A charter school

June 23rd, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

John Roughan writes in the NZ Herald:

 A small Remuera private school points the way for innovative teaching in low-decile areas too

This week I saw a charter school. Mt Hobson Middle School is in Remuera where plenty of parents can afford its $12,000 annual fee and $900 of sundry charges, but it wants to offer the same education to kids in West Auckland. …

Ten years ago he and wife Karen sold their house to set up this private school for what he calls project-based learning.

As best as I could understand it, they teach all the subjects in New Zealand’s required curriculum through 32 projects, such as plants, animals, architecture, great books, a foreign language …

Under those themes each class has visiting speakers and gets out a great deal to see the knowledge in real life. 

I’m not qualified to judge the merits of this. I can see how geometry might be taught through architecture but maths in plants escapes me.

Then again, it doesn’t sound very different from methods outlined in national curriculum documents these days.

Poole says it is not very different but reckons that under state control he couldn’t do what he is doing. Something to do with “structures” and “inertia”.

Outcomes are more important than structures.

Poole says he does not select the students, “first in, first served”.

He says they have a normal range of ability but almost all do well. He claims a 95 per cent pass rate in Level 1 NCEA when they go on to high schools.

Not too bad.

He had a second school in Parnell for a while and another based on the model has opened at Upper Hutt.

The next, with charter funding, could be in West Auckland. He has approached the Waipareira Trust with a proposal for a joint application under the trial that Act negotiated with National in its coalition agreement.

Poole believes that funding at the level state schools receive ($8500 a child, he thinks) would enable him to do most of what he does for $14,400 in Remuera because overheads in the West would be lower.

So it would be free, not a private school.

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125 Responses to “A charter school”

  1. Harriet (5,200 comments) says:

    Management, ownership and funding are three entirely differant matters.

    And it doesn’t matter if it is schools or power companies but private management always gives better results – be it grades or total taxes paid.

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  2. Nick K (1,259 comments) says:

    Edukashin is not a square peg, square hole thing. Every child is different and has different interests and strengths and weaknesses. Charter Schools is one of the best things we can do for our kids. Yet the Left oppose it.

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  3. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    Or some may oppose charter schools here because there is little convincing evidence of success elsewhere. But, hey, it shouldn’t matter too much. The government is adopting a bold approach of introducing a whole two schools.

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  4. Harriet (5,200 comments) says:

    i agree especially if it’s run by female!!

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  5. JeffW (327 comments) says:

    Agree with Harriet. whom I believe is wondering where your statement “so it would be free not a private school” is coming from. It would be private because it is not operated by the state. It is free because state funding covers its costs. Personally, I think this is the way all schools should operate. State funding but not provision.

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  6. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    mikenmild: and if we were changing our entire school system across without solid NZ-based evidence, that’d be very worrying. But doing a trial so as to see whether results that others have achieved can be replicated in an NZ context seems eminently reasonable. Still the unions and Labour oppose it. Presumably they’re worried it will be successful – as if it were to fail they’d have nothing to worry about.

    As for teaching of maths – I seem to recall that the fibonacci sequence appears in plants, leaves have a parabolic or exponential curve shape, flower petals and sunflower seeds have some sort of mathematical shape that eludes me, viruses (and presumably plants and rabbits) grow in population at an exponential rate, the yield of a field can be calculated mathematically, cross-breeding of plants has a mathematical/logic basis, any kind of statistical analysis of plants is mathematical (I seem to recall doing a project at school where we mapped out a grid of ground and then counted the plants and animals within it).

    So much opportunity to do things that kids find interesting, so hard when you don’t have a competen and motivated teacher. And so little of it requires iPads or low student/teacher ratios – all spending in schools is a trade off.

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  7. krazykiwi (8,040 comments) says:

    We need more Roughans in NZ.

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  8. krazykiwi (8,040 comments) says:

    This is a good e-read on education: Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin. Extract:

    The economy has changed, probably forever.

    School hasn’t.

    School was invented to create a constant stream of compliant factory workers to the growing businesses of the 1900s. It continues to do an excellent job at achieving this goal, but it’s not a goal we need to achieve any longer.

    In this 30,000 word manifesto, I imagine a different set of goals and start (I hope) a discussion about how we can reach them. One thing is certain: if we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’ve been getting.

    Our kids are too important to sacrifice to the status quo.

    With a few notable exceptions (Roughan and others), the education sector in NZ is overweight on complacency towards innovation, and a militant defence of the status quo. 

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  9. krazykiwi (8,040 comments) says:

    Ah fixes to my previous posts … we need more Alwyn Poole’s!

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  10. rg (214 comments) says:

    At least being an ACT Party initiative John Key and his gutless Party will not be able to back down on charter schools when the teachers unions start fighting them. The ACT Party doesn’t back down they stand for their principles

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  11. transmogrifier (523 comments) says:

    Good to see someone trying something out as an alternative to the standard (turgid, woolly, pointless) New Zealand Curriculum.

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  12. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    So it would be free, not a private school.

    A private school is a school in private rather than public ownership, so yes it would be a private school. It would be a publicly-funded private school, which is exactly what’s wrong with the idea.

    At least being an ACT Party initiative John Key and his gutless Party will not be able to back down on charter schools when the teachers unions start fighting them. The ACT Party doesn’t back down they stand for their principles

    You do know the ACT Party now exists in name only, right? Or have you been asleep the last few years?

    Good to see someone trying something out as an alternative to the standard (turgid, woolly, pointless) New Zealand Curriculum.

    Maybe you missed this bit of the post: ” they teach all the subjects in New Zealand’s required curriculum…”

    Charter Schools is one of the best things we can do for our kids. Yet the Left oppose it.

    1. Citation needed.
    2. The left oppose public funding of private ventures. Independent and alternative schools already exist and have been established under both left and right govts.

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  13. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    It would be a publicly-funded private school, which is exactly what’s wrong with the idea.

    Which is exactly what’s wrong with much of the left in NZ today. It’s the fact that it’s private that is the issue, not whether or not it offers a higher quality education more cost effectively.

    It’s like health – it’s evil to make a profit. Except of course the doctors and nurses (they get paid still, right?), the equipment providers, the people who build the hospitals, the specialists, the drug companies and basically everyone in the entire system. But never should a hospital be in private ownership. That’d be a step too far.

    Seriously, if that’s the quality of the argument, then the left have lost already.

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  14. Manolo (14,166 comments) says:

    Well said, PaulL.

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  15. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    But that isn’t the argument is it?

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  16. simonway (387 comments) says:

    Family socioeconomic status is an incredibly important factor in determining how well kids do in school. Rich kids do better on average, while poor kids do worse. How much of those outcomes are because of the fact that the school is full of Remuera kids with parents who can afford to shell out $12k a year?

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  17. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    How much of those outcomes are because of the fact that the school is full of Remuera kids with parents who can afford to shell out $12k a year?

    I wondered how long it would take before the name Remuera wove it’s magical class structure spell.

    Speaking as one who had a child at Mt Hobson I can tell you it was bugger all. They seem to prefer sending their kids to traditional “poncy” schools like Kings. I’ve met quite a few parents from the school over the years and they were from all over Auckland. I recall only a few driving anything other than ordinary cars, and so on and so forth. One friend of ours is as poor as a church mouse but managed to score a scholarship through the school to cover some of the costs for her son.

    As to the kids themselves, it’s all sorts, but basically kids who have had a tough time of it at other schools, both public and private. That means they range all the way from ones with learning difficulties caused by dyslexia to ones who are bright but have simply not coped with other teaching approaches.

    So why would such parents send their kids there if paying is such a big ask? That’s really the question that public school fanatics don’t want to know about since the basic answer is that public schools had failed or were failing these kids. This was usually because they were classed as either “dumb” or “gifted” (a grossly incorrect label that should be dropped), and hence not dealt with well by the great grey bureaucracy that focuses on the great objective known as “on average”. In our case we had at child who was at great risk of being lost, which is a not uncommon fate for kids, especially boys, between the ages of 11 and 14 (hence the focus as a “middle school”). That was probably the most common theme among the parents, socioeconomic status aside, there were problems and Mt Hobson was a big part of the solution.

    To put it simply, every kid reacts differently to different schools, so the more choice the better. It would be nice if their fellow citizens were willing to aid that choice, but collectivism’s a master that does not tolerate deviation well. And I say that as a parent with two other kids in public schools.

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  18. SGA (1,252 comments) says:

    Poole says he does not select the students, “first in, first served”.

    Fine… but they are still a very highly selected group of kids – Parents so concerned about their kids’ education that they are willing and able to shell out an extra $12k+ to put them in a school for a year (Poole and DPF must know that, surely). That commitment to your kids’ education is probably reflected in their parents’ encouragement and involvement as well. Poole may well be doing a great job, but this is an incredibly biased sample from which to generalise to the world at large.

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  19. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    Indeed SGA. And given the number of non-believers like you, how lucky we are that the current government decided to do a charter schools trial to give us clear data to sort this out.

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  20. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    Seriously, if that’s the quality of the argument, then the left have lost already.

    Given that you either didn’t read or completely failed to understand the fairly simple statement you quoted, it’s hardly surprising your ability to assess the quality of the arguments involved is non-existent.

    I wondered how long it would take before the name Remuera wove it’s magical class structure spell.

    Sigh. It has nothing to do with magical properties of Remuera, it has to do with decile as a factor in school performance. Schools charging 12 Gs a year get the decile factor on steroids. If this school wasn’t performing better than an average public sector school there’d be something seriously, mind-bogglingly wrong with it.

