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National’s knee-jerk support for charter schools shows it is struggling to develop Education policy

National’s support for reinstating the American charter school model shows not only that the privatisation bias that Bill English pursued over recent years is alive and well, but also that they are struggling to develop sound Education policy.

As far back as the 2008 general election, National committed to “increasing educational choices”.  But everyone knows that the phrase “School Choice” was first coined by economist Milton Friedman and is the code used to drive the privatisation movement in the USA.  The pure form of the privatised market model is vouchers, but in practice the charter school model has been adopted as the most practical privatisation route in most States.

The irony is that there is a wide variety of choice already available in the New Zealand public education system.  One leading American commentator, writing in the Washington Post, made the remark that “…the most aggressive school choice system in the world is probably New Zealand”.

Surveys over many years by the NZ Council for Educational Research confirm that around 90% or more of New Zealand parents feel they send their child to the school of their choice.  This high degree of satisfaction with choices available is underpinned by the variety of schooling options available, both within the State system and across the State-Integrated model.

Every State and State-Integrated school is governed by a parent-elected Board of Trustees, under a charter, the defining document that sets out the school community’s Vision and Values. It is this inconvenient fact that requires “charter schools” to be called something different in New Zealand!

The State system includes the set of schools operating as Kura Kaupapa, under s. 155, and the set of Designated Character schools under s. 156.  These schools are complemented by over 330 State-Integrated schools, with religious character, such as Christian values or even Muslim values, as well as a variety of teaching philosophies, such as Montessori or Rudolf Steiner.

Indeed, anyone who tries to claim that New Zealand has a “one-size-fits-all” public education system is either very poorly informed of the variety of options available or is being deliberately misleading.

As a former Minister of Education, Nikki Kaye knows this only too well.  So, we can conclude from this release that she has just nailed her colours to the mast of the privatisation movement.

National hid behind the ACT Party first time around and needed the support of the Maori Party to get the initial charter model legislation through the House.  The convenient marriage of the ideology of privatisation and the ideology of self-determination was therefore born.

Given that the formal evaluation of the charter school model, carried out by Martin Jenkins, failed to draw any genuine conclusions as to the impact of the model to date, National is clutching at straws to claim that the model has already proven to be successful.

And we know from the financial statements of the Sponsors that this has been a lucrative business for them to enter.  Bill English rushed to change the funding model after only one year but the first and second round school Sponsors have scored well out of the policy and away from the watchful eye of the Auditor-General.

No wonder they don’t want to let it go!

Labour has launched several reviews across multiple fronts to try and get to grips with the challenges of reinvigorating the New Zealand public education system after 9 years of flawed policies, such as National Standards.

It is early days yet but National’s knee-jerk reaction to bring back an American model that doesn’t even work there reveals how shallow National’s approach to developing Education policy is proving to be.

– Bill Courtney, Save Our Schools NZ

About this government and education…

I’ll be honest, when it comes to education policy, I’m not enthralled with everything the Labour coalition government’s done so far.

In particular, I’m more than a bit annoyed about the piddling increase in schools’ ops budgets, and don’t get me started on not reinstating 100% trained teachers to Early Childhood Education (ECE). And the increase to Ongoing Resource Scheme (ORS) funding doesn’t cover the full need out there,  Teacher Aides are still being paid out of the operations budget (competing against the power bill and the money for loo rolls), and the teacher pay offer is galling. Very galling. But it would be madness to say this government isn’t an improvement on what we had for the last nine years.

Already this government in the process of getting rid of two of the hugest bones of contention for so many in the education sector – National Standards and Charter Schools. As soon as the government was formed, the announcements were made, and it’s moving as fast as the wheels of Government allow given that changes to the Education Act are needed.

The government’s also reviewing Tomorrow’s Schools to see if it’s fit for purpose, and looking at NCEA for the same reason, including inviting feedback from the education sector and the wider community. And school funding is being reviewed, too, to see if there are better ways than the current decile system, which everyone agreed for years is a blunt instrument but nobody had yet replaced. So they’ve acknowledged that changes may well be needed and they’re seeking feedback – this I like.

