Charter Schools

December 6th, 2011 at 8:50 am by David Farrar

Danya Levy at Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key is defending the introduction of under a deal with ACT despite National never campaigning on it, saying “that’s MMP for you, isn’t it?”.

It is. And I see one of the registered promoters for the referendum was the NZEI arguing we should retain MMP.

Under the deal with ACT, community, religious or ethnic groups, or private companies, will be allowed to operate state-funded charter schools.

School boards will be able to set class hours and introduce performance-related teacher’s pay.

A trial will be held in South Auckland which, along with Christchurch East, will be the first areas to have the state-funded private schools within the next three years.

I’m pleased to see the trial will be in South Auckland, where young kids are not doing that well under the current system.

The prime minister rejected suggestions National had blindsided voters with changes to the system.

“Are you really telling me that because we might trial in parts of the country, one or two schools, to see whether they can deliver better results, that somehow it’s undermining the education system in New Zealand?

“Sorry but it sounds a bit far-fetched to me.”

Oh it could well undermine the current education system – by succeeding. This is the worse nightmare of the opponents. Think if a charter school that has flexibility over staff, property and operational budgets (including ability to do performance pay) actually delivers better results than the existing schools? Think if instead of white flight, we get brown flight – Maori and PI families enrolling in the charter school because their kids get a better educational outcome there.

One prediction I will make. Regardless of how successful a charter school may prove to be, Labour will promise to close it down, or force it to become like all the other schools when the Ministry of Education and the NZEI/PPTA decides how much teachers get paid rather than the school and the teacher decide.

“I don’t think the New Zealand voters are going to be up and arms because in a couple of communities in New Zealand we give some new model a go.

“If those students don’t want to go there, they’ll be free to go to the existing schools they are at.”

Exactly. Of course some people think choice is an evil word.

UPDATE: Danyl at Dim Post thinks that charter schools are a scam and only do better because they can pick their students. However Eric Crampton at Offsetting Behaviour quotes from a study where students were selected by lottery:

Charter schools are publicly funded but operate outside the regulatory framework and collective bargaining agreements characteristic of traditional public schools. In return for this freedom, charter schools are subject to heightened accountability. This paper estimates the impact of charter school attendance on student achievement using data from Boston, where charter schools enroll a growing share of students. We also evaluate an alternative to the charter model, Boston’s pilot schools. These schools have some of the independence of charter schools, but operate within the school district, face little risk of closure, and are covered by many of same collective bargaining provisions as traditional public schools. Estimates using student assignment lotteries show large and significant test score gains for charter lottery winners in middle and high school.

This is highly exciting.

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161 Responses to “Charter Schools”

  1. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    Radio New Zealand is calling it “American-style Charter Schools”. A new reporting standings low-point for the state broadcaster.

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  2. tvb (4,242 comments) says:

    I suspect the new Labour Leadership is far more pragmatic than the last when it comes to the demands of the teacher’s Unions. I get the impression that the Unions are nearly exhausted fighting educational standards and then John Key throws something else at them to worry about. I think they should target communities where the parents have very little choice when it comes to their children’s education. Maybe try Porirua next.

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  3. Falafulu Fisi (2,176 comments) says:

    DPF said…

    where young kids are not doing that well under the current system

    The main reason is cultural, until that is changed, it would be very difficult to raise the achievement levels regardless of how many millions that’s poured into such programme.

    This is something that I have raised with some church leaders of the Island community in South Auckland. Everyone thinks I’m wrong.

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  4. backster (2,122 comments) says:

    I like diversity and choice and think the proposal is great however I would like to see the trial held in a more middle of the road area than such a union socialist receptive area such as South Auckland. Success seems more likely to be evident to me in an area attractive for good creative teachers to live in, and where the community itself is more aspirational.

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  5. campit (467 comments) says:

    Did JB actually campaign for charter schools though? Who knew?! In the meantime his professed support for Auckland’s CBD rail tunnel seems to have gone on the back burner.

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  6. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Geez the fucking left will be having kittens. How can a socialist state grow and prosper if the supply of young cannon fodder drys up, where will our future useful idiots come from, God it’s just not cricket.

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  7. Elaycee (4,332 comments) says:

    Includes an earlier comment this morning (more relevant here):

    Is it any coincidence that the ‘best’ schools in NZ are private? Of course not.

    Status quo for the education system is not an option – unless opponents think it’s OK that our kids are taught crap from an early age and that key subjects such as literacy, numeracy and math skills are set aside in favour of time spent basket weaving.

    The best thing that could happen for our education system is that the incoming Minister of Education tells the NZEI / PPTA / CTU to all get stuffed and to get on with the implementation of policies as set down by the elected government. And if they don’t like it, they can simply piss off and make way for someone who will. The same NZEI / PPTA / CTU needs to realise that they do not set policy / they do not determine the curriculum / they do not have the right to refrain from teaching basic skills to our kids. At the moment, they are nothing more than a handbrake within the education system that needs to be disconnected.

    And [of course] outstanding teachers should be remunerated accordingly. A total no-brainer.

    This charter is certainly a move in the right direction. Bring it on.

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  8. Psycho Milt (2,363 comments) says:

    “that’s MMP for you, isn’t it?”

    Well, yes – MMP does allow the govt to run a sham party that it can pretend is twisting its arm to introduce legislation it wants to implement but doesn’t have the bollocks to put in front of the voters. No voting system’s perfect. However, Key’s got a cheek pretending that because MMP allows him to behave badly, MMP is therefore to blame for the bad behaviour.

    Re the crap schools idea: The charter school scam.

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  9. toad (3,672 comments) says:

    Where the hell does the mandate for this come from? Charter schools weren’t even in the manifesto of the party of the 1% before the election.

    And in the US charter schools have been a pretty dismal failure:

    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. Charter students trail the academic growth of TPS students by .01 standard deviations in reading, and by .03 standard deviations in math. Though small, these effects are statistically significant. These findings hold for students across the board of initial starting scores, except for students in the lowest and highest starting deciles in reading.

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  10. lyndon (330 comments) says:

    I’m happy for your optimism DPF. Given nobody seems to have the faintest what the actual model will be I suppose I can’t say you’re flying in the face of the evidence.

    I think the electoral point is that if ACT were campaigning on it, they didn’t see fit to explain it properly to anyone either. I’d have thought National could have found a concession people might have recognised.

    Whether people will be free to go to the existing schools also depends – the idea of schools being taken over wasn’t ruled out.

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  11. Elaycee (4,332 comments) says:

    @toad – the mandate comes from being the elected government as determined by the voters of NZ.

    The system of MMP allowed this Charter to be brought to the table and adopted by the government.

    The same MMP system that you have so strongly advocated on many occasions.

    But, it would appear, only when it suits…

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  12. nasska (10,878 comments) says:

    …”The main reason is cultural, until that is changed, it would be very difficult to raise the achievement levels “….

    The elephant in the room. If parents don’t value education then the children will follow suit. Maori & PI kids from families who have embraced the opportunities of education do as well as their pakeha counterparts.

    I hope I’m wrong but what will probably happen is that the charter schools will attract the bright kids from homes where success is encouraged while the rest will carry on as they do now.

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  13. KiwiGreg (3,211 comments) says:

    @ toad I imagine it came from the same place that let Labour waste a billion of our money on a trainset.

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  14. G4G (5 comments) says:

    This looks like a reasonably unbiased study (from my first brief glance through). Shows some pretty positive effects if done properly. And to be honest, it can’t be much worse than what some of these kids are getting right now!

    http://www.nber.org/~schools/charterschoolseval/how_NYC_charter_schools_affect_achievement_sept2009.pdf

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  15. big bruv (13,552 comments) says:

    Toad

    When will the Green party leaders admit that they knew all along of the plan to vandalise National party billboards and that they never intended to sack the personal assistant who was behind it all?

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  16. insider (1,030 comments) says:

    One issue in these cash constrained times – duplication of school costs if charter and existing schools run alongside and in competition

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  17. BeaB (2,080 comments) says:

    It may be an excellent idea as NZEI, PPTA and all the principals’ associations have come out in total opposition. If it was a crap idea they could scoff at it and ignore it.

    However, England has just introduced Free Schools and the system has worked well in Sweden for years. KIPP schools in the USA have enormous parent support.

    It’s another choice for parents, state schools will always be the dominant model and private schools will be mainly unaffected. So where’s the big deal especially if they manage to do better with failing kids, migrant kids and ethnic groups not doing well at the moment. One size doesn’t always fit everyone.

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  18. dime (9,658 comments) says:

    lol i love the new catch cry from the left – where did the mandate come from?

    the same scumbags who got rid of the privy council without any prior warning

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  19. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    Cross-posted from GD:
    If it pisses off the PPTA, it can only be good for parents, students, and NZ.
    Down with the unionist Labour stooges!

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  20. dime (9,658 comments) says:

    anyway, great idea. love it.

    the president of the teachers association was on with hosking this morning. i thought the dude was going to cry. he adopted the usual argument “its failing overseas”. as opposed to when something they dont like works overseas “you cant compare two different countries” heh

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  21. Brian Smaller (4,026 comments) says:

    One size doesn’t always fit everyone.

    But it does in the socialist utopia that toad and others so believe in.

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  22. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    One of the arguments against charter schools appears to be (though I’m not sure if it’s valid here as I don’t know what the Govt is planning) that the charter schools will cherry pick students and leave the less achieving children behind. Well so what? Let’s examine that for a moment. Should kids be forced to stay in a school just for the sake of other children? I went to school to get an education, not to get an education for other kids. If kids are lower achievers, OTHER CHILDREN should NOT be the lever with which we address these problems. It think it’s outrageous that some envious lazy lefty teacher should use my children’s opportunities to fix the underachievement problem in New Zealand.

    @ Toad

    I’m not sure that charter schools will necessarily be a better way of teaching kids, but what it will do is remove the choke hold that unions and the Ministry of Education have on the community’s desires for their kids. The left’s opposition and criticism is so predictable that it betrays their ideological views rather than showing their expertise.

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  23. tas (596 comments) says:

    ACT has been campaigning for school choice for years. You have to be blind, deaf, and dumb to think this trial is a surprise.

    There has been an outcry from the usual suspects about this. I say to them: put up or shut up. Suggest a better plan to improve the failing parts of our education system before you criticize this plan. And before you say it, no, throw more money at the problem is not a plan.

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  24. dime (9,658 comments) says:

    do you think the media will say “acts sole MP John Banks” whenever they mention banksy for the next 3 years?

    i generally dont hear ZB news say “united futures only MP peter dunne”.

    could that be some left wing nastiness? surely not!

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  25. iiq374 (262 comments) says:

    @Tas – you beat me to pointing it out to the dimwits saying it wasn’t ACT policy; further reinforcement was from the policy opening speech:

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1111/S00340/brash-speech-a-more-equal-and-innovative-education-system.htm

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  26. iiq374 (262 comments) says:

    @Dime – and did they ever say Progressives sole MP Jim Anderton?

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  27. iiq374 (262 comments) says:

    @Toad – The Stanford report was quite interesting especially the points that led to your quoted statement “except for students in the lowest and highest starting deciles in reading.”

    The most interesting finding to me was that for the top and bottom students Charter schools were found to be fantastic; it was for the “average” student that they were producing less effective results. From which you would draw the conclusion that putting them in South Auckland is a great idea!

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  28. James Stephenson (2,087 comments) says:

    From the manifesto that Toad helpfully linked to above:

    Meanwhile, education policy in Australia, Sweden, parts of Canada and the United States, and Great Britain is showing the benefits of making education more market-like and entrepreneurial. Such policies lead to a wider range of education opportunities being available.

    You’d have to be dumb as a sack of hammers to not see that as explicit support for Charter / free / academy schools.

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  29. Mark (1,421 comments) says:

    “It’s another choice for parents, state schools will always be the dominant model and private schools will be mainly unaffected. So where’s the big deal especially if they manage to do better with failing kids, migrant kids and ethnic groups not doing well at the moment. One size doesn’t always fit everyone”.

    If you think this is aimed at failing kids and ethnic groups not doing so well you must also believe in the tooth fairy. Having a healthy distrust of the motives here i suspect the real issue is state funding of private schools which has been an objective of ACT since the roger douglas days

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  30. Ross12 (1,261 comments) says:

    I don’t know what the big issue is ( well I do –the NZEI will be shown up !!). Banks said there are already two schools using a form of the model he is talking about in South Auckland and obviously it is working. That is where he got the idea from ( not overseas). Have the NZEI , Labour and the Greens been complaining about those schools ?? We know Mainfreight has been working with some Sth Auckland schools for years.
    I don’t see much difference to those schools which were private or religious based that have been partly or fully integrated to the state system.( from a funding point of view)
    Anything that helps kids achieve has to be good.
    My wife works for a private school. It does a couple of very basic things well –its pushes high behavioural standards and sets high expectations in all areas ( academic , sporting , cultural etc.). It does not just talk about it –it does it.

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  31. parkold () says:

    Whoopee must be a great idea as i hear and read all the Labour and Green sycophants are against it.From boofhead Plunket to Doom Post, to Radio Left, to all the little creepy crawly bugs crawling out of the woodwork,it surely is a grand idea.To hear that lot weeping and wailing and crying in their cups.Of course not forgetting the Labour party flagships with their massive financial support through union fees the teachers unions.The pundits should check out ST PATRICKS COLLEGE SILVERSTREAM,ST PATRICKS COLLEGE WELLINGTON,etc etc that model has been in vogue for decades.

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  32. david (2,553 comments) says:

    A programme that requires State House tenants and beneficiaries receiving unemployment benefits to gain some elevel of educational achievement in order to retain their benefits might do more to get parents turning in a bit more positively towards the beneficial outcomes of attention to education and raise the aspirations wrt their kids.

    Not quite “work for welfare” but more “learn for welfare”.

    You would get either better educated “bush lawyer” beneficiaries or people who went off welfare once they realised that they could actually fend for themselves quite adequately without all that “free money”

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  33. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    have a listen to this

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio

    click on the interview. Sort of takes the wind out of the socialist left radio people who were hoping for a negative report.

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  34. JamesS (352 comments) says:

    Sounds like a good idea to me. No surprise the unions are against it because it is going to be successful and their membership of failed no hopers acting as glorified babysitters will be seen for what they are and always have been.

    Good on John Key for introducing it! another reason the nation is in good hands with Mr Key and National in charge.

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  35. PaulL (5,983 comments) says:

    Check out Eric Crampton. http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.com/2011/12/charter-schools.html?m=1
    Actual studies and explanations of bias and controlling for it. Net result – in the USA chater schools show improvements.