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  21. Falafulu Fisi (2,141 comments) says:

    Poole says it is not very different but reckons that under state control he couldn’t do what he is doing.

    That man says exactly what I’ve been saying in recent years. The state structure of our education system is inflexible. I have no problem with how the system is structured. My problem is with inflexibility. The say the school is run today (and in many decades) is that the student/learner is required to learn A, before getting to B, then to C and then to D and so forth. In mathematics, there are certain situations where a student can by-pass stage previous stages (ie, A, B, C) and go directly to stage D. What I mean here is that higher level stage D does not necessary require the student to understand A, B, C in order for him/her to comprehend D. In such situation, the student’s learning rate is being slowed down or being bogged down in learning unnecessary steps. Since there’s only a limited narrow window in kids learning ability to absorb as much as they can at those young ages, it means that by the time their brain is starting to be hardwired (mid to senior high school), that ability of maximal knowledge aborbance has declined.

    I think tha the structure of the education system is inflexible as not allowing kids/students who want to advance further & faster rather than having to go through certain unnecessary timewasting steps is something that needs to be looked at. I have been coaching kids in recent years as young as 9, 10, 11 to do linear algebra equation (further ahead of what they learn at school), without them having to understand or do useless math stategies such as multiplying 48 by 30. Im my view this is time-wasting. Sure they need to understand of how to do that, but knowing or teaching them the traditional standard algorithm (every parents know how to do that) is enough without having to put kids thru unnecessary timewasting math strategy steps. It wastes their precious time that they could have advanced further and learn faster rathern than wasting time on unnecessary learning steps.

    This issue is addressed in following Youtube video:

    “Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr1qee-bTZI

    I have experieced this when I dealt with a school principal of one of the kids school. She told me not to teach the kids linear algeba (eg: solve for x if 2*x – 1 = 5, answer is x = 6), because it will be damaging to their leaning as they prograssed up higher since they need to know or master how to do math stragety in multiplication first (exactly as described in the video above). Well, students can be taught to solve simple linear algebra equation shown above in my example without them having to udnerstand anything at all about number math stragety. It is wasting kids precious learning time that they could have advanced futher to learn higher level math topics. Instead they get bogged down in learning math number stragety which is not applicable to higher level math learning. If any teacher here disagrees with what I’m saying here, then I challenge you to state clearly here of where number math strategy applies in higher level math? The math number strategy is not applicable at higher level math at all. If a teacher here knows where are they’re veing applied at higher level then I’m keen to be pointed out of where it is being applied. This is purely timewasting topics and the curriculum needs to chopped all those useless timewasting steps.

    This is an advantage for private schools if they can eliminate timewasting topics as I’ve described above, because state schools simply won’t do it. They see those unnecessary steps as somehow a must taught topics for kids without them having to question if they’re of any use at higher level. Well, the fact is, some of those topics are not applicable at higher level at all, so why bother teaching them at school, I wonder.

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  22. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    Is there any particular reason why state schools would adopt less effective teaching methods than private schools?

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  23. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    Psycho Milt, obviously you think there is something I’ve missed. It wasn’t a long sentence, and it blatantly asserted that the problem was that it was a publicly funded private school, not that there was something else wrong. Enlighten me as to how I’ve misinterpreted that?

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  24. Falafulu Fisi (2,141 comments) says:

    Ha I realized my mistake.

    (eg: solve for x if 2*x – 1 = 5, answer is x = 3)

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  25. SGA (1,252 comments) says:

    @PaulL – “non-believer”, that’s silly talk. Skeptic would be more accurate, waiting to be converted perhaps. I’m just pointing out that this particular “evidence” isn’t very convincing.

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  26. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    SGA: nor does it need to be. There’s going to be a trial.

    The reality is that once that trial is complete, we’ll still be where we started. Some people will believe that charter schools cannot and will not work, and therefore should be prevented. Other people will believe that charter schools are brilliant and should be forced on everyone. A bunch of people in the middle will say “hey, if people want to send their kids to charter schools, don’t see why the govt should stop them.” At the moment we’re far out the left end of that spectrum. I’m hoping we’ll get to the middle.

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  27. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Psycho Milt (759) Says:
    June 23rd, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    If this school wasn’t performing better than an average public sector school there’d be something seriously, mind-bogglingly wrong with it

    As I pointed out in the comments section of the Herald, better performance isn’t, in fact, the case, even if you accept uncritically the claim of the Principal.

    He claims a 95% pass rate for NCEA Level 1 when the national average pass rate across all deciles is currently 90%. Considering the pupils at Hobson have parents so interested in the education of their children that they are willing to shell out $13,000 per year extra for their schooling, I don’t find anything outstanding about the pass rate. A better comparison would be with Decile 10 schools but, really, it seems that state schools are well in the same ball park.

    And I wonder how many of these kids leave Hobson, with a 1:12 teacher ratio, and move on to other private schools with similarly smaller class sizes with better funding (thanks to parents) than your bog-standard state school.

    Perhaps a more searching analysis would include Scholarship results to see if the Hobson experience leads to higher long term achievement levels, but, of course, what’s the point as we can never expect evidence to triumph over ideology, can we, DPF?

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  28. dime (10,212 comments) says:

    Fisi – lol your mistake had me questioning everything I know about the universe :p

    Not many angry teachers in his thread..l just wait til school hours on Monday though!

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  29. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    dime

    I saw that Cactus Kate links to FF”s blog – a match made in heaven, I would say. If either of them ended up in court for some reason, an application for the defence of insanity would undoubtedly succeed.

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  30. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    Luc: not sure why I’d respond to you, tried that before. Anyway, the assertion about this school is that it largely takes “troubled” kids who are failing in other schools. If that is true, then in fact it would expect lower NCEA pass rates than average.

    Of course, if you’ve already decided that all private schools are only for nobs, clearly have no value, and are inherently evil, then you wouldn’t be interested in that.

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  31. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    … it has to do with decile as a factor in school performance.

    Never heard of parents borrowing the money? You’d be surprised at those who regard it as a mortgage, with greater rewards. Rather like the working class girl I went to public high school with. She sent all her kids to private school, greatly annoying my dear old Depression/WWII mum. The girl’s aside to me was that, while kids like me who were regarded as “bright” had been given attention, the “thickies” like her had been left to their own devices. She was not going to repeat that performance for her kids, my mother’s faith in state schools aside.

    It looks like you also did not bother reading my comment about the kids, many of whom are challenging to say the least. But since you’re utterly convinced that decile factor is the biggest problem then we will expect to see this school fail in West Auckland.

    Of course if it does not then you might have to ask yourself some hard questions.

    That commitment to your kids’ education is probably reflected in their parents’ encouragement and involvement as well.

    That’s certainly true and it probably is a bigger factor than any other. The business of NCEA Level 1 the school claims is true but not the point. These kids are there because it provided an environment in which they could do well (and some still don’t fit, as is the case everywhere), unlike the schools they had attended, most of which (but not all) were public. The project-based approach is designed to get the kids thinking, so it’s not exactly focused on achieving in NCEA, that’s just a byproduct.

    Again – it’s a matter of providing choice. It would be nice if the collective would be more willing to help more parents make that choice, and it least now, between the Waipareira Trust, the government allowing this to happen, hopefully the people of West Auckland will get to make a choice as well.

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  32. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    PaulL and Tom Hunter, while I don’t entirely accept the picture you paint, my main point in reply would be that if public schools were funded to a 1:12 class ratio, there would be no need for the Hobsons – except to pander to the elite.

    And regardless of the “troubled kids” scenario, the facts are that the single biggest determinant of scholastic success is parents educational achievements and income status, including being able to afford to borrow for their kids schooling, so Hobson, by definition, accepts only kids from the pool most likely to succeed.

    And plenty of “troubled kids” succeed in state schools too, if only you guys would accept such an outstandingly inconvenient fact.

    I have no objection to the existence of Hobson, what I object to is that its existence is somehow a negative commentary on our state schools. Drop that aspect, and we could get really constructive.

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  33. Rightandleft (691 comments) says:

    Once again this argument completely ignores the fact that the entire NZ public system is already a charter school system. Every NZ public school even has a charter. Our public schools have local control in the form of a board of trustees, they can have special character, they can be single-sex or co-ed, they can use different methods of assessment (NCEA, Cambridge or IB are some) and they compete with one another. Some new ones have been set up to test innovative new pedagogy (teaching methods) to show that schools can become something other than their 19th Century purpose. Albany Senior and Omriston High would be unrecognisable to those who attended school in earlier times. The new NZ curriculum was only adopted in 2009 and is a complete re-write from the last one. It is intentionally very loose, very broad, allowing each individual school the freedom, the choice, to teach to their community’s needs.

    Our schools already compete with each other. If they didn’t, why on earth would the NZEI be so concerned with league tables? In the US charter schools were a solution for a school system with zero choice. Kids go to the school their address dictates, that school is run by a school board overseeing the entire city’s schools and their teachers must use a strict curriculum and assessment method approved at the state level. The funding level is highly affected by local property taxes, meaning poor children are trapped into under-funded schools with no way out. That is why they created charter schools as an alternative, to give choice.

    Another reason the US tried charter schools was to give private industry a chance to help with the funding gap. Well once again NZ already has that. There’s already a Mainfreight primary school in South Auckland, Onehunga High gets major business help and Avondale High as nearly Pepsi High not long ago, thanks to its sponsorship by the company. So if we already have a charter system, what exactly is being proposed by ACT?