It also matters that the current Education Minister, Chris Hipkins, and the Associate Education Minister, Tracey Martin, both speak about teachers with respect. It seems like such a small thing, but after almost a decade of vitriol, it’s needed and it’s so very, very welcome.

So, yes, there’s a lot more to do, and we are entitled to gnash and wail about the pace and the bits not yet addressed. And we absolutely should continue to watch every move and hold our Ministers to account. But to say nothing’s changed would be wrong. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than what we had for almost a decade.

As Rita Pierson might have said, we ain’t there yet, but we’re on the road.

Leading US Civil Rights Group calls for charter school moratorium

Several recent stories are highlighting the fall in support for charter schools in the USA.

Most significant is the call at the 2016 national convention of the leading civil rights group, the NAACP, for a moratorium on charter school expansion.

The resolution called for a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools at least until such time as:

(1) Charter schools are subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools

(2) Public funds are not diverted to charter schools at the expense of the public school system

(3) Charter schools cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate and

(4) Charter schools cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious.

But following the November 2016 Presidential election, the NAACP was concerned that Trump’s agenda to expand the privatization of public education would put the promise of a quality education for all at risk.  The Board of Directors then expanded the work of a Task Force they had created to examine charter schools to include protection of quality public education for all inner-city children and renamed it the Task Force on Quality Education.

The Task Force framed their report around five critical recommendations for regulating charter schools and strengthening the public education system.

  • More equitable and adequate funding for all schools serving students of color
  • School finance reform is needed.
  • Invest in low-performing schools and schools with significant opportunity to close the achievement gap.
  • Mandate a rigorous authoring and renewal process for charters
  • Eliminate for-profit charter schools

Other key findings of the Task Force are worth highlighting:

“Charter schools were created with more flexibility because they were expected to innovate and infuse new ideas and creativity into the traditional public school system.  However, this aspect of the promise never materialized.

“Charter schools are publicly funded, but they are privately operated under a written contract (or charter) with a state, school district or other authorizers depending on the state.”

“With the expansion of charter schools and their concentration in low-income communities, concerns have been raised within the African American community about the quality, accessibility and accountability of some charters, as well as their broader effects on the funding and management of school districts that serve most students of color.”

“For some, charter schools provide the answer to persistently failing traditional public schools in their community.  To others, charter schools drain their community of limited resources and harm their children because many cannot attend the charter schools in their own neighborhood.”

“There were pros and cons on charters versus traditional schools in every hearing.  The Task Force heard testimony that accused charter schools of “cherry-picking” students, counseling out the difficult students, manipulating funds related to average daily attendance once students were no longer in attendance, and re-segregating the public school system.  Conversely, charter school advocates criticized the traditional school system for its poor record in educating students.”

“In every hearing, many people agreed that the current education system fails too many children because of the lack of investment in people, policies and programs that support high quality educational opportunities.”

“Furthermore, while high quality, accountable and accessible charters can contribute to educational opportunity, by themselves, even the best charters are not a substitute for more stable, adequate and equitable investments in public education in the communities that serve our children.”

~ Bill Courtney, SOSNZ

Source: NAACP Task Force on Quality Education Hearing Report, July 2017.

What Now For Education?

The voting is over, the preliminary results are in, and New Zealand First are calling the shots.

Winston Peters’ coalition decision will decide who is in government, but he is such an enigma that it’s impossible to know what he will do. Will he go right with National, or will he go left with Labour and the Greens – we really don’t know.

However, for education, the two possible outcomes stand in stark contrast.

Scenario A: NZ First and National

NZ First and National have incredibly different visions for education:

  • NZ First want to restore the requirement for all ECE providers to ensure that the 100% registered teacher staffing ratio is achieved. National removed that provision.
  • NZ First want to replace National Standards at Years 1 to 8, with children’s progress and achievement being assessed against level bands within the New Zealand Curriculum. In contrast, National want to further embed National Standards via ‘National Standards Plus’.
  • NZ First want to repeal the amendments to the Education Act 1989 that allowed the creation of charter schools. National want to expand the charter school experiment.
  • NZ First want to work with the sector to provide for professional development and re-establish the curriculum and school support advisors that National got rid of.
  • NZ First want to ensure the education sector can elect its own representatives to sit on the Education Council. National took this right away from teachers.

