Green vision for education or charter schools?

The Bill that will facilitate charter schools went through the second reading last night. It relies on the Māori Party for support as no one else apart from National and ACT will vote for it. The Bill is a privatisation device to assist education franchises and groups who do not want to be accountable under the state education system. It is using the need to improve results for Māori, Pasifika and children with learning disabilities as an excuse to privatise.

The Green Party has a positive vision for supporting all children to get the public education they need. It is based on concepts of equity and quality and support for the cultures of all our communities. We utterly reject the concept of unregistered teachers, business models in schools and the lack of scrutiny that the Bill sets up. John Banks claims to be the champion of Māori students despite ACT’s inability to support collective benefits for any community, let alone tangata whenua.

Hekia Parata is also chanting the mantra of choice without answering the serious questions around accountability, quality and the lack of evidence that Charters can deliver even the narrow vision of the National/ACT Government. Their constant cry is that flexibility and innovation are impossible within the state system and they are silent as to why kura kaupapa Māori education is not being supported. Do they ever visit schools and kura and listen?

The Green Party will be promoting a positive vision between now and the election which focuses on quality public education and proven successes such as kura kaupapa and Te Kotahitanga that address inequity and bias. We won’t be supporting secret contracts and teaching staff with no registration. We think all children deserve access to the best we can offer not failed imported models.

24 Comments Posted

  1. You forgot to mention the other part of the report. The bit that said the New York State schools, in question, were in such a desperate state that ANY form of intervention would be an improvement.

    Especially if it added more funding, to an underfunded system.

  2. D Buckly the word is overall. Including in New York.

    You should also note that US state school standards in New York in particular were a lot lower than ours to begin with.
    At least in part because only very poor New Yorkers went to State schools in the first place.

  3. Charter schools have lowered OVERALL education standards wherever they have been tried. That is fact. Supported by pages and pages of research.

    Hmmmm. Except in New York maybe?

  4. The money still comes out of the community, whether State or private schools. Whether paid privately or from taxes it is still money that could have gone elsewhere.

    The worst thing about private schools, however, is that as soon as people can opt out of State schools they do not care about the quality of State schools, and, as we have seen, they do not care if they underfund and undermine State schools.

    In fact there is an incentive for private schools to make sure the State sector does not do well, because it makes them look better.
    It is very difficult for a private school to really do better than our State schools at present because they are, generally, very good.

    Likely part of the hidden motivation for NACT’s dumbing down and destruction of our State schools.

    Private schools are an obstacle, to those of us who want to improve State schools from very good to excellent!

  5. Kerry says “Private schools have not been a great success in NZ. they add so little value, despite much greater funding, that most of them have had to be propped up by tax payers.”

    Private schools are funded at 25% of the per pupil rate of state schools. –

    $1012.99 – $2156.08 per pupil for private schools in 2013 compared to $6000-$7000 per pupil for state schools.

    So from the taxpayers point of view, for the same money they can get four children educated at a private school, or just one at a state school.

  6. I’d like to see a schooling model that streams different students into different learning envoironments.

    One size fits all schooling doesn’t work because National will always want competitive schools and Labor will always want cooperative schools. Why not have one school with a big sports focus and another school with a big arts focus? And fund them equally?

    Then have another school with an enginering focus, building cars etc… Stuff that gets kids excited about learning, and then build the rest around that..


    1. Finland does not give their kids standardized tests.

    2. Individual schools have curriculum autonomy; individual teachers have classroom autonomy.

    3. It is not mandatory to give students grades until they are in the 8th grade.

    4. All teachers are required to have a master’s degree.

    5. Finland does not have a culture of negative accountability for their teachers. According to Partanen, “bad” teachers receive more professional development; they are not threatened with being fired.

    6. Finland has a culture of collaboration between schools, not competition. Most schools…perform at the same level, so there is no status in attending a particular facility.

    7. Finland has no private schools.

    8. Education emphasis is “equal opportunity to all.” They value equality over excellence.

    9. A much higher percentage of Finland’s educational budget goes directly into the classroom than it does in the US, as administrators make approximately the same salary as teachers. This also makes Finland’s education more affordable than it is in the US.

    10. Finnish culture values childhood independence; one example: children mostly get themselves to school on their own, by walking or bicycling, etc. Helicopter parenting isn’t really in their vocabulary.

    11. Finnish schools don’t assign homework, because it is assumed that mastery is attained in the classroom.

    12. Finnish schools have sports, but no sports teams. Competition is not valued.

    13. The focus is on the individual child. If a child is falling behind, the highly trained teaching staff recognizes this need and immediately creates a plan to address the child’s individual needs. Likewise, if a child is soaring ahead and bored, the staff is trained and prepared to appropriately address this as well.