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  36. tom hunter (4,556 comments) says:

    You can see one of the main left-wing arguments against charter schools in the DimPost link referenced above: that they succeed by cherry-picking students, whereas the poor old state schools have to take everybody.

    I note that if this were the case in general one would not then expect to see the sort of results from the Stanford study which show charter schools not doing any better than state schools as a whole. And that’s accepting that study for the sake of argument: I recall an analysis of it that I read some time ago that showed it had some flaws, so will look that up.

    In the meantime I can only refer to the private school my oldest son attends (my other two kids attending state schools as I did). My son’s school has quite a number of kids with what are politely termed “learning difficulties”, ranging from various shades of autism to deslexia and behavioural issues. In short, they don’t cherry pick the kids.

    Instead it is parents who have great worries (and in some cases lousy experiences) about educating their kids in state schools, who have picked this school and stumped up the money ($12,000 per year) to get them in. And the results with those kids have been very good. It would be great if some poor South Auckland mum could be given the same chance. But as “nasska” said above in quoting Falafula Fisa, the 800 pound gorilla in the room is:

    The main reason is cultural, until that is changed, it would be very difficult to raise the achievement levels

    Exactly. These kids have problems, but neglectful parents are not one of them. How many such kids are there in South Auckland but who also have uncaring, ignorant parents? How can charter schools touch them? I don’t know the answer to that question but it’s going to have to be answered now. The alternative is as one DimPost commentator noted:

    So a charter school is a ‘really terrible thing’ educationally, but a 50% fail rate at NCEA for Aranui HS is something the concerned educationalists can live with…

    But don’t tell me socialists, let me guess: there’s nothing wrong with Aranui HS that could not be fixed with twice as much money – or if that does not work, ten times as much!

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  37. Other_Andy (2,505 comments) says:

    @Mark
    Yes Mark, the reason for setting up charter schools, increase funding, increase flexibility, giving PI and Maori parents and students more choice and more opportunities is an evil plot by Act and National.
    PI and Maori parents might find out that it works and that they can leave the ‘Labour plantation’ that keeps them shackled to state dependency.
    An evil plot indeed. …..

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  38. thedavincimode (6,589 comments) says:

    Fala F

    What’s the fix in a PI context?

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  39. stroker08 (9 comments) says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=121ofj_l6vM

    Go in about 14mins into this interview with the late Steve Jobs (on YouTube) and he expresses his thoughts about teachers unions, education and the attractiveness of teaching as a profession for really good thinkers.

    The context to this conversation (earlier in the interview) was his own experience with school and how one teacher made a difference to him, and the barriers created by teaching unions and education policy in the US that have kept good people out of the profession. Regardless of what you may think of Steve Jobs, its a great interview (long though) and some good thoughts expressed regardless.

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  40. Scott (1,736 comments) says:

    Excellent comments DPF. I think Charter schools are a good idea and should be tried here in New Zealand. I understand they do quite well overseas and that it enables some students to do very well. Interestingly not always the brighter students. The poorer socio economic students are apparently flocking to charter schools in the United States.

    What amazes me is the left-wing bias of the mainstream media. We look at stuff — “Key defends charter schools” — liberal translation — this is a very controversial idea that we are opposed to and so we will editorialise when we should actually be reporting on the facts. If it was a very controversial idea that we support — such as gay marriage — we would run a much more straightforward article and give extremely minimal column space to any opposition and normally label them as extremist.

    The very next headline — “Key turning benefits into business” — liberal translation — we are not going to report on the facts, we are simply going to editorialise the opposition to this proposal which we do not support. Then the very next lines — “National accused of privatising welfare” — liberal translation — those heartless right-wingers are back to their old tricks of putting business before people and soon we will see old people and sickness beneficiaries at the mercy of heartless big corporations.

    Anyone who thinks that the media in this country is not hopelessly left-wing is delusional in my opinion.

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  41. dave (986 comments) says:

    “that’s MMP for you, isn’t it?”.

    No, it isn’t, actually.

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  42. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    I can see a problem with the charter schools if they suffer from that kind of selection bias problem (hoover up the motivated students, limit access for disabled kids etc) however we don’t know the details of the trial so perhaps too early to say.

    If the objective is that schools want the ability to use performance pay, changed hours or operational budget control to lift educational performance then wouldn’t it make more sense just to implement a trial within the existing school system. There is nothing to prevent changes to allow this. If the benefits of the approach are as promised then it would make sense to prove them and implement throughout the country so everybody can benefit rather than just create a parallel privatised education system for some but not others.

    The critical factor in my view is that the trial should include a decent sample size of randomly selected schools across a range of school sizes, geographic regions and deciles. Detailed data should be gathered on the performance pre and post trial for the trial schools and control group schools.

    I was a student at Rangitoto college in the 90′s during the bulk funding period in the late nineties before it was scrapped by the incoming Labour govt. I didn’t mind the system, it didn’t seem to have any particular positive or negative impact on me as a student. However I think as a trial it was seriously flawed – Rangitoto College was one of the largest schools in the country, operating in a decile 10 area, with a massive staff, roll and budget, large fee paying international student component (the principal, Allan Peachey, was a business focussed educational reformist with strong links to the National Party). I think that makes it very difficult to argue that the experience of Rangitoto College might be comparable to a small rural school in a low decile area, with no fee paying international students and an average principal with more limited expertise.

    I would be delighted if the Prime Minister were interested in a genuine scientific study of different educational options. I think there are two key benefits of this approach – as a trial you can scrap it if it is not successful or change a couple of variables and launch a different study. If it is successful and the trial itself has credibility then it is very difficult for Labour to argue against it.

    My concern is that a study with ‘one or two schools’ in a strategically picked area like South Auckland (where selection bias excluding poor performing or disadvantaged students would have a massive impact on the school results) won’t deliver meaningful scientific results. It will be seen as a political showcase project of the National/Act coalition and will be scrapped by the next Labour Government to hold office.

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  43. iiq374 (262 comments) says:

    @Mark – “i suspect the real issue is state funding of private schools which has been an objective of ACT since the roger douglas days”

    Please explain what the issue with all kids receiving their share of funding is?

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  44. davidp (3,556 comments) says:

    The Dutch school system seems to rely on charter schools delivering all education. It works really well.

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  45. tom hunter (4,556 comments) says:

    If the objective is that schools want the ability to use performance pay, changed hours or operational budget control to lift educational performance then wouldn’t it make more sense just to implement a trial within the existing school system. There is nothing to prevent changes to allow this.

    Nothing legal or technical perhaps – but are you seriously suggesting that the teachers unions would accept such changes even on the basis of a limited trial?

    I don’t agree with the whole top-down approach of the national standards policy that has been pushed, but even I’ve been appalled by the teacher unions opposition to it. You think they’d react any differently to trialing the things you mention? I think at best they’d attempt to stonewall it all in studies and commissions until a friendlier government could be elected that would bow to their desires to simply maintain the status quo.

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  46. Paulus (2,556 comments) says:

    Who the hell does the Government think they are !
    The Teachers Unions run education in this country, and don’t you forget it.

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  47. Ross12 (1,261 comments) says:

    Richard 29

    All I have heard from Banks on the idea suggests the main driver is helping kids achieve better and are better prepared to enter the work force. Performance pay and conditions for teachers maybe part of it but are minor parts.
    It also seems to be an idea aimed at lower decile schools and is aimed at few ,not some grand plan to change the education system. It certainly is not an idea to attract all the consultants /academics into some sort of major research intiative (ie. another chance for them suck money from taxpayers )

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  48. KevinH (1,149 comments) says:

    A policy shift such as this requires discussion and debate, the where’s, why’s, and how to. Introducing this change unilaterally is not democracy in action.
    The impact of Charter Schools will usher in elitism and turn “state” schools into ghettos. Funding private schools out of the public purse is repulsive and a return to the type of education system we had pre WW2.

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  49. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    nasska says
    I hope I’m wrong but what will probably happen is that the charter schools will attract the bright kids from homes where success is encouraged while the rest will carry on as they do now.

    Three things that made a good and successful school:
    - motivated teachers
    - motivated parents
    - motivated pupils

    If you don’t have all three, you can call a school what you like or run it how you like or chuck as much money at it as you like. Some of the kids will under-achieve or fail totally.

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  50. BeaB (2,080 comments) says:

    Mark
    It was only a matter of time before someone brought up the ‘secret agenda’ argument. Standard PPTA.
    Thin end of the wedge and all that. I remember them saying Tomorrow’s Schools signalled the end of state single-sex schools. Still here.

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  51. Scott Chris (5,966 comments) says:

    Heh. To give them credit, this is a nice move by the Nats and ACT to out-manoeuvre the NZEI and avoid making an election issue out of school reform. If the NZEI didn’t see it coming, then more fool them, but I doubt they’re that blind. I can picture them ruminating, as they take their 17 minute long morning tea break, about right wing conspiracies and suchlike. They’re probably right in this case.

    Now that we’re stuck with it, MMP would seem to have an upside in some cases, to balance off the more populist policy that UF has negotiated.

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  52. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    Check out Eric Crampton. http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.com/2011/12/charter-schools.html?m=1
    Actual studies and explanations of bias and controlling for it. Net result – in the USA chater schools show improvements.

    +1

    DPF: Think if a charter school that has flexibility over staff, property and operational budgets (including ability to do performance pay) actually delivers better results than the existing schools?

    I reckon the first or even second generation of Charter Schools wouldnt need to pay a premium. They will get the teachers that dont care about Union solidarity and really only care about the students. Those types of people wouldnt need a premium. It would only be when Charter Schools get large enough ‘market share’ that the pool of those teachers is completely consumed.

    Has anyone mentioned the benefit that National Standards and League Tables will play in determining the value of these Chart Schools?

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  53. Falafulu Fisi (2,176 comments) says:

    thedavinci asked…

    What’s the fix in a PI context?

    Well it is hard to say where to start, because there are many issues . You can’t change them over-night. I have talked to some church leaders to disengage their youngsters from getting involved in church because this is one problem that I see where kids are indoctrinated (even at young age) that a good education comes from nonsense ideas that the more time & resources (money) that they sacrifice to the Church, then somehow God will help their kids to achieve more in education by becoming lawyers, doctors, scientists, etc,…

    You won’t believe how much time that youngsters in South Auckland get involved in church activities, from choir singing practice in most evenings of the week (when they should be doing their homework & study) to participation in no-alcohol theme youth camps (‘Apitanga) during school holidays, etc, etc. Such cultural practice doesn’t (in my view) motivate/inspire kids in anything useful. It is time-wasting. The problem here, is that kids grow up with no vision or have any hunger to succeed (in anything). The difficulty is, parents won’t do it. They love to drag their kids (from very young age) to church on a regular basis, even they make it compulsory for their kids to get involved in church heavily. There are more examples to write about here, but it would be too long.

    I have debated with some Tongan teachers over the years. They have argued that all they need is a good education environment for Island kids and they will succeed, but I argue otherwise. They think that if Auckland Grammar environment is replicated in South Auckland, then success will follow but then I argue the opposite since the main problem is cultural. Here is a Gedanken (thought) experiment that I proposed where if the students of say Hillary College in Otara swap places with students from Auckland Grammar for 3 years or so (ie, students from Hillary College attend Grammar and Grammar students attend Hillary – teachers/resources don’t move or change ), I believe that we would expect the results to be the same. Grammar students at Hillary will still be high achievers while Hillary students at Grammar will still be low achievers after the trial period despite the excellent academic setups of at Auckland Grammar.

    WHY? I can only come up with one conclusion. The students from both Hillary & Grammar can exchange places, but they are not exchanging cultures in the process. The students from both schools don’t change their respective cultures and that’s why I do expect that the level of achievements won’t be affected after the trial period.

    There are lots of South Auckland students who attend St. Peters College (decile 8) in Mt Eden and the achievement rates over the years for PI students at St Peters is not that great. Again, the point is, culture.

    Finally I’m all for more choices in education, but not state funding. I love to see the education system privatized.

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  54. hmmokrightitis (1,566 comments) says:

    Poor toad, caught bleating about MMP, aint life a real bitch when unintended consequences usurp your particular world? Funny isnt it, when you try and control a system, its OK, but when others on the ‘other side’ do it, its mean, nasty, horrible, and then you see morons like dave attack the model. dave, for every fail blog post you put up, there will be success stories. And just think, the unions can bleat all they want – the schools will be set up to succed, and there is fuck all you can do about it.

    I do love chess, its nice watching a master at work…

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  55. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    @Ross12
    The main driver is always helping kids achieve better – that’s the case with labour or Nats, they just have very different ideas of how it is achieved. What makes Charter schools different? Is it just that they will have a strong mission statement or more focus on work skills – those kinds of elements are very easy to introduce to the state system.
    I think money spent on test and learn research within our schooling system to deliver better education is money well spent and as a taxpayer I’m happy to back it.

    @TomHunter
    I am unconvinced on the whole idea that teachers unions are evil and not interested in the best outcome for students. It’s funny how when the Police Union argues the need for tasers or guns the media defers to them as the legitimate voice for policemen, who we all know are doing a good job and deserve our support and respect. But when it comes to teachers they are all lazy, self interested idiots who think they know better and need to be put in their place.
    Despite the rhetoric my understanding is that teachers are implementing the standards even though they don’t think they work. National standards are not necessarily a bad idea (I don’t see how giving parents more information is likely to be harmful) but I think it’s ludicrous that they instituted them with no clear rules or benchmarking nationwide. I work for a large corporate – if they told each branch or division to measure ‘sales’ and ‘customer satisfaction’ but with no clear rules or standards it’d be chaos as everybody made up their numbers to make them look good on comparison tables and the people who ignore the pressure and just try to be honest and fair show on the bottom of the results looking like they are the problem.

    @KevinH
    “Introducing this change unilaterally is not democracy in action.”
    This is Act Party policy. The Act party (yes all of him!) is in coalition with the government. The government has over 50% of seats in parliament. The government is entitled to make education policy. John Key never made any campaign promise not to introduce changes like this (in fact he’s talked in vague terms about education ‘choice’ for ages). National won the election – they have a mandate to govern – end of story. I don’t necessarily like it, but that’s too bad, I should have done more to encourage voter turnout and promote a viable alternative government.

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  56. simonway (375 comments) says:

    the NZEI/PPTA decides how much teachers get paid rather than the school and the teacher decide.

    The NZEI and PPTA are the teachers, dpf.

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  57. JeffW (324 comments) says:

    I have to withdraw my criticism of ACT selecting John Banks. This charter school concept is badly needed. I hope Banks keep up this type of action for the next 3 years (and doesn’t do much on his social conservative side).