NZ First and National are just not in agreement on the future of our education system, and with an NZ First/National government, it would be an uphill battle for NZ First to effect any changes to National’s plans.

Scenario B: NZ First, Labour and the Greens

In stark contrast, there is enormous agreement on what is needed in education between NZ First, Labour and the Greens:

  • All three parties want to restore 100% trained Early Childhood Education (ECE) teachers and promise to restore funding to support that.
  • All three parties want to get rid of National Standards.
  • All three parties want to increase funding and support for teachers’ professional development.
  • All three parties want to repeal charter school legislation.
  • All three parties want teachers to have the right to elect their own representatives to the Education Council.

All three also want an inclusive model that properly supports children with Special Educational Needs, and all three want adequate funding for support staff.

Clearly, NZ First, Labour and the Green Party are on the same page when it comes to education.

Use your teacher voice

If your vision for the NZ education system aligns with NZ First, Labour and the Green Party, you might want to ‘cast your vote’ one more time and email Winston Peters at winston.peters@parliament.govt.nz to ask him to put education at the forefront of his decision.  With Tracey Martin and Chris Hipkins together, education would be in safe hands.

~ Dianne Khan

 

 

NZ Political Parties’ Education Policies 2017

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s election year, and that means it’s time to look at the various political parties’ education policies.

So, because we are helpful souls here at SOSNZ, here’s a handy alphabetical list of NZ political parties with links to their education policies online (or, where no education policy is yet published, a link to their general policy page):

ACT Party Education Policy

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party Education Policy – none on party web page. Other policies are here.

Conservative Party Education Policy – none on party web page. Other policies here.

Green Party Education Policy

Internet Party Education Policy

Labour Party Education Policy

Mana Party Education Policy

Maori Party Education Policy – not on party web page. Other policies are here.

National Party Education Policy

New Zealand First Education Policy

The Opportunities Party (TOP) Education Policy

United Future Education Policy – none on party web page. Other policies are here.

vote for education

 

 

David Seymour and another misleading statement about charter schools

David Seymour has made a clearly incorrect statement to the media about his beloved charter schools and contradicted his Minister in the process.

The question at issue is the incorrect interpretation and measurement of the student achievement targets used in the original charter school contracts for the first and second round charter schools.

Save Our Schools NZ has been involved for over a year in the battle to get the Ministry of Education to acknowledge that both the reporting by the schools and the performance evaluation by the Ministry have been incorrect.

Radio NZ reported on Thursday that Seymour defended the incorrect interpretation by making the following statement:

“The reason that there is a difference, just remember, is that we have been pioneering holding schools to account through a contract, and it was necessary if you wanted to do that to have a different system of measurement.”

This statement is rubbish!

The original contracts did not have a different system of measurement at all.

The performance standards used in the original contracts were stated as “School Leavers with NCEA Level 1” and “School Leavers with NCEA Level 2”.

But both of these performance standards have been interpreted incorrectly and not calculated in the normal way that the Ministry does so for all other schools in the system.

These School Leaver statistics are published in the Ministry’s Education Counts database for every school: state, state-integrated, private and now the charter schools.

The error was obvious once the Education Counts “School Leavers” figures for the first round charter schools were released and it was clear that these were different from both the schools’ own reporting and the Ministry’s evaluation.

But it was also clear that they were not what the Minister had intended when the contracts had been put together in 2013.

Under the Official Information Act, Save Our Schools NZ obtained Ministry reports to the Minister in 2013 that set out the basis for the contract performance standards and the metrics that would be used to measure performance.

These documents included one where the Minister, Hekia Parata, made a hand-written comment on one of the papers in May 2013, discussing the principles behind the contract standards:

“There is to be no compromise on the system-level benchmarks.”

This makes a mockery of David Seymour’s claim that it was necessary to have a different system of measurement.

The  Minister then signed off the contract metrics in September 2013.  These included the following:

“n.          Agree that performance standards for 2014 NCEA Level 1 and 2 should be based on 2012 system-level results for decile 3 state schools.”

So the Minister had clearly intended that the normal system-level benchmarks should be used and the charter school targets for 2014 should be the same as the results of decile 3 state schools in 2012.

