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This tag is associated with 23 posts

Education Inc. – who’s behind the reform agenda, and why?

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&gt;.</p>

Forewarned is forearmed, NZ.

For more information, see edincmovie.com

~ Dianne

Concern over Education Minister’s disinterest in education trade deal

in good faith - Hekia Parata - Inigo MontoyaNZEI 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

Baby charter schools raise more questions – NZEI

charter schools look before you leapNZEI Te Riu Roa says concerns around the potential of new charter schools being extended to babies and pre-schoolers show that the government needs to come clean about the full extent of its plans for the education sector before the election.

NZEI President Judith Nowotarski said extending the charter school experiment to babies signalled a radical escalation of the privately-owned and taxpayer-funded schools that were supposedly a “trial” when the first five schools opened this year.

“How far and how quickly is the government planning to bring the private sector into the running of our schools? And how long will they continue to fund these charter schools at a far higher rate than public schools? Voters have a right to know before the election,” she said.

A preference for charter school models catering to 0-8-year-olds was one of six preferences listed for second round applicants, with successful applicants expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Ms Nowotarski said since charter schools were outcomes-based, the threat of toddlers being tested and measured against each other was very real.

When asked about charter schools for pre-schoolers this week, Education Minister Hekia Parata told One News, “At the point that we decide on particular partnership schools, we then go into our contract negotiation, and it would be in that phase, against a specific proposal, that we would agree what the targets and measures are.”

Ms Nowotarski said most parents would be appalled at the thought of targets and measures being applied to their very young children.

“Children learn in different ways at their own individual pace. National standards for primary school students is bad enough, but the thought of applying a similar measure to toddlers and labelling their natural development is just appalling,” she said.

“Charter schools are not required to hire trained teachers, so even the current minimum requirement of 50% trained teachers in early childhood centres could possibly be side-stepped by charter school providers in pursuit of profits.”

Questions were raised in Parliament this week about whether the extra government funding that babies and pre-schoolers attract could instead be diverted to run the rest of the school or boost owners’ profits. Opposition parties also raised the mixed results of charter schools so far and the risk that taxpayer-funded assets may be lost if a school closes.

Charter Schools and Privatisation: It’s not about school choice

no choice

Reformers tell you charter schools are all about choice, right?

So, where’s the choice in England where schools are being FORCED against community wishes to become Academies (their version of charter schools)?

  • “The policy of forced conversion has led to a number of high profile battles, such as Downhills Primary in north London and Roke Primary in Croydon, which both opposed the move. Both schools were eventually taken over by the Harris Federation.” (1)

Where’s the choice in New Orleans’ Recovery District, now ALL schools there are charters and students are allocated a school place by lottery?

  • “Of the Recovery School District’s 600 employees, 510 will be out of a job by week’s end. All 33,000 students in the district must apply for a seat at one of the 58 public charter schools, relying on a computerized lottery to determine placement.” (2)

And what about in New Zealand?

  • One of Government’s six assessment areas for charter schools scheduled to open at the beginning of next year is “schools based in areas of roll growth”.

In other words, where a public school would have opened there could now be a charter school in its place. (4)

New Zealand charter schools are sneakily being proposed INSTEAD OF public schools.

Your choice?

Now look again at your local primary school and ask yourself how happy you will be further down the line when it is forcibly made into a charter school.

About as happy as the parents and school governors fighting tooth and nail to prevent is in England, I imagine.

“Roger Sahota, one of the deposed governors, claimed that the results were emphatic. “We conducted a ballot[of students’ parents] in the aftermath of the head’s resignation. We found 147 against academy status, 14 for and five didn’t know,” he said.” (3)

Choice?  Nope.

Privatisation of the state system by stealth?  Indeed.

NZ, beware of what is to come.

__________________________________________________

References and further reading:

(1) http://news.tes.co.uk/b/news/2014/01/02/number-of-primary-schools-forced-into-academies-more-than-doubled-in-2013.aspx

(2) http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/in-new-orleans-traditional-public-schools-close-for-good/2014/05/28/ae4f5724-e5de-11e3-8f90-73e071f3d637_story.html

(3) http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6196132

(4) http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/10096559/Faith-based-charter-school-puts-hand-up

 

NZEI: Government continues costly charter school experiment despite public rejection

A recent poll has found that two-thirds of New Zealanders are concerned at the amount of taxpayer money that is being diverted into charter schools.