    14. Compulsory school in Finland doesn’t begin until children are 7 years old.

    ” the shallow and generic Common Core [Standards] along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings. Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education”…. Conti.

  8. quote ‘How dare the government set up a system where someone can actually make a profit out of ‘teaching’ our children’. You quoted this from my blog.

    Dave I was not aware that the private schools of today are run for profit. If so why do they get top ups from the government. An ancestor of mine founded a Grammar School in Yorks in C17 but not for profit. He wished to offer a chance to children who would otherwise have had no education.

    I certainly heard someone say that the schools envisaged in NZ, with public funds, are entitled to make a profit and keep it.

    I repeat, to profit from children in this day and age is disgusting.

  9. The fact that NACT advocate Charter schools shows either a profit driven cynical disregard for quality education in NZ, or totally blinkered ideological blindness.

    If they are so sure they would do better why are they exempting them from the OIA. Just like CCO’s. So we cannot tell where the money is going and the results..

    Note that NACT will not be sending their kids to them.

  10. Photo. If we suggested an costly and disruptive educational change that, everywhere it has been tried, resulted in outcomes like this:

    5 to 10% of schools do better after the change.
    50% do about the same.
    At least 40% do worse.

    Result no noticeable improvement, and in most counties a noticeable deterioration in overall education standards, despite all the extra disruption and cost.

    You would have been on here, rightly, all over us like a rash criticising it.

    Because it comes from ACT, you think it is the best thing since sliced bread.

    For the same amount of money we could introduce programs in State schools, that have been proven to work, or try and make our system more representative of PROVEN best practice in NZ and around the world.

    Like finding out what works in the best of our State schools and replicate it throughout the system. Or even, heaven forbid following a more successful example, confirmed by what we know about how kids learn, like the Fins.

    Private schools have not been a great success in NZ. they add so little value, despite much greater funding, that most of them have had to be propped up by tax payers. Doing well with cherry picked students is not an indication of a good school, or teachers.

  11. Kerry – you may not have the intelligence to work out which charter school models that work better than state schools and which don’t.

    But plenty of people do.

  12. learn to read, Photo..

    Charter schools have lowered OVERALL education standards wherever they have been tried.
    That is fact. Supported by pages and pages of research.
    Not subject to dispute except to the delusional.
    It is immaterial if one charter school does a bit better than State schools. Some are equal and a large proportion do worse.
    Lowering standards of education for most of the children in the system.

    Unlike you, Photo, I am capable of reading a research papers.

    Imitating failures when we have proven successful examples to follow, shows who are really ideologically blind..

  13. Kerry – when you spout nonsense like that you just show your ignorance of charter schools.

    Although a huger number are not profit making, you say they have “never failed” to make a profit.

    Although many perform better than state schools, you say they have “Never failed to lower overall educational outcomes”.

    The fact that the Greens have promised to dismantle charter schools, even if they are doing better for their pupils, shows children’s education comes second to blind ideology.

  14. How dare the government set up a system where someone can actually make a profit out of ‘teaching’ our children.

    Actually, the private system of education existed long before the state system did.

    As far as I know, every private school in NZ is a non-profit organisation, where those who wish to can pay to have their children exposed to a different education enviroment. That environment is important, and lacking in many of our state schools, it promotes and enforces self discipline, focuses on “whole child” thinking, and requires teachers to know the children they teach and work with their strengths and weaknesses.

    My basis for this opinion is well founded. When my family moved here 20 years ago, I had three children in the state system, and went to my first parent:teacher meeting. After having all my questions about how my eldest child was doing in this and that subject answered with the same word – “fine” – I asked the teacher to describe my child. They couldn’t! They said he was tall and thin, he’s short and stocky; they said he was dark haired, he’s blond; I asked if he was having difficulties with reading, they said his reading age and physical age were the same – he was diagnosed as dyslexic four years earlier and that information had been supplied to the school! Two weeks later all three of my kids were in private school, and my wife and I gave up almost everything to keep them there untill they were ready for tertiary education.

    If my experience is anything to go by, the standards of teaching outcomes achieved by people who dare to challenge the low-expectation, low-standards, low-interest state system are so much better than that state system.

    AND YES, government does make payments to private schools, as I remember they cover about 60% of the professional salaries costs, if government had to accommodate all the privately educated children in just Wellington, there would need to be at least four new schools built that were totally funded by taxes – a much higher cost than 60% of the teachers’ salaries. On a last point, the school my kids attended had one of the best design and technology (we used to call it woodwork, metalwork and art – but that’s oldspeak,) facilities I’ve ever come across; while there was always a qualified teacher there, the best lessons were given by an “old guy” whose only qualification was an apprentice-graduation certificate – no DipEd or B.Ed needed for him to successfully pass on his knowledge and ability!

