Look at the job the power companies have done – Privatisation is not necessarily better for the consumer.
And in this case, the consumers are our children – the next generation.
And whilst some politicians and businesses are all for a privatised education system, teachers and parents are not. Ask yourself why that might be? Last time I looked, teachers and parents weren’t in it for the money…
Look to what has happened and is happening in overseas public education systems that have been ‘reformed’:
“The Swedish school system is often cited by Michael Gove as a model of best practice. However, like America its experiment with for-profit education has had disastrous consequences.
In May, JB Education, one of the largest for-profit education providers in the country went bust leaving the future of 10,000 pupils in limbo.
Ibrahim Baylan, the education spokesman for Sweden’s opposition Social Democratic party, says closures should come as a warning to the UK not to slavishly adopt the Swedish model, where private companies can set up profit-making free schools, paid for by the state but with little government oversight:
“Before you do something like this you have to really, really think about how you set up the system. The system here is not working as it’s supposed to work. Nobody could foresee that so many private equity companies would be in our school system as we have today.””
“Despite consuming billions every year in taxpayer-funded student loans for-profit universities have a terrible record of success. Only one in five students graduate, and students at for-profit colleges are much more likely to default on their loans. This is partly a result of their recruitment practices, with for-profit colleges often targeting people (including the homeless) who simply do not have the financial resources to pay loans back.
The US’ experience of allowing for-profit companies to run schools (often described as the CharterSchool movement) has also been mired in controversy.
Former Under-Secretary of Education, Diane Ravitch, who served under George Bush and Bill Clinton and was an initial supporter of Charter Schools, came up with the following summary:
“Charter schools are leading us to having a dual school system again. We’re going back to the period before Brown v. Board of Education, but the differentiation in the future will be based on class instead of race.
“Corporations aren’t going to put more money into the school, they’re only going to make money. This should make people in America angry. There ought to be a public uprising about this effort to destroy public education.””
“[The Agency] needs to do more to address potential conflicts of interest in academies.
We were concerned that individuals with connections to both academy trusts and private companies may have benefited from their position when providing trusts with goods and services. The Agency has reviewed 12 such cases but it is likely that many more exist and have gone unchallenged”.”
Be very clear that what is happening in New Zealand is part of the global education reform movement (GERM) and is not isolated.
Worldwide, education systems are being broken up and handed over to businesses so that your taxes can go into private hands. Education does not improve, Students do not fare better.
A fragmented, secretive, and privatised system is not the best way.
The release yesterday of the parties interested in establishing a charter school has, yet again, signalled an utter contempt for the public interest, says QPEC (Quality Public Education Coalition)
Only last year, Ombudsman Professor Ron Paterson ruled that a more informed public discourse about the creation of such schools is in the public interest.
In particular, the Ombudsman stated:
“I do not accept the Ministry’s position that later disclosure of the information at issue will satisfy that public interest. Disclosure after the Minister has taken decisions on the applications may serve the public interest in accountability, but it would not satisfy the public interest in the public being informed, and being able to participate in the debate, about the creation of partnership schools prior to those decisions being taken.” [emphasis added]
Yesterday the Ministry of Education named the parties who have lodged applications to run a charter school.
It also released the minutes of a meeting held by the “Partnership Schools Authorisation Board” held on 5 February 2014. It contained the timetable for evaluating second round applications, which closed on 11 March.
Disturbingly, it is clear that applications have been evaluated, shortlisted and clarified all behind closed doors. Shortlisted applicants were scheduled to be interviewed during the week of 12 to 16 May.
Once again, there is no opportunity for any public engagement with the Authorisation Board and no chance for those affected by the opening of a new charter school to have their say.
In contrast, in many jurisdictions in the USA, charter school applications are subject to far greater scrutiny. For example, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education requires public hearings in the areas where charter schools are proposed to be located and invites written submissions from the public on shortlisted applicants.