Yet despite this, NZEI Te Riu Roa Immediate Past President Ian Leckie says the government is clearly committed to this expensive ideologically-driven experiment.

Yesterday the Ministry of Education released the names of 19 new applicants hoping to set up charter schools next year. The list includes a number who failed in their bid for funding last year.

vote now - poll - speak outIan Leckie says time and again the government has been told that New Zealanders want to retain a quality public education system and do not want education funds diverted into propping up costly charter schools.

“Money to charter schools means less money in public schools.  That’s not fair and it must have an effect on kids’ learning.”

He says a recent NZEI survey found that 63 percent ranked the diversion of taxpayer money to charter schools as either a “top concern in education” or were “somewhat concerned”.

The government has set aside more than $12m over two years to support charter schools – money that is not being used to support quality public education.  Currently there are five charter schools operating with a total of just 367 children.

“This is an incredibly high per-head cost compared to the amount of funding the government pays for students in the public sector.

So far the five charter schools operating receive an operational payment per student of between $11,500 and $40,300 compared to an average of around $5,800 at lower decile public schools.

“Clearly the government is not letting up in its path towards privatising our education sector despite the overwhelming view of the education sector and the wishes of the New Zealand public.”

NZ’s Charter Schools Small and Expensive – QPEC

NZ’s charter schools are proving to be small and expensive, according to figures obtained under the Official Information Act.

The 1 March roll returns confirm a total of only 367 students were enrolled in the first five charter schools, which makes this an expensive experiment”, says QPEC Chairperson Bill Courtney.

In contrast to their small size, there is a high level of cash funding, as detailed payments obtained under the Official Information Act show quite clearly.”

Over $6 million has been paid out to the sponsors of these schools in one-off, non-recoverable Establishment Payments.

In addition, the regular Operational funding is proving to be higher than local State schools in the same area.

If the purpose of charter schools was to create alternatives in places such as South Auckland, then the funding comparisons need to be fair.

Our point is simple: if the government is prepared to throw that much funding at charter schools, then why aren’t they prepared to do the same for ALL the children of South Auckland? Give them all a chance!”

Small Size

The first five charter schools commenced operation this year. Sponsor contracts and the Roll Returns as at 1 March 2014 (released on the Education Counts website) reveal the following:

School

Establishment Payment

(one-off)

Guaranteed

Minimum Roll

Maximum

Roll

Actual Roll

@ 1 March

South Auckland Middle School

$1,019,533

90

120

108

Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru

$1,379,150*

71

128

63

Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa

$1.880,693

50

300

50

Rise Up Academy

$391,945

50

100

42

Vanguard Military School

$1,611,534

108

192

104

Total

$6,282,855

369

840

367

* The Whangaruru school also received part of its operational property funding in advance to assist with property development.

So, to date, the Ministry of Education has paid a total of $6.28 million in one-off Establishment Payments to the Sponsors of the schools. Costs have also been incurred, no doubt, inside the Ministry to assist the schools to open.

Based on the 1 March roll returns, two schools have opened at or above the contractual Guaranteed Minimum Roll for 2014 while three are below.

A significant proportion of the Operational funding for each school comprises Base Funding and allowances for Property and Insurance, to ensure the schools are viable. These figures are based on the Maximum Roll for each school, i.e. what is estimated as necessary to fund the schools as they grow towards their target roll.

The “Per Student” and the “Centrally Funded” components of the Operational Payment are based initially on the Guaranteed Minimum Roll and will vary in future as the school roll changes.

The following breakdown of the annual Operational Payment for 2014 paid to each school has been obtained from the Ministry of Education under the Official Information Act.

School

Property / Insurance

Base Funding

Centrally Funded

Per Student

Operational

Payment ($ p.a.)

$ per student based on 1 March Roll

South Auckland Middle School

303,684

571,448

24,840

440,972

1,340,944

12,416

Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru

111,574

997,044

19,596

380,347

1,508,561

23,945

Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa

737,936

997,044

13,800

267,850

2,016,630

40,333

Rise Up Academy

91,236

145,856

13,800

233,552

484,444

11,534

Vanguard Military School

518,396

997,044

29,808

578,556

2,123,804

20,421

Total

$7,474,383

State School Funding

Comparisons between the funding model for charter schools and the funding for State schools are not straightforward. Differences arise in how several of the component parts of the funding model are treated.