It is the incorrect interpretation and measurement of those performance standards that has been revealed and is now being corrected.

Seymour is simply wrong to argue that a “different system of measurement” had always been intended.

~ Bill Courtney, SOSNZ

See also: https://saveourschoolsnz.com/2016/08/16/david-seymours-bizarre-claims-about-charter-school-performance/

PISA circus time again

graphYes, it’s that time again, when the OECD releases the PISA test results and Education Ministers everywhere frantically start to spin the information to justify whatever plans they already had. Statisticians in government departments everywhere lurch across desks in darkened rooms, poring over the data, eagerly cherry picking the bits that serve their Minister’s purpose. Such fun!

Then there are those dedicated researchers who put out articles quick-smart explaining why PISA is flawed and unreliable. They explain in great detail the ins and outs of data collection and test setting and statistical analysis and, despite our best efforts, maybe one in a thousand of us can follow what they are saying. But we read anyway and nod sagely. Because there are graphs and there is data, so it must be good stuff.

The media, of course, enter into some kind of Nirvana, gleefully whipping up a hoohah about countries “slipping down” or “surging up” the tables. Heaven forbid a country has the temerity to stay in the same place – how’s a journo meant to get a headline out of that kind of carry on?

Of course, in all of this madness, we could take the Yong Zhao route and denounce PISA altogether – say no to the sausage factory. But that doesn’t sell papers or make for rousing Ministerial pronouncements, or even attract blog readers, so, yeah nah.

Instead, yet again, we will be treated to the PISA circus, like it or not, so please remember to engage your critical thinking skills.

~ Dianne

A coalition of the unwilling, by Prof. Martin Thrupp

Speech to World Educators’ Day Rally, Garden Place, Hamilton, Saturday 29 October 2016 

Prof Martin ThruppKia ora koutou, thank you for being here this morning.

Today we celebrate and thank teachers, and we thank those who provide leadership and those who provide support at every level of our education system.

And we also thank all of you who help and support our educators here in Aotearoa as spouses and partners, family and friends, parents and children.

I think it can be a good job being a teacher or working in education, it can be satisfying and you can often make a difference. But working in education is rarely straightforward and it is very busy and sometimes exhausting.  

Teachers and schools get blamed for a lot, and most of it is unfair. I have written quite a few books and articles about this problem, it’s what I call the ‘politics of blame’.

I heard Mike Hosking say on TV during the week that the regions including the Waikato are surging ahead, we are ‘on fire at the moment…doing brillantly’ he said. Well that’s one view of it.

But actually this is also a region where many people are struggling. I’ve become involved in Poverty Action Waikato, they put out a report recently and it’s such a shocking read.

And I know that if it wasn’t for the very good caring and teaching work being done in the sector then many children and young people and their whanau would struggle even more.

Did you know that the latest round of PISA test results organised by the OECD will come out on 6th December? That’s the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) run by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It’s when the education systems of 72 countries and regional economies within large countries get ranked against each other.

I don’t know where New Zealand will come in the rankings this time. But I do know that if we do well the Government will happily take the credit! If we don’t do well then you teachers will get the blame!

Last time we did badly and Hekia Parata was asked if she would resign. And now she is going to resign. Maybe she knows something about the PISA results coming out in December that the rest of us don’t yet.

The Minister, Hurricane Hekia, that was what the Herald called her, she does have a forceful manner and she can also be very charming. But mostly I think she is on a hiding to nothing because this Government doesn’t want to put more money into public education than it absolutely has to.

The budget this year had overall education spending forecast to stay about the same through to 2020, that means it is falling as a share of GDP and on a per student basis.

Actually, this Government doesn’t want to put more spending into any social or public spending than it really has to which is mainly to meet its promises around superannuation. It’s why poor people in this country are no longer falling through the cracks, they are falling through gaping holes.

A lot of us are here because of concerns about education funding. The problems are complicated because it’s a mixture of under-funding and of spending good money on policies and interventions that are not helping.

But I think the NZEI and PPTA are right to think that the global budget idea is a case of ‘secret plans and clever tricks’. Because once you move away from national scales for pay and the operations grant, the Government can put an even stronger cap on educational spending.