This example is streets ahead of the secrecy and lack of accountability that has characterised the introduction of this ideology in New Zealand.
It shows an utter contempt for the democratic process and the right of the public to have a say in how their considerable funds are being spent.
The Green Party is challenging the Government to come clean about how much
it’s planning to spend on the latest round of charter schools, as officials
warn of the serious risks involved in opening more schools without first
seeing whether the existing ones are working.
A list of groups who expressed an interest in applying to run a new charter
school next year was released last night. Many of the organisations are
religious and many failed in their bids to run charter schools in the last
This comes as Ministry of Education officials warn that the Government has no
idea how charter schools may be hurting other schools, that there are
inconsistencies in the size of charter schools and what’s considered
efficient for other state schools, and that there is a risk of continuing to
fund them every year before evaluating whether they’re working well.
“Officials are warning of considerable risks associated with ploughing
ahead with more charter schools without knowing whether the existing ones are
working for kids, whether they’re hurting other schools in their
neighbourhood, or are even good value for money,” Green Party education
spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said today.
“It is amazingly arrogant to plough ahead with plans to open more charter
schools when the ones already open have not been proven to be successful,
could be damaging other schools in the area, and are sucking up so much
“The existing five charter schools are already set to cost $9 million more
than was budgeted last year and the Government is keeping secret how much it
is planning to spent on the entire next round of new schools.
“The total amount being spent on the current round of charters is now $26
million over their first four years – a staggering amount – which is probably
why the Government is keeping secret how much it plans to spend on the next
“There was no mention at all in the budget about how much National and Act
were planning to spend on the new round of charter schools. Instead the
amount is buried somewhere in the overall contingency fund.
“Public schools throughout the country can only dream of being given the
amount of money that charter schools get. Imagine what schools could achieve
with five times the amount they currently receive.
“No wonder charters can afford to feed their kids, don’t need to ask for
parent donations and can provide free transport to and from school.
“Charter schools were sold as an alternative to ordinary state schools,
which didn’t need to follow the curriculum, meet quality standards or
employ trained teachers.
“But how is it possible to see how well these schools are really doing when
they’re getting five times as much money as other state schools?
“Charter schools are an extreme right idea that’s rooted in the belief
that the state does not have a role in running schools. They’re an attack
on public education which use children in poorer communities to experiment
on,” said Ms Delahunty.
Link to official advice listing the concerns about the Partnership School
“We are deeply concerned that measuring a great diversity of educational traditions and cultures using a single, narrow, biased yardstick could, in the end, do irreparable harm to our schools and our students.“
Dear Dr Schleicher,
We write to you in your capacity as OECD’s (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) director of the Programme of International Student Assessment (Pisa). Now in its 13th year, Pisa is known around the world as an instrument to rank OECD and non-OECD countries (60-plus at last count) according to a measure of academic achievement of 15-year-old students in mathematics, science, and reading. Administered every three years, Pisa results are anxiously awaited by governments, education ministers, and the editorial boards of newspapers, and are cited authoritatively in countless policy reports. They have begun to deeply influence educational practices in many countries. As a result of Pisa, countries are overhauling their education systems in the hopes of improving their rankings. Lack of progress on Pisa has led to declarations of crisis and “Pisa shock” in many countries, followed by calls for resignations, and far-reaching reforms according to Pisa precepts.
We are frankly concerned about the negative consequences of the Pisa rankings. These are some of our concerns:
While standardised testing has been used in many nations for decades (despite serious reservations about its validity and reliability), Pisa has contributed to an escalation in such testing and a dramatically increased reliance on quantitative measures. For example, in the US, Pisa has been invoked as a major justification for the recent “Race to the Top” programme, which has increased the use of standardised testing for student-, teacher-, and administrator evaluations, which rank and label students, as well as teachers and administrators according to the results of tests widely known to be imperfect (see, for example, Finland’s unexplained decline from the top of the Pisa table).