Charter schools receive all of their funding through a “cashed up” approach, where every component is paid in cash direct to the Sponsor on a quarterly basis.

State schools receive their funding in various ways, with only the Operations Grant paid directly to the school as a cash sum. In addition, each State school receives a Teaching Entitlement, based on its size and roll. Boards of Trustees employ the principals and teachers, who are paid through the centrally operated payroll system but with their costs charged back against the Board’s accounts.

Funding for property maintenance is paid in cash through the Operations Grant but funding for property development and capital works is funded centrally through an allocation set every 5 years for each school.

It is possible to make a direct comparison between one of the charter schools, The Rise Up Academy, and local state schools. Rise Up is a Year 1 to 6 primary school located in Mangere and its funding can be compared to the other local state primary schools in the Mangere/Otahuhu area.

The following table shows the detailed information shown for each school on the Education Counts website, under the information tab “Find A School”.

School

Decile

Roll

Operations

Teacher Salaries

Total

Funding per student

Fairburn

2

687

1,162,552

2,750,490

3,913,042

5,696

Favona

1

451

748,067

1,932,585

2,680,652

5,944

Jean Batten

2

450

838,490

1,976,040

2,814,530

6,255

Kingsford

1

394

744,573

1,508,605

2,253,178

5,719

Mangere Bridge

4

388

498,868

1,555,867

2,054,735

5,296

Mangere East

1

513

852,429

2,064,544

2,916,973

5,686

Mountain View

2

280

559,773

1,308,006

1,867,779

6,671

Nga Iwi

1

423

738,361

1,841,137

2,579,498

6,098

Otahuhu

1

480

873,042

2,128,749

3,001,791

6,254

Waterlea

6

421

467,392

1,737,709

2,205,101

5,238

Total

4,487

$26,287,279

$5,859

This table does not include capital property funding or the access that State schools would have had to Centrally Funded services, such as Resource Teachers. But it must also be noted that State school property expenditure will be on assets that the Crown owns and retains after development. Boards of Trustees have significant influence over how this property development takes place at their school, but in the end, the asset is on the Crown balance sheet and not that of the Board of Trustees.

~ QPEC (Quality Public Education Coalition)

Privatise all the things! Oh, wait…

hekia_parata_maniacleThe dementor is in full swing, fairly skipping up the path of global education reform (GERM) throwing rose petals and blank cheques in her path, just behind her good pals George Bush, Michael Gove, Arne Duncan, Tony Blair and the other GERMers determined to leave our kids’ education to the whims of the market place.

Ooh I bet they are having one heck of a party!

Privatise all the things

Good job, too. I’m so very glad they are selling it all off.  Schools schmools.

I mean, the free market has worked so very well in all other aspects of our lives, hasn’t it, with reasonable power prices, good telecoms services, stable housing market, no Wall Street crashes that rock the entire world markets.

Oh wait.  I’m making a Hekia style faux pas here, aren’t I?  A blunder, if you will.

Because privatisation does not necessarily improve services.  In fact it can make them worse.  And more costly. Much more costly.

Which is all a bit of a concern for me, because I like to know my tax dollars are being stent wisely, not just ferreted off into a poorly performing private sector company that doesn’t match what the public sector was doing in the first place.

I’m picky like that,

It’s not just me, though – even the Treasury has pointed out that private companies don’t do better than public ones – even if they are perceived to because they cherry pick their ‘clients’:

Private not better than public schools

In fact public schools beat private ones hands down, despite having to cater for all students of all abilities, backgrounds, behaviours, and so on.  Wow. Maybe we shouldn’t privatise all the things after all.

Maybe I should also go read what Allan has to say on the matter, since he has been at the sticky end of education for more years than I.  He’s not teaching any more, so he has no vested interest whatsoever in how it all pans out.  Let’s see what he says

“As I’ve been saying for several years, National’s education policies have nothing to do with education, regardless of their spin about ‘raising achievement’ for all. This will come as no surprise to ‘thinking’ people but man, there are many out there who are still unable to open their eyes to the reality.

This includes far too many principals who damn well should know better.

Warning people – National and its cronies are set on a path to destroy New Zealand’s public education at all levels. The privatisation process is on full speed ahead. We have six months to stop it.”

Jeepers, he is rather concerned, and he has found a number of others thinking the same way…

I think I had best go and read the full thing.  Bear with…

Okay, I’m back.  So … maybe…. mayyyyybe…. just a thought, but maybe there are lots of folk out there that want to support and improve our public schools rather than cripple them and sell them off?