    We are now hearing these new schools will be subject to ERO review and will have to hire registered, trained teachers. We hear they will have to follow an approved curriculum, we can assume approved by the govt/ERO then. So what exactly makes them different? Well they will be able to have performance pay. But wait, the govt has announced the public sector will soon have performance pay too.

    So that leaves bulk-funding, eliminating the union and its pesky collective bargaining and the ability for a company to run a school for-profit. Now what is the problem with that? It isn’t an ideological aversion to a profit being made from education. I have no problem with private schools existing and making a profit. The problem is that these schools will be barred from charging tuition. They will be 100% funded by our tax dollars. That means that they can get a profit in only two ways. 1. Underfunding the students or 2. overcharging the us, the tax-payers.

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  34. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    It wasn’t a long sentence, and it blatantly asserted that the problem was that it was a publicly funded private school, not that there was something else wrong. Enlighten me as to how I’ve misinterpreted that?

    You misinterpreted it by claiming “It’s the fact that it’s private that is the issue.” That is obviously not the issue at all – the country is littered with excellent private schools and few on the left would dispute their right to exist. If this guy wants to set up a private school in west Auckland as a private venture, good on him. The issue, as clearly stated, is the prospect of the govt directing public funding to private schools. If you think about it real hard, you might figure out why supporters of a public education system might not want to see its funding redirected to private interests.

    Never heard of parents borrowing the money? You’d be surprised at those who regard it as a mortgage, with greater rewards.

    I’m never surprised at the willingness of others to borrow money in order to waste it. The decile effect isn’t simply about how fat your wallet is, it’s also about the attitude of the parents to education and their expectations of their children. Anyone willing to chuck 12 grand at a private school is off the scale for decile effect, regardless of where it came from.

    It looks like you also did not bother reading my comment about the kids, many of whom are challenging to say the least. But since you’re utterly convinced that decile factor is the biggest problem then we will expect to see this school fail in West Auckland.

    Of course if it does not then you might have to ask yourself some hard questions.

    If you think decile isn’t the biggest factor you’ve got a motherfucker of a correlation to explain. The school may well do a good job in west Auckland for all I know – we already have plenty of alternative education schools in the public system and they seem to do alright, there’s no reason to assume this one wouldn’t be just as good. That isn’t the hard question. The hard question is whether the govt should be redirecting money from the public education system into private hands, and the answer to it is no it shouldn’t.

    Once again this argument completely ignores the fact that the entire NZ public system is already a charter school system.

    Yes, but good luck expecting DPF to write a piece about how this is actually all about weakening the public system and knackering the teacher unions.

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  35. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    Decile is a large effect. No doubt about that. But if we think it’s the only effect, then let’s just decide that if your parents aren’t rich you’re fucked. Not happy with that? OK, let’s look at what else matters outside decile.

    1. Teacher quality. Far and away the biggest contributor outside parents. Anything about a charter school that might make them more attractive to an excellent teacher? Any flexibility on pay, on working conditions, on control of their destiny?

    2. Management. The principal, the support staff, the overall framework in which education occurs. Anything about a charter school that might make a difference, as compared to the one size fits all public system?

    3. Variety. Different kids need different things. I know that’s hard to understand for some, but they do. A variety of schools can be useful for a variety of kids. Again, one size fits all doesn’t actually fit all. My parents sent me to a single sex school with a reputation for discipline, as they thought I was lazy (they were right). Again, why not let variety arrive?

    4. Class size. Yes, it does matter. And different schools can have different arrangements. Some schools might get cheaper teachers, provide fewer resources, and focus on driving down class size. That’s OK too.

    The point is that it should be about choice. Asking for the choice to send a kid to a charter school, where it’s costing the government the same for each kids education as any other publicly funded school, is not unreasonable. Saying that nobody can have that choice just because you don’t choose to exercise it, that is where I have a problem.

    Psycho Milt: the problem with your analysis is that you continue to assume that the public sector can do anything that the private sector can do, and of necessity will do it cheaper as it doesn’t make a profit. I’ve worked in government for many years, and I can tell you that every government agency I’ve worked in is doing things far less efficiently than I’ve seen those same things done in private sector organisation. You’re missing the agent affect – what incentive does the public sector have to do things efficiently?

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  36. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    You might want to read Rightandleft’s comment above. We already have charter schools with the flexibility you’re pretending is only possible in a private school. The only difference the govt is proposing is to redirect public funding into private hands.

    Saying that nobody can have that choice just because you don’t choose to exercise it, that is where I have a problem.

    Nobody can have the choice to extract their share of the money spent on public systems and redirect it to private companies of their choice not because I personally don’t think it should happen, but because it wrecks the viability of the public system. Libertarians might perhaps be thrilled at the idea of being able to direct the govt to pay their share of the money that goes to the police, the public health system etc to private entities of their choosing, but it would be a recipe for the destruction of those public systems and only people as deranged as libertarians think that’s a good idea. Same goes for the school system – if you want to go private, knock yourself out. Just don’t expect the taxpayer to fund it.

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  37. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    Yup, my point exactly. It actually doesn’t ruin the viability of the public education system if some people opt out – lots of people do today. But you choose to believe that we need to force people into the public system, otherwise they wouldn’t want to use it.

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  38. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    That means that they can get a profit in only two ways. 1. Underfunding the students or 2. overcharging the us, the tax-payers.

    3. Motivated by the potential for profit, the firm strives to find ways to provide a better service more efficiently.

    It costs the taxpayer the exact same amount, the kids get (at worst) the same level of service, and the company earns a profit. I say at worst, because there is no reason to assume the profit making activity could not be scaled up, meaning there is an incentive to increase student numbers, and that means an incentive to improve service (or find some way to use the power of the State to impede your competition and compel consumers to use only your product. That’s a problem for people advocating a larger and more powerful government, who generally arent charter school advocates.)

    It is possible that you think this well performing firm ought to then charge the government less (the second of your options) but surely you cant be so stupid as to argue that the mechanism of improvement be dismantled due to the benefits arising solely from the mechanism of improvement.

    Which leaves me wondering, why did this obvious method of generating profit not occur to you? I suspect it is an ideological bias on your part, but I could be wrong and the oversight may simply be explained by gross economic ignorance. I mean, what sort of intelligent person would say there are only two ways of doing something, when there are obviously more, including one suggested by their opponents in almost every discussion on the topic?

    The only difference the govt is proposing is to redirect public funding into private hands.

    Public funding is always directed into private hands. A more accurate statement would be “The only difference the govt is proposing is to redirect public funding into private hands one step earlier than it otherwise would.”

    …if you want to go private, knock yourself out. Just don’t expect the taxpayer to fund it.

    Because there is absolutely no benefit to society in your kid being educated. None. What. So. Ever.

    The government funds education because there is a social benefit in doing so. How much is it worth in social benefit? Well, the only proxy we have for that is what is currently being paid; government spending per child. It stands to reason that the social benefit of private education is the same as that for public. So the government should be paying for that part.

    Your argument seems to be that the social benefit of education only exists if the kid is educated in a public school. And that as soon as the kid is out of that system, their education has only private benefits and should be funded privately.

    You need to explain what it is about the education a child gets in a private school that makes it different to the education they would get in a public one. Specifically, why the private education has no social value.

    Without that, it would seem that your argument boils down to, shut up, those rich pricks can afford it.

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  39. Rightandleft (691 comments) says:

    Improved efficiency? I’m baffled as to how you would even quantify that. Are you talking about improved raw test results? Well we don’t know what assessment methods each charter school will even choose, so they may not be comparable to local public schools. And is that even how we should measure success? What about growing the well-rounded child, providing all the extra-curriculars that public schools provide? This isn’t a simple business of turning out more of product x for less cost. Measuring educational outcomes is far more complex than that. In fact, on the subject of measuring success isn’t it odd that the same government pushing National Standards for public schools is also pushing a charter school system free from such requirements?

    As for kids in private schools getting public funding, I too find that very wrong. The government has created a public system because of course we all agree that education is a public good, an investment in the future of the nation. If, however, parents choose to send their child to a private school they should not expect us to dilute the funding to the public schools for their benefit. Those private schools are already charging some outrageous tuitions. Plus they don’t have accountability to the state. If the government has no oversight as to how the money is spent, it shouldn’t be given.

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  40. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    … the kids get (at worst) the same level of service…

    Experience in the US suggests otherwise. There, it turned out that in a proportion of cases the service could actually be worse than the kind of locked-down public system right-wingers like to pretend we have here.

    Public funding is always directed into private hands.

    It would of course have been more accurate for me to write “direct even more public funding into private hands,” given that the govt already subsidise private schools with taxpayers’ money. Same principle applies though.

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  41. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    AND There, it turned out that in a proportion of cases the service could actually be BETTER.