In education policy, Pisa, with its three-year assessment cycle, has caused a shift of attention to short-term fixes designed to help a country quickly climb the rankings, despite research showing that enduring changes in education practice take decades, not a few years, to come to fruition. For example, we know that the status of teachers and the prestige of teaching as a profession have a strong influence on the quality of instruction, but that status varies strongly across cultures and is not easily influenced by short-term policy.
By emphasising a narrow range of measurable aspects of education, Pisa takes attention away from the less measurable or immeasurable educational objectives like physical, moral, civic and artistic development, thereby dangerously narrowing our collective imagination regarding what education is and ought to be about.
As an organisation of economic development, OECD is naturally biased in favour of the economic role of public [state] schools. But preparing young men and women for gainful employment is not the only, and not even the main goal of public education, which has to prepare students for participation in democratic self-government, moral action and a life of personal development, growth and wellbeing.
Unlike United Nations (UN) organisations such as UNESCO or UNICEF that have clear and legitimate mandates to improve education and the lives of children around the world, OECD has no such mandate. Nor are there, at present, mechanisms of effective democratic participation in its education decision-making process.
To carry out Pisa and a host of follow-up services, OECD has embraced “public-private partnerships” and entered into alliances with multi-national for-profit companies, which stand to gain financially from any deficits—real or perceived—unearthed by Pisa. Some of these companies provide educational services to American schools and school districts on a massive, for-profit basis, while also pursuing plans to develop for-profit elementary education in Africa, where OECD is now planning to introduce the Pisa programme.
Finally, and most importantly: the new Pisa regime, with its continuous cycle of global testing, harms our children and impoverishes our classrooms, as it inevitably involves more and longer batteries of multiple-choice testing, more scripted “vendor”-made lessons, and less autonomy for teachers. In this way Pisa has further increased the already high stress level in schools, which endangers the wellbeing of students and teachers.
These developments are in overt conflict with widely accepted principles of good educational and democratic practice:
No reform of any consequence should be based on a single narrow measure of quality.
No reform of any consequence should ignore the important role of non-educational factors, among which a nation’s socio-economic inequality is paramount. In many countries, including the US, inequality has dramatically increased over the past 15 years, explaining the widening educational gap between rich and poor which education reforms, no matter how sophisticated, are unlikely to redress.
An organisation like OECD, as any organisation that deeply affects the life of our communities, should be open to democratic accountability by members of those communities.
We are writing not only to point out deficits and problems. We would also like to offer constructive ideas and suggestions that may help to alleviate the above mentioned concerns. While in no way complete, they illustrate how learning could be improved without the above mentioned negative effects:
1 Develop alternatives to league tables: explore more meaningful and less easily sensationalised ways of reporting assessment outcomes. For example, comparing developing countries, where 15-year-olds are regularly drafted into child labour, with first-world countries makes neither educational nor political sense and opens OECD up for charges of educational colonialism.
2 Make room for participation by the full range of relevant constituents and scholarship: to date, the groups with greatest influence on what and how international learning is assessed are psychometricians, statisticians, and economists. They certainly deserve a seat at the table, but so do many other groups: parents, educators, administrators, community leaders, students, as well as scholars from disciplines like anthropology, sociology, history, philosophy, linguistics, as well as the arts and humanities. What and how we assess the education of 15-year-old students should be subject to discussions involving all these groups at local, national, and international levels.
3 Include national and international organisations in the formulation of assessment methods and standards whose mission goes beyond the economic aspect of public education and which are concerned with the health, human development, wellbeing and happiness of students and teachers. This would include the above mentioned United Nations organisations, as well as teacher, parent, and administrator associations, to name a few.
4 Publish the direct and indirect costs of administering Pisa so that taxpayers in member countries can gauge alternative uses of the millions of dollars spent on these tests and determine if they want to continue their participation in it.
5 Welcome oversight by independent international monitoring teams which can observe the administration of Pisa from the conception to the execution, so that questions about test format and statistical and scoring procedures can be weighed fairly against charges of bias or unfair comparisons.
