by Catherine Delahunty
Many people are confused about the Charter School plans the Government are actively pursuing. We know it was in the ACT/National Party agreement to do this but we have been unable to find out what problem they are trying to solve. There is a multitude of conflicting international evidence on the issue because this is not about educational benefits so much as an ideological commitment to the “choice” mantra. “Choice” of course usually turns out to be for the privileged which is why strengthening and improving the public school system to benefit all children makes more sense than Charter Schools.
Massey University’s Education Policy Response Group have investigated the Charter Schools policies for the Aotearoa/New Zealand context. Their report came out this month and is a thorough analysis of the overseas experiences and models as well as our own situation.
It is interesting to note that educational inequalities cannot be proven to have significantly reduced anywhere this model (which is really a range of different models or experiments) have been developed.
It is however apparent that in places like Sweden where the “for profit” is an intrinsic part of the Charter schools framework educational has become a trade-able commodity. If you believe with the ACT party that education is not so much a public good but a trade-able commodity then you will be excited by this business opportunity. It is important to note that in some countries the Charter schools are all not for profits but the New Zealand version includes “for profit” opportunities.
If we align this initiative with public private partnerships for school buildings the dots are easy to join.
Much of the recent Government rhetoric is predicates around “failing schools” and there has been no serious engagement round supporting and improving public schools to meet all students learning needs. Nationals Standards are about measuring the tree, but measuring doesn’t create growth or health in any tree.
Check out the Massey report on Charter Schools and engage with this debate!