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  42. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    Can’t see the problem with sending kids to a private school if the parents decide the school down the road is full of dopehead’s kids and they want to send their own kids to the private school that outperforms the state run school on every level. Usually this doesn’t happen anyway as local state schools tend to outperform private schools. And property values climb in these areas.
    The private school parent pays far more tuition for their own tuition than the dope head. They also pay for the dope head’s kids through taxes. Your premise seems to be that all people who send their kids to private school should pay through the nose for the sheer ARROGANCE of considering a private school. Such lefties are idiots for not seeing the generosity of the private school parents. Anything to push your fucked up myth that rich people are baaad. The parents are effectively getting a rebate through having part of the funding “subsidized” through taxes the [parent has paid to the government.
    The last thing many parents want is for their kids to get pushed into some kind of state mold. So they go private where the school culture fails or the principal is hopeless. Others just want religious instruction on the curriculum. Why not another option just for kids who fail in the traditional options. Whether they group kids by learning ability – vocational education as per the article for kinesthetic learners or group kids by neighborhood where there is a prevalence of loser parents. The important thing is giving every kid the optimum education for them. It’s irrational to deprive special needs kids of another opportunity because of some warped perception that everyone has to put money in the pot via taxes and have it doled out equally. Some kids and some regions need a greater investment.

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  43. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    ‘Some kids and some regions need a greater investment.’ Something we try to do through decile funding.

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  44. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    So the following actually seem to be the real objections here:

    If you think about it real hard, you might figure out why supporters of a public education system might not want to see its funding redirected to private interests.

    Nobody can have the choice to extract their share of the money spent on public systems and redirect it to private companies of their choice not because I personally don’t think it should happen, but because it wrecks the viability of the public system.

    Libertarians might perhaps be thrilled at the idea of being able to direct the govt to pay their share of the money that goes to the police, the public health system etc to private entities of their choosing, but it would be a recipe for the destruction of those public systems

    Same goes for the school system – if you want to go private, knock yourself out. Just don’t expect the taxpayer to fund it.

    Shorter Milt: we’re saving taxpayers from themselves. Funnily enough we seem to have any number of private companies involved in public transport, with considerable dollops of taxpayer funding, and I’ve not seen any statist complaining that it’s wrecking that particular public institution. In fact I see ever more demands being made on taxpayers to boost the system and few complaints about bus company profits.

    What is really being said here is the inverse of one comment above: Shut up, those rich pricks can afford it. – except it’s Shut up, those poor people have got a public school system and they just need to suck it up. Because, as has been pointed out, these proposed changes don’t affect “rich pricks” at all; they’re already avoiding the public school system. Whereas poor people are the ones whose kids are getting boned by the system – or are the large numbers of unskilled PI and Maori students in the workforce (or more likely not) the fault of private sector employers?

    Giving some standardised amount of money – let’s say $8500 per year or whatever the average state spending per pupil is – to poor parents would mean they’d have more choice about how they teach their kids – but it runs into this sentiment:

    Nobody can have the choice to extract their share of the money spent on public systems

    Which is the usual interesting insight in how leftists view “the money”: it’s not yours really, it belongs to everybody and you just happened to get a decent slice (or not) through an accident of birth or career choice.

    Leaving the philosophical debate aside, giving such sums to poor parents would actually be “extracting” more than “their share” since, by definition, they don’t contribute much to the tax base. So I’m proposing taking money from the rich and middle class and giving it to poor people and thereby enabling them to have more power. You’d think leftists would leap at the idea – but:

    … it wrecks the viability of the public system.

    And the teacher’s unions. Both of which are unarguable good things that must not be threatened by people having real choices (empowered choices) – ever. Arguments involving PISA and all the rest are window dressing for what seems to be the real objective here – the preservation of the public system and the public unions that suck on its teat, backed by an ideological determination that we must all rise or fall together as a collective. The kids are simply collateral damage.

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  45. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    That argument might make more sense if there were significant problems with our current education system, instead of it being world-class and envied by many other countries. I suspect the real objection is that it is largely run by the state – and therefore can’t be much good, no matter what any actual evidence shows.

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  46. Harriet (5,200 comments) says:

    Monique Watson #

    “….The important thing is giving every kid the optimum education for them. It’s irrational to deprive special needs kids of another opportunity because of some warped perception that everyone has to put money in the pot via taxes and have it doled out equally. Some kids and some regions need a greater investment…”

    Parents who play lots of sport and work in regular jobs, opposed to parents who work in say, the sciences, will educate their children at home to differant standards.

    That’s FATE !

    And NO amount of money can make up for that.Scientists for the most part just do not live in South Auckland or Hamner Springs. Kids will always turn into differant adults with differant standards in differant places.Institutions themselves display this.Hospitals as opposed to army or police or tax or education do.

    The government by law has to ‘provide’ an education for every child in NZ because it is ‘compulsary’ for every child to attend school.And government charge this to EVERY taxpayer, young, old, straight, gay, single, and barren !

    There is also the matter where all schools have to at ‘least’ meet the educational ‘standard’ that the government sets.

    Parents who pay taxes, therefor pay for the ‘right to have their child taught to a standard that the government themselves beleives is ‘sufficent” – because they are being charged for that by the state.

    Private schools get only $6000 of government funding to meet that ‘standard’ because that is all that the government believes is needed to fund their own ‘requirement’ that ‘government should be providing an education for every child’.

    At around $12k to educate a state kid -double that of private schools- then one would think that ALL state kids can at least meet the basic standards that the government has set.And that is also what THEIR parents are paying for.

    Or it takes more than $6k of funding to provide a basic education.

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  47. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    Shorter Milt: we’re saving taxpayers from themselves.

    Try: we’re expecting taxpayers’ money collected for the public education system to be spent on the public education system, not dished out to private companies.

    Which is the usual interesting insight in how leftists view “the money”: it’s not yours really, it belongs to everybody…

    Given that “the money” we’re talking about here is the money we pay in taxes, no it’s not yours really and yes it does belong to everybody. If you don’t like that, go find a deserted island to live on and everything you create there will be yours alone.

    Arguments involving PISA and all the rest are window dressing for what seems to be the real objective here – the preservation of the public system and the public unions…

    More accurately phrased as “resisting the pointless destruction of the successful public system and its respective teacher associations in pursuit of an ideological chimera.”

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  48. Rightandleft (691 comments) says:

    Monique,

    Yes some kids do better in alternative education and some parents want their children to have religious instruction/values delivered at school. They already have that choice in the public system. As I pointed out earlier our system is already a charter system with just as much choice as the US charter system. The only difference is that our charter schools still employ union teachers on a collective agreement. So people need to stop arguing about the merits of parent choice or failing local schools. The only argument for charter schools of the type being proposed is: the teacher unions are destroying the school system, eliminate them and bring in bulk funding and everything will be better.

    I have nothing against wealthy parents sending their kids to private schools. I went to a private high school myself and it was unbelievably better than the public alternative. I credit my success on attending that private high school, which promoted good values (it was Jesuit Catholic) and had much stricter discipline and a culture of achievement lacking in the public system. But here’s the thing, I was in the US. I had the choice of only one public school, one ranked in the bottom 5% on the state league tables. I can understand why they started charters in the US, I can understand why we went to Tomorrow’s Schools in NZ back in 1989. But I can’t understand why we want to push this new model of charter school now.

    By the way my school was not a bastion of the wealthy either. The tuition was US$6,000/year but half the kids were on financial aid or work study. It was more a bastion of the middle class. Most of the kids lived in much better suburbs than I did and attended not to escape bad public schools but to get the Catholic values education or the tougher discipline. In NZ these parents could sent their kids to a Rosmini or Carmel College or St. Mary’s etc. and still be tuition free in the state system. So since we already have all the benefits of charters why do we need these new ultra-charters again?

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  49. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    mikenmild: the public education system in NZ is good enough. There is no reason to change it – it’s world class. Therefore any of this trialing new things and allowing of choice should be stopped. The people should know that the gummint has decided that they have enough. Even if what they want doesn’t cost any more they aren’t allowed to have it. Even if their kid happens to be one of the outliers that isn’t well catered for in the public system. Because on average it’s good enough.

    Of course, if you happen to be rich, you can avoid all that. We’ll sneer at you and complain how the rich pricks are buying their kids life opportunities. And even if we could give all the poor kids in NZ that same opportunity we won’t, because a) the gummint says what they have is good enough and the gummint has it’s hands on the money, and b) poor people are too stupid to make good choices on behalf of their kids, they need the gummint to tell them what to do.

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  50. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    .. instead of it being world-class and envied by many other countries.

    Well then mm, you should not have any objection to my proposal, since such a fabulous system will be under no threat.

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  51. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    Improved efficiency? I’m baffled as to how you would even quantify that.

    Really? How to quantify profit baffles you? Out of the hundreds of currencies, jewels and precious metals used as a means of exchange on this planet I choose the New Zealand dollar.

    And is that even how we should measure success?

    How about we just use the method of measuring success that is used in public schools?

    What about growing the well-rounded child, providing all the extra-curriculars that public schools provide?

    Are public schools judged on that basis? And why wouldnt charter schools have extra curricular activities?

    This isn’t a simple business of turning out more of product x for less cost.

    Yes it is, it just depends on the value of x.

    In fact, on the subject of measuring success isn’t it odd that the same government pushing National Standards for public schools is also pushing a charter school system free from such requirements?

    No, not odd.

    What IS odd is that the same people criticising actual attempts to measure success in public schools also criticise charter schools for not being able to achieve the public school standards we havent yet been able to determine.

    What is even odder is that not one of you denialists can put up a decent argument for WHY charter schools will be worse than public schools.

    As for kids in private schools getting public funding, I too find that very wrong.

    And lets see why.

    Reason 1

    The government has created a public system because of course we all agree that education is a public good, an investment in the future of the nation.

    I am pretty sure I said that.

    If, however, parents choose to send their child to a private school they should not expect us to dilute the funding to the public schools for their benefit.