Like, off the top of my head, all those parents whose children will be at the mercy of this shackled and broken system, taught by a demoralised profession forced to focus only on test scores in maths and English.

And maybe the old who, when those kids are grown up, have to live in a world now run by them, at the mercy of the economy they create with their great test-taking skills (and high depression rate).  Maybe they’d prefer well-rounded and well-educated people in charge instead?

jobsAnd, hey here’s a thought – maybe the students themselves would like to be considered more than the sum of their numeracy and literacy.

Because, y’know, there could also be artists and dentists and musicians and physicists and counsellors and gardeners and dancers and doctors and hairdressers and chefs and inventors and, well to be honest, every single person in every single job and in every part of their lives needs more than to just be good at reading, writing and maths.  Those things are great – essential – but they are not everything.

So, I think maybe I will stick with supporting public schools to remain just that – public.

For the good of everyone.

My submission to Stuff Nation, by Boonman

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

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

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

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

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

via My submission to Stuff Nation.

What’s the big problem with charter schools?

dollar deskIs it really that bad to have a few charter schools?  Can a handful really be a problem?  Why not just let them be, and go fight other battles?

Well, some days I do feel like giving up the ghost and letting government bring in more and more charters.  Battling Goliath is sometimes more than a bit wearisome for a little David such as myself.  But here’s why I fight on, and why you should, too.

Because charter schools do not improve the education system – in fact some are the worse schools in the country.

Charter schools take a disproportionate amount of funds from the education budget, like here for example.

Charter schools lead to increased racial segregation.

Charter schools are about privatisation of the education system, not about improvement.

The trouble is, the whole charter movement starts small and relatively uncontroversial which means people are easily swayed by the promises of great schools and a better education for students, but before you know it, it descends into this and this and this and this and this and this … oh the list goes on.

And who is behind all of these reforms?  You should read How billionaire-funded ‘ed reform’ groups push charters, vouchers to learn just how rich fat cats buy up politicians’ votes and push through the reforms they want.  They want you to think they are fighting for a better education system, but the truth of the matter is they can and do make a lot of money out of charterisation, and the public is being sold a line. And sold out.

This interview on MSNBC news sums it up perfectly

Education should not be about siphoning off the tax dollar to companies like Pearson and KIPP.  Money is in short enough supply, and as much as possible should go to resources and good teachers, not for profits and administrators.

Charters are not the way forward.

Our students deserve a hell of a lot better.

Sources and further reading:

GCSE shame of ‘flagship’ academies as it is revealed six of the Coalition’s schools are among the country’s worst

http://www.msnbc.com/the-ed-show/watch/the-biggest-education-problem-effecting-kids-184771139804

http://www.itv.com/news/anglia/update/2014-03-10/uks-first-for-profit-school-inadequate/

http://www.itv.com/news/west/update/2014-03-10/investigation-underway-into-running-of-school-in-bath/

http://www.itv.com/news/anglia/update/2014-03-10/uks-first-for-profit-school-inadequate/

http://www.croydonguardian.co.uk/NEWS/11041672.Croydon_academies__weeding_out__GCSE_students_to_improve_grades/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2576460/GCSE-shame-flagship-academies-revealed-six-Coalitions-schools-countrys-worst.html#ixzz2vhHT41zY

https://saveourschoolsnz.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/charter-school-children-put-at-risk/

charter schools dividing communities since1991300

Researchers voice alarm over charter schools ‘experiment’

This from Massey University:

“Massey University education experts warn that the charter school experiment may cause more harm than good to the students it aims to help.
The Government announced New Zealand will trial charter schools with the first likely to be in South Auckland, Christchurch East and possibly Wellington.

In response the Education Policy Response Group, consisting of 12 College of Education experts, conducted an in-depth examination of research studies from Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States; countries with models on which New Zealand charter schools may be based.

Group convenor Professor Emeritus Ivan Snook says they based their analysis on similar sources of evidence to those used by the government but came to some different conclusions. “The evidence is clear that char

ter schools have the potential to cause harm to the very groups of students they are supposed to help,” he says.

The report says while it is encouraging that the National-ACT proposal recognises the need to address educational underachievement through wider economic and social policies, the charter school proposal seems to persist with narrow assessments of individual student progress. This is very risky. Even if some charter schools do show gains for disadvantaged students, it is often achieved at the cost of further disadvantaging non-charter school students and the local community as a whole.