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  58. Scott (1,736 comments) says:

    Falafulu Fisi at 11:13 AM “You won’t believe how much time that youngsters in South Auckland get involved in church activities…”
    That just seems crazy to me. What would you rather they be doing? Would you rather they’d be like Maori kids, the vast majority of whom don’t go to church? What is the crime rate amongst Maori again?
    I mean if these Polynesian kids are going to church surely that is a good thing? It means they probably are not getting involved in crime and vandalism?
    And then you say they have no vision? They have a vision of God man! When you have a vision of God you have the greatest vision that there is.

    The vast majority of you please don’t get distracted by this. Don’t start talking about religious things. It is just a comment to the individual above who is seriously misguided.

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  59. plebe (271 comments) says:

    For all the bleaters calling teachers,scumbags,it might seem a strange concept but we need teachers.Is the idiot bank(who shouldnt be in parliment) hoping our teacher force is going to resign and go to Australia enmass and then there are suddenly act/banksy clone teachers teaching our children?

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  60. davidp (3,556 comments) says:

    plebe>Is the idiot bank(who shouldnt be in parliment)

    Is “the idiot bank” a new term for the Labour Party that I haven’t heard before?

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  61. RRM (9,638 comments) says:

    Danyl at Dim Post is certainly not the ONLY person who thinks that charter schools look awesome on paper mainly because they ditch poorly-performing students back to the state schools.

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  62. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    “Bring me a shrubbery!” shouted Banks and Lo, Key brought him a Shrubbery.

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  63. tom hunter (4,556 comments) says:

    I am unconvinced on the whole idea that teachers unions are evil and not interested in the best outcome for students.

    Two strawmen in one statement.

    In the case of the former “idea”, I did not inject the word “evil” or even imply it – that’s just you projecting the usual emotive sheen that most modern arguments degenerate to.

    In the case of the latter idea, teachers would hardly be the first group of experts in history convinced that they know what’s best (they’re the experts after all) for those in their area of responsibility. I’ve no doubt that most teachers (95% ?) are interested in the best outcome for students, but they’re wedded to the education ideas that have been developed by their peers (remember – they’re experts).

    Unfortunately the primary idea remains that mass, public education is the answer in our modern world, requiring only a few (or perhaps many ?) innovations to be grafted on to advance it beyond it’s 19th century origins. Strange when one considers the amount of criticism of industrial-revolution, production-line education that have existed within education training itself over the last 30 years – criticism I agree with as it happens, notwithstanding the practical limitations of those times.

    In my view the basic assumption of mass-market public education renders down any tweaks to the lowest common denominator, and since such a “public” assumption ties in so neatly with other aspects of leftist thinking about our societies (the toiling masses, the central plan, corporate control !!!) it’s no surprise that the tendency of teachers is to lean left on so many issues. When those attitudes are then strained up through the filter of a union – another entity based upon assumptions of people as a mass class requiring solidarity above all else – then it’s also not a surprise to find nuance and objectivity going out the window.

    That is why they’re opposed to these ideas, not because they’re “evil” or not interested in kids. Because centralised schemes invented and managed by experts and strengthened through solidarity is the world of teachers unions and the left.

    No doubt in the corporate world you’ve seen this also: the pressure to conform to a particular business model often means that reality gets shut out – until the market crashes in. In the case of education that is what is happening already, charter schools or not. Even as a good as my oldest son’s school is for him, he learned all his trigonometry from textbooks at home and The Khan Academy.

    That’s a pointer to the future and it’s not something public education officials have even begun to think about let alone propose compromises with.

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  64. KiwiGreg (3,211 comments) says:

    “Boo asset sales!”

    “Hey look over there – CHARTER SCHOOLS”

    “OMG Key is history’s greatest monster, charter schools are worse than gas chambers, he has no mandate etc etc etc”

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  65. grumpyoldhori (2,416 comments) says:

    Falafulu Fisi bang on, charter schools in South Auckland will make no difference to PI kids whose parents believe that prayer only will give a wide and deep education.
    The same applies to Maori kids whose parents believe boozing is a good role model.
    One needs to take the kids out of that environment and the only real way is Dilworth type boarding schools from the age of seven.
    But,that will not happen.
    The cynic in me says that these charter schools are being set up to for some to make profits.

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  66. tom hunter (4,556 comments) says:

    … not the ONLY person who thinks that charter schools look awesome on paper mainly because they ditch poorly-performing students back to the state schools.

    And I’m not the only person in this thread to point out that such an argument appears to be mutually exclusive to the argument that charter schools in the US deliver poor or merely equal results to state schools: an argument expounded by the same people funnily enough.

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  67. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    I am unconvinced on the whole idea that teachers unions are evil and not interested in the best outcome for students.

    They may have the interests of students on their minds at some level, but I doubt you can argue that it is ahead of the interests of teachers. Its a teachers union, not a students union.

    When the interests of teachers are at odds with the interests of students, which side wins out? The teachers union will argue that this never happens, but thats just childish. They will argue that the cost to students doesnt exist, or that it is actually a benefit.

    Teachers unions are in it for teachers, first and foremost. Thats their reason for existing. Their dishonest protests to the contrary do nothing to change this.

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  68. Joseph Carpenter (211 comments) says:

    I don’t understand the criticism of charter schools. Even if it does turn out true that selection bias/cherry picking good performing students is happening why is this bad per se? Why shouldn’t a bright student from Otara not expect to receive a top quality education? Why shouldn’t the next Ernest Rutherford from Mangere also be able to access an education equivalent to Nelson College? Why should a gifted child from Papatoetoe be held back by his drongo peers and crushed in a low performing state school mincer?

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  69. nasska (10,878 comments) says:

    Mary Rose @ 10.57

    Agreed….for success those three ducks have to line up. It may be possible for the government to provide motivated teachers but the other two rely totally on individual parents. Falafulu Fisi has given a good insight into why the PI culture is not always conducive to academic success & Maori continue to burden themselves with their “warrior” attitude. Neither demographic lack intelligence but the ability to join the dots is somewhat missing.

    Since these people represent a fast growing sector of New Zealand’s population the outlook is not rosy.

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  70. tom hunter (4,556 comments) says:

    You make good points Falafulu but they’re rather depressing. How does one go about injecting the need for education into such a culture? Perhaps we could start y asking how you did it?

    It is just a comment to the individual above who is seriously misguided.

    Living in the US I saw plenty of strongly religious, church-going people who also made their kids do homework every night and held education up as the way to move forward in society – even as they did their best to instill a sense of god in their kid’s lives. So this is not about FF wanting to replace religion: what he describes seems less like a religion and more like a cult that takes over every aspect of one’s life (atheists and agnostics please refrain from making the obvious point). All FF is saying is a bit less religion and a lot more homework.

    One needs to take the kids out of that environment and the only real way is Dilworth type boarding schools from the age of seven.
    But,that will not happen.

    Amidst your constant left-wing digs about insane Yanks, capitalism and instant sunshine (TM), I’ve seen you make this point before – and I could not agree more. But as much as the utilitarian in me might say yes the fact is that you’d be talking about taking kids away from their families in some sort of “Stolen Generation” redux, and that just would not go in NZ, even is the result was fewer dead kids and better educated citizens.

    Any ideas on how it might be done via inducements, or would the result simply be St Stephens all over again?

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  71. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    Who was the politician who recently said that New Zealand has a “world class” education system?

    John Key.

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  72. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    “One prediction I will make. Regardless of how successful a charter school may prove to be, Labour will promise to close it down.”

    No matter how unsuccessful charters schools are, National will trumpet them as a success.

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  73. Paul Rain (47 comments) says:

    iiq374 : That’s ‘Progressive Leader Jim Anderton’ to you thank you very much. Dunne gets the ‘leader’ treatment too, but less often.. no prizes for guessing whether Banks will get the same.

    I still fail to see the problem with charter schools selecting students who have a hope of success, and allowing them to flourish free of those who would otherwise drag them down, absent a serious cultural change accompanied by some parental investment.

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  74. tom hunter (4,556 comments) says:

    Why should a gifted child from Papatoetoe be held back by his drongo peers and crushed in a low performing state school mincer?

    Because the overwhelming demand of normal, sensible, reasonable people is for a mass-education system that will deliver the best average results across the whole average population. If little Falafulu has to be dumbed down by the needs and capabilities of his peers? Well, that’s just a price that has to be paid, less the whole system collapse like the USSR. Remember: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

    As opposed to insane, extremist, fringe, Right-WIng-Nut-Jobs like you, Joseph: fanatical ideologues who place the individual above the crowd. I’m shocked, appalled and offended by the depths of your cruelty towards PI kids.

    Oh yeah – and you’re a racist too!

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  75. Mark (1,421 comments) says:

    Other_Andy (808) Says:
    December 6th, 2011 at 10:13 am
    @Mark
    Yes Mark, the reason for setting up charter schools, increase funding, increase flexibility, giving PI and Maori parents and students more choice and more opportunities is an evil plot by Act and National.
    PI and Maori parents might find out that it works and that they can leave the ‘Labour plantation’ that keeps them shackled to state dependency.
    An evil plot indeed. …..

    Where is there anything in this for Maori and PI kids? If you believe this is a recipe for solving the crisis in education for the kids in Decile 1 and 2 schools I expect you will be disappointed. I cannot see anything in this announcement thus far that is not already provided for under the Integrated Schools Act apart from Bulk Funding and Performance Pay.

    I have don’t have a particular issue with state funding private schools which this appears to be the model for but that is a debate that should be held honestly. Here National is pushing through a policy platform hiding behind the skirts of ACT. And sadly it is a move has less to do with educational achievement and more to do with ideology.

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  76. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    How does one go about injecting the need for education into such a culture?

    I dont think you can change a culture. You can only destroy it by replacing it with another. As long as people cling to the old culture, things wont change. This is the dark side of “embracing your culture”.

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  77. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    Australia has also resisted charter schools, mainly it seems because the evidence in support of them is underwhelming. But John Key would never let the facts get in the way of making an ideological point.

    http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/maralynparker/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/charter_lesson_to_learn/

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  78. Paulus (2,556 comments) says:

    Is my memory correct but wasn’t Charter Schools, or something very similar, proposed under David Lange’ s “Tomorrow’s Schools” ?

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  79. tom hunter (4,556 comments) says:

    I don’t think you can change a culture. You can only destroy it by replacing it with another.

    I think you’re probably correct, although I think what you can get is a “new” culture that combines elements of the old ones. That sounds awfully waffly I admit, but I saw it in the US as immigrant communities Americanized (heh) but also saw parts of their culture picked up.

    In theory there’s no reason why we could not have PI communities that are producing educated kids (and I don’t just mean the often pointless pursuit of academic credentials) who are bridge the two worlds.

    Of course the reality is proving somewhat different, as FF’s story above demonstrates. Like I said, I don’t have the answers here.

    But at least one part of an answer might be that the culture that accepts the immigrants must be confident enough in itself that it refuses to yield on certain key principles that have made it what it is – rather than acting like a culture that has itself immigrated to escape. With the constant black armband approach to history, among other things, I don’t know if our modern NZ society does have that confidence. And if you’re a PI elder you would not be too impressed by the behaviour of drug-taking, boozing, white trash, even when they’re from upmarket, private schools. You might ask why the hell you’d want to emulate any other aspect of the “their” society?

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  80. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    ross shows once again that those opposed to Charter Schools are incapable of critical thinking. Follow the links and you get to the “damning” report. It found,

    1. States with caps limiting the number of charter schools reported significantly lower academic results than states without caps limiting charter growth. 2. States that have the presence of multiple charter school authorizers also reported lower academic results than states with fewer authorizers in place. 3. Finally, states with charter legislation allowing for appeals of previously denied charter school applications saw a small but significant increase in student performance.

    So the possible reasons for the poor performance of Charter Schools are.

    1. Too few Charter Schools
    2. Too many authorizers, which would make setting minimum standards difficult (who is against minimum standard in NZ?)

    On the other hand,

    3. Allowing an appeals process for borderline declined schools, means that better schools get accepted.

    Gosh. Damning for sure.

    Then there is this from the same report,

    The report also found that students do better in charter schools over time. While first year charter school students on average experienced a decline in learning, students in their second and third years in charter schools saw a significant reversal, experiencing positive achievement gains.

    So poor results from the first year are probably just a hangover from public school education.

    Own goal.

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  81. slijmbal (1,223 comments) says:

    @tom

    “Because the overwhelming demand of normal, sensible, reasonable people is for a mass-education system that will deliver the best average results across the whole average population.”

    If I read that correctly then the implications of that statement is that a common approach to education is suitable- this is obviously not the case. For instance there is a raft of evidence that sticking the really bright kids in with the average leads to lower performance by the bright kids. They tend to get bored, be more anti-social, get bullied etc. Furthermore, the less bright kids tend to get disillusioned when there is a budding Einstein sat in front of you. Remember approximately 1% of kids have IQ 140+. That’s one in a hundred. Similarly, kids with lower aptitudes need different educational approaches eg those with dyslexia. Some estimates have > 5% of kids with dyslexia. That’s a lot of people who need different approaches just there.

    However, we don’t really have a mass standard education system. House prices in Epsom are raised as much for getting your kids in the right catchment area for better schools as they are for being in a posh area. I remember the immediate rising of house prices in certain areas when the changes to making kids go to local schools came in. At the moment the system is skewed to the well off as the schools in better off areas are better for a raft of social, set-up, organisiational and $ reasons.

    Another example – the UK had the direct grant grammar system. When they dropped them for idealogical reasons the average performance of children going to publicly funded schools in my old city of Liverpool dropped. The bright kids got dragged and literally beaten down to the level of the average. Trying being a bright kid doing academically well in Anfield or Kirkby in Liverpool – expect to get picked on incessantly. I am using the examples of bright or hard working kids but it does seem almost nasty to not provide them with some opportunity to do well when they have the aptitude. This comes across to many as unfair as those left behind don’t get the same opportunity but that should be dealt with in a separate manner as also need to address those of normal aptitude. The argument is just as valid for those with average or lesser aptitudes. Tailor the education to their needs – not this one size fits all rubbish that fails the majority

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  82. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    > Own goal.

    Yes you have scored one. But like John Key, you will trumpet failure as success. You conveniently ignore the fact that we apparently have a world class education system.

    As the article below makes clear, while teachers are very important, factors that determine a student’s learning and qualifications are non-school factors. All the charter schools in the world won’t change that fact.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/nov/11/myth-charter-schools/?pagination=false

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  83. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    From the article above:

    “It bears mentioning that nations with high-performing school systems—whether Korea, Singapore, Finland, or Japan—have succeeded not by privatizing their schools or closing those with low scores, but by strengthening the education profession. They also have less poverty than we do. Fewer than 5 percent of children in Finland live in poverty, as compared to 20 percent in the United States. Those who insist that poverty doesn’t matter, that only teachers matter, prefer to ignore such contrasts.”

