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Bad acronym, worse idea: online publicly funded private schools a disaster in the making – PPTA

PPTA logoThe Minister of Education’s announcement today that Communities of online learning (Cools) will be created to allow corporate entities to enter the education “market” is nothing but blatant privatisation, says the PPTA.

“Learning online is already here, ask any parent with children at school.” says PPTA President Angela Roberts, ‘What this does is open up a market for any provider to get public funding to offer online education, in competition with public schools.”

“Schools already have many ways of blending face-to-face with online learning. There will be no new opportunities created for our rangatahi with this change. The only benefit will be for business.”

“Coming at the same time that the funding review is proposing a standardised per-child amount being provided in a cash sum to schools, the proposal for ‘Cools’ sets up the possibility of student vouchers being used to fund private online schools.”

“There are two wildly incorrect assumptions that underpin this idea,” says Angela Roberts. “One is that online learning can substitute for face-to-face, and the other is that a more competitive market in education is going to lead to better results. Both of these fly in the face of all the evidence.”

“This policy would put New Zealand in the bracket of countries with the most free-market education systems in the world and similar to some US states. I don’t think this is what New Zealand parents want for their children.”

ENDS

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

Fraud, mismanagement, lies, failure: John Oliver takes on Charter Schools

Charter schools are privately run, publicly funded, and irregularly regulated.

John Oliver explores why they aren’t at all like pizzerias.

NZ, don’t say you haven’t been warned. We’re already seeing some of this here, and we only have NINE!

~ Dianne

Stop The Presses: lay person is expert on education!

Dear Mr Plested,

I had no idea that running a freight company gave one such insight, but since you clearly you know all there is to know about managing everything in the world, from trucking companies to education systems, I am hoping you will give me and my documentary making team permission to come and film at Mainfreight to see how perfect everything is there. So we can learn from it. Since you know everything.

We would like to do a one-to-one interview with you about your time as a teacher and principal, the pedagogies you use, your ethos, the professional development you have undertaken and your insight into child development. I feel we could learn a lot from you.

We would ideally like to film in the school you have running at Mainfreight and see the students in action. This will be inspirational for those poor teachers in the state system who don’t know what you know.

The mountains of evidence showing that performance pay for teachers doesn’t work (and not only doesn’t work but lowers student outcomes) needs to dealt to. Research is over-rated – all that peer-reviewed tosh! It’s time to show that none of that has any value by sharing your insightful reckons.

I for one am glad people like you are onto it. The education system needs more back seat drivers – that’s the very thing it’s been lacking all these years. Look how well it went when they handed all those English schools over to mobile phone execs and carpet moguls. It’s not like they had anything to gain from taking over all of those schools and taking the money that would have been wasted on students. Far better that it goes to businessmen such as your good self so that you can spend it on the important things like Vera Wang tea services, $1k meals and top-end Jaguars.

Let’s get this education system sorted. Get your people to call my people and we’ll Skype…

Naku noa,

Dianne Khan & the film team

PS: It’s wonderful that you support experiments on school students, and I’m hoping that – as such an advocate – you will be happy to send your child/ren to the nearest charter school and let us track how they get on there in a fly-on-the-wall stand-alone doco.

 

A week in the charter school universe…

If you don’t follow charter school goings on worldwide (and for your sanity, I kind of want to suggest you don’t), you’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s just the odd blip here and there. But, to be honest, it’s more like a volley of blips coming thick and fast. In fact, if blips were locusts, we’d have a plague on our hands.

Take just this week’s revelations, for example…

Nga Parirau Matauranga Trust (NZ)

  • David Seymour confirms that as yet not a cent of the $5.2 Million the failed Northland charter school received has been recovered. The school was open for just one year.