It can wash its hands of class sizes, the casualisation of the workforce and the real needs within the system in terms of operational funding.

Then there is the social investment approach to funding. It is very much about trying an intervention, measuring it, and discarding it quite quickly if it doesn’t work in order to try something else.

Unfortunately education interventions rarely make so much difference or so quickly and there is a great likelihood of useful programmes being thrown away before they have really had a chance to work.

The social investment approach also puts great weight on the significance of specific indicators like having a parent in prison, it’s less about the general context of deprivation or poverty.

But while Hekia Parata says that socio-economic factors are often overstated in education I think they are more usually understated. It’s that politics of blame again.

What I’m most worried about in education is that we will look back on these Key Government years as the period where privatisation of our public education system really took off.

The period when public education was run down.

The period when public education got dismantled.

The period when we let down not just our generation but generations to come.

I can see a hollowing out of educational processes happening all over the sector whether we talk about professional learning and development, professional resources, educational research, teacher education, curriculum coverage, special education or support for leadership.

In fact where New Zealand education is not in decline it is often because educators are working against the grain of policy rather than being supported by it.

But I also believe that when people look back on this period in our nation’s history, teachers will come out of it quite well. This week I was looking again at the campaign against National Standards, it would have to be one of the most impressive campaigns against any education policy to be found internationally in recent years.

And you might say it didn’t work but it many ways it did work, it raised questions about the National Standards and stopped them from being used to do some of the political work that was hoped for.

But it’s still a challenge we all have, recognising the neo-liberal framing up of our outlook and not losing our capacity to think and to care.  If you get a chance go to Finland, I’ve just been there and it’s a real eye-opener about how things could be different – and better.

But even Finland has some global neo-liberal pressures coming on it through that OECD. Last year Helsinki, the capital of Finland, hosted the OECD’s first Global Education Industry Summit.

The aim was to establish a dialogue between ministers of education and the global education industry. And really it is about privatisation, about public education being opened up to the private sector more and more.

Hekia Parata went to that conference last year and she went to the second summit in Israel this year. And when Hekia did her speech in Israel she talked about building a coalition of the willing back here in New Zealand.

You can see where I am going with this.

When it comes to the privatisation of education, I want New Zealand educators to form a coalition of the unwilling. I want you to be unenthusiastic, hesitant, dragging of your feet and generally difficult. I want you to show only token interest and to be the last cab off the rank and not the first one.

Because it was Helen Kelly’s big farewell ceremony in Wellington yesterday and we are not all going to be as brave and as strong and as outspoken as Helen was. But what we can do is join together, PPTA, NZEI and our many friends and supporters who care about public education and form a coalition of the unwilling.

Martin Thrupp 

Special education funding cuts revealed

220916-rally-1Special education funding cuts have been revealed on eve of rally at Parliament to support inclusion education.

Educators are joining with disabled people, families and service providers to rally at Parliament tomorrow, Thursday 22 September, to let Government know that their Special Education Update is totally inadequate and it is time to invest in inclusion.

“NZEI is concerned that the Special Education Grant (SEG) paid to schools through operational grant funding is failing to keep up with wage inflation and roll growth,” said Louise Green NZEI Te Riu Roa President.

“Between 2009 and 2016, the SEG fell by 1.8% when labour cost increases are taken into account, according to information released to Education Aotearoa under the OIA.

“In the same period, school rolls have risen from 760,859 students to 776,816 and the identification of students with special education need has increased dramatically. So there really needs to be much more funding going into SEG than the Government is current providing to ensure the value of the funding per student increases.

“The SEG is mainly spent on teacher aides to help meet students’ special education needs. The inadequate levels of funding puts real pressure on a school’s ability to provide the best education possible for all their students.

“Any parent or teacher of a special needs child can tell you that the level of learning support funded through the Ministry of Education is inadequate, and in many cases non-existent.

“The recent Special Education Update proposal to shift resources to pre-schoolers, without putting any additional funding into the system won’t work in the best interests of all children who need the support. They need more funding.

“We strongly support greater investment in early intervention, but that should not come at the expense of those who need support when they are older. Funding should be based on the need for intervention and support, not age,” said Louise Green.