    You have done done exactly what I said Milt did; decided that private education produces only private benefits. Why do you believe that?

    Reason 2

    Those private schools are already charging some outrageous tuitions.

    Holy crap! Your argument DOES boil down to, shut up, those rich pricks can afford it!

    Reason 3

    Plus they don’t have accountability to the state. If the government has no oversight as to how the money is spent, it shouldn’t be given.

    Sure. If private schools take public money then the provider should establish that the money is being well spent.

    You are treating private schools as if there is no mechanism by which they maintain quality.

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  52. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    Try: we’re expecting taxpayers’ money collected for the public education system to be spent on the public education system, not dished out to private companies.

    No. Try: we’re expecting taxpayers’ money collected for the education of children to be spend on education for children, not kept in a government monopoly.

    Or try: we’re expecting taxpayers’ money collected for the public education system to be spent on private individuals (teachers) and privately produced, marketed, and sold goods (teaching materials), not dished out to private companies.

    Huh?

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  53. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    Two anecdotes (yes I know, statistics rule).

    The first concerns the child of a friend who decided, entirely on his own, to attend a flash private school here in Auckland. The parents explained that money would be a problem – so he went off to track down a scholarship, got it, and off he went. Now he hates it!! Given that we had followed the whole saga this came as a bit of shock. I presume he’s simply gutting it out, while paying for the pleasure. Probably a great life lesson re choices and their consequences. And he still has the choice of the local public high school. Choice is good.

    The second concerns a lovely, non-rich, family, who returned from working overseas, eager and ready to put their eldest child into the local state high school. A problem arose when it turned out that the school “couldn’t” place this child in their advanced French classes (or any other language classes) halfway through the year. The child would have to enter the standard language classes, where boredom would rule (the child was reading French novels by this stage). The upshot was that they felt they had no choice but to send this child to one of Auckland’s private high schools, a damned expensive one. The cost means that they’ve had to tell their other children that if they feel they need to attend private school in the future, it’s going to have to be one at a time.

    It would be nice to think that such parents could be allowed to take their proportion of state spending that would have been allocated at the local public school in order to ease the burden of their choice, but clearly that’s anathema to the public school defenders on this thread. In fact – given their left-wing tendencies across a range of issues – I can’t wait to show them Psycho Milt’s attitude toward their choice, to whit:

    I’m never surprised at the willingness of others to borrow money in order to waste it.

    If you want to go private, knock yourself out. Just don’t expect the taxpayer to fund it.

    Shorter Psycho Milt – such people are deluded fools, and just because our successful public system that is world class did not satisfy their precious child’s needs they can go screw themselves – and we’re keeping their tax money too, the ungrateful bastards.

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  54. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    Tom Hunter: everyone’s got an anecdote. However, someone’s particular anecdote isn’t the best means of deciding education policy. Basically, what you and Kimble are suggesting is that well-off people would find it convenient to use the state funding of their kids’ education as a subsidy for private schooling. Well, yes they would, and under that approach everyone would get the education their parents could afford, and right-wingers could feel that in this respect at least the natural order of things was being preserved. Thing is, most people don’t find that a natural order they want to help preserve.

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  55. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    Basically, what you and Kimble are suggesting is that well-off poor people would find it convenient to use the state funding of their kids’ education as a subsidy for private schooling.

    Yes. Yes we would. And I’m quite sure that would very much upset the natural order beloved of left-wingers like you.

    Anyway, thanks for that Psycho, I’ll be sure to pass your message on to the people I know who are sending their kids to private schools. I’m sure they’ll greet the news that they are “well off”, “right-wingers” with the same incredulity that Russian peasants did when they found out they were Kulaks.

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  56. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    PM: I think you’re letting your bitterness come through.

    Yes, everyone has an anecdote. What that tells us is that everyone is different, and therefore potentially we need a lot of choice. Those who want to force everyone into a particular pattern are (to my mind) in the wrong – whether that pattern is public or private. Those who want to allow choice are allowing freedom. Therefore, at present, my judgment is that you are in the wrong. It causes no harm to you to allow others to choose to take the funding for their children’s education to an alternate school. There is no more being spent on their education by taxpayers than there was before, there is no harm done.

    On the question of “the well off”, the simple answer is that the well off can already afford to send their kids to private schools. So if their kids don’t fit in to their local schools, they can move house, or they can go private. The poor do not have that option at present, and charter schools would give them that option.

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  57. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    what you and Kimble are suggesting is that well-off people would find it convenient to use the state funding of their kids’ education as a subsidy for private schooling.

    How about you deal with what I am on record saying, twice, rather than inventing something else?

    If provision of education by the state is justified due to its social benefits, then why do those social benefit disappear when the kid moves to a private school?

    Let me make it simple for you:
    1. Do you believe that education has social benefits?
    2. Do you believe that provides justification for the government to run a public education system?
    3. Do you believe that the social benefit of that system can be proxied by what we pay for it?
    4. What is it that makes the social benefit from education exist for a child receiving a public education, but not exist for a child receiving a private education?
    5. Isnt your argument really just that people who have their kids in private school earn too much sobdont deserve the state contributing to their childs education, despite the social benefit it creates?

    In other words, do you think that people who send their kids to private school should subsidise others education through their taxes as well as paying for the social benefit they create?

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  58. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    I don’t recall suggesting at any point that there’s no social benefit to private schooling (it would be pretty foolish to do so), but it’s irrelevant. Spin it all you like, what you’re peddling is a means for the nice middle class parents to get subsidies for private schooling, leaving the state system to handle the kids whose parents can’t afford to pay above what they already do in taxes. There’s a sizable constituency out there for it, but that doesn’t make it any less repugnant.

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  59. Rightandleft (691 comments) says:

    Kimble,

    I’ll answer your questions.

    1. Yes
    2. Yes
    3. Yes
    4. The purpose of the public system is equity, not equality. It is utilitarian, it is socialist. Through the decile system it openly declares that some students will get more govt help than others, largely based on their income level. It says that some groups (Maori, Pacific Islanders) will get more help than others. If the school is in an area with more wealth it is required to raise funds from within the community and gets less money from the govt. The goal is equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity. Giving money to private schools with parents already capable of providing more per-pupil funding that the best-funded public school is wrong because it does not create more equity. Why should a decile 10 school have to fundraise for basic funds to let teachers photocopy while a private school with better funding than a decile 1 state school gets a top-up? The social good promoted by a public system is a well-educated and capable workforce and informed citizenry for tomorrow. Since private school students already have better funding without state help it does nothing whatsoever to reach that goal by giving some of the public funds to those who opted out.

    5. We decided long ago that we were willing to use tax money to support such a public system. Parents with children in private schools have forfeited their right to that money by leaving the public system, regardless of how wealthy or poor they are. We have no say over how a private school could spend the money provided by our taxes. We can impose National Standards on public schools because they are run on our tax money. We can do no such thing to private schools. The Exclusive Brethren runs a whole network of private schools. How do we know what they are teaching actually creates a social benefit? What if Destiny Church ran a private school. Should our tax money be supporting the teaching of creationism? Of cultism?

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  60. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    Ah well, institutions that won’t reform in any meaningful way tend to get buried sooner or later, as Mr Thrun indicates:

    Yet there is one project he’s happy to talk about. Frustrated that his (and fellow Googler Peter Norvig’s) Stanford artificial intelligence class only reached 200 students, they put up a website offering an online version. They got few takers. Then he mentioned the online course at a conference with 80 attendees and 80 people signed up. On a Friday, he sent an offer to the mailing list of a top AI association. On Saturday morning he had 3,000 sign-ups—by Monday morning, 14,000.

    In the midst of this, there was a slight hitch, Mr. Thrun says. “I had forgotten to tell Stanford about it. There was my authority problem. Stanford said ‘If you give the same exams and the same certificate of completion [as Stanford does], then you are really messing with what certificates really are. People are going to go out with the certificates and ask for admission [at the university] and how do we even know who they really are?’ And I said: I. Don’t. Care.”

    In the end, there were 160,000 people signed up, from every country in the world, he says, except North Korea. Rather than tape boring lectures, the professors asked students to solve problems and then the next course video would discuss solutions. Mr. Thrun broke the rules again. Twenty-three thousand people finished the course. Of his 200 Stanford students, 30 attended lectures and the other 170 took it online. The top 410 performers on exams were online students. The first Stanford student was No. 411.

    Mr. Thrun’s cost was basically $1 per student per class. That’s on the order of 1,000 times less per pupil than for a K-12 or a college education—way more than the rule of thumb in Silicon Valley that you need a 10 times cost advantage to drive change.

    So Mr. Thrun set up a company, Udacity, that joins many other companies attacking the problem of how to deliver the optimal online education. “What I see is democratizing education will change everything,” he says. “I have an unbelievable passion about this. We will reach students that have never been reached. I can give my love of learning to other people. I’ve stumbled into the most amazing Wonderland. I’ve taken the red pill and seen how deep Wonderland is.”

    “But Wonderland is also crazy!” I interrupt.

    “So?”

    Sure, it’s university, but the trend should be clear for all levels of education. As usual it will be the upper deciles who take advantage: pity really, since their kids are not the ones who need it the most. Still, can’t afford to put money into the pockets of poor people to take advantage of things like this in the future – might wreck the public system.

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  61. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    I thought private schools were still obliged to follow the curriculum. Am I missing something? Are we really suggesting that private schools are entirely unregulated? I don’t believe that to be the case.

