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:
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
The 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.”
Government 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.
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)
Waipareira Trust (NZ)
The E Tipu E Rea Trust (NZ)
Academy Transformation Trust (England)
NET Academies Trust (England)
Paradigm Trust (England)
Gulen/Harmony Charter Schools (USA)
Michigan study (USA)
Ohio Department of Education invoiced (USA)
Cabot Learning Federation (England)
Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust (England)
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.
Featured Image courtesy of pixtawan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Taxpayers fund large wages and lavish perks of academy school chiefs , The Guardian, Published online Sunday 24 July 2016 00.05 BST, retrieved 6.59pm NZ 25/7/16
Trust given $500,000 charter school contract without going to tender, NZ Herald, published online 10:43 AM Monday Jul 25, 2016, retrieved 9.18pm 25/7/16
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
Parents at Bath Community Academy say school has failed their children and failed them, Bath Chronicle, July 23, 2016, retrieved 9.59pm 25/7/16
New Zealand public education will be seriously undermined once our government signs the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
NZEI Te Riu Roa National Secretary Paul Goulter says the deal puts at risk the rights of sovereign nations to enact laws and regulations that stop foreign edu-businesses from setting up in New Zealand, maximising their profits and dominating New Zealand education.
“This is a major threat to our fee-free, high quality public education system.
“The TPPA wording is ambiguous but analysis of the documents clearly shows the agreement would allow international corporates to move into the education sector in New Zealand. In no country has that ever worked.
“Unlike Singapore, which carved out a clear exemption, it appears that New Zealand’s negotiators have put at risk the rights of future governments to protect public education against any changes that would disadvantage global edu-businesses.
“Sitting beside the government’s plans for private education to be included in the TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement), there is now a clear threat to our quality public education system.
“Let’s be clear, the TPPA is an international trade agreement aimed at ensuring that global corporates can trade and make profits – it is not about providing free good quality public education for children and future generations.
“We have asked the government, even at this late stage, to reconsider signing the deal in its current form.”
The decision to open two more charter ‘partnership’ schools in New Zealand is indefensible on educational or social grounds, says QPEC Chairperson John Minto.
“Recent studies have demonstrated that state schools that educate the most disadvantaged New Zealanders are already struggling from white flight and viability issues due to the distorting effects of the education market.
“Opening more small schools simply makes that process worse, scattering hard-to-teach children through a mish-mash of tiny schools”, he said.
“It is a win-win situation for this government,
but not for disadvantaged students”
QPEC sees the decision to open bidding for two more partnership schools as entirely political. “It is a sop to the ACT Party, and a way for National to promote the privatisation of education. It is a win-win situation for this government, but not for disadvantaged students”.
While it comes at a financial cost, QPEC is more worried about the effects on the schooling system. “This is not just a mad right-wing experiment, but a policy that will have substantive effects on young, needy children now, said John Minto.
Hekia Parata promised that the record of partnership schools in New Zealand would not mirror the US experience, where school failure, teaching problems, corruption and excessive profits are common. But we have already seen similar issues emerge here (excessive profits, school failure and questionable practices) after only two years and only nine schools.
“In short, this policy is a shocking waste of taxpayer money
and really poor educational policy”.
QPEC notes that Hekia Parata has always defended charter school funding as being on the same basis as state school funding. “The current decision to reduce the amount of funding provided to these schools confirms that the money given to the nine schools has been excessive, as QPEC and other critics have constantly pointed out. In short, the Minister’s defence of the old funding model was incorrect – she did not tell the truth about this”.-
If you are still unsure why so many parents, students and educators are up in arms about education reforms, watch this clip from a new documentary, Education Inc.
The story “is told through the eyes of parent and filmmaker, Brian Malone, as he travels cross-country in search of the answers and sources behind the privatizing of American public education, and what it means for his kids.”
It looks at the links between the many factions pushing the reform agenda – who’s behind the reforms, and why?
As ever, it transpires that the key to answering this is to follow the money…
“For free-market reformers, private investors and large education corporations, this controversy spells opportunity in turning public schools over to private interests.
Education, Inc. examines the free-market and for-profit interests that have been quietly and systematically privatizing America’s public education system under the banner of “school choice.”
Malone’s doco paints a clear picture of the profit and politics agenda that’s sweeping through US education, right under people’s noses, and is a sage warning to New Zealand.<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/131231293″>Education Inc Cindy vs School Board</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user4369602″>Fast Forward Films, LLC</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Forewarned is forearmed, NZ.
For more information, see edincmovie.com
or, to put it another way…
Our government is getting ready to sign the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) which is a trade agreement with America and ten other Pacific countries that could endanger our Public school system.
This agreement is likely to further commercialise New Zealand’s education system and restrict the rights of future governments to regulate the quality and provision of education.
Tim Groser has admitted in parliament that any agreement will include clauses that allow corporations to sue our government if our laws stand in the way of their trade.
