Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, is being economical with the truth regarding the support now being given to support priority students and schools, says QPEC National Chairperson, Bill Courtney.
“The National Party propaganda material, sent to every household in February 2010, clearly stated that $36 million in additional funding was to be targeted at struggling students, and this was a key plank of the controversial policy’s introduction”.
This amount had been set aside as early as the 2009 Budget.
Anne Tolley told parliament, in response to a question from National MP Allan Peachey, that “The $36 million will go towards new intervention programmes currently being developed for students who need extra support in reading, writing and maths.” (Questions for Oral Answer no. 8, 16 September 2010).
But when the big day finally arrived, John Key and Hekia Parata announced on 26 August this year that only $27 million was to be invested in initiatives aimed at priority children.
Furthermore, many of the programmes to be funded included initiatives in place for many years, such as the $8 million earmarked for Ka Hikitia, the Māori Education Strategy first launched in 2008, and the Pasifika Education Plan.
It is clear that the students in most need of support are being short changed by a government hell bent on ideology rather than pursuing what we know works.
The funding commitment of $19 million to develop only 5 charter schools educating a total of less than 800 students is an insult to the students, parents and teachers of the schools who most need our support.
But the last straw was the announcement that a second round of charter schools is to take place before the “pilot” has even begun, let alone been evaluated.
QPEC reiterates its stance that National Standards is conceptually flawed, badly designed and poorly implemented. The data gathered from this system is neither valid nor reliable as an indicator of student achievement or school quality.
The negative impacts of National Standards are beginning to outweigh the positives and the students most deserving of our support are being sold out.
More from QPEC: http://qpec.xleco.com/
Heni Collins investigates growing concerns in Māoridom that the promised panacea of charter schools is a false hope.
Charter schools are not the way forward for the development of education for Māori, says Professor Wally Penetito, of Te Kura Māori at the Faculty of Education, Victoria University.
“I don’t think that’s the way to go for Māori. I want to see the development of köhanga and kura kaupapa, of the kaupapa Māori movement.”
While many whānau struggle with more urgent issues such as poverty, housing, health and employment, the issue of charter schools is creating further division and confusion amongst Māori, and even within the kaupapa Māori education sector.
Professor Penetito was one of several leading Māori educationalists and leaders who signed an Open Letter to the Government opposing charter schools (officially called partnership schools) in late May. Others who publicly oppose the policy include Professor Russell Bishop, Dr Leonie Pihama, Dr Mera Penehira, Cindy Kiro, Ani Mikaere, Metiria Turei and Lesley Rameka.
Both the Labour and Green party candidates in the recent Ikaroa-Rāwhiti by-election (Meka Whaitiri and Marama Davidson respectively) were clear in their opposition at a meeting in Taita. Mana MP Hone Harawira spoke passionately against the charter school bill in Parliament in May.
Māori members of the primary and secondary teachers unions NZEI and PPTA are firm in their opposition, as both unions believe the policy has the potential to under-mine the public education sector. About 85 percent of Māori children attend mainstream schools, with varying levels of Māori language used, and 15 percent attend Māori immersion kura and wharekura.
Te Rūnanga o Ngai Tahu outlined its strong opposition to the schools in a lengthy, well-researched submission to government. It is the only iwi known to have publicly opposed them.
The new schools are being promoted by the government (National, Act, and the Māori Party supported the charter schools Bill) as a means of tackling Māori and Pacific under-achievement but the results of overseas research relating to minorities in charter schools are inconclusive and benefits to Māori are likely to be minimal.
Despite that, of the 35 or so applicants wanting to establish charter schools, about a third of those are from Māori.
Leaders of kura-ā-iwi, designated character schools (section 156 of the Education Act 1989) associated with particular iwi, see charter schools as a way to gain more freedom from centralised bureaucracy.
Dr Toby Curtis, head of Te Maru o Ngā Kura a Iwi o Aotearoa (Iwi Education Authority) and Pem Bird (representing kaiako at these kura) say they represent 23 of 25 kura-ā-iwi in supporting charter schools. Iwi in support include Tuwharetoa, Tuhoe, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Manawa, Ngāti Rongomai, Tapuika, Waikato and Raukawa ki te Tonga.
Those in favour of charter schools often use the argument that the public education system is failing Māori children: “Too many schools are allowed to continue failing Māori children, without accountability for that failure,” said Pem Bird. “Kura Hourua can be a circuit-breaker for us, an agent of desperately needed change.”
The gap is closing
But while there is still a gap between Māori and Pakeha achievement levels, policies such as Ka Hikitia, Te Kotahitanga and He Kakano have been achieving success in closing that gap in recent years.