New York charter schools

October 23rd, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Eva Moskowitz at the WSJ reports:

New York City recently released official progress reports for the city’s 1,230 schools, including measures of how each school compares with other schools that have similar students. The reports provide yet more proof that –which outperformed traditional public schools by a wide margin–are working. Eight of the top 11 elementary and middle schools by student performance are charters, and four of those charters are in Harlem.

What might be most notable about the city’s findings, however, is that Harlem’s experiment with school choice has improved educational outcomes not just for the select few (some 10,500 currently) who win lotteries to attend charter schools. Although critics claim that charter schools succeed at the expense of district-run schools–because, the argument goes, charters “cherry pick” students, leaving behind those who are hardest to educate–Harlem’s results prove otherwise.

Of New York City’s 32 school districts, three serve students in Harlem. Suppose we treat all of Harlem’s charter and district schools as a single district (while separating out the Upper West Side, which shares a district with Harlem). In 2006, the third-graders in this Harlem district were near the bottom of the citywide heap–28th in math and 26th in English. Today, this overall group of Harlem students ranks 16th in math and 18th in English.

This is what the so called caring left are fighting tooth and nail. Their hatred of private sector involvement blinds them to the gains for disadvantaged students that have been achieved with some charter schools.

If it can work in Harlem, it can work in deprived areas of New Zealand.

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49 Responses to “New York charter schools”

  1. lastmanstanding (1,300 comments) says:

    The teachers unions and the Lefties are shit scared of charter schools because they will expose their determination to keep poor teachers in jobs regardless of the damage they cause.
    Alas after four decades of poor teaching standards we now have some teachers who struggle to master reading writing and maths. They are now attempting to teach and failing.
    Proof is the appalling standards of some Gen X and Y who cant read write or add up to save themselves.

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  2. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    The left hate kids….thats the bare bones of it.

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  3. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    I don’t know how many times people have told you this now, but NZ public schools already are charter schools by US standards – we don’t have any “traditional public schools” in the US mould. And yes, it did work in deprived areas of NZ.

    [DPF: Nonsense. Provide some proof for your assertion]

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  4. tom hunter (5,081 comments) says:

    I appreciate the fact-based approach to this matter, but as is usually the case with centre-right politicians and political activists, there’s no philosophical argument to go with the pragmatic one – and in this case you need to have that philosophical argument and you need to win it.

    And that argument is that profits do have a place in education. I guarantee you that when all else is lost the left will pull that emotive argument, and it will work to a degree it does not in the USA. Sadly it’s a part of the NZ makeup that we think profits are immoral in things like education and healthcare, and the left will appeal to that.

    It’s quite a paradox when you realise how many other things in life we rely depend on profit. Just look at the following three emotive arguments:
    “We’re making a profit from teaching uneducated children
    “We’re making a profit from healing sick people”
    “We’re making a profit from feeding hungry people

    The first two statements carry an emotional punch in NZ – but the third one does not. In fact we’re well aware that every layer of the food industry makes a profit – and yet we have greater quantities of better quality food at lower prices than ever before in history. Outside of a few old communists nobody suggests we should have the State collectivise farm and food production, because we’ve seen what happens to countries that do; the very opposite of what was claimed would happen when the evil motive of profit was removed: food shortages and limited types of poor quality food at best, famines at worst.

    Without exception the “centre-left” will say that they support the system of private enterprise – albeit with lots of regulations and other government intervention. But in screaming about the horrors of having profit in the education and healthcare sectors they’re actually saying that the system that delivers in all other aspects of our lives, can’t deliver in those.

    At a minimum that should be a debatable notion and unless you have and win (or at least draw) that debate I fear that things like charter schools will simply be crushed, irrespective of their practical success, when a Green-Labour government comes to power.

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  5. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    Jesus christ people, it is not the schools, it is the parents one has to change, think little jonny will get any help at home with his Algebra when his parents cannot even spell the bloody word.
    I have no problems with people making a profit out of schools, but are charter schools what is needed or do we need to get the kids out their shit environment.