6 Provide detailed accounts regarding the role of private, for-profit companies in the preparation, execution, and follow-up to the tri-annual Pisa assessments to avoid the appearance or reality of conflicts of interest.
7 Slow down the testing juggernaut. To gain time to discuss the issues mentioned here at local, national, and international levels, consider skipping the next Pisa cycle. This would give time to incorporate the collective learning that will result from the suggested deliberations in a new and improved assessment model.
We assume that OECD’s Pisa experts are motivated by a sincere desire to improve education. But we fail to understand how your organisation has become the global arbiter of the means and ends of education around the world. OECD’s narrow focus on standardised testing risks turning learning into drudgery and killing the joy of learning. As Pisa has led many governments into an international competition for higher test scores, OECD has assumed the power to shape education policy around the world, with no debate about the necessity or limitations of OECD’s goals. We are deeply concerned that measuring a great diversity of educational traditions and cultures using a single, narrow, biased yardstick could, in the end, do irreparable harm to our schools and our students.
Andrews, Paul Professor of Mathematics Education, Stockholm University
Atkinson, Lori New York State Allies for Public Education
Ball, Stephen J Karl Mannheim Professor of Sociology of Education, Institute of Education, University of London
Barber, Melissa Parents Against High Stakes Testing
Beckett, Lori Winifred Mercier Professor of Teacher Education, Leeds Metropolitan University
Berardi, Jillaine Linden Avenue Middle School, Assistant Principal
Berliner, David Regents Professor of Education at Arizona State University
Bloom, Elizabeth EdD Associate Professor of Education, Hartwick College
Boudet, Danielle Oneonta Area for Public Education
Boland, Neil Senior lecturer, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand
Burris, Carol Principal and former Teacher of the Year
Cauthen, Nancy PhD Change the Stakes, NYS Allies for Public Education
Cerrone, Chris Testing Hurts Kids; NYS Allies for Public Education
Ciaran, Sugrue Professor, Head of School, School of Education, University College Dublin
Deutermann, Jeanette Founder Long Island Opt Out, Co-founder NYS Allies for Public Education
Devine, Nesta Associate Professor, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
Dodge, Arnie Chair, Department of Educational Leadership, Long Island University
Dodge, Judith Author, Educational Consultant
Farley, Tim Principal, Ichabod Crane School; New York State Allies for Public Education
Fellicello, Stacia Principal, Chambers Elementary School
Fleming, Mary Lecturer, School of Education, National University of Ireland, Galway
Fransson, Göran Associate Professor of Education, University of Gävle, Sweden
Giroux, Henry Professor of English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University
Glass, Gene Senior Researcher, National Education Policy Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Glynn, Kevin Educator, co-founder of Lace to the Top
Goldstein, Harvey Professor of Social Statistics, University of Bristol
Gorlewski, David Director, Educational Leadership Doctoral Program, D’Youville College
Gorlewski, Julie PhD, Assistant Professor, State University of New York at New Paltz
Gowie, Cheryl Professor of Education, Siena College
Greene, Kiersten Assistant Professor of Literacy, State University of New York at New Paltz
Haimson, Leonie Parent Advocate and Director of “Class Size Matters”
Heinz, Manuela Director of Teaching Practice, School of Education, National University of Ireland Galway
Hughes, Michelle Principal, High Meadows Independent School
Jury, Mark Chair, Education Department, Siena College
Kahn, Hudson Valley Against Common Core
Kayden, Michelle Linden Avenue Middle School Red Hook, New York
Kempf, Arlo Program Coordinator of School and Society, OISE, University of Toronto
Kilfoyle, Marla NBCT, General Manager of BATs
Labaree, David Professor of Education, Stanford University
Leonardatos, Harry Principal, high school, Clarkstown, New York
