Dare:  What efforts have the Iwi made under the current system, how have they worked/failed, and what do they believe charters would provide that would be different?  Other than the ability to make a profit?

What’s next?

NACT Fact 2: NZ communities want charter schools.

Truth or Dare:  Well to start with most people have no clue what charters are, what they will be and how they might affect their communities.  So to say communities want them is ridiculous.  Some special interest groups want them, and Isaacs mentions Maori and Pacifica groups that have shown their support.  But if she was at the oral submissions she will have heard that most submissions by a large margin were against them.

Furthermore, when questioned about what a charter a school will do that is different to schools we currently have, and how exactly they aim to raise achievement for groups with historically lower exam passes, they are incredibly sketchy and have no real answers.  Any muttered suggestions I have read or heard apply equally to the schools we have and do not depend on charters for their implementation.

In the USA the tide has turned against charter schools.  In Sweden a poll carried out in 2011 found that Swedes who want to ban companies from operating schools for profit now outnumber those that don’t.  So it doesn’t sound like parents over there are seeing the benefits.  There are plenty of rumblings of discontent from parents in England, too.

And as for New Zealand, well Miss Isaac might want to get out and talk to the thousands of people I have seen and heard who are appalled about charter schools. See here, and here, and here … oh just Google it, there is plenty of opposition out there.

NACT Fact 3:  “There will be a binding, legally enforceable contract with each [charter] school, and that will ensure all is good.”

Truth or Dare:  Would those contracts be set up by Ministry of Education?

  • The same Ministry that oversaw class sizes and had actually calculated it all wrongly?
  • By the same Ministry that brought in a chaotic system that can’t pay its teachers?
  • By the same Ministry that can’t hold onto senior staff due to a prickly Minister?
  • The same Ministry that listed sandpits as liquefaction?
  • The same one that listed a school as having 50 buildings when it had 5?

Well okay then, so long as it is all going to be monitored by credible, talented and accurate people like that then go for your lives.

NACT Fact 3 (part 2):  “A school unable to demonstrate very clearly how it will attract and retain disadvantaged learners and help them succeed, and how it will engage with their families, will not get through the rigorous authorisation process.”

Truth or Dare:  Show me where it mentions provision for special needs students in charter schools in the Education Amendment Bill (2012).  In any other charter school document? They are not even mentioned.

NACT  Fact 4: . “..No student will be forced to enrol in one.  They will receive no more funding than the per-child amount received at a regular state school.”

Truth or Dare:  And if a local school is shut down (say, off the top of my head,by the government saying there are too many schools in a Christchurch suburb) and there is no other local choice, what is the parent to do then?  Where is the choice there?

As for funding… charter schools’ buildings funding ise handed over to the company that wins the bid to run the school, right?  HANDED. OVER.  Theirs to keep.  Even if they make a right royal hash of the school and it is closed.  Even if they themselves close the school.  The walk off with funding worth hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of dollars.  Show me where that is the same funding a public school gets.  Show me how handing over our assets helps students achievement.  Total lies and spin.

And while we are talking funding, since you are so fond of Swedish schools, please note that a university paper looking into Swedish Free Schools found that  “Swedish schooling reforms are not straightforward to analyse because free schools were not set-up at random across the 290 municipalities: they are more prevalent where the municipality is politically supportive and offers high per pupil funding.”  Source

NACT Fact 5:  “The ability to employ some teachers who are not registered with the Teachers Council simply provides for the opportunity to draw on the wider pool of trained and qualified teachers working in private training establishments.”

Truth or Dare:  Public schools can and *do* do that to.  It’s called the Limited Authority to Teach (LAT).  People wanting to teach with an LAT must be checked, to make sure they have appropriate skills, then are issued with an LAT. So here’s where it all gets gnarly again – charter schools will not have to have trained teachers or even teachers with an LAT – BUT public schools will still have to have teachers that are trained or who have an LAT.

Why the difference?

If LATs are good then both should use them – if they are not good then they should be scrapped. What is good for the goose is not at all good for the gander.

NACT Fact 6: Sweden’s free schools are the bee’s knees so there, that proves ours will be mind blowingly great (I paraphrase, of course):

Truth or Dare: “SNS, a prominent business-funded thinktank, issued a report last Wednesday that sharply reversed its normal pro-market stance. The entry of private operators into state-funded education, it argued, had increased segregation and may not have improved educational standards at all.

“The empirical evidence showing that competition is good is not really credible, because they can’t distinguish between grade inflation and real gains,” Dr Jonas Vlachos, who wrote the report on education…”

“Sweden’s path-breaking educational reforms of the 1990s have come under question since last December when the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development published the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment.  This showed that Swedish students had dropped to 19th place out of 57 countries for literacy, to 24th in maths, and to 28th in science. This compared with 9th, 17th and 16th in studies done in 2000, 2003 and 2006 respectively.”  Source

Also something to consider is “other evidence on free schools indicates growing social and ethnic segregation, and intensifying issues regarding admissions” Source 

NACT Fact 7:  Swedish teachers did not oppose Free schools and surveys have proved them right…

Truth or Dare:  See the answer to NACT Fact 6, above.