The education market is worth billions to huge international corporations driven only by profits and dividends – not by educational excellence.
Our choices about our children’s schooling could be influenced by countries that are not doing nearly as well as us. The quality of public education in New Zealand is in danger
Please, take action. Email or write to Trade Minister Tim Groser and Prime Minster John Key to seek their assurance that any trade agreement they sign will not limit future governments to regulate the quality of Public Education In New Zealand.
Thank you, Dianne Khan
NZEI Te Riu Roa and TEU are very concerned about Education Minister Hekia Parata’s apparent lack of interest in the details of a secret international trade deal that would have a massive impact on public education.
In response to questions from Greens MP Catherine Delahunty in Parliament yesterday, Ms Parata said she did not have “primary responsibility” for negotiating trade agreements.
A leaked document has revealed that New Zealand is amongst a small group of countries pushing for education to be included in a secret trade deal, the Trade In Service Agreement (TiSA).
Ms Parata told Parliament she was relying on the Minister of Trade to seek any additional information “should he require it”.
NZEI Te Riu Roa National Secretary Paul Goulter said it was of great concern that the Minister wasn’t taking a stronger interest in the deal.
“The TiSA would restrict future governments’ rights to regulate the quality and provision of education, and would expose New Zealand to being sued by international education conglomerates like Pearson Group.
“The Minister’s response is simply not good enough,” he said.
“Teachers are calling on the government to withdraw New Zealand’s claim to extend TiSA to include private education services, and to expressly exclude education from the reach of TiSA.”
Tertiary Education Union (TEU) President Sandra Grey said it defied belief that the government could see any benefit for New Zealand in pushing for education to be included in the secretive deal.
“The only winners in such a deal will be the mega corporations peddling for-profit charter schools and one-size-fits-all text books and testing.”
“The only winners in such a deal will be the mega corporations peddling for-profit charter schools and one-size-fits-all text books and testing. The quality of public education in New Zealand will suffer as a result,” she said.
For more information or sector-specific comment :
Tertiary Education Union National President Sandra Grey 021 844 176 or 04 801 5098
NZEI Te Riu Roa National Secretary Paul Goulter, 027 208 1087
A leaked document shows New Zealand has joined a small group of countries pushing for education to be included in a secret trade deal, the Trade In Service Agreement (TISA).
Teachers and education academics say that including education in the deal would be bad for teaching and learning.
“The proposed deal would restrict future governments’ rights to regulate the quality and provision of education and protect unique aspects of New Zealand’s education system,” said Tertiary Education Union (TEU) President Sandra Grey.
NZEI National Secretary Paul Goulter said this could result in foreign corporations suing any government that sought to legislate against the expansion of charter schools or to improve the quality of private early childhood education services.”
The deal could lead to further commercialisation and privatisation of education, with negative impacts on the equity and quality of education available to Kiwi students.
The TISA agreement would allow for easier access for multi-national private sector trading in services such as banking and healthcare.
Education unions NZEI, PPTA and TEU say the New Zealand government should withdraw its support for the proposal and instead back countries with high performing education systems – including the EU, Japan, Korea and Taiwan – in opposing the inclusion of education in TISA.
“The Novopay fiasco should be sufficient proof that privatisation of the education system is not the way to go,” said PPTA President Angela Roberts.
“But Novopay only affected teachers and support staff. The kind of marketisation TISA would open up would be extremely harmful for students’ education.”
Angela Roberts said examples of the impact of including education in TISA would be restrictions on the government purchasing local publications in favour of cheaper standardised foreign publications.
For more information or sector-specific comment :
Tertiary Education Union National President Sandra Grey 021 44 176 or 04 801 5098
PPTA President Angela Roberts 04 913 4227 or 021 806 337
NZEI Te Riu Roa National President Paul Goulter, 027 208 1087
The New York Times is reporting the latest in a long line of morally dubious education reformer ideas – taking children from low socio-economic backgrounds into full time boarding school, the logic being that if poverty has such an impact on students and the student’s family is poor, then the solution is to take the child out of their family environment.
The NY Times reports that Carl Paladino “envisions a charter boarding school in Buffalo where students as young as first or second grade would be assured proper meals, uniforms, after-school tutoring and activities.”
Why, I would ask, can those things not be provided in the current system? Why are they dangled as a carrot that can only be had if you give your child into a boarding school system? Imagine being a parent wanting the best for your child hearing that your option is no help or hand over your child. Repulsive.
The idea is supported by Tanika Shedrick, a former charter school dean who, of course, wants to open one of the schools. Possible motives for that interest might be summed up in this quote from the NY Times:
[Shendrick] estimates the per-student cost at $20,000 to $25,000 per year, to be paid for with public funding and fundraising.
New York’s traditional charter school allocation is about $12,000 per student.
Interestingly, research done on this model, undertaken by the National Bureau of Economic Research, outlines the potential gains students make but has no mention of the human cost. The report notes that “SEED schools have an extended school day, provide extensive after-school tutoring for student who need support…” and goes on to note that “[w]hether or not the total benefits of attending SEED outweigh the costs can be known [only] with the passage of time“.