MacBeath, John Professor Emeritus, Director of Leadership for Learning, University of Cambridge
McLaren, Peter Distinguished Professor, Chapman University
McNair, Jessica Co-founder Opt-Out CNY, parent member NYS Allies for Public Education
Meyer, Heinz-Dieter Associate Professor, Education Governance & Policy, State University of New York (Albany)
Meyer, Tom Associate Professor of Secondary Education, State University of New York at New Paltz
Millham, Rosemary PhD Science Coordinator, Master Teacher Campus Director, SUNY New Paltz
Millham, Rosemary Science Coordinator/Assistant Professor, Master Teacher Campus Director, State University of New York, New Paltz
Oliveira Andreotti Vanessa Canada Research Chair in Race, Inequality, and Global Change, University of British Columbia
Sperry, Carol Emerita, Millersville University, Pennsylvania
Mitchell, Ken Lower Hudson Valley Superintendents Council
Mucher, Stephen Director, Bard Master of Arts in Teaching Program, Los Angeles
Tuck, Eve Assistant Professor, Coordinator of Native American Studies, State University of New York at New Paltz
Naison, Mark Professor of African American Studies and History, Fordham University; Co-Founder, Badass Teachers Association
Nielsen, Kris Author, Children of the Core
Noddings, Nel Professor (emerita) Philosophy of Education, Stanford University
Noguera, Pedro Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education, New York University
Nunez, Isabel Associate Professor, Concordia University, Chicago
Pallas, Aaron Arthur I Gates Professor of Sociology and Education, Columbia University
Peters, Michael Professor, University of Waikato, Honorary Fellow, Royal Society New Zealand
Pugh, Nigel Principal, Richard R Green High School of Teaching, New York City
Ravitch, Diane Research Professor, New York University
Rivera-Wilson Jerusalem Senior Faculty Associate and Director of Clinical Training and Field Experiences, University at Albany
Roberts, Peter Professor, School of Educational Studies and Leadership, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Rougle, Eija Instructor, State University of New York, Albany
Rudley, Lisa Director: Education Policy-Autism Action Network
Saltzman, Janet Science Chair, Physics Teacher, Red Hook High School
Schniedewind, Nancy Professor of Education, State University of New York, New Paltz
Silverberg, Ruth Associate Professor, College of Staten Island, City University of New York
Sperry, Carol Professor of Education, Emerita, Millersville University
St. John, Edward Algo D. Henderson Collegiate Professor, University of Michigan
Suzuki, Daiyu Teachers College at Columbia University
Swaffield, Sue Senior Lecturer, Educational Leadership and School Improvement, University of Cambridge
Tanis, Bianca Parent Member: ReThinking Testing
Thomas, Paul Associate Professor of Education, Furman University
Thrupp, Martin Professor of Education, University of Waikato, New Zealand
Tobin, KT Founding member, ReThinking Testing
Tomlinson, Sally Emeritus Professor, Goldsmiths College, University of London; Senior Research Fellow, Department of Education, Oxford University
Tuck, Eve Coordinator of Native American Studies, State University of New York at New Paltz
VanSlyke-Briggs Kjersti Associate Professor, State University of New York, Oneonta
Wilson, Elaine Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge
Wrigley, Terry Honorary senior research fellow, University of Ballarat, Australia
Zahedi, Katie Principal, Linden Ave Middle School, Red Hook, New York
Zhao, Yong Professor of Education, Presidential Chair, University of Oregon
STANDARDIZED Lies, Money, & Civil Rights: How Testing Is Ruining Public Education.
This documentary focuses on the proliferation, business,and inadequacies of state-mandated testing in our public schools.
It focuses on America but is every bit as pertinent to what is happening in New Zealand; we may not be as far down the track as the USA , but we are on the same path.
Whenever a new education policy is announced, I would ask you to come back to this: follow the money.
Who stands to benefit? Because with testing now a multi TRILLION $$$ industry worldwide, you can bet your bottom dollar it isn’t students or parents that are the main concern.
The doco will be out later in the year, but here is a sneak peek.