Waipareira Trust (NZ)

  • Waipareira Trust pulled out of charter school negotiations in part because Government refuse to include the Treaty of Waitangi in the contract. (What’s that again, how ACT say this is all for the benefit of Maori students…)

The E Tipu E Rea Trust (NZ)

  • This new body is set up by government to promote and support charter schools and given half a million dollars without even going to tender. (Very expensive cheer leading.)
  • Apparently it’s a charity, so it’ll have charity tax exemptions.

Academy Transformation Trust (England)

  • Ian Cleland, chief executive,”…spent £3,000 of taxpayers’ money on first-class rail travel, while dining expenses racked up on his taxpayer-funded credit card include a meal with other staff at Marco Pierre White totalling £471, and the Bank restaurant in Birmingham, at a cost £703.45″ Yes, teachers eat this way all the time in the staff room. More Moët anyone?
  • He also leased a XJ Premium Luxury V6 Jaguar car and put his wife on the insurance, clocking up £3,000 in service bills alone. Because what head teacher doesn’t need a Jag?

NET Academies Trust (England)

  • Maxine Evans spent over £9,000 on executive taxis to travel between schools (and they have been sometimes made to wait outside, meter running, for the duration of her visit!)

Paradigm Trust (England)

  • An OIA shows that the Trust pays for broadband at CEO Amanda Phillips’ holiday home in France. (Clearly it’s hard to afford when one only earns £195,354 (NZ$400k) a year.)

Gulen/Harmony Charter Schools (USA)

  • Charges filed against them alleging  US$18M fraud (One of a raft of scandals related to the Gulen charter school chain over the years)

Michigan study (USA)

Ohio Department of Education invoiced (USA)

  • Diane Ravitch reports that Geneva Area City Board of Education invoiced the Ohio Department of Education, stating that “[o]ver the past 16 fiscal years, $4,265,924.70 has been taken away from Geneva Area City Schools via State Foundation Settlement deductions and sent to under-performing charter schools.”

Cabot Learning Federation (England)

  • Bath-based school is closed due to insufficient students, leaving current students without a school. Parents were not consulted.
  • The school was inspected in May and judged to be inadequate.

Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust (England)

  • The Trust decides it doesn’t want to run the schools any more and looks to find someone new to take over. (Like passing on a franchise…)
  • The BBC reports: “In November, the Regional Schools Commissioner’s Office issued a pre-termination warning notice to the trust over “unacceptably low” standards at Marshlands Academy in Hailsham.”
  • The BBC also reports: “The commissioner said the number of pupils reaching level four or above in reading, writing and maths had fallen by 20% and was “significantly below the floor standard”

Oh I could go on… this is but a drop in the ocean… but you get the idea.

The charter schools movement is not about education – it’s about privatisation and diversion of funds. As always, I ask you to follow the evidence and follow the money.

~ Dianne

Featured Image courtesy of pixtawan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sources:

Taxpayers fund large wages and lavish perks of academy school chiefs , The Guardian, Published online Sunday 24 July 2016

Trust given $500,000 charter school contract without going to tender, NZ Herald, published online 

Are charter schools making the grade? – The Nation, TV3, Saturday 23 Jul 2016 10:34 am, retrieved 9.38pm 25/7/16

Charter school a waste of public money – PPTA, Radio NZ, published 7:19 pm on 28 January 2016, retrieved 9.31pm 25/7/16

Gulen-led schools in Texas accused of $18M fraud, World Bulletin, published 15:14, 12 July 2016 Tuesday, retrieved 9.46pm 25/7/16

Parents at Bath Community Academy say school has failed their children and failed them, Bath Chronicle, published July 23, 2016, retrieved 9.59pm 25/7/16

Why NZ should care that teachers in England are on strike

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On Tuesday 5th July 2016, thousands of teachers in England are striking, and the reasons that are doing so are very pertinent to what is happening in New Zealand.  Everything that is happening there is already being put in place here, bit by bit by bit.

Here, Charlotte Carson explains the reasons that the teachers are striking and why parents should care:

Parents – are you a wee bit pissed off that teachers are on strike again? And it’s all about their pay?!!