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  62. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    Parents with children in private schools have forfeited their right to that money by leaving the public system, regardless of how wealthy or poor they are.

    Even if they felt they had no choice but to leave the public system because it was not meeting the needs of their kids. You paid for it – and you’ll like it. Still, it’s good to see the screw you, you abandoned us attitude applied to both rich and poor who betrayed the system. Wreckers.

    The social good promoted by a public system is a well-educated and capable workforce and informed citizenry for tomorrow.

    What was that word John Key uses – “aspirational”? That’s the ticket, except his is only four years old and yet it feels outdated.

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  63. wat dabney (3,840 comments) says:

    Rightandleft,

    What a hideous creed you expound, where children are just disposable pawns to be equalised.

    Truly it’s hard to imagine anything more sickening.

    One good reason why the state should have nothing to do with education beyond a voucher system for private institutions is that it removes the possibility that disgusting people like you can fuck up the lives of countless thousands of others.

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  64. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    I thought private schools were still obliged to follow the curriculum.

    All the ones I’ve ever seen had to. I really don’t know where Rightandleft gets this from. Unless he’s referring to schools following the whole Cambridge deal, but even that’s quite different to some strawman of a school that just sets its own standards. Perhaps a link or two would help?

    The goal is equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity.

    This thread has proven to be a gold mine of traditional leftist thinking. But even by those standards it’s really good to see this put out there.

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  65. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    I don’t recall suggesting at any point that there’s no social benefit to private schooling (it would be pretty foolish to do so), but it’s irrelevant.

    So there is social benefit, and you think that the social benefit of publicly educated kids is fairly paid for by the state, but the social benefit of privately educated kids is some sort of gift to the rest of society. So it DOES come down to, shut up, those rich pricks can afford it.

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  66. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    Rightandleft, your answer to 4 can be shortened to:

    4. The governments funding of the education system is not about the social benefit of an educated populace (which it is only fair that society pay for) but is simply another form of redistribution.

    And your answer to 5 can be shortened to:
    5. I dont really know that much about the private education system in New Zealand. Nor do I know anything about the social benefit of education, thinking as I do that it requires the teaching of evolution. Its something to do with making sure the kids think the right things, and dont follow a religion, or anything, right?

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  67. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    I for one am looking forward to the bold establishment of these two charter schools. How exciting. I can’t wait to see how they deliver; but can’t help but feel that the expectation for them are very high – to do what similar initiatives have failed to do overseas and outperform similar public schools.
    I think this government has some serious thinking to do about education. With its pathetic efforts over charter schools, class sizes, national standards and league tables, I wonder if it will ever wake up and engage with the education sector at all.

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  68. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    And shovel more money into the sector without any idea whether it is money well spent, mm?

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  69. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    Do you really think that any of those initiatives are about spending money more wisely, or that any of them depend on evidence of efficacy?

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  70. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    mikenmild: thought experiment for you.

    Imagine that these schools are set up as a trial, and at the end of that trial the answer is that they cost about the same as the public system to run, and delivered similar results. But, and it’s an important but, some parents want them.

    Would you then say “what the hell, let them go national, they’re not causing any harm”? Or is it going to be “cannot prove the benefits, better keep outlawing them”?

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  71. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    It’s not about outlawing different schools, it’s about whether diverting scarce resources into such experiments is likely to have beneficial results.

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  72. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    PaulL: thought experiment for you.

    Imagine that these schools are set up as a trial, and at the end of that trial the answer is that they triage the students and put the discards back into the state system, resulting in better outcomes for a few parents who would have seen a good outcome anyway, and worse outcomes for a great many more parents whose kids are left in state schools with a higher proportion of troublemakers and lower proportion of funding.

    Would you then say “Yes, this was a shit idea from day one?” Or is it going to be “Hooray! Parental choice wins!”

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  73. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    @ Psycho Milt.
    God, all that caaring about those who don’t fall into the category “nice middle class” parents must get tiring.
    It’s all wasted, If you look around there are plenty of social services and education oportunites these days. And in this day of social media anyone can ram it home to the government and get their story out there.
    And can you please explain why you and your ilk despite the “nice middle class”, like moi? It’s sure as shit a better life experience than being a poor cunt and I know because I’ve experienced both.
    I would disagree that there is a sizable constituency out there for sending kids to private schools because we’d already be on a voucher system if there was. Most New Zealanders love the reverse snobbery of being able to send their kids to their local school.
    I know I did. I realize now that the unions are just as likely as ministers to play parents for dumbfucks, but as long as I get a chance to choose what is best for my kids I’ll weigh up what’s on offer, choose the most practical, IE closest school unless there is a good reason not to. One example might be a bad ERO report in which case that school has got more to worry about than having the best students siphoned off.

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  74. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    PM: in your thought experiment, yes. Parental choice wins. Because otherwise you’re saying that the parents with kids that don’t act up should have their kids get worse life outcomes so as to help drag up the kids who aren’t behaving. And realistically, you’re probably not even improving the outcomes for those misbehaving kids, you’re just dragging up the average by tipping other kids in.

    I’m very upfront about it. Parents should have choice, and if you want to deny them that choice you had better have a damn good reason. Reasons that relate to how pulling their kids down helps other kids are not good enough.

    So care to answer my thought experiment, since I’ve answered yours?

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  75. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    Mikenmild: so now you’re questioning the experiment itself, not the results. OK, so I understand that. But I find it an interesting logic chain:
    1. Some places show good results, some places not good results, from setups like these. (I’d argue that they’re pretty universally good other than when the studies are biased, but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt)
    2. Many people believe that NZ is different and special, and that results from overseas don’t apply here anyway (note that I’m not one of them, but I’m prepared to concede that it’s a reasonable concern)
    3. There is reasonable evidence that NZ has a long tail, so whilst many “average” kids get good results in our education system, and therefore it is well rated internationally, there are still a substantial number of kids that underachieve
    4. There are many of us who think that’s not good enough, and that more can be done, despite our good international rating (I’m hoping you’ll concede this point as being reasonable, although you may not personally agree with it)

    The only way to resolve this would be to do a trial. Your position is that the trial shouldn’t happen because you don’t consider it likely to have beneficial results. You’d presumably concede that other people have an opinion that it is likely to have beneficial results. Arguing that the trial shouldn’t go ahead in that situation seems unreasonable to me.

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  76. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    Firstly, I’m not convinced that there is such a large ‘tail’ of underachievement as is often claimed. Secondly, I’m not convinced that those in such a ‘tail’ are likely to benefit from charters schools. Thirdly, I don’t think that the overseas experience of charter schools provides much confidence that our experience would be better.

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  77. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    And on that basis you’d like to deny a trial? If that’s the case, then let’s just agree to disagree. I firmly believe you’re wrong, and I think I understand your argument sufficiently that further discussion would be pointless.

    Basically you don’t believe it could possibly help, and therefore don’t want a trial.

    I strongly believe that choice in education could help outcomes for many, and wouldn’t reduce outcomes for anyone in any material way. On that basis, I really want to see this trial.

    I don’t see a way to bridge that gap, other than convincing you that there is at least a potential of benefit. I don’t believe you’re going to convince me that there is no potential of benefit, as it’s very hard to prove a negative.

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  78. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    And can you please explain why you and your ilk despite the “nice middle class”, like moi? It’s sure as shit a better life experience than being a poor cunt and I know because I’ve experienced both.

    As have I. It would be foolish for me to despise nice middle class types, being one myself. But the fact is, if parents like me want to send our kids to private school, we can. There’s no need to fuck up the public system to help make it cheaper for us to do it.

    PM: in your thought experiment, yes.

    Of course. Ideology trumps all, especially if it might provide a better outcome for you at everyone else’s expense.

    Parents should have choice, and if you want to deny them that choice you had better have a damn good reason.

    No-one’s denying anyone their choice to send their kids to a private school. But we should deny already well-off people the option of having public expenditure benefit them at the expense of the less well-off – no “damn good reason” required beyond basic human decency.

    The only way to resolve this would be to do a trial.

    Well, that or the enthusiasts for redirecting public funding to the private sector could put up some evidence that it would not only not fuck up the basis of our existing success, but also add additional success. But I guess we can give up on that idea.

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  79. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    So PM, if we have somebody who currently has a child in a public school, where the govt is paying say $12K per annum to educate that child. They’d like to send that child to a private school, but they don’t have $12K just hanging around. So they’re stuck.

    Now, if they take that child to the private school, then the public system no longer needs the $12K, it’s no longer educating that child. So there isn’t any actual problem with them having the $12K to go to a private school – it’s not “at the expense of the less well off.”

    The only time the public system would run into trouble is if a large proportion of the parents decided to take their kids out of it. And I’d be saying that if we gave parents choice, and most of them chose to leave the public sector, then denying them that choice is criminal. But that’s the only situation where your logic makes sense.

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  80. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    PaulL
    That argument would rely on the average cost oif education in a state school to be the same as at a private school. But it isn’t, even with the taxpayer subsidising private schools.

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  81. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    I’m willing to bet that if you think about it hard enough, you’ll be able to figure out how setting up a system in which private schools cream off the better-performing kids and leave the public system to handle the kids at the bottom end of all the stats, will result in some already well-off parents doing really well out of it at the expense of worse schooling for those at the bottom – I’m an optimist by nature.

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  82. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    There’s a good discussion of charter schools here:
    http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/1204/EPRG_Charter_Schools_for_New_Zealand_report.pdf

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  83. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    PM woudnt that be a good outcome? If all you are left with in the public school system are worse-performing kids, then you can use the stats (such as they are) to argue for additional funding to help the disadvantaged.