The National Government’s decision to merge Phillipstown and Woolston
schools is another disaster for Christchurch and proves this Government is
more interested in saving face than in what is best for children, the Green
Party said today.
“Hekia Parata’s stubborn refusal to budge on her closure plans is a
tragedy for the children who fought so desperately for their school to remain
open,” Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.
“This is about Hekia Parata trying to save face after a litany of
back-downs, U-turns and policy failures, but it’s come at the expense of
hundreds of little children and their families.
“The children of Christchurch have become a scapegoat for Hekia Parata’s
“Even in the last few days, evidence has emerged that the second round of
consultation over the closure plans has not been fair, or accurate.
“This is not a ‘new decision’, as the Minister claims. She went in to
this second so-called consultation process with her eyes closed and her mind
“From the very beginning Hekia Parata lost sight of what was the best
decision for the children of Christchurch and has set out to use the
earthquakes to reinforce her hard right agenda to damage and dismantle public
“If she had really listened, and engaged in proper consultation from the
beginning, the children of Phillipstown and Woolston would have had some
certainty, instead many have found themselves fighting the very person who
should have been working in their interests.
“The Green Party stands with the communities of Phillipstown and Woolston
and wishes them well in their attempts to do what’s best for their kids,”
Ms Delahunty said.
This explains what government policies are doing to public education in Aotearoa. It outlines the huge and fundamental shifts being put in place and what the oppositions are. It is a must-watch.
Our public school system is being set up for privatisation and a hugely competitive model. This push is being made via many measures, such as the proposed new lead teacher roles, charter schools, National Standards, performance pay, value-added models for funding, getting rid of the Teachers’ Council and replacing it with EDUCANZ, and so on.
Any suggestion that there is to be consultation with the education sector is misdirection. The parameters are set, people on panels and committees are hand-picked to push them through, and teachers and parents have little to no voice at all.
It’s a must-watch for all teachers, principals, and support staff.
If you missed your Paid Union Meeting (PUM) or left it unclear or confused, then this is essential viewing.
Anyone still out there that thinks there is not much going on in education at the moment, you owe it to yourself to watch, probably more than once.
You might also want to show it at school in a staff or union meeting, for discussion.
Parents, you may want to watch to help you formulate a list of questions to ask.
Be clear that the shifts being put in place are huge and fundamentally change our education system, especially for primary school students. No more the holistic approach – all that matters are standards, benchmarks and tests. And for many, profit.
If you are unclear just how drastic this is, look to the USA and England just as two examples of what is happening. You owe it to our children and yourself to understand what is going on and to start asking questions.
Below are some links to get you going:
The Guardian – Education (England)
The Anti-Academies Alliance on Facebook (England)
EduShyster – Keeping an eye on the corporate education reform agenda (USA)
Save Our Schools NZ on Facebook (NZ)
Stand Up For Kids – Protect Our Schools on Facebook (NZ)
There are thousands more. Just Google ‘global education reform’ or ‘GERM’ or ‘privatisation of public schools’ and read away.
It is astounding the list of wrongs done to the Kiwi education system in a few short years. I’m not exaggerating – it is just beyond belief. To the point that when I try to think of it all, my head hurts and a thousand conflicting issues start fighting for prominence rendering me unable to sort through the spaghetti of information and in need of a big glass of Wild Side feijoa cider.
I live and breathe this stuff, and if I find it bewildering I can only imagine what it does to the average parent or teacher, grandparent or support staff.
So I am truly grateful that Local Bodies today published a post listing the long list of things public education has had thrown at it since National came to power.
This is the list. It needs to be read then discussed with friends, colleagues, family, teachers, students, MPs and the guy on the train. Because this is it – this is what has been thrown at education in a few short years. It is no overstatement to say that New Zealand Public education is under attack.