“It is, for example, quite common for charter schools to lead to an increase in inequality based on culture, race or socio-economic status,” says Professor of Teacher Education, John O’Neill.

“The evidence overall is that while a few highly motivated individuals and families may benefit, charter schools do

charterland

not provide more choice for most families,” he says. “Also, they often promote greater inequality of educational outcomes for disadvantaged students, and fail to eliminate the long tail of underachievement that the Government is rightly concerned about.”

Professor O’Neill says the group concluded that if New Zealand is to learn from this experiment the evaluation criteria must be closely defined and the evaluation study conducted independently of the supervising committee and the Ministry of Education.

“To enable this to happen, it is important that transparent data be kept on the home background and prior achievement of students, the nature of the teachers employed and the financial arrangements for the charter schools (including private and corporate contributions),” he says.

“At the very least the trial will need to prove that New Zealand charter schools do not ‘cream’ the most motivated or talented students from other schools, ‘cleanse’ their own school of those who are most difficult or expensive to teach, distort the fair distribution of teachers across the system, or siphon money away from existing programmes for the most disadvantaged students.””

Source

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Why do corporations want to take over public schools?

Why corporations want to take over education

From: http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/education-uprising/why-corporations-want-our-public-schools

England’s Academies – poor standards and fraud: is this what we have to look forward to in NZ with Charter Schools?

closedBreaking news – TEN of England’s Academies (charter schools by another name) have been closed due to “serious concerns over education standards”.  Gone, just like that.

And the Telegraph reports that a number of Academy chains “have already been told that they cannot take on any more academies until concerns over standards have been addressed” (3) so it isn’t just this chain (E-ACT) that are under the microscope.

When the UK Labour party trumpeted Academies and Free Schools (charter schools) ten years ago, they promised a rise in standards, a brave new world of innovation and brilliance, and it has plainly failed to materialise.

Like New Zealand charter schools, Academies are funded by government and “have complete freedom to alter the curriculum, staff pay and to reshape the school day and academic year.” Around 3,500 English state schools are now Academies, and just like other English state schools, some are good, some okay and some just plain terrible.  That said, even the worst of the school districts never had as many schools closed as “failing schools” as Academies have managed to clock up, and that in itself is rather telling.

“Of course some academies have done well, although increasingly the evidence suggests that this is more the result of changing intakes rather than a ‘magic dust’ sprinkled by sponsors.” (2)

What does this mean for New Zealand?  We have been given the same promises, the same utopian vision, that other countries were given in order to usher in the privatisation of public schools.  Well, it’s likely we will fare the same as England, the USA and Sweden, with a broad spread of quality and really no overall improvement in education quality at all.  In fact, if PISA is your thing, the catapult down the rankings since privatisation for those countries has been quite monumental.

Which does beg the question why we are going down this path at all, if it doesn’t improve anything.

Well maybe privatisation does improve something? Improvement in education, it might be argued, never was the goal; maybe privatisation is itself the goal?

The 1 percentIt has to be admitted that in that regard, it has been a resounding success as, worldwide, fewer public schools exist and more of the education system is in private hands.

More public schools owned and run by private entities = More public funds going to the pockets of businesses and the 1%.  Goal achieved.

If you think that’s pie in the sky, check this out:

EACT’s catastrophe is a personal humiliation for Sir Bruce Liddington, former Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education and head of the Academies Division.

He was one of the chief architects of the Academies Programme before sliding seamlessly into the private sector to pocket £300,000 (NZ$600k) pa. salary plus benefits as CEO of EACT Academy chain

Add to that the number of investigations into financial irregularities and money mismanagement and a picture is revealed of fat cats misappropriating funds meant for educating students:

Kings Science Academy,  West Yorkshire was last year investigated and ““serious failings” were found in the school’s financial management with allegations that £80,000 worth of public money had not been used for its intended purpose”. (1)

Priory Federation of  Academies Trust – the Department for Education found evidence of “serious failings” in the running of the trust, which operates four schools. These included its chief executive paying for horse-riding lessons for his son out of trust funds, receiving “personal items of an inappropriate nature” (sex games and supplements) paid for on a Federation credit card, and the use of trust credit cards “to purchase items at supermarkets and meals at restaurants” in France. (1)

E-ACT was censured by the Education Funding Agency in May 2013 for lavish spending. It was reported to have £393,000 of “financial irregularities” … It paid for monthly lunches at the prestigious Reform Club, first-class travel for senior executives in defiance of a ruling they should go standard class, and spent £16,000 on an annual strategy meeting in a hotel – of which £1,000 was spent on drinks and room hire. (1)

And there we have it. For the architects of the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM), money-grubbing mission achieved.