    Hmmm so what would really help is if we were a high wage economy and every effort was made to reduce or elimnate poverty. That’s not on this government’s agenda.

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  84. KiwiGreg (3,211 comments) says:

    LOL good on you kimble, I never click through but it’s nice someone took the effort.

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  85. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    And the gap between rich and poor has widened in NZ more than in any OECD country.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/6092128/Widening-gap-between-rich-and-poor

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  86. Matt (224 comments) says:

    If Charter Schools are such a bad idea then no parent in their right mind will send their children there and the idea will fall flat on its face. What are the left worried about??

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  87. tom hunter (4,556 comments) says:

    slijmbal

    Sarcasm usually excludes subtlety. Which is to say that I agree with you about our “mass education” system. It’s mass for the poorest and least able to escape.

    Maybe Labour will introduce their version of the solution to Brown vs. Board of Education?

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  88. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    All the charter schools in the world won’t change that fact.

    And always using a seatbelt doesnt mean that you wont die from heart disease. So what?

    What did you think your point was?

    You conveniently ignore the fact that we apparently have a world class education system. … And the gap between rich and poor has widened in NZ more than in any OECD country

    So greater inequality is the path to better education outcomes. Thanks ross. Wait, you dont think that this correlation means a causation, do you? Normally I would guess not, but then you DID state that inequality caused poor education outcomes, with nothing more than the correlation to go on, so I cant be sure.

    Its not as if any of you dolts have ever successfully identified a robust description of the mechanism by which inequality leads to all of lifes problems. I dont expect you to be able to do it now.

    As far as strengthening the teaching profession goes, well that’s what we want to do with performance based pay; bring in good teachers, get rid of the bad. And your solution is… what exactly? Pay all teachers more? Hide school results from public scrutiny?

    Hmmm so what would really help is if we were a high wage economy and every effort was made to reduce or elimnate poverty.

    Why would we need to change anything? Our schools are world class.

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  89. grumpyoldhori (2,416 comments) says:

    tom hunter since I have a nasty streak giving parents they option of sending their children to a Dilworth type school in return for them to keep receiving their unemployment, housing benefits would come easy to me.
    A stolen generation , more like a saved generation.
    St Stephens ? the worst bloody school where far too many of the kids believe academic subjects do not matter because in five years they will be coining it as a player with the warriors.
    Which is why I am keen on Dilworth where academic subjects matter.

    Insane yanks, well it seems a lot were keen on that woman Palin as president who believed taking Russia on would be good form :-)

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  90. Scott Chris (5,966 comments) says:

    Kimble says:- “I don’t think you can change a culture. You can only destroy it by replacing it with another.”

    Yeah, that was the early colonial mindset in New Zealand which sought to assimilate the Maori into the prevailing liberal western culture by forcing them to abandon their traditional philosophy in favour of the more ‘advanced’ one. Didn’t work. Destroying a culture leads to phenomena such as child bashing/murder and a disproportionately high crime rate and academic and economic under-achievement.

    The bicultural approach, which seems to provoke much disdain from certain sectors of the intolerant right, is simply an attempt to allow a culture to adapt to another of its own accord without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Meme evolution inevitably dictates which practices remain relevant within the over-arching culture, while those practices that serve no useful purpose will eventually become meaninglessly ceremonial, or die altogether.

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  91. tom hunter (4,556 comments) says:

    Look – over there! Behind You!

    Ideologues! Union busters! Teacher haters. Poverty! And now our old lefty friend, The-Widening-Gap-Between-Rich-And-Poor.

    If one wants to argue about progressive taxes, new taxes, and “fairer” systems of government welfare distribution then the Rich-Poor-gap is a good pivot on which to argue for those things.

    But education may not be so amenable – it might even be counter-productive to your argument:

    However, the report, using data from the late 2000s, showed that even in “fairer” countries such as Sweden, Germany and Denmark, the pay gap was expanding, jumping from a five-to-one ratio to six-to-one.

    Sweden ranked at 0.26 on a scale of 0 to 1 (1 being very, very bad) compared to NZ’s 0.35, up from 0.27 in 1985. So the trend is happening in social democracies we’re supposed to emulate. Sounds like it’s a global problem that nobody has an answer to – including the last few decades of overwhelming state controlled education in NZ.

    In the rising powers of Brazil, Russia, India and China, the ratio was an alarming 50-to-one.

    Three of which have economies expanding much faster than ours over many years, thereby making all their people richer, as China has demonstrated and Brazil and India are following. So maybe the gap is not that important, especially in terms of education.

    The OECD says the main driver behind rising income gaps has been greater inequality in wages and salaries,

    Hmm. Wonder what factors are behind that?

    as the high-skilled have benefited more from technological progress than the low-skilled.

    Ah! So at least one the factors is education, though not in the direction you’ve argued. They’re suggesting that lower quality education resulting in people less equipped for the modern world widens the rich-poor gap, rather than the latter causing the former. Their argument makes sense in a world of ever-faster technology. There’s not much point investing bucketloads in “infrastructure” and productivity-enhancing, new-technology-capital if you can’t find the people with the skills to use them. By the same standard, if you do have the skills you’ll move ahead of those who don’t, and at an ever increasing rate.

    Our report clearly indicates that upskilling of the workforce is by far the most powerful instrument to counter rising income inequality. The investment in people must begin in early childhood and be followed through into formal education and work.”

    Hmm. So if our rich-poor gap is widening and has been for at least the last twenty years and you want to argue this in the context of education – perhaps one would have to accept that reality is telling you that the products of our education system aren’t really anywhere near as good as our educational measurements would suggest?

    And funnily enough this broad aggregate of marketplace measurement is backed up by the anecdotal stories of various people I know running ordinary little businesses like carpenters, electricians, plumbers and builders, who regularly unload about the uselessness of the young school leavers they interview.

    But of course for you the correlation-causation model is inverted to that. In fact It has to be, since talking about vague, multi-variant-dependent things like the societal rich-poor gap is just so much easier than pointing the bone specifically at an education system that, in the harsh reality of the job market, has not delivered what the modern world needs.

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  92. tom hunter (4,556 comments) says:

    Insane yanks, well it seems a lot were keen on that woman Palin as president who believed taking Russia on would be good form

    Not to troll away from the topic too much, but would you not pay good money to watch those shapely legs swing into Vlad’s crotch at some conference?

    Aside from that I agree with the rest of what you wrote. However when it comes to A stolen generation , more like a saved generation. – I’ll back you for becoming the Minister of Social Welfare and Education as I suspect whiteboys like moi would not be able to get away with it!

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  93. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    Destroying a culture leads to phenomena such as child bashing/murder and a disproportionately high crime rate and academic and economic under-achievement.

    The point was actually a fairly mild one. You cannot “insert” something into a culture without destroying it. The new culture is distinct from the previous one.

    A culture will change over time. The distinction I was trying to make was between evolutionary change and designed change.

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  94. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    Charter schools are a fantastic idea and Banks derserves credit for getting this policy on the table. This could be the start of a major revolution in education in New Zealand. Expect the Stalinists to cry foul and trot out biased “studies” and propaganda, but always remember, its not quality education they care about, but centralised, left wing union dominated ideological control they want. And Charter schools are a real threat to their ideological monopoly.

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  95. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    > you DID state that inequality caused poor education outcomes.

    No I didn’t but thanks for trolling. I said teachers were important which of course they are but that non-school factors had the biggest effect on student outcomes.

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  96. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    “an education system that, in the harsh reality of the job market, has not delivered what the modern world needs.”

    And of course not a skerrick of evidence to support this generalisation. But look on the bright side, John Key says there will be 170,000 new jobs over the next few years and there’ll be 4% wage growth each year. There’s plenty to look forward to for jobseekers and workers.

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  97. tom hunter (4,556 comments) says:

    > you DID state that inequality caused poor education outcomes.

    No I didn’t but thanks for trolling. I said teachers were important which of course they are but that non-school factors had the biggest effect on student outcomes.

    Which you followed up with this comment about poverty, which means you think it’s a factor in the context of what you wrote earlier about non-school factors.Then you followed it up with this comment:

    And the gap between rich and poor has widened in NZ more than in any OECD country.

    The word And rather gives it away. Clearly you think that poverty and the rich-poor gap do cause poor education outcomes.

    To be fair you did not say which one had the biggest effect or whether there are other factors that do, but the idea that poverty and the rich-poor gap are the first things that spring from your keyboard is not something I would think a lefty would wish to obfuscate away from.

    And of course not a skerrick of evidence to support this generalisation.

    But you introduced the very evidence sweetie! Remember the link about the poor-rich gap? Kimble and I – and your link – just provided an inverse interpretation of the correlation-causation claim that you were so desperate to make. Sorry about that but it’s how things work in the real world.

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  98. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    +1

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  99. Rightandleft (654 comments) says:

    I posted this in another discussion but now I’ll say it here. The main problem with this charter school idea is that it is a solution to a problem we don’t have. Charter schools in the US are an alternative to a highly centralised state-run public system with iron-clad school zones and absolutely zero choice for parents. In NZ we already have decentralised parent-run (via Boards of Trustees made up largely of parents) schools allowed special characters, whether they be religion based or Maori language/tikanga, single-sex etc. Our schools can choose NCEA or Cambridge or IB or all of the above. They have flexible zones and can accept students from beyond the zone and compete with one another. In short our schools, since the Tomorrow’s Schools Policy was implemented in 1989, already operate much like charter schools in the US!

    The second problem here is that this whole thing is based on the widely-held assumption that there is something seriously wrong with our education system. Well there isn’t. We rank near the top of the developed world in the PISA studies of OECD and partner nations. We rank very highly in literacy (4th in the world in fact) and in science. In maths we are top ten but lose out to a few Asian nations. In all cases we rank well ahead of Australia, the UK and miles ahead of the USA. Charter schools were the US solution to an abysmal public education system leaving way too many kids behind and endangering the nation’s future. Our system is far, far better as it is. Not only that, we get these incredibly high results spending far less per-student than the US. So why should we adopt one of their policies, regardless of whether it worked or failed them, when it was a solution to a problem they had, not us. Why can’t we come up with some Kiwi ideas for our unique system, rather than import ones irrelevant to us?

    The only differences between these proposed charter schools and what we already have are they will have bulk-funding and performance pay for teachers. Now as someone has pointed out before performance pay does not work in a publicly funded system like this one. First of all the US determines performance pay based on standardised testing, which we do not have in NZ. Secondly research has now repeatedly shown the methods used to determine ‘good’ teachers or measure value-added to students are flawed. Finally, if you did determine who the best performers were and gave them raises you’d have to remove that pay from the lowest teachers, presumably to force them into another profession. But if that happens you’d still have to replace them with someone else, and presumably you’d be hoping for a better quality replacement. But alas you’d have to pay these new, highly-skilled teachers as little as the useless ones because, unlike a private business, improved results will not result in increased profits, you’ll have the same amount of money to divide up. So how does that attract better teachers to the field? Obviously it doesn’t, so you just replace poor teachers with more poor teachers willing to take the lower pay because a regular public school won’t hire them.

    Here is a link to the PISA results, showing NZ near the top in all categories:

    http://stats.oecd.org/PISA2009Profiles/#app=85dc&d016-selectedIndex=0&73e3-selectedIndex=0&c05d-selectedIndex=0&c9d0-selectedIndex=0&5854-selectedIndex=0&a56e-selectedIndex=0&67df-selectedIndex=0&ae18-selectedIndex=0&224e-selectedIndex=0&b2cd-selectedIndex=0&5869-selectedIndex=0

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  100. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    ..but that non-school factors had the biggest effect on student outcomes.

    Such as parents paying fuck all interest in the education of their children. You reap what you sow.

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  101. DJP6-25 (1,304 comments) says:

    Cue plenty of screaming from the teecher unions, and the steam powered media. Where’s the mandate? How about we won, you lost, eat that.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  102. tom hunter (4,556 comments) says:

    Goody!

    Private schools excel by excluding all those students, thus stacking the deck.

    Further upthread I make the point that the private school my oldest boy attends contains many kids, especially boys, with learning difficulties. Sure it’s the classic single, anecdotal example but it means your statement is not necessarily true. Morever it’s just a tired left-wing projection of how a private, for-profit-school must work, and I say left-wing because that argument is fitted across almost every sector of society: capitalists skim the easy profits and leave the dregs to sink all the way to the bottom. Heard it a million times.

    I know from statistics but also from personal experience. I went to public school in primary but then a private boys high school. The teachers were no better at the high school …

    Public schools all the way for me and few complaints. I also observed that those friends of mine sent to private schools seemed to have no better teachers (some demonstrably worse) – and no better academic results than the top cohorts of my school. This comparison stood up at university when I got the chance to meet graduates of other public schools.

    However, as you go on to say, the teacher comparison between private and public – with the implication that private schools will get better teachers – is not the point:

    … but having all the trouble-makers who took up precious class time removed made a huge difference. And having a system where strict discipline could be enforced because parents would back up the school and there was a real danger of being expelled also helped.

    So that’s three factors that made a huge difference in the private school you attended. Three factors that apparently were the opposite at your public school. And you want to deny other kids – especially poor kids in South Auckland, where you can be bloody sure such factors exist in extremis – the opportunity to perhaps benefit from those factors, in order to support the standard public school approach of we’re-all-in-this-together-as-one-big-dysfunctional-family?

    Because “public” and “mass-education” are the real objectives here and devil take the top and bottom chunks of the standard distribution in the Kingdom Of Median.

    But don’t tell me. Right-wingers like me who want poor kids – both the academically challenged and the capable – to be given at least the chance to get the fuck out of Dodge (or Aranui as the case may be), are the real ideologues and extremists in this situation? So much so that we should not even be allowed to conduct a trial of the idea in one of the most poorly schooled areas in NZ? A place where, as FF pointed out above, the cultural problems may prove as intractable to this idea as they appear to be to public schools. But we should not even try, right?

    Meanwhile the sensible, moderate people are the ones who want the Aranui school zone parents to continue to send their kids there – and to others like it – while funding is doubled or tripled because more money will fix its NCEA failure rate? That’s not ideological or extremist and it shows how much government cares.

    Fabulous.