    Isnt that what National wants to do anyway? Identify the kids getting the worse education and make them better off?

    If you are worried about low quality teachers being left behind in the worse schools, then wouldnt it be great to be able to identify how bad they are and remove them from the industry. Who would oppose something like that?

    Instead we have the exact same people saying no to charter schools as who are saying no to national standards, as are saying no to performance based pay for teachers.

    So no to competition, no to transparent markets and no to market prices.

    If I wasnt so optimistic I would assume they are putting their ideology ahead of achieving positive education outcomes for kids.

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  84. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    ‘Isnt that what National wants to do anyway? Identify the kids getting the worse education and make them better off?’
    If that were the case one would expect initiatives that were more likely to achieve those objectives.

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  85. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    So another no for national standards, performance based pay, and real choice for parents.

    Another big hell yes for a government monopoly and teachers union support scheme.

    Didnt expect much more from you MM.

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  86. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    Yes. What National actually wants to do is help its voters into private schools at the taxpayers’ expense and break the teacher unions, it couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the kids getting the worst education.

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  87. RightNow (7,014 comments) says:

    “What National actually wants to do is help its voters into private schools at the taxpayers’ expense” – perhaps that’s why Labour voters deserted to National in droves.

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  88. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    it couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the kids getting the worst education.

    If you really believe that then you arent adult enough to take seriously in this discussion. You are so blinded by your class hatred that it is unclear YOU actually care about helping kids, as if you are willing to ignore all avenues of improvement that could possibly lead to those rich pricks getting a cent from the government. Screw those kids! We’re talking about the future here!

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  89. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    What National actually wants to do is help its voters …

    National’s that strong in South and West Auckland? They’re a slicker political machine than I’ve given them credit for.

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  90. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    Pm @ 9.49:
    Yes. What National actually wants to do is help its voters into private schools at the taxpayers’ expense and break the teacher unions, it couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the kids getting the worst education

    Paul L’s previous post leaves the taxpayers position largely unchanged:

    PaulL @ 8.22pm
    So PM, if we have somebody who currently has a child in a public school, where the govt is paying say $12K per annum to educate that child. They’d like to send that child to a private school, but they don’t have $12K just hanging around. So they’re stuck.
    Now, if they take that child to the private school, then the public system no longer needs the $12K, it’s no longer educating that child. So there isn’t any actual problem with them having the $12K to go to a private school – it’s not “at the expense of the less well off.”

    And as I pointed out, New Zealanders won’t desert schools in droves because of our love of good local schools. To address the rest of your argument I imagine the government would love to break the teacher unions. However that doesn’t concern us here. The welfare of the unions has nothing to do with quality of teaching. A well paid, well educated teacher is less likely to be a muppet and unions advocate on the behalf of members. However we are concerned here only with the quality of the concept to charter schools to improve educational outcomes.

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  91. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    If you really believe that then you arent adult enough to take seriously in this discussion.

    Whatevs. The party of the farmers, employers and generally better-off is coming up with ways of helping people into private schools at taxpayers’ expense while helpfully weakening union coverage among teachers and tries to pretend it’s all about benefiting the long tail. You can feel free to pretend it’s not bullshit if you like, but don’t expect me to.

    Paul L’s previous post leaves the taxpayers position largely unchanged:

    I’ve explained twice now how it would actually benefit the already well-off at the expense of the public system. Not my fault if you didn’t read it.

    However we are concerned here only with the quality of the concept to charter schools to improve educational outcomes.

    If we had any sense we’d also be concerned with whether the govt’s ill-advised and evidence-free fucking with the existing system is likely to damage the things that are good about it and has us at the top of various rankings. If it’s really that keen on breaking the teacher unions, I want to see up front before it starts industrial action the evidence it has that current success of the system will not be damaged by that action – and that’s before it even gets to trying to make a case for some kind of social benefit arising from the action. In other words, oh yes trying to break the teacher unions is relevant.

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  92. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    Psycho Milt.

    Paul L’s previous post leaves the taxpayers position largely unchanged:

    “I’ve explained twice now how it would actually benefit the already well-off at the expense of the public system. Not my fault if you didn’t read it.”

    Gosh that’s mature, but however: My response:
    You’re assuming that the “well-off” go “oh goody and abandon ship to the nearest private school because at heart we’re all wannabe wankers?
    That’s your assumption about human nature but it does not reflect reality. In my experience approx 5% of parents private school and I can’t imagine why they should be made to feel bad for abandoning their belief that they are giving their kids a superior schooling and more than I would those who have the firm belief that state schools are the way to go. And if it were the case there was a massive outflow from state schools, I believe it would be indicative of a failing school system and even more of an argument for major structural changes.
    The teachers unions were not fans of the Lange administration orchestrated Tomorrows Schools. They are still trying to reverse the ship back to 1989 where parents had less involvement than they do now. So cry me a river about the unions. I’m concerned about the school system 100% as a parent and so would any right minded parent. Not that I don’t wish them the best in their endeavors but I’m not a sop to govt or unions.

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  93. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    No one is trying to turn the clock back. You may wish to debate whether Tomorrow’s Schools actually led to any educational improvements, but that’s kind of an historical debate now.
    The critical issue for the education system is to support the things that we already do so well in terms of curriculum, delivery and assessment. These depend almost entirely on the dedication and professionalism of the teachers.
    We shouldn’t get too diverted by chasing after the fantasies of performance pay, national standards, league tables and charter schools. None of these things show much prospect of improving our already well-performing system.

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  94. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    That’s your assumption about human nature but it does not reflect reality.

    I’d find that easier to believe if there wasn’t such intense parental enthusiasm for school league tables. Staunch rationalism doesn’t appear to be a typical feature of the nation’s parents.

    In my experience approx 5% of parents private school and I can’t imagine why they should be made to feel bad…

    Neither can I – if you find someone doing that, tell them off. My objection is to providing public funding for private schools, not to private schools themselves.

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  95. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    My objection is to providing public funding for private schools, not to private schools themselves.

    I’m not keen on that either; smells like Solyndra.

    That’s why I suggest putting the money directly into the hands of the parents – or should I say, back into the hands of the parents, since it was their money in the first place, before the magical process called taxation converted it into “our” money. In fact I’m being quite socialist about this, since the families I’m thinking of probably never paid that much tax to start with.

    But since you don’t like that idea, do you have any practical suggestions for a poor family that want to get their kid out of a local public school – aside from telling them to suck it up until they’re old enough to enroll them in an adult literacy course – or sending them across town to another public school?

    Oh hang on …

    The party of the farmers, employers and generally better-off is …

    … moving forward into the 21st century and gaining the votes of tens of thousands of working class voters – unlike your ideological side of the fence, which appears to be endlessly replaying Massey’s Cossacks in your head, and so …

    … while helpfully weakening union coverage among teachers and tries to pretend it’s all about benefiting the long tail. You can feel free to pretend it’s not bullshit if you like, but don’t expect me to.

    Alrighty then. So this whole thread was – for you – nothing at all to do with education and everything to do with breaking the teacher’s union. Got it.

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  96. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    …do you have any practical suggestions for a poor family that want to get their kid out of a local public school – aside from telling them to suck it up until they’re old enough to enroll them in an adult literacy course – or sending them across town to another public school?

    I don’t know what advice you could give a family that doesn’t like their kids’ current school aside from (a)suck it up or (b)send them to another school. Home school them, maybe?

    So this whole thread was – for you – nothing at all to do with education and everything to do with breaking the teacher’s union.

    It can be made to look like that if someone selectively quotes only the bit about union-busting, but the duplicity of others isn’t my concern.

    That’s why I suggest putting the money directly into the hands of the parents – or should I say, back into the hands of the parents, since it was their money in the first place, before the magical process called taxation converted it into “our” money.

    Feel free to suggest that. Feel free also to form a libertarian political party to put “taxation is theft” to the voters, and we’ll find out how many share your view. Should a libertarian party be elected to govern, it could even perhaps pass legislation to achieve what you’re after before it splintered into factions of one in pointless disputes over ideological purity – but there’s only so much legislation you can pass in a couple of hours.

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  97. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    So it’s not league tables, national standards, performance pay or charter schools that are desired but vouchers – yet another discredited idea. Do any practical measures to improve education in New Zealand come to mind>

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  98. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    It’s the system you believe in mm, so I think it should be you who comes up with the suggestions for improvement – although I admit that you’re handicapped by your belief that if it ain’t broke, why fix it?. But let me give you a starter for ten – more money.

    Feel free to suggest that.

    I think Bob Jones already did, back in 1984, and was rather successful, not just in terms of the number of votes, but actual ideas that were put into practice. At least one those – tax cuts – seems to have stuck through to recent years, so it would appear to be your side’s call for increasing taxes that constantly falls flat in the polling booth. So – what’s that phrase – feel free to make that argument going forward.

    Feel free also to form a libertarian political party

    Oh please. On numerous issues you’ve shown that you’re not exactly a big government statist yourself. In fact you’ve sometimes sounded like an anarchist. Except when it comes to public education: in that area you’re apparently entirely confident about a public institution’s good intentions and competence, and whenever this issue has come up you sound damned near unhinged compared to your usual good humoured barbs on other issues.