Sources:

(1) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/revealed-police-investigate-lost-162000-at-academy-school-9134753.html

(2) http://antiacademies.org.uk/2014/02/eact-have-10-schools-removed-the-academies-programme-is-dead/

(3) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/10659289/Academies-chain-stripped-of-10-under-performing-schools.html

politicians-and-private-schools

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Virtual Classrooms, charter schools, profits and the education madness of global ‘reforms’

If you are still unclear why we are fighting against charter (partnership) schools, below is yet another good example of where the madness leads when public education is privatised: Virtual schools.

Sounds great, doesn’t it – all sci-fi and up-to-the-minute.  I am quite addicted to my computer and to technology, so you’d think I’d be all over this.  But I’m not.  I’m extremely unconvinced that the pros outweigh the cons.

But before I share with you what it’s like to work (and study?) in a virtual school, let’s just recap the non virtual foreign-owned charter hopefuls wooing New Zealand:

Mike Feinberg of theUS-based KIPP charter school chain was over like a shot in 2013, as soon as charter/partnership schools were mooted.  He met with Hekia Parata and co., and then embarked on a publicity tour of NZ to prime investors and the gullible, ready for their foray over here as soon as they can get away with it.

BS meterOf course Feinberg was very, very keen to “warn[ed] against giving contracts to businesses or groups which do not have a long, robust track record in education,” (in other words, only give contracts to companies like his), but was more than happy to support the use of “unqualified teachers in its proposed Partnership Schools.”

Because. let’s face it, cheaper staff = more profit.

It doesn’t save the tax payer a red cent, but it does move the money into the businessman’s bank account rather than a teachers.  Nice for the investor.

But do KIPP do a good job?

Well, KIPP are always keen to say they have a huge percentage of students that graduate and go to university.  What they don’t say is that the drop out rate is phenomenal, and when they say over 90% graduate, they mean of those that made it to the end of the year.

KIPP is well known to lose large numbers of students throughout the school year, sending the weaker ones back into the public system and keeping on only those that will reflect well on the KIPP brand.  The high attrition rates are discussed here  and here and indeed here – or do a Google search and read any of the thousands of reports you find.

(Note – if you find a report singing KIPP’s praises, be sure to check who funded the research and how the numbers were crunched.  There are often cunning tactics the researchers and statisticians use to make the ‘facts’ seem rosier.)

So tey keep the best and throw the weaker students back at the public schools, then boast that they do better than public schools!  Huh?!  Surely we are meant to help all students do well, no just the easy-to-teach ones?

Is your nose getting longer?For other illuminating snippets on how charters fudge the facts, you might want to take a peek at the handily compiled 10 Things Charter Schools Won’t Tell You … it’s quite enlightening.

But if, after all that, you need yet more convincing, read this and then tell me, do you still think charter schools are all about the kids?

15 Months in Virtual Charter Hell: A Teacher’s Tale

In late August, 2012, I took a job in a school that is part of the largest virtual charter school chain in the nation. While I had misgivings about the nature of the school, I thought perhaps if I were diligent, I could serve my students well.  In November 2013 I decided I could no longer continue as a teacher. This is my story.

Some Background on K12 Inc.

K12 Inc., the virtual-education company, was founded in 1999 by the one-time “junk bond king” Michael Milken and the hedge fund banker Ronald Packard. The company’s original board chairman was William J. Bennett, who had been the U.S. Secretary of Education under President Ronald Reagan. (Bennett resigned from his position with K12 Inc. in 2005 after sparking controversy by stating that the U.S. crime rate would go down if more African-American babies were aborted.)

money showerAs a private company founded by financiers, K12 Inc. is highly profit-driven. Though its stock price has apparently taken a hit recently, there is little doubt that K12 Inc. has been quite successful in bringing in revenue–even as regular public schools have faced dire financial straits. According to the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch, Packard, who is the current CEO, earned $19 million in compensation from 2009-2013. In 2013 alone, as Chicago closed 50 of its public schools and Philadelphia closed 23 more, K12 Inc. brought in a whopping $730.8 million in taxpayer dollars from its managed public schools, and its top executives saw their compensation skyrocket by 96 percent.  