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  103. Rightandleft (654 comments) says:

    You assume everyone against this idea voted for the lefties. I think it is an odd and ineffective idea and I voted for National. They had a very clear education policy they ran on and they won. Now this was listed as an ACT policy but they lost the election, going from 5 seats to 1. I’d say that was a fairly resounding rejection of ACT policies by the voters. Now Key may blame MMP but that is a very obvious cop-out. He already had Maori Party support so he didn’t absolutely need ACT. He didn’t let the tail wag the dog last term so why suddenly give in now? I know Key isn’t a weak negotiator, he wouldn’t have made his millions if he was. National was honest announcing their mixed-ownership model agenda before the election and letting voters decide. They even made a good case for that idea despite very bad poll numbers on the issue. So why hide this policy and try to blame in on ACT? I certainly didn’t vote for charter schools.

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  104. Elaycee (4,332 comments) says:

    “The issue here is that we are trying to fix a system that isn’t broken…”

    What’s the weather like on your planet?

    When 1 in 5 kids leave school lacking basic literacy and numeracy skills, then status quo is simply not an option. And putting your head in the sand trying to maintain that there isn’t a problem, doesn’t cut it either.

    We OWE it to our kids to improve these stats and therefore this trial is a good idea that should proceed ASAP. And if it works, then it should be rolled out. And if the teacher unions don’t like it, then they can piss off and allow someone else to take over the role of shifting dollars from their union membership fees to the coffers of the Labour party.

    Resistance to this charter is clearly based on NZEI / PPTA / CTU ideology rather than what may be best for our kids.

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  105. Rightandleft (654 comments) says:

    No Tom, I’m not a lefty ideologue. I don’t mind public schools competing against each other and having flexible zones. I grew up in the US (moved here while at Uni) where my awful public school system was indeed run by a central bureaucracy with a school zone I couldn’t escape. I was in one of the ten worst school zones out of over 300 in my state and I had to go to a private Catholic school (even though I wasn’t even Catholic) to get out. I left as much out of concerns about violence (there were multiple stabbings) as for academics.

    My argument is that charter schools are not necessary in New Zealand, because we are not like the US. Students in a poor area already have a choice between several schools and can attend a boys Catholic school, as I did, that is a part of the public system. I think the Tomorrow’s Schools model we operate on makes charters unnecessary.

    Also I’m not against private schools existing because I don’t like the idea of the govt. being able to force all parents to send their children to a state school. I don’t think it is fair that they exist and it could disadvantage the poor, but I dislike the idea of big brother govt shutting down private schools even more. However I don’t think the govt should be funding them either.

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  106. Rightandleft (654 comments) says:

    Elaycee, I’ve given you the hard facts and you haven’t refuted them. We do better than almost anyone else at educating children. Charter schools are the solution to the American system’s problems, not ours. Personally I think our problem now is with families. The only way to improve educational results is to change the way some parents/families interact with the education system and promote it to their kids. A recent study found parental involvement with their kids was the most important factor in educational outcomes, beyond class size, teacher, school etc.

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  107. RightNow (6,836 comments) says:

    “However I don’t think the govt should be funding them either” – is that the same as saying that any parent who chooses a private school should pay the full cost of it on top of the ‘free’ education they paid taxes for?

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  108. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    Finally, if you did determine who the best performers were and gave them raises you’d have to remove that pay from the lowest teachers, presumably to force them into another profession.

    That is the general idea. It would be nice to get good quality teachers who are of greater value than their cost, and remove the bad teachers from the profession.

    But if that happens you’d still have to replace them with someone else, and presumably you’d be hoping for a better quality replacement.

    Of course. We dont want shittier teachers. If that was the case we would support all of Labours education policies.

    But alas you’d have to pay these new, highly-skilled teachers as little as the useless ones because, unlike a private business, improved results will not result in increased profits, you’ll have the same amount of money to divide up.

    Most of us arent against spending increases for education. The question is whether we are getting value for money. That probably wouldnt happen in the current system. A 20% increase in spending is fine, if it is being spent on good teachers. Giving them all a 20% increase would do absolutely nothing.

    And the premium we would have to pay for a good teacher may be mostly funded from the money not spent on the crap ones, and the larger class sizes that (despite the shrill whining of teachers unions all around the world) isnt really a significant problem for good teachers.

    There IS profit. From reduced costs.

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  109. Rightandleft (654 comments) says:

    Yes RightNow, that is exactly what I am saying. I don’t have any children and maybe I never will. I still pay general tax going to fund free education even though I may never use it myself. That would be my choice to not have kids and it could be someone else’s choice to send their kids to private school. They still should have to pay for the public system the same as me. While I went to private high school my parents still paid local taxes for education, and that was even in the much more conservative US. There are plenty of govt services I pay for out of tax that I may never use or may choose not to use.

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  110. RightNow (6,836 comments) says:

    IMO Rightandleft, it would be much fairer to provide a voucher for a state school valued at x$ and allow parents the choice to pay a supplementary cost to send their children to a private school.
    I’m sure you’ll appreciate that my opinion is just an opinion, as I do yours.
    I also pay taxes for things I don’t use, and I’m largely ok with that provided those taxes aren’t wasted.

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  111. Rightandleft (654 comments) says:

    If class size really doesn’t matter, why does every private school I’ve seen advertise their low class sizes? Surely their non-union, performance paid teachers could handle classes of 40 or more?

    Many educated people think class size doesn’t matter because their last education experience was university, where they had lectures of hundreds of students and all went well. But that is because all those students are motivated, personally paying to be there and can be thrown out instantly if they fail. Classroom management is much more time-consuming in public high schools and becomes more difficult the more students are added in.

    Research has shown that one-on-one feedback in the most important factor in improving student performance. Obviously the more students in a class the less feedback they each get per lesson. So yes, you could solve your funding problem by eliminating bad teachers, increasing the pay to the best and increasing class size accordingly. But the likely result would be a collapse in overall acheivement as one-on-one feedback dropped and classroom management consumed more and more of the good teachers’ time.

    The problem is there isn’t one type of good teacher. Some teachers are great at dealing with smaller classes of senior students. They are absolute experts in their fields, may hold advanced degrees with honours and love their subject. But they may also be terrible at managing a badly motivated oversized class of over 30. Others could be excellent at classroom management and controlling a huge class but weak on subject knowledge. Either one of these teachers could test well, show they’re really good one year, then with new classes and different students the next year, look terrible.

    Teachers see the kids three to four hours a week. How many hours are they at home with their parents? It is parental involvement, not choice of teacher, which will make the biggest difference to them. Also you haven’t specified how in NZ we would fairly determine which teachers were good and which were bad.

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  112. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    after reading a lot of the comments I can see why the saying “Its societies problem” will never fly.

    A lot of comments are all about ME – and fuck society and the greater good.

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  113. Rightandleft (654 comments) says:

    A voucher system certainly has its merits. I would oppose it at the moment because I think our system is working quite well as it is (based on the PISA results) and like the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” As for the long-tail of kids the system is leaving behind, I really believe it is a cultural/families problem that exists in places like South Auckland which needs to be addressed, not the schools they’re going to.

    Oh and Kimble, as to the govt increasing funding for education following reforms in the future, I don’t think that will ever happen. Labour, who supposedly love public schools and the unions, fought every attempt to increase funding. The PPTA had 18 months of industrial action against Labour back in 2001-02, one of the longest, toughest disputes they ever had with any government. The only party promising to increase the funding is the Greens and they’ve promised so much money to so many people they’ll either betray all their promises or bankrupt us all. Or maybe they’ll just stop building roads and we’ll be paid much more but never get to work for all the traffic.

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  114. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    If class size really doesn’t matter, why does every private school I’ve seen advertise their low class sizes? Surely their non-union, performance paid teachers could handle classes of 40 or more?

    Because that is a point of differentiation. It doesnt have to be true.

    People THINK class size matters, but they arent backed up by reality.

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  115. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    Oh and Kimble, as to the govt increasing funding for education following reforms in the future, I don’t think that will ever happen.

    Of course, you ARE forecasting a future without Charter Schools.

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  116. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    And on the previous comment, of course a 1:1 teacher student ratio would yield the best results. Unfortunately thats not what we are talking about. We are talking about 1:20 vs 1:40 ratios.

    California mandated a 1:20 ratio back in the 90′s. It cost them $1b per year. Results did improve. But the kids in smaller classes performed the same as kids in larger classes.

    Teacher quality is by far more important than class size. A good teacher can have a large class and still be a good teacher. Give a bad teacher a large class and all you do is disadvantage a larger group of kids.

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  117. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    Also you haven’t specified how in NZ we would fairly determine which teachers were good and which were bad.

    Not my job, but I dont see why it is impossible.

    At least, I dont think it would be any more difficult for an expert to determine the relative value of two teachers after the fact, than for a Board of Amateur Trustees to do the same before.

    As for the long-tail of kids the system is leaving behind, I really believe it is a cultural/families problem that exists in places like South Auckland which needs to be addressed, not the schools they’re going to.

    Why not do both? And if we cant do one, why would we give up on the other?

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  118. Joseph Carpenter (211 comments) says:

    Rightandleft I will refute your rubbish with the facts. I’ll also repeat a comment I made earlier (ironically in DPF’s pre-election post about “ACT on Education” which signaled exactly the charter schools idea).

    “I’ve been checking the figures on illiteracy, these are from the Min of Ed for the international PISA results for 2009. The NZ results are very good on AVERAGE, ranked 5th in world for reading, 12th for numeracy and 7th for science. Generally it appears our average is high because we have a very good top end performance. The bottom end is terrible:
    Reading Ability = 14% at Level-1a or lower (note: literacy and communication is not tested, this is reading comprehension only, Level-1a is extremely basic).
    Numeracy = 17% at Level-1 or lower.
    Scientitific literacy = 13% at Level-1 or lower.
    (Note level ratings are 1b-lowest/very minimal to 6-most advanced).
    Also note PISA only includes those 15 year olds in school and willing to take the tests.
    Given that in 2008 7% of 15 year olds weren’t even in school or home schooling I would think we could be hitting 20% only achieving level-1a or lower easily (i.e. unable to extract the key idea from a very simple short written passage or a list) and 10% at level-1b (struggles with “A cat on the mat.”).

    The other problem is “functional literacy” (= the literacy skills necessary to function within today’s economic market for that country). I would make this equivalent to Level-2+ at least for reading in PISA. Here it’s bad news: PISA 2009 reading at Level-2 or lower results for NZ = 33%. Also from the Min of Ed 2005 for the IALS (International Adult Literacy Survey), results for NZ (of all adults 16-65):
    Prose literacy = 45% at Levels 1 & 2 or lower.
    Document literacy = 50% L1 & 2.
    Quantative literacy = 49% L1 & L2.
    The IALS also rank Level-1 (lowest) to Level-6 (highest) and is more comprehensive. For the current NZ situation Level-3 is considered the minimum to be functionally literate. I would say we have a huge problem here, this backed anecdotally by tertiary educators and employers.

    And thats for reading (our best subject), in numeracy and science we’re absolutely boned at the bottom end according to PISA 2009, literally 40-50% are little better than an uneducated 13th century worker/peasant believing that “electrickery” is some arcane magical devilry and that long division is only humanly possible with the aid of a computator (another magical box which they have absolutely no clue as to how it functions).”

    If you think thats an acceptable result after 11 years of compulsory state schooling there’s no point even debating this, it’s quite obvious you’re perfectly happy to condemn the 20% tail to the “underclass”. And considering they’re mainly the poorest, most marginalised and ethnic minority children you got to wonder why you want the status quo preserved. To quote a favourite leftism WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?

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  119. Rightandleft (654 comments) says:

    Kimble, you speak as though you have years of experience in teaching. If your only experience is as a student then you really don’t know that much about the profession. There’s an old analogy, you may have may enjoy eating out in fine restaurants but that doesn’t qualify you to tell the chef how to cook.

    The difference between a class of 20 and a class of 30 is huge. Once you get well over thirty the difference is not so great. A class of 34 or 40 will require about the same teaching style. Of course that all depends on the students put in that class.

    The research showing the small and large classes doing the same has a few issues. Firstly there is streaming. I teach a top-stream class with 34 students and a bottom-stream class of 19. It is common practice to place the lowest-ability students in a smaller class because they need more support. As a result even though I may improve their scores dramatically compared to the top-class, as I can spend more one-to-one time giving them support and feedback, the top classes scores will remain the higher of the two because they started miles ahead. When we look at the results all we see is a big class doing well and a small class just doing okay.

    Secondly there were numerous demographic changes in California over the time period most studies have been conducted (roughly from the 1980s to the early 2000s) Class sizes in general have come down but results have not improved. This leads some to declare small class sizes a failure. However during the same time period there was heavy non-english speaking immigration, a massive rise in one-parent households and increases in the poverty rate, all factors likely to pull test results down. The fact they remained constant could indicate lowering class sizes counter-balanced the negatives and kept results from absolutely plunging. There definitely isn’t enough evidence to say smaller class sizes don’t help. And you are correct that there is a strong perception from parents that they do help.

    I don’t want a specific cap on class sizes at all. I think having some bigger classes aids in the survival of smaller, but important to offer, classes. I’m just saying the research is not conclusive and the idea of dramatically increasing class sizes could be damaging to a system that even John Key recently said is performing very well as is.

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  120. wat dabney (3,716 comments) says:

    The issue here is that we are trying to fix a system that isn’t broken…

    That’s just your opinion. The beauty of choice as opposed to the coercive state monopoly is that people can peacefully disagree with each other.

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  121. Rightandleft (654 comments) says:

    Joseph, my facts are hardly rubbish, I listed the site for people to have a look for themselves. The country rankings are innacurate because PISA included certain cities and states as ‘countries’ for the comparison. For example, Shanghai and Hong Kong are each ranked separately. There is indeed a long-tail of underacheivers in the NZ system but we perform well in general. I’ve made reference to the long-tail before. Another fault we have is a very low rate of high school completion compared to other developed countries.

    There is certainly room for improvement. But the system as a whole performs well and the changes that need to be made aren’t to found in changing the fundamental way our schools work with solutions designed for an entirely different education system.

    The Teachers Council, which is no friend of the unions by the way, has come out and said these charter schools don’t make sense because we already have Tomorrow’s Schools, exactly the argument I’ve been making. Now a private industry funded public school in South Auckland has come out and said exactly the same thing. They don’t want to become a charter school, even though they like getting private funds. They are already able to do that under the existing legislation. They say they already have enough independence under Tomorrow’s Schools. Have a look at the article.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10771290

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  122. Joseph Carpenter (211 comments) says:

    Rightandleft I may not be able to tell a chef how to cook but I can certainly tell him 20% of his dishes are shit. Why do you hate poor Polynesian children so much? Why do you think they aren’t at least worthy of being given the choice of a better school? Why do you want to keep them illiterate, innumerate and ignorant?