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  99. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    I’d find that easier to believe if there wasn’t such intense parental enthusiasm for school league tables. Staunch rationalism doesn’t appear to be a typical feature of the nation’s parents.

    Which is a good summary of the view of many on the left. Parents are too stupid to choose the school their kids go to, the government knows best. That is and remains the defining difference between the Labour party and the National party. I know that you believe that the National party is all about farmers and the rich, and screwing the poor. But that is a caricature that the left like to use so they can feel good at night. Actually, both parties appear to have similar ends in mind, it’s just that the Labour party appears to have endless faith in the government to fix things, and the National party has endless faith in people to make their own choices.

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  100. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    Well Paul, parents actually do choose schools to which they send their children. The choice may be limited in some areas, but there is usually a choice. On education, I think the National Party typifies, and activiely tries to represent, a quite significant groups of New Zealanders who simply dislike teachers. I think this dislike is quite widespreas and of quite long standing. If manifests itself politically in a reluctance to engage with the professionals involved in education and a desire to overstate education problems and suggest far-fetched soultions.

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  101. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    On education, I think the National Party typifies, and activiely tries to represent, a quite significant groups of New Zealanders who simply dislike teachers.

    Do you recognise any difference between teachers and the teachers union?

    Its an important distinction and you cant begin to understand us if you refuse to recognise it.

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  102. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    Which is a good summary of the view of many on the left. Parents are too stupid to choose the school their kids go to, the government knows best.

    The fact that rationalism can easily come second when your kids are involved doesn’t make you stupid, and the government doesn’t tell you what school to send your kids to in this country, so I’m not sure where you get that idea from.

    On numerous issues you’ve shown that you’re not exactly a big government statist yourself.

    Sure. The govt shouldn’t be telling you what to do without a compelling reason for it. But we pay taxes in order to receive public services, and messing with successful public services on a 100% evidence-free basis doesn’t strike me as a good idea.

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  103. RightNow (7,014 comments) says:

    “messing with successful public services on a 100% evidence-free basis doesn’t strike me as a good idea.”
    Except the evidence clearly tells us that our schools are only 80% successful. I vote for the party that doesn’t accept that is good enough.

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  104. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    I’d like to see a citation for that evidence, RN.
    Kimble – obviously there isa difference betwen the unions and individual teachers. The unions do not have 100% membership, but I think you’ll find that the positions adopted by the NZEI and PPTA are supported by a clear majority of teachers. It they weren’t, those positions would changes.

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  105. RightNow (7,014 comments) says:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/7159927/Writing-on-the-wall-for-illiterate-Kiwis
    “One in five students is leaving school without qualifications. Some struggle so badly they cannot fill out the unemployment benefit form.”
    If you don’t like the source, find one that refutes the claim.

    “Here, Education Minister Hekia Parata is warning we cannot afford to waste another generation – five out of five students must be literate.”
    That’s the right attitude.

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  106. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    I’d like to see a citation for that evidence, RN.

    You already have seen such, when I commented here during the debate over the government backing down on class sizes. But since you and other defenders of our current public system are making such a big deal about it I’ll cut and paste parts of the whole bloody comment again about the products of this “world-class” system:

    An international adult literacy survey five years ago showed minimal improvements over a similar survey a decade earlier.

    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,” Prof Chapman said. [Massey University College of Education Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor James Chapman.]

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

    Which I have also pointed out before – repeatedly – fits quite well with this argument from many moons ago by another commentator here about the PISA results that he dug into:

    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 that’s 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/peasants.

    But you just keep sticking your fingers in your ears and saying la, la, la, I can’t hear you – while demanding citations.

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  107. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    Except the evidence clearly tells us that our schools are only 80% successful.

    20% leave school without qualifications /= schools are only 80% successful. A qualification that 100% of students passed would tell you precisely nothing about how successful the system is.

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

    Now, that does need something doing about it. And the govt should look into doing something about it, rather than plotting how to defeat the teacher unions or pandering to middle class neurosis about whether their kids are in a “good” school or not. They might find teachers even support moves to address the problem, as long as there’s some evidential basis for the plans.

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  108. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    That evidence reveals some issues, possibly. What might be done about those issues is another matter. I wonder which combination of fads we might pick from the menu of shibboleths that appear to be in favour at the moment. Which particular combination of tried and rejected policies would be most effective at targetting the ‘tail’?

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  109. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    Yes, you’re quite right mikenmild. Nothing to see here, no changed needed. Definitely no trials needed, because there’s a risk they might lead to change in future. Basically your recipe is that you don’t want anything done at all, which must logically mean you’re happy with the status quo.

    Unfortunately for you, other people are not, and are prepared to try change.

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  110. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    That evidence reveals some issues …

    Yay!!!!!

    … possibly

    Bugger!

    Yes, you’re quite right mikenmild. Nothing to see here, no changed needed.

    Now be fair PaulL, he did say “possibly”.

    I feel a Downfall moment approaching. Actually you can play a part in it as well, where you get to repeat your awesome line about National having endless faith in people to make their own choices.

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  111. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    That’s not exactly what I’ve said, Paul. If there are problems with our education system, let’s describe them and work on solutions that might have a chance of working. The present approach is to endorse a few fads and implement them in an ad hoc way, deliberately eschewing involvement from education professionals.
    Surely it is incumbent upon those seeking ‘reform’ to make a cogent argument for it.

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  112. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    mikenmild: hard to argue against straw men. I don’t believe the present approach is to “endorse a few fads and implement them in an ad hoc way, deliberately eschewing involvement from education professionals.” Even giving some room for poetic license, you’re a mile away from reality.

    I believe the Swedish education system offers something akin to vouchers, in which public money is used to pay for private education. I believe they do very well in international comparisons. Is there nothing we can learn from them? Are they an abject failure that we wouldn’t want to emulate? I think it is willful ignorance to suggest there is no positive evidence in favour of charter schools nor of vouchers, and that there is no cogent argument for it. More specifically, it is wilful ignorance to suggest that there isn’t sufficient evidence to commission a trial in the NZ situation to see what we could learn here.

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  113. RightNow (7,014 comments) says:

    “The present approach is to endorse a few fads and implement them in an ad hoc way, deliberately eschewing involvement from education professionals.”

    Citation needed. Quotes from Marlene Campbell don’t count.

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  114. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    Kimble – obviously there isa difference betwen the unions and individual teachers. The unions do not have 100% membership, but I think you’ll find that the positions adopted by the NZEI and PPTA are supported by a clear majority of teachers. It they weren’t, those positions would changes.

    So they ARE the same thing in your mind, except for a small group of teachers who arent part of the Union.

    So … you dont see a distinction.

    A single teacher can be a lovely person, they can be selfless and truly care about their students. A teachers union doesnt have any students. The selflessness of the individuals doesn’t roll up into a selfless organisation.

    Think: nun who works in the local resthome vs the Catholic church.

    I am sure the nun would agree with all the tenets of her church, or at least say she did in a group of fellow nuns.

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  115. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    No Kimble – the education sector unions are representative of teachers, so it can be helpful to view the position expressed by these unions as representative of what the vast majority of teachers want.
    RN – feel free to demonstrate the coherence of the present approach.
    PaulL – opinion seems divided on the benfits of the Swedish free schools.

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  116. RightNow (7,014 comments) says:

    Start with this, it’s right thinking:

    • We have an education system that is among the best in the world. It gives our students a platform to compete here at home and internationally. Four out of five kids are successfully getting the qualifications they need from school and we must celebrate their success and the professionals in our system who make that possible every day.

    • But our Government’s education plan is about getting five out of five.

    http://www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?ArticleId=38508

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  117. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    mm, I can recall many actions of my old teachers that put them out but benefited students. So lets see if you can name a single initiative that had the support of the Union that benefited students at the expense of teachers.

    Or maybe you think that everything that benefits teachers must also benefit their students?

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  118. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    RN
    I’d love to hear how what we have seen proposed or implemented so far – national standards, league tables, performance pay and charter schools – is intended to get us to five out of five.
    Kimble
    You might equally futilely wonder whether the unions have prevented teachers from doing things that benefit students. Fortunately, the interests of teachers and students coincide to a very large degree.
    What I’m interested is in why the National Party hates teachers so much that it refuses to engage with them.

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  119. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    Actually RN, I’m glad you provided that link. It shows that apart from small-scale fiddling, National’s education plan is to spend more money. Sensible stuff.

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  120. tom hunter (5,134 comments) says:

    National’s education plan is to spend more money. Sensible stuff

    And mm takes the starter for ten!!!

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  121. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    You wouldn’t guess it from the huffing and puffing, tom, but National’s education plan turns out to be continuing with the status quo.

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  122. RightNow (7,014 comments) says:

    mm, really makes you wonder what all the fuss about trialing a couple of charter schools is about, don’t you think? One would almost think it was ideological.

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  123. PaulL (5,446 comments) says:

    Plus a couple of trials to make the right wingers happy. And you’re trying to take those trials away….

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  124. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    One would almost think it was ideological.

    There’s just no compromising with some totalitarians.

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  125. mikenmild (12,340 comments) says:

    Sure, a couple of trials are relatively harmless. There is a limited amount of damage that can be done before the trial results confirm overseas experience and we get back to things that really matter. The principle is wrong – the initiatives that the government has focused on are quite simply wrong headed.
    The question should be asked, though – seeing the major parts of the government’s ‘education plan’ are about boosting investment in things that are already known to work, why is so much attention being given to these peripheral issues that have little chance of successful implementation and no chance of improving educational achievement?

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