I am a teacher and I will be on strike on Tuesday. I want to explain why.

1. It’s not really about pay.
As a profession I think we are well paid. That is why we have good quality professionals working hard to teach children, inspire them and look after them. But this is about to change.

2. The White Paper
The government’s latest white paper proposes DEREGULATION of teachers’ pay and conditions. Currently all local authority employed teachers in England are paid according to the same contract. Like nurses and doctors, we have automatic pay progression (so the longer you serve the more you get – an incentive to stay in the profession), pay portability (if we move schools we get the same basic pay – they can’t pay us less – this stops a competition between schools for teachers based on money – without it richer schools will always poach good staff from poorer schools) .

3. What is performance-related pay?
The introduction of performance related pay will mean that teachers get paid according to exam results. As a parent I would never want a teacher to look at my child and think ‘is he going to wreck my data and stop my pay rise?’ We are not working in sales – it is hugely problematic to pay us based on exam results.

4. Why should non-teachers care about teachers pay and conditions?
Deregulation also means that our working hours, holidays, pay, sick pay and maternity pay will be individually decided by the employer – the academy that is. An Academy in Manchester has in its contract that maternity pay will be ‘subject to affordability’. Who will become a teacher if the terms and conditions are unattractive?

A mum said to me yesterday ‘but in my job I don’t get good maternity pay – why should I care about teachers?’. My answer is this: public sector pay and conditions set the bar for private sector pay and conditions. If we get screwed you will get screwed too.

5. What’s the problem with academies and free schools?
Academies and free schools are businesses. That means their primary concern is money. The government is paving the way for them to become profit-making businesses. Already many academies double up as wedding venues, conference facilities etc. No harm in generating revenue eh? Well only if it’s being ploughed back into the school and the children. Let’s remember schools are about children aren’t they? It seems not.

Many academies including Harris academies have recently got in trouble for deliberately excluding ‘problem children’ and paying local authority schools to take them off their hands – because they wreck the data. How can you publish your excellent GCSE results if some stubborn children just won’t make progress! The answer in some academies is to get rid of them – then you don’t have to report their results.

So if the money isn’t spent on the kids where does it go?

Good question!
Do a Google search on Haberdashers Free School account fraud. He ran off with £4million! How did he manage to do that? Answer – because he was only accountable to the board of governors and the head teacher. Local authority schools are overseen by a democratically elected local council. Academies don’t have to bother with that level of accountability. And the government also wants to get rid of parent governors. This would mean that academies would only be accountable to themselves. We’re talking about millions of pounds of public money. Already there have been many documented cases of fraud in academies and free schools.

6. Qualified teachers v. unqualified teachers
Academies and free schools don’t have to employ qualified teachers. Unqualified teachers are cheaper of course. But I know which one I want teaching my children.

This is all I have time to write just now.
The problem is that most teachers are so busy that they haven’t taken time to communicate all this with parents. I think we need to get much better at doing that.

But just think about your children’s teachers – do you trust them? If you do then please trust that they are on strike for the right reasons – for the future of our jobs and our schools – defending education from privatisation.”

New Zealand parents, take note – this is all coming our way, too.

~ Dianne

NZ charter schools – an overview

In these two short videos Assoc. Professor Peter O’Connor from the University of Auckland analyses why Charter schools are being introduced into New Zealand.

The first video was released in 2012. the follow-up in 2014, and together they give a good overall picture of the concerns people had and still have regarding NZ charter schools.

 

 

As a follow up, you may wish to watch Bryan Bruce’s up-coming doco about the New Zealand education system, ‘World Class?’, which is being aired on TV3 at 7.30 on Tuesday 24th May 2016. The doco was years in the making and should be very thought provoking.

The promo clip is here:

 

 

Charter school ‘pilot’ fooling no one – PPTA

charter-schools-look-before-you-leapAssurances that ACT’s charter school experiment was just a pilot have been proven false with this afternoon’s announcement of seven new charter schools.