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  123. wat dabney (3,716 comments) says:

    There is indeed a long-tail of underacheivers in the NZ system but we perform well in general.

    It could be that it’s the underachievers who will benefit most from charter schools. Without a market in ideas, who’s to say.

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  124. Joseph Carpenter (211 comments) says:

    “But the system as a WHOLE PERFORMS WELL…” except for the 20%, but they don’t count do they.

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  125. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    Kimble –

    A good teacher may well still be a good teacher in front of 40 students instead of 20, and a bad teacher still be a bad teacher in front of 20 instead of 40, but the reality is BOTH the good and bad teacher will be better with a class of 20 than 40.

    I don’t understand why this is an either/or scenario (and I hate it when it is presented as such). We need both better teachers and manageable class sizes. I find it strange that people on either side of the political divide decide one is important and the other not, and use it to try and score points against each other. We need to find ways to manage both.

    I’m a high school teacher (and I like to think I’m good at my job), but I’m heading overseas next year for better pay, better students, smaller classes, more freedom in curriculum design, better hours etc. I’m coming back, as I enjoy high school teaching, but I would seriously think twice if I were to face classes of 40 in the type of school (decile 5) that I teach at now, given the clientele we get to work with. It would make a difficult but rewarding job more of the former and less of the latter. That’s not to say I support caps on class size – schools should be able to figure out the optimal class size for their subjects and students themselves – but I hate this knee-jerk “class size doesn’t matter” crap.

    Performance pay for teachers only works in a private school situation, so I’m not against private schools at all – the more choice the better (for students first and foremost, but for us teachers as well!). Hell, I’m going to work at a privately run university next year. I’ll be interested to see how the charter schools work out. For me, the bigger issue is NCEA, which is a terrible qualification system made worse by the creeping sidelining of knowledge in favour of woolly “Key Competencies” like “Thinking” and “Relating to Others”. It’s dangerously close to social conditioning, rather than education. People find it easier to think of new ideas, make decisions and be productive if they actually know a thing or two; at the moment, the NZ Curriculum is more concerned about constructing an “ideal citizen” and more and more trying to rid content from the mix. Hell, I’ve been to Curriculum conferences where they have explicitly said they are trying to move away from content. Total idiocy.

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  126. scrubone (3,081 comments) says:

    The idea that our system “isn’t broken” is being “proven” by pointing to good overall number. But those numbers are *averages*.

    We could have some of the best averages in the world and *still* have entire schools where kids are never given the chance to excel.

    And we do.

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  127. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    Also, please, please, please stop allowing primary schools to shunt misbehaving students on to high school early when they have not even got basic literacy and numeracy knowledge. Makes a bad situation much worse.

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  128. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    There’s an old analogy, you may have may enjoy eating out in fine restaurants but that doesn’t qualify you to tell the chef how to cook.

    Just because you operate in an economy doesnt mean you understand market incentives the way an economist does. Yet you still act as if you do.

    The difference between a class of 20 and a class of 30 is huge.

    Yep, its 10. 50%. Half.

    The difference between 1/20th and 1/30th is 1/60th. It would represent a reduction in 1-1 time of 1/3. This would be the result of losing 1/3 of the teachers in the profession. (If we have that many bad teachers, we have a moral duty to do something about it.) Now, consider that a quarter of the money spent on that 3rd is used to increase the pay of the good teachers. That leaves 3/4 thirds to hire new, better teachers.

    Your task is to figure out how many additional, good teachers we could then hire, all earning the same as the existing good teachers, to help mitigate the reduction of teaching stock as the poor teachers leave the profession. For additional credit, consider what that would do to class sizes and 1 on 1 time.

    Changing class size was merely a suggestion for how part of the premium needing to be paid to good teachers. (I still dont understand why you are against paying better employees more.) It represents one source of cost reduction that can improve “profits”.

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  129. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    I’m a high school teacher (and I like to think I’m good at my job), but I’m heading overseas next year for better pay, better students, smaller classes, more freedom in curriculum design, better hours etc.

    Its funny how often smaller class size often appears on the TEACHERS wish list.

    Just saying.

    I’m coming back, as I enjoy high school teaching, but I would seriously think twice if I were to face classes of 40 in the type of school (decile 5) that I teach at now, given the clientele we get to work with.

    What if we paid you $500k? I reckon you would jump at that. So all we are talking about is price, not the market system.

    Performance pay for teachers only works in a private school situation…

    No. It can only currently be implemented in private schools.

    but I hate this knee-jerk “class size doesn’t matter” crap.

    Class size isn’t a significant problem compared to teacher quality. How large would the class have to get to turn the best teacher into an average one? You can probably come up with a figure fairly easily.

    Now, how small would a class have to be to turn the worst teacher into an average one? A bad teacher could still be bad with 1 student.

    We are sick of hearing about class sizes when we say “lets do something about teacher quality”. It might have some impact, but not the most, and addressing it shouldnt distract from the more important issue.

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  130. leftyliberal (642 comments) says:

    @RightAndLeft/transmogrifier: I appreciate hearing from some teachers – thanks for taking the time to comment.

    Have you observed teaching quality to be a problem in the schools you’ve taught in? How would you rate yourself compared to your peers? Do you think you deserve more or less pay than they do? What is the number one thing you’d change if you had the power to do so?

    Many commentators here suggest that performance pay would be a way to improve the quality of the education system. Do you agree? Some inside knowledge would be useful.

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  131. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    Kimble -

    If you are of the opinion that teachers are unqualified to comment on their own practice and what works best, then there is little point debating with you. Smaller class sizes are on my wishlist because they work better in my experience.

    But I guess I’m just another one of those selfish teachers out to rip off the taxpayer and indoctrinate the kids with as little effort as possible, yeah?

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  132. Paul Rain (47 comments) says:

    Rightandleft: It’s interesting to point at the PISA results. But on the similar TIMSS survey, we do marginally less well than the United States. After things are broken out into groups, Asian Americans perform similarly to the Asian nations (at the top of the world), and European Americans perform similarly to the top European nations (not so well). By comparison (Table B7), Asian New Zealanders and European New Zealanders are left in the dust. Not much to be smug about there.

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  133. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    Leftyliberal

    “Have you observed teaching quality to be a problem in the schools you’ve taught in?”

    Absolutely. Some teachers are just lazy, some don’t know how to manage a classroom of behaviourally challenged juniors, some have poor communication ability. Sometimes one teacher can be great with a high-band senior class and be atrocious with a low-band junior one.

    “How would you rate yourself compared to your peers?”

    Better than average. Certainly, I can handle difficult classes better than most, I think my resource creation is excellent (probably my strength) and I am pretty organized in terms of getting feedback to the kids. I’ve only been in the job for two years, so my weakness is still distinguishing what I’d like to teach from what the kids need to know for their assessments in the senior school, and I have still to really get a set discipline plan down that I am totally happy with.

    “Do you think you deserve more or less pay than they do?”

    Than the poorly performing teachers? I’d prefer that they didn’t work at the school in the first place. I deserve my job more than they do.

    “What is the number one thing you’d change if you had the power to do so?”

    Well, the curriculum, but that’s not really related to teacher quality. I’d like to see teacher training be more rigorous, and make it harder to graduate from it. Also, there should be a more stringent registration process, with a significant salary jump once you are registered, but you don’t get registered as a matter of course – you have to prove yourself. And if you don’t, you stay on the lower salary.

    “Many commentators here suggest that performance pay would be a way to improve the quality of the education system. Do you agree?”

    Not in a public school situation, because there is no direct link between the good performance of a teacher and the money the school brings in. In a private school, good teachers will attract new students, and the increase in income can go towards increased salaries. But in our publich school system, the amount of money entering the system is essentially fixed via the budget. Logically, you can’t force an average improvement in quality through raising salaries if the total money to be spent on salaries can’t improve. We could increase the education budget, but of course, there will be limits to that AND its not fair that everyone pays an equal share (percentage-wsie) towards education but one family may be saddled with a bad teacher and another family with a great teacher, and they pay the same amount (again, nominally)

    I’ve written at length elsewhere why performance pay in the public system that NZ has at the moment won’t work, I’ll see if I can drag some of that up.

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  134. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    If you are of the opinion that teachers are unqualified to comment on their own practice and what works best, then there is little point debating with you.

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. Settle down Doris. If you are commenting on the economy/economists thing, then you are way off base. That was a response to the accusation that I have no idea about this topic because I am not a TEACHER.

    However…

    Smaller class sizes are on my wishlist because they work better in my experience.

    … all those other things are about personal preference. Pay, students, hours, freedom. Are those all on your wishlist because they work better too? It will be interesting to hear how you receiving more pay works better for students.

    You like small class size maybe because you enjoy engaging more with individual students. Its position in the list, and the nature of the other items leaves me in no doubt that list was one of personal preference.

    While I am sure it is possible for you to believe that small class sizes are best (and more important than teacher quality) for reasons separate from your personal enjoyment of them, I must insist that you also recognise it is possible your preference for smaller class sizes represents a bias influencing how you interpret data on the issue.

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  135. Mellie (39 comments) says:

    I propose the first charter school should be in Epsom since charter schools are obviously so wonderful. :)

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  136. tom hunter (4,556 comments) says:

    I’m glad Joseph had the time to dig into the PISA averages, that website is a shocker to use.

    When they were first noted I thought, here we go, lies, damned lies and statistics. Even then I remembered something about NZ’s literacy rates: Elaycee referred to it and Joseph in more detail – and it’s not good. So what do we do with these comparative sets of statistics? Which one is the more indicative and trustworthy?

    One educator is in no doubt – Massey University College of Education Pro Vice-Chancellor, James Chapman:

    The survey revealed about 45 per cent of New Zealand adults lacked essential reading and writing skills.

    The youngest adults in the survey, those aged 16 to 24, declined in literacy levels compared to 1996.

    “They would have been in school when the whole language approach to reading instruction and Reading Recovery were introduced from the mid-1980s,”

    “If anything, this group should have shown higher literacy levels.”

    This is the end result of our world class education system that isn’t broken, or is perhaps only broken in South Auckland?

    And to refer to an earlier part of the debate, how much of NZ’s problems with wage gaps, widening rich-poor gaps, skill gaps, low productivity and the resulting poverty, can be directly tied to the products of our vaunted education system?

    But no – instead the question is turned on it’s head and we’re informed by at least one socialist defender of the status quo here, that it’s the other way around and we have to solve those problems before our fabulous public education system can strut its stuff: which is just another way of preventing these proposed changes from even being tried. Sir Humphrey would be impressed.

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  137. Mellie (39 comments) says:

    Lets call the first charter school in Epsom – McDonalds Creationist High :)

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  138. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    I’d prefer that they didn’t work at the school in the first place. I deserve my job more than they do.

    Just say “Yes”. Yes, you do think you should be paid more than bad teachers. Yours is just an extreme opinion, compared to ours. You think that you should be paid your entire salary more than they are paid. That is, you want them to be paid zero dollars.

    Not in a public school situation, because there is no direct link between the good performance of a teacher and the money the school brings in.

    Your definition of “profit” is too narrow. Yes, it works (bluntly) in a private setting, but education is provided by the government for social reasons. There are social benefits to having an educated populace. Improvements in education outcomes is enough of a dividend to justify performance pay. It must be, as it is the only reason to put any more money into education.

    There is currently no reason to pay teachers more. The outlay will not improve the quality of teaching. The losses that come from giving pay rises to bad teachers offsets the benefit of attracting new, better people to enter the profession. The bad teachers would never leave, so there wouldnt be the spaces for them.

    Under performance based pay system, there would be a reason to increase spending. The costs of the extra pay would be more than offset by the gains brought about by having a quality improving pricing system.

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  139. publicwatchdog (2,270 comments) says:

    Where is the review of ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’?

    How ‘cost-effective’ has it been to devolve the operation of schools to Boards of Trustees compared with the old Ministry of Education system?

    How much money could be poured back into education by cutting out the consultants and private contractors currently carrying out operational and maintenance work?

    As a (CENSORED) Independent Candidate for Epsom, I do not recall ‘National “B” Team ‘/ ACT candidate John Banks EVER raising the issue of education privatisation or ‘charter schools’ at either of the Epsom cnadidates meetings which I attended, or this message being placed ‘loud and clear’ up on his election hoardings.

    (For pictures of the messages up on some of John Banks election hoardings – check out http://www.pennybright4epsom.org.nz :)

    If you read the ‘Education Policy’ up on ACT’s website – education privatisation and ‘charter schools’ are nowhere to be seen.

    So – how can the voting public ‘cast an informed vote’?

    “Prime Minister John Key is defending the introduction of charter schools under a deal with ACT despite National never campaigning on it, saying “that’s MMP for you, isn’t it?”.

    No – it’s effectively more deceptive and misleading conduct – more proof that NZ is NOT ‘open, transparent and democratically-accountable’ and that our ‘perceived’ status as ‘the least corrupt country in the world’ according to the 2011 Transparency International ‘Corruption Perception Index’ is just a load of CRAP.

    http://www.act.org.nz/policies/education

    ACT will keep working for a more vibrant and dynamic education system. A Party Vote for ACT is a vote to:

    • Continue awarding Aspire scholarships to underprivileged children;
    • Increase the autonomy that local principals and staff have in running their school. Boards and principals should be able, for example, to set teacher remuneration at their discretion like any other employer, rather than having a rigid, seniority based pay scale;
    • Further increase the subsidy for independent schools so that parents who choose independent schools for their children do not lose so much of their child’s share of education funding;
    • Encourage choice in assessment systems, whether they be NCEA, Cambridge International Examination, International Baccalaureate, or other qualifications.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Penny Bright
    waterpressure@gmail.com

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  140. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    Kimble -

    I’ve already stated my opinion that smaller class sizes and teacher quality work in tandem, and I expressed my disgust at those who try to play one off the other as if there were no connection. Often the reason is simple hack politics – most teachers are in a union, and so when they ask for smaller classes, naturally those whose personal politics are loathe to support union-generated opinions are less likely to accept it. And equally, lefties who think everyone should be treated equally like to put their fingers in their ears whenever someone suggests that in fact some people are better at their job than others and should be renumerated as such. And so both sides spend all their time attacking the ideas commonly associated with the “opposition” without ever bothering to contemplate the other point of view.

    Interesting that you ask me to explain how my pay works better for the students, when it is the crux of your argument. Put simply, the university I’m going to thinks I’m worth a certain amount (I’ve worked there before, and they asked me back) and the students are going to get my expertise (however much you value that). If they didn’t pay a certain amount, then I wouldn’t be going and the students may (stress on MAY) receive a lower quality education.