So, on one hand we have state schools being closed early due to lack of funds, and on the other hand we have proposals such as this, despite no clear indications of success, despite huge costs, and with no research on the impact on the students or their families.
It is also striking that money can be found to fund private charter schools, but not fund state schools fairly and properly in the first place.
Yes poverty has an effect on educational outcomes – a big effect – but we have to ask why anyone would think that, rather than dealing with issues of poverty and the underlying system that creates it, or even funding state schools properly, it is preferable to remove children from their families.
– Dianne Khan
Public Boarding School _ the Way to Solve Educational Ills? – New York Times (Firewalled – non-firewalled version at Trib Live, link below)
Pearson executives work hard to justify the company’s actions and frame their motives as some sort of kindness – almost a humanitarian effort. The trouble is, more and more people are convinced they are in it only for the money.
Pearson’s tagline “Always Learning” has been co-opted by those unhappy with its reach, to say “Always Earning” – understandable when the company is taking over everything from text books, to tests, to teacher certification and now owning its own schools. Its tentacles go far and wide, like a leviathan.
Yesterday SOSNZ took part in a Twitterstorm focused on Pearson Plc’s dubious behaviour around education. The protest was timed to coincide with Pearson’s AGM in London, and I was honoured to represent NZ alongside the UK and USA is spreading the word about the company’s behaviour.
At the AGM, Pearson executives had to face questions about the company’s behaviour in promoting and running for-profit schools in some of the poorest places on earth, where the daily rate to attend can be as much as half of a family’s income. As if charging such a high rate of such poor people was not bad enough, the lessons are on tablets and must be read word-for-word by the teacher at a pace set by the app not the teacher (tough if you have a question or need to pause for any good reason). All this to classrooms crammed with 60-200 children.
A joint letter from National Union of Teachers (NUT), Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and Global Justice Now, delivered to the Pearson CEO John Fallon at the AGM, read:
“From fuelling the obsessive testing regimes that are the backbone of the “test and punish” efforts in the global north, to supporting the predatory, “low-fee” for-profit private schools in the global south, Pearson’s brand has become synonymous with profiteering and the destruction of public education.”
The USA’s voice was also heard:
“We fight this kind of profit making to get kids a good education and fight for governments which gives students a high quality education.”
said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who had flown to London to attend the AGM and be heard.
As well as pushing privatised schooling, there have been many and repeated concerns about the role of Pearson’s in promoting high stakes testing, notably in the USA. Concerns have centred around the quality of the tests, the secrecy around them, the fact that markers are found via Craigslist and need have no educational training, and the scandal of Pearson monitoring students’ online activity for mention of the tests,
It’s shocked many to discover Pearson are not beyond tracking down a student and reporting them to the school authorities to deal with – all for Tweeting about a test. The fact that they misrepresented the student’s actions by getting the timing and the content of the Tweet wrong is of huge concern. A multinational company chasing down one student all based on incorrect information. Big Brother would be proud.
Regarding Pearson’s infiltration of all things education, Schools Week UK reports that ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said
“School curricula should not be patented and charged for. Tests should not distort what is taught and how it is assessed.
“Unfortunately, as the profit motive embeds itself in education systems around the world, these fundamental principles come under ever greater threat leading to greater inequality and exclusion for the most disadvantaged children and young people.”
Indeed. When the education ship is being steered by those concerned mainly with profit, it is seriously off course and in danger of sinking, taking our children’s education with it.
Sources and further reading:
Everybody hates Pearson – Fortune
NZEI National President Louise Green says there is no evidence that market forces provide quality education in the compulsory public education sector.
“So why has the government allowed the market to become so prevalent in the early childhood sector?
“There appears to be no Ministerial interest or responsibility being taken in the provision of quality early childhood education. The government has simply said that the market will sort it.
“We need an inquiry into why the government believes market forces will work in the early childhood sector when they patently don’t work in the compulsory sector.
“This week’s investigation by the NZ Herald backs up what we know has been happening in the sector for some time – that quality early childhood education is under threat.
“Early childhood education is far too important to be left to market forces.”
Do the voices of parents, taxpayers and voters count for nothing in the rush to privatise schools?
This is happening worldwide, and we must all stand together to say no. Worldwide, we need to have #OneVoice that puts pupils before profits.
The School District of the City of York in PA has been turned over to a state appointed receiver by the name of David G. Meckley.
Despite massive opposition from the community and parents, the receiver fully intends to turn over all of the district’s buildings to a for profit charter company out of Florida by the name of Charter Schools USA.
The signers of this petition are in agreement that the school district should remain under local control and not be turned over to a for profit charter company.
We ask that the PA Department of Education drop the petition for receivership, replace David Meckley as Chief Recovery Officer, and to approve a new recovery plan that does not include turning the school district over to charter schools.