PPTA president Angela Roberts was surprised a new round of charter schools were being opened when New Zealand tax payers had been promised the concept would be a trial.

With a poorly conducted evaluation of the existing schools lukewarm about their efficacy opening more did not make sense, she said.

“There are still a lot of questions to be answered.”

“We have been constantly reassured there would be just a handful of schools which would be robustly evaluated – both of those claims have been proved false,” she said.

“This is not a pilot, it is just a sop to the ACT party’s ideological commitment to favouring the private over the public sector.”

This was out of step with reality as illustrated by the disastrous Serco prison contracts and the closure of one of the first five charter schools, she said.

Current research shows our poorest schools are facing the deepest challenges in meeting their students’ needs.

“Public money should be going towards what evidence shows helps the most vulnerable, and that is professional support for their health and welfare needs and economic and social wellbeing,” she said.

Enabling schools to be hubs where students can connect with nurses, mental health and welfare support would have a much bigger impact than wasting money on an unproven experiment.

“The funds should be reprioritised to the state sector where they will have the greatest impact on the greatest number of students,” she said.

Education is being hijacked by profiteers

Education reformers like to say they are doing it for the kids. That the reforms will improve the education system. Mountains of evidence shows this is poppycock and that education reforms overwhelmingly lead to profits being more important than the children’s education.

England As An Example

In England, the government has ruled that by 2020 Academies (charter schools by another name) will take over ALL state schools. Forcibly.

Whether parents and students want it or not. Whether the staff want it or not. Whether the school board wants it or not. Whether the school is doing badly or brilliantly.

It’s been mandated: ALL England’s public schools will be handed over to Academies.

Do Academies/Charter Schools Improve Education Systems?

If Academies raised standards, perhaps it would be understandable that the government wishes to hand all schools over.  Acceptable, even. But they don’t.

Pro-reformers will point out this school or that as being improved under the charter school model. But the truth is, they are the exception. Under this model, there is a raft of bad practice: Suspensions rise. Inclusion goes down. Cherry-picking of students takes place. And when similar cohorts are compared between public and charter schools, it is clear that charter schools do not improve results.

Even the UK Department of Education’s own analysis shows that, overall, England’s state schools do better when run by the Local Education Authority than by an Academy Trust.

Which surely begs the question of why this is being done.

Follow The Money

If you want to know the reason for reforms, follow the money.

Ask yourself, who benefits from these changes?

It isn’t the students: England’s national and international test results have fallen since Academies were put in place.

It isn’t teachers: Classroom teachers’ work conditions and pay are often far worse in Academies.

So just who is raking in the money? You might want to take a look at Academy Trusts’ CEOs. And while you’re at it, have a look at the misappropriations and frauds that have already happened in Academies. (A reminder – that’s your tax money they are taking. Money that is meant to be used to educate students.)

And where are savings being made, to pay these CEOs? Excellent question.

Are Academy CEOs such brilliant businessfolk that they are able to use money so much more wisely than LEAs and school principals ever did? Is running a thriving carpet empire or a successful mobile phone business what it takes to make an education system great?

No, not so much.

UK Schools Minister Nick Gibb recently said, in a speech championing Academies, that “[n]o child should have to spend one day more than necessary in an underperforming school and as an urgent matter of social justice we are determined to spread educational excellence to every corner of the country.”

But does the rhetoric match the reality?

Indeed not, and the list of failures grows daily, with evidence showing that in England LEA schools out-perform Academies.

So what is really going on?

Cost Cutting and Untrained Staff

Let’s take this Academy school as an example.

Hatfield Academy primary school was, in 2015, rated inadequate at many levels.  The OFSTED report specifically said that teaching was inadequate and stated that the school must “[u]rgently improve the quality of teaching”.

And yet this failing Academy is happily advertising for someone with no training at all to teach its students: 

Academy job cropped

No training.