    Now before you say “Haha, gotcha!” remember, I”m not against performance pay in theory, and think it works great in the private sector and I would welcome a private NZ education system – my reservations are all (gasp!) practical and associated with the system we have in place. Certainly this can be changed, but I’m reacting more to the gung-ho messageboard warriors who like to type in slogans and soundbites and refuse to get into the details of what they claim will work.

    So I’m bound to be cynical when faced by the likes of you dismissing one aspect of improving education (class sizes) while blowing the trumpet of your own pet cause (performance pay), and acting all indignant – and accusing people of bias – when they simply focus on an aspect of improving education that you think is not important. You’re creating this false dichotomy – symptomatic of so much in NZ politics, actually – in order to make your arguments easier. It’s pretty lazy.

    Take a class of 30 students. Set them a practice essay for the NCEA exams. Now mark them with feedback and feed-forward comments, and set another essay to see whether there is any improvement. Mark and annotate again. Great. Now write their reports. Now get them to sit their internal assessment and mark them, and then do the resits. Now have parent-teacher interviews with their families. Make sure that you report misbehaving students to their deans, and get involved in any follow-up paperwork their may be.

    Now do that for four different classes. And now do it for 40 students a class. Hell, why not 50?

    It’s not personal preference. It’s the relationship between class size, quality of feedback and time needed for paperwork outside the classroom. A great teacher will be even better in a smaller class. Teacher quality matters. Class size matters. School infrastructure matters. Support from home matters. The curriculum matters. It ALL matters. But people like you decide to create a fictious battle royale between all of these things in order to boost your own pet project.

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  141. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    This is what I wrote about a year ago on performance pay in the public education system. I would like to hear any flaws in my logic, because I’m sure they are there. It helps to refine my opinion.

    Performance will not work in a public education system:

    Private companies are able to link performance pay to results that enable the company to increase their revenue and thus enable them to pay for performance in the first place. Schools do not have this at all; a teacher who does a brilliant job does not naturally increase the revenue that the school receives. Instead, it can only be artificially attained – the government will “reward” the schools for having good teachers by signing off on higher salaries. But the education budget is essentially capped by being government funded, isn’t it? So how do we afford the increase in salaries?

    We could reduce the salary of poor performing teachers. Okay, fair enough. But in a private system, it is often the customers who pay for the quality of the service they get. You’ll pay more for a high profile lawyer than you will for someone right out of law school, and you are free to choose who you want according to your budget. This choice doesn’t happen in public education; all parents essentially pay a similar rate, but have no say over what teacher their children get. So you could be lucky and have your kids educated by top notch teachers, while your neighbour’s kids gets the dregs, but you are paying the same for the privilege. That’s inherently not fair.

    And if performance pay is indeed motivated by the desire to improve the quality of teachers, then there can’t be a cap on the number of teachers on the top rate, can there? If not, can we afford it? If so, how do you work it out? Will each school get a certain chunk of money to pay out to a certain number of top teachers (let’s say 10 teacher per 1000 students, or something)? How can a school attract other good teachers if it has already filled its ten slots? Should they re-rank the teachers each year in order to decide who gets the higher salary?

    Or perhaps there is a certain percentage of teaching positions that can receive the top payment over the whole of New Zealand, and so top performing schools can have access to more funds for more top teachers, while poorly performing schools will lose some of the funding. If so, how do we then attract good teachers to lowly rated schools in order to improve their performance if those schools have less money for salaries?

    And how are these teachers judged in terms of performance? You could look at results, of course, but the danger in this is that, as we move towards more and more internal assessments, is that they become easier and easier, or the teachers start feeding answers, in order to ensure they don’t slip down the salary scale.

    Could be results in the external exams, though then teachers who get streamed classes of higher ability students have the advantage over others. Could be in improvement over the year – have a test at the start and one at the end and see how much value the teachers have added. Then those teachers that take on low ability classes have more room in which to improve, and thus have the advantage.

    You could ask for student evaluations. While a significant amount of students are honest and very well attuned to makes a good teacher, there is also a good amount of students who favour teachers that let them do what they want.

    You could have people come in and observe classes. Though, of course, these observers will have to be good teachers themselves in order to be good judges of what we are looking for, which would mean less time for them actually in the classroom teaching. And they’d have to observe more than once to know, right?

    All of these problems would vanish of course, in a private education system. But we don’t have that.

    (PS For the record, yet again, I am not part of the union. If it were me, instead of performance pay, I would have a system where teachers have a lower salary during their first two years and a tougher set of conditions to pass to get registered and a significant wage increase. If a new teacher doesn’t meet these requirements, they stay unregistered and on a lower salary until they can. After that, I’m not sure how to work it yet. The best option could well be to give a school a certain lump sum of money for registered teachers at an average salary that the government can afford and then allow individual schools to distribute it as they see fit – either evenly, or attached to bonuses for certain achievements, or whatever. This could possibly work, but it is a long way from the idealised version of performance pay that DF splutters on about all the time)

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  142. Tautaioleua (291 comments) says:

    Money from the public purse for private sector champions to deliver education? not on my watch, the decline of private schooling has led to more demand for the public purse.

    Australia is calling.

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  143. Mark (1,421 comments) says:

    I have just watched the TV One News Item on this and there are some interesting issues for the pro charter schools promoters to consider.

    1. There is apparently no requirement for a charter school to deliver the NZ curriculum. So will these schools get state funding and yet not be required to provide national standards information to the ministry?

    2. There is no requirement for the teaching staff to be qualified? If true and lets be fair it is just a news item on TVNZ it is a concern as to what will be delivered and by whom. So who controls and moderates these publicly funded experimental schools”

    Personally if the state is going to fund then as a minimum these schools should teach the national curriculum. This does not stop schools from providing IB or Cambridge, but it does stop looney tunes social experiments on kids.

    AS for the performance pay issue. the logical outcome is the schools with greater access to money will get the better teachers and the schools that do not have access to higher levels of funding will end up with weaker teachers. So the low decile schools with an inability to raise funds externally will end up with weaker teachers, now that makes all sorts of sense

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  144. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    End public education…it was always an indoctrination exercise by control freaks and has delivered a dumbed down populace compliant with their political masters wishes.. Kids are now less able and literate than they were nearly a hundred years back….nice job state education….not.

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  145. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    If parents have CHOICE over where they send their kids then that’s all that matters and is the perfect fail safe in case this experiment doesn’t work. That’s what parents and taxpayers have been denied for so long under this authoritarian regime of either socialist party we endure in NZ…their CHOICE.

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  146. RightNow (6,836 comments) says:

    • The provision to set up a trial charter school system – under sections 155 (Kura Kaupapa Maori) and 156 (designated character schools) of the Education Act – for disadvantaged communities, specifically in areas such as South Auckland and parts of Christchurch where educational underachievement is most entrenched. A private sector-chaired implementation group will be established to develop the proposal for implementation in this parliamentary term.

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1112/S00034/national-agreement-nets-significant-policy-gains-for-act.htm

    Damn evil right wingers trying to improve the lot of others.

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  147. Rightandleft (654 comments) says:

    Leftyliberal

    “Have you observed teaching quality to be a problem in the schools you’ve taught in?”

    Yes I have seen a few teachers with some pretty serious issues but in almost every case the admin has been well aware of it and they lost their jobs. It is not nearly as hard to get rid of incompetent teachers as the right-wingers would have you believe. Many if not most new teachers are hired as long-term relievers for their first year allowing them to be easily dismissed if they aren’t actually up to par. I have seen some teachers with zero class management skills and others who are far too strict and make enemies of all the students, which often ends up even worse for the teacher than the former.

    “How would you rate yourself compared to your peers?”

    I would say I’m pretty average. I have very high subject knowledge and I’m good at creating resources but my weakness is organisation. I can’t compare to the top teachers in the school who give up every interval and lunch to do extra work and make their job their lives. But my junior classes are well behaved and show good improvements on their tests and my seniors like my classes enough to keep signing up in ever larger numbers so I’m doing something right.

    “Do you think you deserve more or less pay than they do?”

    No, I believe in the system of paying all teachers the same base rates based on years in the profession. Besides, good teachers already get paid more because they are chosen for middle management roles like Head of Department which bring them extra money. There is the ability to advance in the career path to roles like Specialist Classroom Teacher, Dean or senior management to motivate teachers to do better and potentially earn a lot more money. So performance based pay increases are not completely lacking as it is.

    “What is the number one thing you’d change if you had the power to do so?”

    I’d stop students from being socially promoted from year to year regardless of whether they pass anything. It is ridiculous that we get Year 9 students who have failed every year since primary but just get passed onto the next year, lacking the basics to make any improvement. Many people complain about the state of literacy among young adults and I do see that in my junior students. The problem is, by the time they get to me at age 12 or 13 it is already too late to correct serious problems that needed to be dealt with in early primary years. I have 13 year old kids who write at a 6 or 7 year old level and my job is to teach the class to write a series of paragraphs, not a single coherent sentence. Even in a class of 15 with a teacher aide helping I only have 3 to 4 hours a week with them and that isn’t enough to fix issues, not to mention I haven’t been trained to deal with problems that basic. I have a BA in a specialist subject and training to teach high school skills, not primary.

    Yet even when the kids fail every test given to them they are sent on to Year 10 and then Year 11 where they fail to gain Level 1 NCEA but are sent on to Level 2 courses nonetheless. Of course we aren’t actually allowed to use the term ‘fail’ these days, another concession to the PC police. Now we euphemistically call it ‘Not Acheived” instead. The corrections need to be made in primary schools and I actually like the idea of national standards, even though the union is against them. My problem with the standards is I can’t see how they actually accomplish anything. There needs to be more serious intervention for kids who fail to meet the standards.

    Performance Pay

    As I’ve said before I’m against the whole concept of performance pay. The idea behind it in the US was that it was the way to rectify the serious issue with their teacher recruits. Most US teachers now come from the bottom third of their univeristy classes and have the lowest average uni grades of any profession requiring a degree. New Zealand is not in this situation because teachers are paid better (in comparison with the average wage) than they are in the US.

    I do think we could seriously change the way we do teacher training though. At the moment it is far too much theory and research and little practical classroom training. When I was at teachers’ college we all agreed that outside of the practicums the course was pointless and entering the workforce and only confirmed that view for me. We got zero training in classroom management, which was what we needed most of all. Also there were many trainees there who didn’t seem suited to teaching in the slightest and actually worried me that they could in charge of a classroom. I welcome the personality tests for potential trainees and hope for better training as well.

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  148. sandfly (2 comments) says:

    Let’s get real. If we want to work against entrenched deprivation, we can pay people living wages, make benefits livable (not luxurious, but a reasonable backstop for families in need), cut health costs, increase funding to low decile schools (including teacher aides and possibly even lowering student/teacher ratios), restore cuts to pre-school education… We don’t have to go scratching around and borrowing ideas from one of the most most socially (and educationally) inequitable societies in the developed world.

    The NZ state education system does an excellent job with the resources it is given (proportionately a lot lower than other high achieving countries, like Finland). And yes, it is true, that there is a greater level of disparity in the results of our students, and we don’t want any students to be left behind. But this also reflects an increasing level of disparity in our wider society (which is more diverse than many of the other countries with strongly achieving state systems). That’s why we can’t divorce our education challenges with the wider societal challenges listed above.

    NZ schools already have a lot of flexibility to respond to the character and needs of their local communities. in fact, we are probably the most devolved education system in the western world. This includes kura kaupapa and religious schools, which already exist in significant numbers.

    Let’s get a few facts on the table:
    1) NZ ALREADY HAS one of the most extremely devolved, community controlled schooling systems in the world. Each school is run by a locally elected Board of Trustees, who have control over all employment and most curriculum matters. For heaven’s sake – our schools don’t even have to use our national qualifications system (NCEA) to asses students.
    2) There is already a significant amount of competition between schools (too much, if anything).
    3) Not only do all schools develop their own characters, and their own areas of specialisation, but along with competition between the various state schools in any one area, there are likely to be integrated schools. These are ALREADY ‘special character’ schools that receive state funding and are allowed to accept and reject (ie, cherry-pick) their students, as the proposed charter schools would be.
    4) On top of that, we have fully private schools, which (bizarrely) also receive state funding, even though they have no obligation to teach the NZ curriculum (and can accept/reject/cherry-pick as described above).
    5) Note – teachers in these private schools are not members of NZEI or PPTA and so are paid whatever their school decides (as Key and Banks want for the charter schools).
    6) All NZ teachers have to have prior qualifications and teacher training (although the Nat.s want to dump this and let people train on the job, but that’s another story…). They have to be registered with the Teachers’ Council and have their registration renewed every 3 years. This is only possible if they have been professionally assessed and judged to be competent each year. They must also take part in professional development training on a regular basis.
    7) There is no automatic progression up a pay scale. Again – this depends (at first) on ongoing reviews of competency, then on competency reviews + taking on extra responsibilities.
    8) None of the requirements for qualifications, training, registration or professional development described above are planned for staff in charter schools. This is idiocy. Not only that, it’s irresponsible and extreme.

    Let’s remember that the Bolger/Shipley National government of the ’90s abolished the requirement for teacher registration, and pressed really hard to convince (bribe) schools into accepting bulk funding of teachers’ salaries. Those that did soon started doing the obvious and hiring cheaper, less experienced, less qualified teachers. They supposedly had more ‘freedom’ in terms of staffing, but (not surprisingly) there was no demonstrated improvement in student outcomes.

    Well, here it all comes again…

    It’s also telling that a broad range of education sector expert groups like the absolutely apolitical Teachers’ Council (a government body) and the (usually right wing) School Trustees’ Association are also against this extremist experiment. Key might (wrongly) dismiss PPTA and NZEI as being driven by self-interest in this matter, but it’s hard to see why either of these bodies would want to limit students, close down choice or make things easy for teachers.

    All in all, this policy is a disgrace; another populist but poorly thought out power grab.

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  149. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    You’re creating this false dichotomy – symptomatic of so much in NZ politics, actually – in order to make your arguments easier. It’s pretty lazy.

    Wow. Really? You really think that I have said that class sizes OR teacher quality can be addressed but not both?

    Once more for the illiterates then. Teacher quality is MORE IMPORTANT than class size. MORE IMPORTANT. You cant possibly fucking miss it now can you?

    Its not “either/or”, its “stop using class sizes as an excuse to dismiss out of hand genuine efforts to improve the quality of teaching in NZ using a mechanism that has been shown to work in every other facet of human interaction”.

    It’s not personal preference.

    And yet you included it in the middle of a list of other things you are going overseas to get. You like smaller classes. And it isnt just because it is better for the kids. Fewer kids means less work. You spent an entire paragraph giving us the details.