220916-rally-2RALLY DETAILS

Education for All Rally

Where: Parliament forecourt

When: Tomorrow, Thursday 22 September 4.30-5.30pm

Organised by Education for All, a collaboration involving the disability and education sectors, including NZEI Te Riu Roa

Facebook Event Page

Hekia Parata: little support for home schooling but full support for COOLs. Why?

The Education Amendment Bill proposes changes to the way Education is provided in New Zealand, and one of those changes is the establishment of COOLs (Communities of Online Learning).

Proponents say COOLs will open the door to more education opportunities, but have yet to explain how or why they believe it will lead to an improvement for students.

You can see me here, along with Megan Woods, Peter Dunne, Ron Mark, and Paul Foster Bell, discussing the issues on Back Benches recently:

I’m all for using technology to advance learning, but just doing a course on a computer does not make it quality learning – even the OECD agrees, saying that “education systems which have invested heavily in information and communications technology have seen “no noticeable improvement” in Pisa test results for reading, mathematics or science”.

Students having quality support readily available is incredibly important. I know this first hand, having worked for a while now with students learning via Te Kura Correspondence School, that a qualified teacher is still very much in need. Students need regular guidance, help and support.  Often a student will be floundering but will not ask for help, and it is down to the teacher to be monitoring and be responsive to the student’s needs. And, as you can well imagine, some students need a fair bit of nudging to stay on task.

We must remember each time the Minister promotes COOLs, that online learning can just as easily be accessed in a school, in a physical classroom, and with a physical qualified teacher on hand for support and guidance. We need to ask, w why the push to make more learning remote? The Minister has not explained the rationale for this at all.

What the Minister is proposing is actually an extension to (and perhaps you might say a distortion of) homeschooling.  I want to be clear before I go on – I fully support quality homeschooling – that is not the issue here.   The issue is how learning is done, how it is delivered, and why this change is being pushed. People should sit up and listen when even home schooling networks have serious questions.

Concerns I’ve heard raised so far include:

  • Will all students be guaranteed full and quality support in a homeschooling environment either by a committed parent, whanau member, or a qualified teacher?
  • How will students’ social and physical welfare be monitored and catered for?
  • How will students’ progress be monitored?
  • Who will be responsible for ensuring students are doing their own work?
  • How will students be supported?
  • Will the curriculum available be rounded and full?

When even home schooling networks are expressing concern about COOLs, people should listen; remember, they are the experts in understanding what is needed for a quality home-based education.

At the bottom of it all, one can’t help wondering this fundamental mystery of the fact that home-schoolers have been given little support or funding for years, but suddenly the Minister thinks learning at home is the bee’s knees. Could it be it’s only of interest to said Minister when it involves privatisation of another part of the education system?

~ Dianne Khan, SOSNZ

 

 

Minister MegaLie and Carter the Cloaked Protector

 

We ended season one of Minister MegaLie Strikes Again with a cliffhanger:

Minister MegaLie released a mega-fib- POW!!! -during Parliamentary Question Time, almost flooring The Hipkins – KAPUTTTT!

Eagle eyed Activist Gal spotted the uber-whopper and challenged said Minister to confess to her super-falsehood – KAPOW!!!

Super Special Ed launched a mighty roar: “Justiiiiiice – we demand truth!” – PZZANG!

Minister MegaLie held off Activist Gal and Super Special Ed with her La-la-la Blinkers of Steel – OOOF!!$!

[Silence]

Monster Media walked away and didn’t look back – ARGHHGGGGH!

The Hipkins was struck mute – ZZZAP!

Super Special Ed wept furiously, as the silence rang in their ears – WAHHHGHGGGH!

Teach-A-Trons throughout the land held their breath – EEEEK!

Activist Gal hoped for a hero…

[Fade Out]

Season Two: Minister MegaLie and The  Cloaked Protector

[Fade in to see Mighty Martin on the top of The Beehive]

Mighty Martin launches her email of shame into an angry Wellington wind – BAZINGA

hekia-lie-tracey-martin-priv

Carter the Cloaked Protector flinches and skulks backwards slowly into the Carter Cave – FLRGHGH!

