Privatisation of our schools?!
This bizarre policy was never presented to the public during the recent election campaign and is a patent privatisation-by-stealth.
National are implementing this crazy right wing policy as a time when New Zealanders are tired of politics and the Christmas shopping season is nearly upon us.
It is also the time when the news media winds down.
In effect, National and ACT are pushing a quasi-privatisation agenda far greater in scope than anything John Key disclosed to the public.
The questions that now beg to be asked are,
- How far is National planning to go in this second term?
- What else is on the block for privatisation or semi-privatisation?
- Will socially conscious, liberal-minded National MPs accept this? Or will one or two balk at this a-bridge-to-far step?
- Will schools accept this extreme policy? Or will we be seeing wide-scale resistance to this policy in the education sector?
How will National hope to implement such a controversial policy when they had considerable opposition to National Standards?
And what mandate does National have for such a plan? The answer is: none whatsoever.
What is even more paradoxical is that “Charter Schools” is an American concept – and yet their education system lags far behind ours in a recent OECD report,
New Zealand came seventh on the OECD’s latest PISA survey of education performance, just below Canada and Singapore.
Our American cuzzies, by contrast, came fifteenth-equal with Poland and Iceland. The full rankings list can be seen here.
The obvious question that springs to mind is; why is National pursuing an education programme from a country that is lower down on an international ranking-list of educational outcomes? What possible gain is there from borrowing a system from a country that has worse outcomes than we do?
And why stop at a US system? Why not follow Kyrgyzstan, which is at the bottom of the OECD scale?
The only answer is that National’s intention to adopt this dubious programme is based on ideology and nothing more. Like partial asset sales, National is banking on the free market and competition to improve education outcomes for our low decile schools.
A laudible goal – but choosing a programme from a country that has education outcomes worse than ours? That is simply insane. Especially when, according to at least one comprehensive study, “Charter Schools” produce minimal improvements to education outcomes.
“Our national pooled analysis reveals, on the whole, a slightly negative picture of average charter school performance nationwide. On average, charter school students can expect to see their academic growth be somewhat lower than their traditional public school peers, though the absolute differences are small…
…Perhaps most revealing is the distribution of charter school effects relative to their immediate TPS comparison groups. Realistically, the relative standard of performance – whether charter schools are producing student outcomes that are at least as good as the schools in their community – is a fairly low threshold.
This study provides a level playing field for that test. The Quality Curve shows that there are a substantial number of charter schools that provide superior and outstanding results for their students; 17 percent of the charters in this study deliver learning gains that are better than the results that their TPS peers achieve. These schools fulfill the promise of charter schools — both for the students they educate and for their collective demonstration that such schooling is feasible.
But the good news of the top performers is diminished by the preponderance of charter schools that do not perform to that high level. Thirty‐seven percent of the charters in this study produce learning gains that are significantly worse than what equivalent TPS students accomplish. This proportion is both alarming and regrettable. These underperformers put the better charter schools and the more general charter school promise at risk.” – Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), Stanford University, CA – http://credo.stanford.edu – June 2009
Yet again, we have a right wing government motre interested in ideology than common sense.
“Charter schools” appears to be part of National’s secret agenda to transform schools into quasi-business models and transfer responsibility for management from the State, to private enterprise and organisations.
Our own educators seem thoroughly unimpressed,
But even our American cuzzies seem to be viewing “Charter Schools” with suspicion,
“What are we going to cut and how’s that going to impact our students? How many teachers are we going to have to lay off, how many Kaplan programs are we going to get rid of, how many early childhood education programs are we going to have to cut?” asked Unified Board member David Reeves. Ibid
It seems that “Charter Schools” are not simply intended for low socio-economic areas. Parents living in more affluent suburbs should take note of what may lie in store for them,
Parents in Remuera, Khandallah, and Fendalton should take note, perhaps?
As with so many New Right “reforms”, it appears that ideology outweighs common-sense and communities are left to deal with the consequences of policies that have dire consequences and questionable outcomes.
This is the experiment that National is planning to dump on us.
The next three years will not be a happy time for this country, I fear.
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