  15. We could see a clear pattern why Key govt loves to bring in those “failed imported models”, not only in the area of NZ educations…

    Whatever some big or foreign businesses can benefit (while ripping off NZ general public) from those secret deals, Key govt will do it.
    They don’t build lots of houses to look after low income people here; it’s the sheer scale of such contract being so attractive to his mates…
    Key govt will not invest or spend money on those who really need helps if money goes to individuals directly(look how many cuts here and there which hurt little people) instead of spending on big contracts…smell fishy…
    Wellington is dying with too many people who refuse to do what they are told…If Key can have his way, he would love to relocate the whole government especially The Treasury, Reserve banks to Sky city in Auckland, the best headquarter for this govt, where all secret deals can be made while all parties being well entertained, plus many other benefits which will take me too long to describe here (sorry my English is still very limited)
    When Key and his ministers don’t know how to run a country, just go down to gambling tables and throw dice (or using slot machine?) and gamble away this country’s fortune and its future(which has been the consistent way of how this govt operates anyway, gambling away our tax payers money brainlessly and irresponsibly)
    Christchurch watch out, if you don’t do what you are told and let cntrol govt control “contracts”, I might stop planes flying to your city soon, or even better, I will teke CHCH off the NZ map completely…evil laughs…

  16. Think of the profits to be made. Thinks Photo!

    Charter schools have never failed wherever they have been tried.
    Never failed to lower overall educational outcomes, be more expensive than the State schools they replaced, and make good profits for their owners on parents tax dollars.

    If the private sector are so sure they are a good idea, why don’t they fund a few. That is how the English “public schools” began, after all.

    One or two charter schools (Potemkin villages) doing well, after lots of money has been thrown at them, does not disguise the fact that charter schools on the average do less well than State schools.

    Ideological stupidity is repeating an experiment which has been tried numerous time overseas and has NEVER resulted in better overall education outcomes.

    Think of the children, says Photo.
    More absolute bullshit from Photo.
    If he was thinking of the children he would want us to be using education methods and systems that have been proven to work.

  17. Catherine says “We think all children deserve access to the best we can offer not failed imported models.”

    That fact that you’ve promised to dismantle charter schools, even if they have shown great improvements for pupils, shows your interest is NOT aligned with what is best for children.

    It is aligned with unions and ideology REGARDLESS of what is best for children.

  18. Charter schools sounds like a cheap and nasty deal. Why don’t we base our education system on the Cambridge model the best in the world.

  19. Hard to believe Pita Sharples supports charter schools when he was one of the main instigators of Kura Kaupapa Maori and taught at Hoani Waititi kura for many years.
    RE government not allowing best educational practice – this is an ongoing problem with this government, but charter schools are not the answer.

  20. Charter Schools were not mentioned by John Banks in his run up to the election therefore they do not have a mandate from the electorate. If that is the case shouldn’t there be a Binding Citizens Initiated Referenda on this issue of such import? There is also the matter of funding – is there a separate budget for this experiment or will the funds be taken from the present ed budget, which is self defeating or from the budget given to ‘private schools’ ? The latter I presume as Charters are effectively private schools for profit. The opposition needs to get onto questioning the value of Charter schools in parliament at question time. There is enough information on US sites – Alter Net – showing the folly of these schools as there is for standardised testing – which is not conducive to good outcomes when teaching to a test. This all part of the US dumbing down on education creating little robots who memorise facts, denying the creative thinking component of learning and stressing methods of learning how to learn which cannot be evaluated by a standardised test. Left out of the equation is, why are some pupils failing ? Charter schools will do nothing to improve one of the primary causes of failure – socio-economic situations in the home and community. What doesn’t this government understand about education and the primary causes of failure. Let us see what the budget does for this problem in NZ communities. Not holding my breath.

  21. As a retired primary school teacher I am horrified at the idea of Charter Schools. Friends in the USA inform me they only work for bright kids, the slower pupils are soon ousted. How dare the government set up a system where someone can actually make a profit out of ‘teaching’ our children. This was the sop to get Bank’s vote. It is criminal. Our State schools are doing the best they can, but money which should go to them is filtered off now and paid to private schools. Shame on any government that does not have the future generation in mind.

  22. Hi Catherine,

    I went to a meeting in Wellington, with Catherine Isaacs speaking. She claimed that charter schools will be required to report on National Standards. Modulo the problems with that, do you know whether the claim is correct, and whether the data will be available to the general public?

    At the same meeting, the head of (probably) a Kohanga Reo complained that the ministry of education was preventing him from doing the right things for his students. I suspect, from this, that there is a capture problem, where the ministry is trespassing onto the rights of schools and communities. This shows around the process and data quality behind the Christchurch school closures. How do you think it should be monitored and prevented?

    Regards, etc

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