No knowledge of pedagogies. No research of good practice. No understanding of child development or psychology.

No. Training.

None.

To put this further into context, this is a school where a school survey of parents showed that:

  • 27% felt their child/ren were not making good progress at the school.
  • 45% felt the school is not well led or well managed.
  • 42% felt the school does not deal well with concerns raised, and
  • 40% of parents said they would NOT recommend this school to another parent.
This is a school that thinks, with all of the above in mind, that employing untrained staff to teach students is acceptable.

This is global education reform.

~ Dianne

New Zealand, a warning: The forcible conversion of England’s schools to Academies (Charter Schools), by John Palethorpe

no academy

I could never work in an Academy. As an educator, a professional and a passionate believer in universal education, they represent a corruption of the principles of equal access to free education. Not only that, the long litany of problems involving finance, curriculum alterations and mistreatment of students and staff clearly outline that Academy schools aren’t great places to work. A friend of mine wrote beautifully on the subject a little while ago now.

In New Zealand we have Charter Schools a half formed cargo cult version. They’re already in trouble due to finance, curriculum and mistreatment of students and staff. Sounds awfully familiar.

The first UK Academy opened in 2002. Their introduction was aimed at reinventing inner city schools with significant results and management problems. Then sponsors got involved, either rich individuals or corporations (including educorps). They were supposed to bring in private sector best practice and management, like most privatisation is supposed to.

In May 2010 the Conservative-Liberal Democrat (Lib Dem) Coalition came to power in the UK. There were, at the time, 203 Academies in the UK – mostly Secondary Schools.

nut-no-academies-placard1The term of the Tory education secretary Michael Gove saw a radical expansion of Academies. This was often as a result of OFSTED inspections, some of which classed schools as failing only a year or two after they had been called outstanding. Some schools were forced into becoming Academies, against the will of pupils’ parents.

Today there are 4,516 academies; 2,075 out of 3,381 secondary schools and 2,440 of 16,766 primary schools. The expansion was so rapid that many private Academy trusts took on more schools than they could cope with, leading to those schools failing and being taken back by the DfE until another Academy group could be found to take over. The free market of schools.

“It was the middle of last week when I heard that I could never work in the UK again as a teacher”

It was the middle of last week when I heard that I could never work in the UK again as a teacher. I’ve no plans to move back, I love Aotearoa New Zealand, but the crunching finality of knowing that there’d be no place that I could conscientiously work was sudden and upsetting.

In the Budget, Chancellor George Osborne (not the pig tampering one, the one who looks like a pig) announced that all English schools would be converted into Academies by 2020. Every single one of them.

What does this mean? Well, given the evidence already available it would mean none of the UK’s schools would be bound to teach the National Curriculum, instead being charged to provide a ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum. So what you’re taught in one school may be radically different from another. Not teaching style, actual content.

It’s not great for pupils, in more ways than one. Many Academies have operated a subtle and not so subtle selection process, choosing only pupils who are likely to be able to improve their results. Others, when dealing with those who are disruptive or failing, have placed pupils on study leave during exam or inspection periods, or placed them in study support centres outside of the school. This can take the form of pupils and parents being asked to leave by the school, rather than being excluded (which would show up in the all important league tables). Now that every school is to become an Academy, where do those pupils go?

Academies have, over the long term, not been proven to raise results any more significantly than schools in the UK operating under the LEA’s (Local Education Authorities, which will soon be defunded and dissolved). In fact, Academies have come under fire for exactly the same issues that LEA schools had in management, results and organisation, the same issues which saw the schools be forced to convert! Conversion turns every school into an individual Ltd company and scythes out the level of local support and oversight that was previously provided by the LEA. On such a huge scale, that’s far too much for the Department for Education to handle.

