What Our academics say about charter schools

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!

7 Comments Posted

  1. “Choice” of course usually turns out to be for the privileged

    In New York the charter schools are massively oversubscribed, so there is a lottery system to randomly decide who gets in and who doesn’t.

    New York also closes charter schools that fail to do better than state schools.

    There are lessons there we could learn.

  2. National and Acts charter schools is about deregulation, teacher union busting and private companys getting their hands on our state education funding.

    Its just typical right wing politics.

    From my experience with parental involvement kids can thrive and excel in the state system.

    National siphoning of money from the state system will make things worse.

  3. Photonz,

    What you wrote implies that SOME charter schools work better than ALL state schools, which I don’t think is what you intended. What you should have written is SOME charter schools work better than SOME state schools, and SOME don’t. Alternatively, you could have written, SOME state schools work better than SOME charter schools, and SOME don’t. When you think about it, whichever way you choose to write it, it’s a meaningless statement which tells one absolutely nothing. At best one can guess that whatever makes a good or bad school is not whether it is a state school or a charter school, but something else.

  4. Cathereine says “Nationals Standards are about measuring the tree, but measuring doesn’t create growth or health in any tree.”

    But if you don’t measure you have no idea of what works well and what is detrimental.

    And that applies to teaching methods, curriculum, teachers, equipment, class sizes, etc.

    It’s like making numerous changes to a formula one racing car, and trying to guess which complicated combination of settings are fastest, without ever measuring what makes the car go faster.

    And it’s obvious with charter schools that SOME work significantly better than state schools, and SOME don’t.

    But Catherine’s blinkers don’t allow anything outside of the view “charter schools bad”. The human race would never progress if we all adopted that approach.

    And aquantance’s kids excelled in a charter school focused on science and I.T. after they nearly dropped out of the local state school.

    But Catherine would write that off, not because it was bad, but simply, because it has the wrong name.

  5. Education is totally a “commodity”. The education system in New Zealand is supported by an army of employees who are totally “for profit”. Ever seen a public schoolteacher bitch for more money? The only difference is that it’s a massive a monopoly – a monopoly so dominant that it’s not only the only game in town, but a (virtual) compulsory-attendance game at that.

    If I have children one day then I would certainly like to homeschool them. I would also like to not have to pay for their education twice via my taxes. Maybe Catherine could explain why, in terms of justice, I should have to?

  6. The truth is that National just isn’t very comfortable with our quality public education despite its proven success. As Catherine says, Charter Schools are not about improving the current system but introducing something completely different for no good reason. The real advantages of these schools for the National Government are that they will be able to employ teachers outside the collective agreement and allow their mates to profit even more from the education sector. This may develop into the teachers’s version of the POAL battle.

  7. This issue reminds me of the strategy of the right-wing: Howard Govt. in Australia about 10 years ago.. when they told the people that it was economically smarter to invest in private schools. Then it came out that the majority of the money was going to a handful of schools in the ‘exclusive’ wealthiest suburbs. The downside being that some funding was subsequently cut to public schools as a result.
    Beware.. there a storm coming !


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