[Tumbleweed and the sound of crows]

Carter the Cloaked Protector unearths an ancient text, The Scroll of Unaccountability WHOOA!

The Scroll of Unaccountability gives Carter the Cloaked Protector the power to bury Minister MegaLie’s heinous deeds once and for all – MWAHAHAHA!

hekia-lie-david-replyjpg

Super Special Ed let loose a might roar – RAAAARGGGGGH!

Teach-A-Trons arm for battle – KRANGH!

Activist Gal looks to camera and says

“Without you – without your voice – without your power and your vote – this evil will prevail…”

“But together… Together we are strong. Together we are mighty.

“Together We Can Get Justice!”

“Stronger Together”

The crowd beings to whisper.

More start to listen…

Staunchly, Bravely, Intrepid Souls join the chant…

“Stronger Together”

“Stronger Together”

Stronger Together

[Fade Out]

.

.

~ Dianne Khan, SOSNZ

https://www.facebook.com/events/184302395332651/

What National Has Done To Education in 2016 (so far)

id-100435177It’s been a year of non-stop changes and proposals. Some call it a war on free public schooling in NZ – indeed it feels like a continuous battery of skirmishes with little to no break between attacks.

If the Minister is purposefully undertaking psychological warfare to break teachers down, then she’s doing it well, because we’re worn out; We just want to teach.

So far this year, NZ public education has faced:

  • COOLs – out of nowhere and with no consultation at all, Hekia Parata announces plans for online charter schools for 5-18 year olds.
  • Global Funding – a raft of proposals to bulk fund schools, including giving schools a set payment to fund teachers with the provision for schools to spend that money any way they want (including not spending it on teachers).  This means government would cease to guarantee to maintain teacher/students ratios at current levels.
  • Special Educational Needs – the Minister has proposed significant changes, but appears to have largely ignored the information collected at select committee. It was confirmed that there will be no additional money for SEN, despite a real issue with under-funding. There are proposals to divert current funding towards early childhood education and reduce funding for 5-18 year olds. Proposal to stop ORS funding at age 18 rather than 21. (And Hekia lied in the house saying the proposals have support where none exists.)
  • Operations budget frozen – schools’ operations funding is frozen despite a hike in power and water bills, meaning a net loss of funds to schools. This means less money for things such as libraries, equipment, specialist classes, and teacher aides.
  • Teacher Education Refresher course – ill-thought-out and inappropriate targeting of teachers for retraining costing $4k (and no student loans available for the course) causes huge amounts of stress for teachers and put pressure on schools as it gets harder to find relievers.
  • Charter Schools – two more, despite the current ones missing targets set by Ministry of Education
  • National Standards – the ‘National Standards: School Sample Monitoring & Evaluation Project 2010-2014‘ report was published and reported that “evidence strongly suggests that [Overall Teacher judgements (OTJs)] lack dependability, which is problematic as OTJs are a central element of the National Standards system”.  Despite this, National Standards are still being pushed and continue to be used by government as if they are reliable.
  • Pushing PaCT – schools being pressured to adopt the Progress and Consistency Tool for National Standards. This includes workshops that give school staff very biased  and one-sided information. There are still concerns PaCT is being pushed in order to later use the data for performance pay, despite research and experiences showing  that teacher performance pay does not improve student outcomes and in some cases lowers it.
  • Education funding diverted to private sector – proposal to give a larger portion of the education budget to charter schools and private schools, leaving less for public schools
  • Untrained Staff unsupervised in classes – Minister proposed a law change to allow untrained ‘teachers’ to work unsupervised in public school classrooms (this while at the same time forcing trained teachers to spend $4k to upskill if they are deemed to have not done enough classroom teaching over the past few years).

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things – there have been so many – so please comment below if there’s anything that needs to be added.

Meanwhile, look after yourselves – there’s still one whole term to go and, as we know, a lot can happen in a few short weeks.

~ Dianne

PS, more added below!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Moving sands when measuring charter school effectiveness

The Education Ministry reported that some of last year’s new charter schools are not doing so well, but says there are good reasons for this.

The reasons given include students arriving at school far behind age-appropriate levels, student transience, the high rate of referrals from Child Youth and Family and the Police and referrals of difficult students from other schools.