Michael Gove, the British Prime Minister who has brought in charters over there (named Free Schools) was as fond as Isaac of quoting Sweden as the charter school poster boy.  However, “Gove has not spoken much of Sweden’s free schools since 2010, because, in fact, the evidence on their achievements and social impact has not been particularly positive.( Gove has since moved on to Poland, and the liberal quoting of African proverbs.)”    Source 

If poor Isaacs is still confused about her ACT Facts/NACTS, she could always do some more research.

Maybe Isaacs should watch Mariria Turei’s speech in parliament

or read here, most especially the comments below the article 

or, you know, actually be honest.

Democracy in NZ is Dead – Forcing Through Charter Schools Come Hell or High Water

democracy is deadI went to the oral submissions on the Education Amendment Bill (2012) and amongst the lot of them there was just ONE very muddled and odd one in favour of charter schools and all of the rest were against.

ALL of them.

They came from academics, elderly couples, principals, unions, you name it, and all but one said the whole idea is flawed.

So why oh why is it that last week the Charter School Development and Authorisation Board was set up BEFORE the hearings committee report back?  (With former ACT president Christine Isaac heading it.)

And BEFORE the hearings committee report back, submissions are being called for from prospective charter schools.

The committee has NOT even reported back.

The Bill has NOT PASSED.

But none of that matters to National because they are going to push these through come hell or high water.

Regardless of whether you think charter schools will be a good thing (and I will be very clear, I do not) it is not acceptable for the government to again run roughshod over the democratic process and plough on with the pre-ordained plans.

Shame on the New Zealand Government.

And shame on the people who don’t stand up against this disgrace.

This is not democracy.


Sources and further reading:

Banks announces who is on the Charter School Development Authorisation Board

Radio NZ – Government accused of stacking odds in favour of charter schools

Scoop – Charter School Board Desperate and Undemocratic Act

Reblog: Charter Schools – contrary to ACT’s free market principles?

When the blogger, Imperator Fish  asked in a blogpost headlined – Did You Vote For Charter Schools? – he wasn’t just using a catchy title. He was raising a valid point.

Nowhere on the ACT website is Charter Schools mentioned in any of their policies.

Not. A. Word.

Instead, ACT’s education policy page mentions the usual waffle about “more choice” and some disturbing rhetoric about “the benefits of making education more market-like and entrepreneurial” (1), and principals setting salary for teachers “like any other employer” (4) …

Read the rest here.

(It’s a bloody good article and well worth the read.)

political jokes



ACT are Pushing Hard for Charter Schools Even Before Bill is Passed

NZEI Press Release

ACT usurps Parliament’s role in examining charter schools

catherine isaac

The former ACT president and current chair of the Government’s charter schools working group, Catherine Isaac, is pre-empting Parliament’s job of examining legislation introducing charter schools.

NZEI Te Riu Roa says it is writing to Parliament’s Education and Science Select Committee to express its concerns.

“Ms Isaac has created an “indications of interest” process for groups interested in establishing a charter school that mimics a formal authorisation process for such schools before the legislation to introduce charter schools has even been passed,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National Secretary Paul Goulter.

“The Education Select Committee has not even yet held hearings on the Bill that would introduce charter schools.  Ms Isaac was appointed to chair a working group to provide advice to the Government, not to usurp Parliament’s right to consider, debate and change proposed legislation, or to set up her own charter school authorising empire,” he says.

Mr Goulter says Ms Isaac appears to be setting up the process in a desperate attempt to drum up business, given the paucity of interest in the controversial ACT-National policy agreement.

A recent Official Information Act request to the Ministry of Education reveals that, up to the end of October, 11 parties had contacted the Partnership Schools/ Kura Hourua Working Group expressing an interest in establishing a charter school (see list below).

Most of the parties that have expressed an interest have narrow sectarian religious connections, including a transcendental meditation group,” Mr Goulter says.

“It appears few would even meet the Government’s focus of targeting priority groups of Māori, Pasifika learners from low socio economic backgrounds and learners with special education needs.”

“There is a risk we will see groups trying to siphon off taxpayer dollars to fund religious and spiritual schools who can access existing special character provisions of the Education Act.

“Charter schools will allow people who are not registered or qualified as teachers to teach in their schools. This has a high risk of a negative impact on children especially those who are more vulnerable or not achieving – the very children whom charter schools are supposedly going to help.”

The charter school framework permits private companies and not-for-profit groups to set up schools without being subject to the same outside scrutiny as public schools, even though they are given taxpayer money.

“The Government’s decision to continually put ideology ahead of quality education for students is part of its neo-liberal Global Education Reform agenda. It puts competition and measuring ahead of quality teaching and learning.”

List of parties interested in establishing a Partnership/Kura Hourua:

Maharishi Foundation of New Zealand
Nga Potiki Education Trust
Pacific Christian School
Living Way Centre
Little Ark ECE Centre
Nga Kakano Christian Reo e Rua Kura
Otara Community Preschool
Te Aka (2010) Charitable Trust
Makahika Outdoor Pursuits Centre
Motueka Rudolf Steiner School
Immanuel Christian School”

Press release ends.


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