My Life as a Virtual Teacher

boy at computerI became a teacher because I am an advocate for youth and social justice. However, this purpose was hard to fulfill working in a K12 Inc. school. With the kind of technology, systems and process management needed to keep the enrollment machine running (and the machine is priority), there is never much time to actually teach. In my former school, each class met for 30 minutes in an interactive-blackboard setting one day each week. Fewer than 10 percent of students actually attended these “classes.” Other than that time and any one-on-one sessions a teacher and student might set up (which, in my experience, almost never happened), there is no room for direct instruction.

Given the extensive needs of the students, this set up does not serve them well. Most of my contact with students was by email, through which I answered questions about everything from login issues and technology glitches to clarifying of assignments, and even that communication was only accessed by a very small percentage of students.

In addition, because students continuously enroll, no one was on the same assignment at the same time. I taught high school English. In a given day in mid-November I would grade introductory assignments, diagnostic essays and end-of-semester projects, and everything in between, for each course (this month I had 30 separate courses). I found it to be impossible to meet the learning needs of my students in that situation.

For most of last year I was Lead Teacher at the school, which required me to attend national staff meetings each week. At first the marketing focus of the conversations turned my stomach, and then it made me furious. In my experience, the conversation was never about how our students were struggling, how we could support those who were trying to learn the English Language, how we could support those who were homeless or how we could support those with special needs.

It was never about how we could support our teachers.

test scoreIt seemed to me like the focus was often about enrollment, about data, about numbers of students who had not taken the proper number of tests, about ranking schools and ranking teachers.

And there was marketing: how to get more children enrolled, how to reach more families, how to be sure they were pre-registered for next year, how to get Facebook pages and other marketing information “pushed out” to students.”  Read the rest of the piece here – it is well worth reading it to the end.

So, does that sound like quality education to you?

Is that tax $$$ well spent?

I would say that the evidence is mounting by the day that charter (partnership) schools leave us much to worry about.

What do you think?

~ Dianne

School reforms: just another get-rich-quick scheme shrouded in the veneer of altruism

Thanks to my trusty sidekick, Ms L, I chanced to read a rather excellent explanation for the reforms hitting New Zealand and how they were rolled out and promoted in the USA.  The start of the article is quoted below, and the whole thing can be read at  New data shows school “reformers” are full of it.

It explains the whole sorry reform saga so very well, and the links out of the piece are excellent.

If you read nothing else this month about the GERM (Global Education Reform Movement), read this.

And share it.

Widely.

And talk to your colleagues and to parents about it, too…

Here goes:

In the great American debate over education, the education and technology corporations, bankrolled politicians and activist-profiteers who collectively comprise the so-called “reform” movement base their arguments on one central premise: that America should expect public schools to produce world-class academic achievement regardless of the negative forces bearing down on a school’s particular students.

In recent days, though, the faults in that premise are being exposed by unavoidable reality.

Before getting to the big news, let’s review the dominant fairy tale: As embodied by New York City’s major education announcement this weekend, the “reform” fantasy pretends that a lack of teacher “accountability” is the major education problem and somehow wholly writes family economics out of the story (amazingly, this fantasy persists even in a place like the Big Apple where economic inequality is particularly crushing).

That key — and deliberate — omission serves myriad political interests.

For education, technology and charter school companies and the Wall Streeters who back them, it lets them cite troubled public schools to argue that the current public education system is flawed, and to then argue that education can be improved if taxpayer money is funneled away from the public school system’s priorities (hiring teachers, training teachers, reducing class size, etc.) and into the private sector (replacing teachers with computers, replacing public schools with privately run charter schools, etc.).

Likewise, for conservative politicians and activistprofiteers disproportionately bankrolled by these and other monied interests, the “reform” argument gives them a way to both talk about fixing education and to bash organized labor, all without having to mention an economic status quo that monied interests benefit from and thus do not want changed.

In order to be forewarned, we must be aware of the reform history worldwide.

Sticking our wee Kiwi heads in the sand is not going to stem the tide.

Forewarned, is forearmed.

Read the rest of the article here (please please please): New data shows school “reformers” are full of it,

ACT, Maori, Pasifika, and Charter Schools

ACT business and charter schools

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