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  6. Rightandleft (670 comments) says:

    Thanks to Tommorow’s Schools, which I support, NZ already is a charter school system. We don’t have the kind of strict, no choice whatsoever, school zones NYC has, we don’t have the centralised, strictly bureaucratic school system the US has. Our schools are already allowed to be religious, special character, single-sex and to compete with each other. We can already accept students living far outside the zone. Every NZ school already has a charter! We’re already run by parent boards of trustees and required to be accountable to a local community. These newly proposed “charter” schools don’t seem to offer any new innovations beyond what we already have. All they seem to do is allow bulk funding and teacher performance pay (something which could be coming to normal public schools anyway), so I don’t see what the point is beyond breaking the teacher and principal unions and scoring political points.

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  7. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    Well said Hori……

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  8. JeffW (327 comments) says:

    Charter schools could also work in non-deprived areas of NZ.

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  9. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    …so I don’t see what the point is…

    Then you dont see what the problem is as well, I presume.

    Unless you want to defend the contribution of Unions (and by implication, the historical performance) to creating optimal education outcomes for all students. Good luck with that.

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  10. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Since WWII the welfare system (including education) changed from providing services to providing jobs. Until that is addressed, everything else is just tinkering.

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  11. David Garrett (7,533 comments) says:

    Grumpy: Except no government will now EVER have the balls to get deprived kids “out of their shit environment”…in fact the policy is exactly the opposite: the whanau is the best place for them, even if the whanau is a branch of the Mongies, and dad is the local chapter head.

    But here’s an amusing aspect of all this debate…some Maori group is now seeking an apology – along with compensation of course – for penalising kohanga reo for not having properly qualified ECE teachers…apparently it is racist in the extreme to require someone who is employed for his or her knowledge of te reo and tikanga to also be a registered teacher. We should recognise their unique life skills, and not force them to comply with a “western model”. A grovelling apology and compo is required.

    Why then the fuss about teachers in charter schools not necessarily having to be registered – a retired professor of physics for example, who wants to give something back? Outrage! We cant have unqalified teachers in front of our children! Disgraceful! Another insult to the poor….

    Some leftie will no doubt be able to explain why the difference in attitude ….

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  12. Ross12 (1,454 comments) says:

    The activists , unions , MSM etc have clouded or confused this whole issue. Back to basics –it started as saying we have the bottom 20% of pupils not acheiving for whatever reason and it has been like this for sometime. So the current setup does not seem to work for this group of kids. Lets TRIAL something else. Lets trial a couple of schools in low decile areas based on the charter school concept and see if we can make a difference.
    That is what this all about. Everything else is a side issue and politics.

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  13. tom hunter (5,081 comments) says:

    I have no problems with people making a profit out of schools, but are charter schools what is needed or do we need to get the kids out their shit environment.

    You and I have had this debate before GOH. I seem to recall saying that although I sympathise entirely with that attitude it would have to be Maori like you who did rather than white boys like moi – lest we have a new Stolen Generation guilt complex.

    But having said that – and as much as I agree with the idea of removing kids from dropkick parents – I just don’t see how you would not end up stuffing people’s civil liberties. Whatever definition was placed on “unfit parents”, you could be sure it would be widened eventually, until perfectly decent parents were being threatened.

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  14. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    State-sanctioned child abduction?

    What happens when, using the powers granted by do-gooders such as yourselves, the State decides that exposure to heavy metal music is a source of great child hardship? Or smoking? Or fatty food consumption.

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  15. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Grumpy is right in what he says and its not a Maori issue its an issue of hopeless welfare, drug, alcohol, gambling addicted parents havining kids. Instead of getting them “out of their shit environment” we should be preventing them being born into the environment in the first place.

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  16. Cunningham (846 comments) says:

    grumpyoldhori (2,310) true but school hours can be extended at these schools so they will get more learning time rather then relying on their parents. These children are f***ed at the moment, this is well worth a try. What are the left going to do to help these children? They were in power for 9 years and did jack shit.

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  17. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    Ross12 is spot-on.
    Get a couple of these schools set up in low-decile areas. Pay the teachers in them top dollar. The extra pay would be more than made up for by the eventual drop in crime from kids getting good education, as well as a drop in the number of young eventually going onto benefits.

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  18. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Its pathetic that these plans have to be be marketed to help the bottom 10%. They already get a massive disproportionate amount of resources allocated to them compared to the average student who will eventually have to work and suffer the burden of paying for the welfare state and its “blameless babes”.