It’s going to cost money too. Newly converting Academies get a 10% funding boost, at a time when state funded schools have seen budgets cut year on year. But due to the rapid expansion of Academy schools and the lack of oversight, many have had to be bailed out by the Department for Education. I guess bringing in the ‘best of the private sector’ does mean being utterly sure the Government will spend millions trying to salvage the mess you make.

Overall, it’s had a huge impact on the profession. Academies are not bound by the collectively negotiated pay structure, meaning the UK’s Teaching Unions will have to bargain with individual Academy Trusts and schools. They’re also not bound by the negotiated terms and conditions of contract for teachers, which means many teachers find themselves on-call permanently or schools have employed teachers on the equivalent of zero hours contracts. The trend for Academies to lack unionisation, because of the ease with which you can be dismissed, makes this even harder.

NUT-save-our-schoolsIt’s not great for Academies, either, though. Without a national pay structure, schools who can find more money will get the better teachers. Schools with wealthy backers will have more than schools that don’t.

As a male Primary teacher, I’m relatively certain that I’d be paid more than a female doing the same job with the same experience. Why? Because I’m rarer. Teaching is one of the few professions where pay equality was built in already. And they’re getting rid of it.

“Academies don’t have to employ qualified teachers”

There’s also the question of professionalism itself. Academies don’t have to employ qualified teachers. And hidden in the announcement of Academisation was the change to Qualified Teacher Status.

Previously, Newly Qualified Teachers (NQT’s) were assessed over the course of a year or two to see if they were able to meet the standards for a qualified teacher. With a huge teacher shortage looming in the UK, the plan is to allow teachers to teach for longer in the classroom and be certified by their Headteacher and a Senior Staff member.Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says this will drive up standards, and drive is an important word. She announced that allowing teachers longer to qualify and removing the strict schedule teachers had to meet will allow those NQTs who struggle more chances to make it.

As an experienced teacher, I look back on my NQT period as far, far less intensive than doing the job in the years that followed. It’s being presented as like a driving test, just because you fail doesn’t mean you’re a bad driver, right?

“…reducing the standards you require of a teacher doesn’t drive up standards and professionalism, it drives it over a cliff”

Fair enough, but with one report saying teachers would have up to a DECADE to pass, it makes you ask – if it takes you ten years to pass your driving test, maybe you’re just not a driver? Buy a bike. Or walk. Some people just aren’t meant for the classroom, some people just aren’t teachers and the attempt to try and fill the rapidly depleting profession by reducing the standards you require of a teacher doesn’t drive up standards and professionalism, it drives it over a cliff.

It also makes it trickier for teachers to do as I did and head overseas. There’s been a mass exodus of teachers from the English system, coincidentally or otherwise, in the last six years. By shifting the QTS award to something less substantial, overseas authorities may very well view them as insufficient evidence of an ability to teach. I’m glad I left when I did; others in future may not be so lucky.

There is already a growing and vocal opposition to all of the plans outlined above, as well there should. Announcing you’re ditching LEA oversight and support of schools, dumping the need for any school to employ qualified teachers, dropping the National Curriculum, scrapping nationally negotiated terms and conditions and placing schools in a bidding war for new teachers is a huge and complete evidence free attack on the quality and professionalism of education in the UK.

“For me there’s sadness.”

For me there’s sadness. My love of teaching was developed, as a student, in the UK system that’s now being explosively dismantled. I spent the first five years of my teaching career safe in the knowledge that I was a public servant, providing fair and equal education to all of my children as a professional. I was paid the same as anyone else who was experienced as I was, and I could talk with teachers from around the country about the curriculum and its delivery in the knowledge that we were all working together as equals. It was an education system for the whole country. If these plans are implemented, it won’t be any more.