Indeed, those are valid reasons for any school struggling to help students.

What I would like the Education Minister and the Undersecretary for Education to explain is how these factors are considered sound reasons for charter schools to struggle to help students and yet are considered excuses for public schools.

~ Dianne

Sources and further reading:

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/312221/’difficult’-students-going-to-charter-schools

 

 

Online learning with private companies will harm children’s learning – NZEI

nzei logoGovernment plans to legislate for children from 5 years old to choose to do their schooling online using private companies who do not have to have qualified teachers, will horrify both parents and educators, NZEI Te Riu Roa says.

NZEI President Louise Green said the plan undermined the very worthy goals for education proposed in the same legislation – the Bill for the new Education Act.

“We welcome the high level goals and the reassertion of the right to free quality public education in the Bill, Louise Green says. But New Zealand schools already offer online learning integrated with face-to-face teaching, although support and resourcing is needed to improve equity of access.

“However, in no way does the online learning framework the Bill proposes match what we know works best for student success. Experience of online schooling in the United States is woeful and all the evidence is clear that high-quality teaching is the  single biggest influence in-school on children’s achievement, particularly for our most vulnerable learners.

“Particularly for our youngest learners in ECE and primary school, education is also about learning to work and play with other children and to experience both growing independence and a range of activities outside the home. Online learning cannot replicate important social and experiential learning schools offer.

“This proposal was not subject to any consultation prior to appearing in the Bill. We are concerned it will open the door to a new market in private provision subsidised by the taxpayer that will take resourcing away from public schools.

“There is also a serious threat that children with learning difficulties or other challenges will be pressured into online learning as the cheapest option, rather than the Government taking full responsibility for specialist, personalised support to enable every child to reach their potential.”

The Online Charter School Study 2015  by the Centre for Research on Educational Outcomes showed that the academic benefits of online charter schools are currently the exception rather than the rule. See other implications  here or  full report. 

– NZEI

Campaign launched to reverse school funding freeze

nzei logoNZEI will tomorrow launch a nationwide campaign to reverse the Government’s freeze on school operations funding in order to secure sustainable resourcing for school support staff.

In its May Budget, the National Government snuck through a freeze to the school operations grant that pays for support staff wages and all other essential school running costs.

“This funding freeze is unprecedented. No Government as far back as 1999 has ever frozen school funding before, so this will put already strained school budgets under more pressure,” said NZEI President Louise Green.

“…this year’s budget freeze actually equates to a 0.5% per-student cut in operational funding for schools next year because of roll growth”

Research done by Infometrics shows this year’s budget freeze actually equates to a 0.5% per-student cut in operational funding for schools next year because of roll growth. It’s an even bigger cut when you take inflation and other costs into account.

“This cut will force schools to make trade-offs between support staff and other running costs. More pressure will go on parents to pay larger donations to cover the funding shortfall.

“We support more funding for the most disadvantaged students, but it should be in addition to adequate funding levels for all schools.”

“While the Government has put in a small amount of additional funding for the most disadvantaged children they have done this by cutting the per-student ops grant funding across all schools, creating winners and losers.

“We support more funding for the most disadvantaged students, but it should be in addition to adequate funding levels for all schools.

“Support staff like administration staff, teacher aides, technicians and others are most at risk of having their hours cut due to the funding freeze.

“Support staff already suffer from poor pay and precarious hours of employment despite their crucial role supporting children’s learning. The funding freeze puts them under greater stress and threat.

“We need better operational funding for schools that allows them to meet children’s educational needs. We also want support staff to be paid centrally like teachers are, so they are not competing with other costs and resourcing needs,” said Green.

The support staff campaign is part of the wider Better Funding Better Learning campaign being run with the PPTA to respond to the government’s proposal to introduce global funding, which could result in fewer teachers and larger class sizes.

“This funding freeze highlights the perils of bulk funding. We need to reject bulk funding for support staff and ensure it is not extended to include teaching staff,” said Ms Green.

Support staff will be starting their campaign by launching an online petition on Monday calling for parents and communities to message the Education Minister to reverse the funding freeze.

~ENDS

#betterfunding

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