    I said that I could accept that teachers supported smaller class sizes for reasons other than self interest. But your refusal to admit that it is possible that personal preferences are biasing teachers opinions gives me license to discard the concession

    And if performance pay is indeed motivated by the desire to improve the quality of teachers, then there can’t be a cap on the number of teachers on the top rate, can there?

    Of course there can. We have other things we want to spend money on. Performance based pay will have to be accompanied by an increase in funding. Few people on this side argue differently. But just because that funding is finite, and the marginal returns of quality teachers diminishes at higher levels, in no way invalidates the concept of performance based pay.

    And how are these teachers judged in terms of performance?

    Are you saying that it is impossible? Then how can non-experts on Boards of Trustees be expected to determine the relative PROSPECTIVE performance of candidates? At the moment, THAT is your quality screening process. I dont hear loud complaints about that, even though it absolutely must be worse than any reasonable performance judgement conducted by an expert after the fact.

    Think about that, if your cognitive bias will allow you to.

    You are saying that the people on the board who make the decision about who to hire, do a better job at determining the skill of a candidate BEFORE that candidate starts teaching at their school, than they could ever do in determining the skill of an employee AFTER that employee has worked for them for a while.

    Huh?

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  150. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    Kimble -

    I think you need a better audience than me for your argument. It’s clear you only read isolated passages that help you generate all this self-righteous fury (swearing, really? I thought we were just trying to explain our point of view), and if your whole method of debate rests on dismissing whatever I say as being infected with bias, then I’m better off trying to communicate with someone else. Keep up the good fight.

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  151. Nostalgia-NZ (5,029 comments) says:

    Banksie was interviewed speaking about Onehunga High already being a charter school, however the Prinicpal didn’t know about it. I wonder who was telling the truth. Why, Mr Banks of course. Strikes me that when people choose to lie about the detail their whole effort is suspect.

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  152. Pete George (23,296 comments) says:

    The usual entrenched polarised positions are already apparent. It should at least be given a decent chanxce to be discussed and explored.

    Kids falling through large holes in our social and education systems should be the prime concern, not employment ideologies.

    http://yourdunedin.org/2011/12/07/charter-schools/

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  153. tom hunter (4,556 comments) says:

    Amid the hiss and roar of this debate – thanks to Rightandleft and transmogrifier for those lengthy answers to Leftyliberal’s questions, and thanks for the questions themselves.

    A couple of points:

    I’d stop students from being socially promoted from year to year regardless of whether they pass anything.

    Total agreement and I’m stunned to find that this is still going on. One of the things we were all aware of as little kids was the possibility that we would be held back and forced to repeat our “primer” years with “the littlies”. The shame!

    Refusing to hold kids back strikes at one of the principles of teaching: that one level has to be mastered before moving on to the next.

    Humourous aside: the older brother of a friend was born in Holland and started school there for the better part of a year, only for the family to immigrate to the USA where he re-started, followed by a move to NZ – and another school start. He effectively repeated “primer 1″ three times. He was 15 in the 3rd Form and only just missed, by a few weeks, being able to drive to his intermediate school!

    When I was at teachers’ college we all agreed that outside of the practicums the course was pointless and entering the workforce and only confirmed that view for me. We got zero training in classroom management, which was what we needed most of all.

    Oh dear. I heard the same complaints from T-Coll mates 30 years ago, followed by a similar observation just the other day at a varsity get-together, from an old varsity mate who’s still teaching. He regaled us with several painful stories of his early days as a teacher in learning “classroom management” and got it all from existing teachers in the manner of the Socratic Method.

    But surely these two examples tell you two teachers that there is something systemically wrong with the body of your profession? How can two such basic aspects remain uncorrected for so many decades? And if that’s possible what about the rest?

    Charter schools may not work, especially in the areas they’re targeting, where the PI cultural issues that Falafula identified upthread may overwhelm any teaching effort. But something different has got to be done with the so-called “long-tail” of student failure – and I refuse to accept that choice (real choice that is – empowered by money) must be shut down just to preserve the solidarity of a public system.

    And aside from the details of this argument, the fact is that it stands in opposition to the direction in which our societies are moving, where people are being given greater choice in controlling their own lives than ever before. It’s not that The Khan Academy will ever replace teachers – but it and others like it may replace schools as we’ve known them. Where “charter schools” fit into that I don’t know, but they’ll be part of the choices.

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  154. thedavincimode (6,589 comments) says:

    Fala F

    Good luck with fixing that. :(

    Do you think there is an element of perceived threat to Church leaders – reduced influence?

    Seems like there needs to be some kind of forum where you get them all into the same room and knock their heads together – with school input.

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  155. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    (swearing, really? I thought we were just trying to explain our point of view)

    And I did, many times, and despite saying from the beginning and reiterating the point at every opportunity, you still insist that I am creating a false dichotomy. Huh?

    if your whole method of debate rests on dismissing whatever I say as being infected with bias

    Thats not my whole method of debate. For example, you asked the question about how ‘performance’ would be gauged, I answered and you never addressed my answer. You had two opportunities.

    I said more than once that I accepted teachers could hold their opinions separate from their self-interest, I simply asked that you accept that MAYBE there is SOME bias in teachers reasoning. The fact that you wont even admit the POSSIBILITY does more to prove that you suffer from strong cognitive bias than anything I could have done.

    I address my biases every single day. You dont even know yours exist. Many here will attest to this being quite typical of those in the teaching profession.

    As a teacher you are probably conditioned to expect to have your statements accepted without criticism, and so are unused to being challenged on your statements without the ability to shut down debate with a threat of detention.

    So now you take the use of a single fucking adult word as an excuse to swan away from points, we have little alternative other than to think, you do not have any chance of addressing.

    …then I’m better off trying to communicate with someone else

    Given that you havent listened to a thing I have said and have instead been fighting some strawman, then yes, go “communicate” with someone else. Someone who doesnt mind your inattention and dishonesty. Maybe another teacher. You can talk past each other and get your jollies listening to your own voice bouncing back from the walls of your echo chamber.

    Take your pathetic excuse and run away.

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  156. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    Kimble -

    A lot of assumptions there. I especially like the “As a teacher you are probably conditioned to expect to have your statements accepted without criticism” line, which is loaded with genuine hate of me and my profession, and yet you still insist that I am the one who must confront my own biases.

    You either accept what I have to say about what it is like in the classroom, or you don’t; no harm there, it’s called a difference in opinion. But you keep trying to reframe the debate into something involving second-guessing what type of person I am based on my position, rather than the logic (or lack of) of my position in the first place. You have consistently attacked my position not on its merits, but on the assumption that there is something wrong with me (because I’m a teacher) that makes anything I say not worth discussing. It’s a hollow, disingenuous tactic that detracts from whatever genuine points you have to make (and you do have some, which I have agreed with, but you are now far too far gone into your rants now to realise)

    I’ve made two pretty long posts about why smaller class sizes are preferable, and why performance pay can’t work in the system we have set up at the moment. By all means, attack those, and tell me why they are wrong. But stop getting all stompy and bitter because I’m a teacher and you therefore assume that I can’t look at anything to do with teaching reasonably. I mean, that whole last paragraph of yours is a masterpiece of paranoia and desperate ad hominem attacks, divorced from the topic at hand.

    And you’ll notice that I haven’t asked what you do for a living. You know why? Because I don’t give a shit. I’m only interested in the topic of our screwed up education system.

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  157. slijmbal (1,223 comments) says:

    whoever thinks that performance pay in commercial institutions is related to profit or revenue increases has obviously never worked in such an institution. It is often recognised that the individual’s influence on such outcomes is negliglble and their performance pay is related to targets they can influence which often as not are not such crude targets. I left a multi-national precisely because they related my bonus to areas I had no influence over and I knew I would thus not get a reasonable bonus.

    whoever thinks that bad teachers get fired and aren’t a MAJOR influence on outcomes is talking crap. Parents know about bad teachers who keep their job. Similarly, I was lucky enough to go to a school that even sent 15 students a year to Oxford and Cambridge and there were less capable teachers there and the results were directly related to their ability e.g. we had useless language teachers and great science teachers so the school over-achieved at science and massively under-achieved at language. The correlation was obvious. FYI the class sizes were high 30′s except for languages where they were in the 20s. Teacher ability was a much greater influence than class sizes.

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  158. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    Teaching quality is a huge issue, and needs to be improved in NZ, no question. IS there anyone on this thread arguing otherwise?

    I would be interested to hear more about the “whoever thinks that performance pay in commercial institutions is related to profit or revenue increases has obviously never worked in such an institution.” I always assumed that better the profit/revenue, the more available for bonuses that can either reward valuable employees, or attract better ones (putting aside the actual targets they should meet to attain them). It’s that dynamic that is missing in our schooling system at the moment, but I’m prepared to be corrected.

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  159. slijmbal (1,223 comments) says:

    I have been both a receiver and driver of performance based pay over the last 30 odd years. The higher up the totem pole one gets or the more involved with sales one is the more the performance is based on actual revenue and/or profit. When I was an ‘owner’ of a business unit with its own profit and revenue targets within major corporations my bonus was invariably related to the $. However, if someone was in a team of 30 relating their bonus to the performance of the other 30 of which they had minimal influence is seen as actually a disincentive to those who will perform well. I would agree what was the best the employee could do and what they needed to do to advance their worth (which had a high correlation between their worth to the company and their desires to improve themselves as often as not). The better versions of these are achievement based eg picking up a new skill, gaining a qualification, taking on a new responsibility or successfully completing a task or project. Normally something can be worked out with a bit of thought. There is an element of luck in some of these as for instance one could get the client from hell and fail but any reasonable employer takes this in to account at review time as an employee only has so much influence.

    Bonusses are not typically set as a result of straight profitability of a company in my experience because one operates in a competitive market. If I set my remuneration too low as an employer I don’t get the right quality employees as a rule and this includes bonusses. If I cannot operate a business with competent employees with a fair remuneration it’s my fault and not theirs and I will go out of business. I am forced by market forces to pay them a reasonable amount for their skill and experience in a commercial environment. Similarly, the majority of competent employees are not driven purely by $ and want other attributes in their work e.g. enjoyable environment, being appreciated for their contribution, opportunities for improvement etc. Combined with a fair reward of course. The smarter employers see this as a relationship and understand the huge costs in having poor employees or excessive employee turnover. If the employee is entirely driven by $ I found there was always someone out there willing to outbid me and thus employee turnover was increased with huge detrimental effects.

    As an aside, one can see from the above – much of this behaviour is driven by having competition and that is one reason why charter schools may help lift the overall standards.

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  160. Kimble (4,406 comments) says:

    http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/fryer/files/effective_schools.pdf

    which is loaded with genuine hate of me and my profession, and yet you still insist that I am the one who must confront my own biases.

    Read into it whatever you fucking like. My dominant bias isnt against teachers, per se. It is against long winded tools who avoid genuine discourse by ignoring what was plainly written, restate points that have been contested without addressing the counterpoints, and who use graspingly lame excuses like “you used a naughty word”.

    but on the assumption that there is something wrong with me (because I’m a teacher) that makes anything I say not worth discussing.

    There is something wrong with you because you refuse to accept the possibility that maybe you guys have SOME bias due to personal likes. And there is something wrong with you because you cannot answer any counter points.

    I dont give a fuck that youre a teacher. You have pissed me off by ignoring valid arguments, and claiming the position of expert whose opinions are sacrosanct. You have been using lame excuses to avoid responding to important counter-points.

    I told you why you were wrong, and you ignored it.

    I will repeat three of them once more, in short, and if you dont address each one of them this time then you are a troll who can die choking on his own shit for all I care.

    1. Teachers (as human beings) prefer small classes for their own selfish reasons. Small class size may be a positive factor (note I havent ever said that it wasnt), but it is possible the importance of it is overstated by teachers due to their own preferences. Its not controversial.

    2. The concern about performance pay not working in a school system because profit isnt the bottom line ignores two things;

    a. The profit motive can be replaced by the social benefit motive.
    b. Additional funding is almost always a recognised requirement of performance based pay schemes.

    3. Your concern about how performance would be measured is hollow as it ignores the role Boards of Trustees play in the current hiring process. At worst the performance of teachers would be determined by the BoTs. You are fine with Boards hiring teachers based on amateurish guesses at future performance, but by implication claim that they could never accuratetly determine performance of their existing workforce.

    The closest you have come to addressing any of these points is to beat up the first point to the equivalent of a pogrom against teachers and squealing like a stuck pig over the injustice.

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  161. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    slijmbal –

    Thanks for that info. Very interesting. Totally agree about the competition of charter schools actually raising standards. Would actually benefit teachers as well.

    Kimble -

    1. What are the selfish reasons you speak of? Less work and more free time? Less problems with behavioural management? More chances to interact with the individual students? Several of these link directly to student performance. You are trying to get an admission from me to help you dismiss the whole idea of small class sizes in the first place. But I’m not sure what you want me to admit to. We all know that we have bad teachers who would see smaller classes as an opportunity to simply do less work, but up the page I have already addressed why I like it: able to give more indepth feedback, and faster (students genuinely appreciate it when teachers get work back to them quickly), more effective classroom management in the decile 5 school I work at, which benefits me in that I get to actually teach rather than mediate disputes and creates a much better environment for learning, the abililty to actually sit down with individuals regularly during class and discuss how they are going. (Also, to a lesser degree, fewer students means less paperwork like reports and more time for resource creation – a very important aspect of teaching).

    To me there is no difference between the benefits to me and the benefits to the students of smaller class sizes. You need to tell me what the selfish reasons I might have here not listed above. Also, remember – I’m not even in favour of capping class sizes, as it should be the decision of individual schools based on students and subjects and resources.

    2. But the social benefit motive will have a huge lag compared to a profit one, making it very difficult to measure. But the reason why I mentioned profit in the first place is that the salaries need to get paid out of somewhere – hence are we going to allow an increase in the budget to incorporate what I assume is the goal of 100% brilliant teachers at the maximum salary set (Whatever that is?) My other issues with it are addressed in my 10:58 post.

    3. I never said it couldn’t happen – obviously it can, because I could walk into school tomorrow with some criteria I thought up in 5 minutes overnight and judge all teachers with it. But that wouldn’t necessarily make it fair, just because it could be done. Again, please read the 10:58 post for specific concerns about this.

    Remember, I would actually prefer to work in a totally privatised education system, where performance pay could actually work. But just as you see teacher quality as being more important than class size (true, but class size is still important), I see fixing our atrociously bad curriculum as even more important than offering me more money – for student performance, that is.

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