In Aotearoa we should take lessons from the way in which Academy failures were written off or marginalised to the public and how concerted political pressure on inspection agencies led to the dramatic spread of privatised schools. The few Charter Schools in this country are already struggling, and what has happened in the UK this week shows us the future of education if they’re allowed to spread further.

no-to-an-academy_nut.jpg

~ John Palethorpe

Further reading:

Michael Rosen on academy schools: ‘Local democracy bites the dust’ – Guardian

England’s largest academy chain ‘failing too many pupils’ – BBC news

New academies laws were passed by Parliament last night: here is what they mean for you and your school – Time Educational Supplement (TES)

Anti Academy Alliance

 

 

The Key to Reforming Education is…

Is it trained professional teachers?

Is it a balanced and wide curriculum?

Is it appropriate buildings and equipment?

Is it policies based on sound pedagogical research?

Oooh tell me, tell me, I need to know, how do we make the education system magnificent?

“How we talk about reform, how we deliver our messages, and with whom we communicate will make a big difference when it comes to winning the education reform conversation.”

Ahh. I see.

So the key to successful education reforms is not good policies or trained professional educators, or appropriate equipment and staff – it’s … wait for it ….  Marketing.

PR.

Spin.

spin doctor puppetAnd who tells us this?  The wise and kindly people at Canvas, who are – they say – all about excellence in education.

And they must be, because they promise to teach us to “refine messaging to different audiences”, and we all know that sound pedagogy = a good PR campaign. Doesn’t it?

You can see from their brief CVs that they are indeed passionate educators:

  • One worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
  • Another was Jeb Bush’s  communications director.
  • One even has a background at Proctor and Gamble, marketing Bounce, and nothing says sound pedagogy like soft fluffy linen.

Oh, wait, you mean that not one of them has any background in education? Not even a brief TFA job. Go figure.

But look, let’s not be cynical – they must be good because the course is a full five hours long and can be done on your phone.

And it says that if you complete the course you get ‘a digital badge and a certificate’!  Wahoo – gimme those pixels.

Annnd – unlike the tests these reformers like to foist on our kids – this course isn’t tested or examined! No siree, none of that testing carry on for the good ole education reform vanguard!

You’d think – given they are selling marketing skills – they might have done a better PR job on their own ‘boot camp’, eh?  Unless, of course, it is aimed at those already on the reform bandwagon and they don’t really give a monkeys what us educators think…

 

Whangaruru the first example of failed ACT Party education ideology

The closure of the charter school based at Whangaruru is an indictment of the charter school model and not a strength as David Seymour wrongly claims.

The first round charter schools were hand-picked by the Government and the Authorisation Board, headed by Seymour’s political ally, Catherine Isaac.

The Minister comments loosely on matters such as “inadequate curriculum leadership” but where was the advice she should have received from Catherine Isaac on whether it was feasible to put the Trustees’ “vision” into practice?

One can sympathise to some extent with the challenges the original Trustees faced in trying to establish the school in such a short time period.

But it is a failing of both the ideology behind the model and the politicised authorisation process that these challenges were not considered more seriously and evaluated properly.

Secondary schools need to be of some significant size before they can offer a broad curriculum and give students the full range of opportunities they need in the modern world.

According to the Ministry of Education’s database, only one Whangaruru school leaver (out of 15) gained NCEA Level 2 in 2014.  But information obtained from NZQA reveals that a good deal of the NCEA credits gained by students in 2014 came from Fencing and Possum Trapping.

The reality of what has happened at Whangaruru stands in stark contrast to the grand statements promoting the charter school model made by Authorisation Board member Sir Toby Curtis:

“We do not want to see our children fobbed off with “soft” subjects and meaningless qualifications that take them nowhere. They need the chance to succeed in subjects such as maths, science and technology, as well as languages, the arts and trades.”

Sir Toby gets our vote for Tui billboard of the year.

– Bill Courtney, Save Our Schools NZ

Related articles:

https://saveourschoolsnz.com/2015/02/25/excerpts-from-the-damning-ero-report-on-nzs-northland-charter-school/

https://saveourschoolsnz.com/2015/02/01/terrible-school-its-okay-just-go-for-a-rebrand/

https://saveourschoolsnz.com/2014/11/21/charter-schools-the-shroud-of-secrecy-continues/

Video: https://saveourschoolsnz.com/the-worst-possible-model-how-charter-schools-have-been-introduced-in-new-zealand/

Pssst…Mark, it’s me again.

Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘donation’ is not charitable (literally NOT a charity) and involves, yet again, someone with the most money using that wealth to influence the path of education with no say from the parents of those students who will be on the receiving end of yet more experimental reforms.

Whatever happened to democracy, I wonder?

Save Maine Schools

Dear Mark,

First – my sincerest congratulations on the birth of your baby girl.  My son (now sleeping in my arms and making typing a bit difficult) was born just over a year ago, so I know quite well the wonder and fatigue of those first few weeks. I hope you and your wife have gotten some sleep since you’ve been home, and if you haven’t – don’t worry, it’ll get better soon.

When you get a chance to come up for air from your new life with little Max, I have another letter for you to read. (I say “another” because, if you’ve not yet seen it, I wrote you  this letter  a few weeks ago.)

Mark, without question, you said many lovely things in your open letter to your daughter. I know that you – like all parents – truly want this world to be a better place…

View original post 580 more words

Why so many education reforms fail

Reading comments below an article on education reformer, Michelle Rhee, I found what  might be the best explanation of the connundrum facing education systems worldwide:

“… I have experienced teaching in two environments, the low-performing classroom and the high-achieving classroom.

In the former, much of my energy, both emotionally and intellectually, is spent on so-called classroom management. In the latter, the lesson plan itself takes care of classroom management, as higher-achieving students demonstrate initiative, creativity and academic skills during the 42 minutes or so of classroom instruction.

As a teacher, I try my utmost to educate all kids in my classroom; what I cannot do is change the culture of negativity and failure that seems to permeate all non-performing schools.

In other words, trying to change the culture of poverty, and all that goes along with it, is truly a quixotic task.

I am not fatalistic. Educational reformers must realize that in order to achieve true reform, the inequalities of our broader society must be alleviated, if not eliminated. Otherwise, educators will be caught in a surreal merry- go-round of failed reforms.”

Ignoring what the student does or doesn’t bring to the classroom is to fail to properly evaluate educational achievement issues. Yet education reforms continue to do just that. So what’s the answer?

~ Dianne

Public schools starve as charter schools get funded for “ghost students” – NZEI

dollar deskMany school principals are appalled at reports that charter schools are receiving funding for students they don’t have enrolled while public schools are desperately short of resources for vulnerable children.

It’s been estimated that more than a million dollars has been lost to the public sector to fund up to 180 so-called “ghost students” at charter schools.

Principals say public schools are finding it increasingly difficult to find resources for the growing number of special needs students.

“That’s public money going straight to the private sector – money that we need for our public schools,” says May Road School Principal Lynda Stuart.

She says that while new public schools are set up in areas of population growth, charter schools are being established to compete with nearby schools. This requires huge amounts of unnecessary establishment funding in addition to funding for children that don’t even attend.

In Whangarei, Maungatapere School Principal Judy Eagles says that in the public sector, schools lose funding if students don’t come to school for 20 days.”

“So where’s the equity in that?”

She says extra funding siphoned off for charter schools could create more programmes and provide extra support in her school for teachers and students with special needs.

“What’s particularly galling is there is just not enough resourcing to deal with the increasingly high needs of children coming into our schools, or for much-needed building upgrades,” says Lynda Stuart.

Auckland’s Fairburn School Principal Frances Nelson says the bar for receiving extra support is getting higher while at the same time there has been a big increase in the number of children starting school with major learning difficulties.

“This includes children starting school with conditions such as autism that have not been picked up earlier. Five years ago, we could have got funding for many students that we can no longer get funding for.”

Between them, New Zealand’s nine publicly-funded charter schools are guaranteed funding for at least 860 students but enrolment figures have shown they have fewer than 700.

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