Take a breath, and read on:
A National led Government was elected and New Zealand’s public education system came under heavy attack:
You can add to the list the change to teacher training that allows teachers to train in 6 weeks in the school holidays and then train on the job in one school without varied practicums, just as Teach For America does to bring in low cost, short term, untrained ‘teachers’. (Coincidentally great for charter schools, especially those running for profit.)
The full Local Bodies article is here. It is well worth sharing and discussing (share the original, not this – the full article is better)
Please be aware that what has already gone on is just the preamble to far more extensive measures getting increasing more about Milton Friedman’s “free market” than about good, equal, free public education for all.
Unless you want NZ to descend into the horrors being seen now in England and the United States, you need to act. How?
Because three more years like this and the list above will look like child’s play.
Are teachers just too worn out teaching to get into the battle to save public education?
Is there just so much being thrown at the sector right now that people don’t know what to tackle first?
Is it that people care but haven’t got the oomph?
Or do they just not care?
Are the unions doing enough to talk to us?
Should the unions’ leadership be doing more to lead us?
Maybe many teachers don’t understand what is going on, regarding world-wide education reforms (deforms)?
I really don’t know.
But I do know we have to galvanise and stand up for ourselves before it’s too late.
So what should we do?
Stop Press: Whangarei Boys High School Board of Trustees has said no to taking charter school students in for some courses.
I am thrilled. There is no good reason to support a system that is being put in place to undermine and shut down quality public education in the long term.
Well done PPTA for your work on this, and well done to the school board for making the best decision for public school education overall.
Now I want to see NZEI promise to do the same as PPTA and say publicly that they too support a full boycott of charter schools.
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.
Of 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?
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?
“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.)
As 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
I 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.
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?
A letter from Diane Ravitch. The things Diane says here apply to all teachers fighting creeping (and sometimes sprinting) reforms in education:
Dear Members of the Badass Teachers Association,
I am honored to join your group.
The best hope for the future of our society, of public education, and of the education profession is that people stand up and resist.
Say “no.” Say it loud and say it often.
Teachers must resist, because you care about your students, and you care about your profession. You became a teacher to make a difference in the lives of children, not to take orders and obey the dictates of someone who doesn’t know your students.
Parents must resist, to protect their children from the harm inflicted on them by high-stakes testing.
Administrators must resist, because their job is changing from that of coach to enforcer of rules and regulations. Instead of inspiring, supporting, and leading their staff, they are expected to crack the whip of authority.
School board members must resist, because the federal government is usurping their ability to make decisions that are right for their schools and their communities.
Students must resist because their education and their future are being destroyed by those who would force them to be judged solely by standardized tests.
“As a public school teacher in North Carolina—not an “outsider” that Governor McCrory alleges is at the helm of the Moral Monday protests, but an educator grounded in and devoted to the community of Durham—I am ardent to stand up for the future of my students.
When I came out of college straight into teaching seven years ago, I believed that teaching English was going to be about, well, teaching English. I thought that my task was to impart in my students a love of, or at least a less fervent dislike for, Shakespeare and To Kill a Mockingbird. Within a few short weeks I learned how mistaken I was.
Sure, there was still room for Boo and the Bard, but teaching was really about providing stability, respect, and compassion to teenagers desperate to learn in a system that was failing them. It was about talking to K about why he shouldn’t drop out. It was about visiting J in the hospital after her miscarriage. It was about tutoring 15-year-old T so he could move past a fifth grade reading level.
Because this was what my students needed, this is what teaching became for me. It is what teaching means for thousands of teachers, counselors, teaching assistants, and other public school workers across the state, as we prepare our students for successful futures, not just academically, but in every way.
We work long past our salaried hours to create instruction that challenges our students to grow as critical thinkers. We advise clubs where our students can express themselves. We coach sports to promote health and self-discipline.
We counsel the crying, laugh with the happy, protect the bullied, and motivate the discouraged. We are honest with our students about their struggles and successes, and about our own. We do all this not for professional gain but because we firmly believe that these children are worth everything we can give them. We do it because what we teachers want is no different than what our students need.
What the General Assembly wants, however, is in stark contrast to what the children of North Carolina need. In their pursuit to destroy public education via budgets that cut funding, school vouchers that favor private companies, and the elimination of master’s degree pay, the legislature shows how little they care about the quality and longevity of those educating our kids.
I am a seventh year teacher whose pay is frozen at the second year rung of the pay scale, in the state with the 4th worst teacher pay in the country. I have seen dozens of excellent teachers move on to other professions or other states so they could sustain themselves and their families.
At my school, students regularly ask new teachers “will you be here next year?” because they are so used to our terrible turnover rates.
It’s not just education legislation that is bent on destroying our most vulnerable communities through persistent instability. The General Assembly is curbing voting rights, letting unemployment benefits expire, and repealing the Racial Justice Act, all while giving tax breaks to corporate giants. My students aren’t naïve. They know that their communities are being marginalized.
Last year, a student at our school was murdered. In the weeks that followed, my students and I cried out in anguish and anger and asked the toughest questions one could imagine: Why did this student end up where he was? What could any of us have done? How can we keep this from happening again? Our teenagers know to ask these critical questions, but the leaders in Raleigh have failed to ask them: How do we make sure justice is served for all North Carolinians? How do we transform struggling communities into havens of health and stability?
My students create solutions, like organizing a march to the early voting polls and memorial for their classmate. Meanwhile, politicians ignore humanity and count capital.
Next school year, as I always have in the past, I will tell my students every day that they are important and loved. What I wish I could tell them is that the people in power agree—that our General Assembly believes in their futures just like I do. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely I’ll be able to do that.
I will get to tell them, however, that thousands of North Carolinians testified to their worth during the Moral Mondays, and that a movement that believes in them is coming.
This movement is not the work of “outside agitators,” as the Governor believes, but the best and bravest that our state has to offer. It’s a movement led by and fighting for the well-being of 9.7 million insiders—the people of North Carolina who desire a healthy, sustainable future in our state for generations to come.” Source
The few are bullying and mistreating the many.
Greed is winning over caring and community.
The few are creating crises that do not exist so that they can deform our countries.
How bad does it have to get in New Zealand before we shout no more, along with our America, English, Brazilian, and other worldwide friends?
How long before you act?
16 October 2012
Unregistered teachers, double-bunking and the usual spin were all characteristics of the bill which PPTA president Robin Duff said favoured privateers over pupils.
“It appears the government is not proud of the steps it is taking towards privatising New Zealand’s education sector. Why else introduce the bill the night before parliament actually sits?”
The bill was yet another step towards the privatisation of New Zealand’s education sector, Duff said.
“It claims to introduce a different type of school – a ‘partnership’ school – which is just a private school with 100% public money. It might be more accurate to describe these as ‘parasitic schools’,” he said.
Parents, teachers and students in Christchurch should also be very worried, Duff said.
“Not only will they have to contend with unwanted charter schools but the bill’s reference to ‘multiple timetables’ seems to open the door to more ‘double bunking’.”
Two schools sharing the same site at different times was a measure taken during a disaster situation, but it was fraught with difficulty.
“It is not a practice we would advocate being rolled out across the country,” Duff said.
“The minister of education’s crowing about the importance of teacher quality rings hollow when she is now legislating to excuse charter schools from employing registered teachers.
“It invites questions as to whether the minister has any belief at all in the need for teachers to be trained and qualified. If this is okay for charter schools then perhaps this is the plan she has for all teachers?”
Duff said it was disappointing that with all the serious issues facing education in New Zealand the minister insisted on focussing on a red-herring solution like charter schools.
“After 20 years of operating in the USA there is no evidence of charter schools providing better outcomes for students.
“It’s not better, it’s not innovative and it’s not for New Zealand,” he said.
CONTACT: PPTA PRESIDENT ROBIN DUFF 04 913 4227 OR 021 636 108″