    Children with foetal alcohol syndrome, and numerous other parental inflicted “disabilities” get 1 on one teaching, teacher aides assigned to them, counsellors, special education plans, correspondence school…the list goes on.

    While large numbers in the average category get a mediocre eduction which means they will never acheive escape velocity from their suburbs or the country.

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  19. greenjacket (482 comments) says:

    GrumpOldHori wrote: “Jesus christ people, it is not the schools, it is the parents one has to change”
    IIRC Prof Hattie researched student achievement. About 60% came down to factors like parenting, home environment, etc. But about 30% came down to teacher ability.
    So if you want to improve student achievement, you could try to change parenting and home environment, but that is incredibly hard to do. Or you can shift the 30% by improving teacher quality.

    My fear about Charter Schools is that they will work because they will suck the better quality teachers out of State schools, but leave the State schools worse off with the poor performing teachers – and the State schooling system protects dud teachers. Until the government ensures that high performing teachers are identified and rewarded and copied, while the dud teachers are retrained or sacked, then the overall rate of student failure in NZ will not change. And identifying, rewarding and copying high performing teachers is something that the teachers unions will die in the ditch to prevent.

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  20. BeaB (2,144 comments) says:

    You are all missing the point. The unions know what the purpose of schools is. To employ teachers.

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  21. mpledger (425 comments) says:

    No charter school in New Zealand could be like the Harlem School Zone because we don’t have the billionaires to pour money into the school – (Bill Gates etc). The school has “wrap-round” service from birth to college including for parents – health care, after school programmes – basically anything that keeps the kids from interacting with their neighbourhood.

    Geoffrey Canada who runs the schools gets $US1,000,000 a year and is famous for expelling a whole class of students because their scores weren’t good enough.

    If you want to see some analysis of New York Charter schools in comparison to New York public schools than see
    http://garyrubinstein.teachforus.org/2012/03/06/analyzing-released-nyc-value-added-data-part-iii/
    It basically shows that charter schools take in average students and their students get average results (i.e. a little worse in English Language Art and a little better in maths).

    However, if you are interested in what a New York public school is like than go and see “Brooklyn Castle”
    http://www.brooklyncastle.com/
    A “C” school with below average teachers (according to standardised testing) that is continually losing money in budget cuts.

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  22. mpledger (425 comments) says:

    Ross12 said:
    Lets trial a couple of schools in low decile areas based on the charter school concept and see if we can make a difference.

    ~~~~~
    The new laws around charter schools mean that we have to trust that the charter schools work. They are immune to OIA requests and don’t have to do National Standards. They can lie till their blue in the face about their success and noone has the authority to check them.

    And people are allowed to make a profit from the school so that their is an incentive to lie about success.

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  23. mpledger (425 comments) says:

    BeaB (1,355) Says:
    October 23rd, 2012 at 11:49 am

    You are all missing the point. The unions know what the purpose of schools is. To employ teachers.
    ~~~~

    And charter schools are all about people making a profit from schools at the expense of kids.

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  24. Mark (1,489 comments) says:

    So DPF how are we going to determine the success or otherwise of charter schools against comparable decile schools in the state sector?

    If they do not have to participate in the national standards programme is there an objective measure or is it going to be some internal subjective assessment.

    are they going to take all the kids in the areas where they are set up or will they cherry pick.

    Will the badly behaved, poorly performing, esol, ADHD etc. kids be sent to the state schools while the bright and promising get to go to the Charter schools? And then the results used as further tools to beat the shit out of the teaching profession?

    What frustrates the fuck out of me is that this government constantly bags teachers and there is no acknowledgement that they do a good job overall.

    [DPF: As I understand it their charter or partnership agreement with the Government will include clear targets they need to achieve, and they will lose their status if they fail]

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  25. tom hunter (5,081 comments) says:

    And charter schools are all about people making a profit from schools at the expense of kids.

    I’d like to think that was merely your attempt at ridiculing BeaB, but given the previous statement:

    And people are allowed to make a profit from the school so that their is an incentive to lie about success.

    It’s obvious that you are the left-wingers I was talking about in my first comment. Beneath all the patter about how the private sector has it’s place in our society, is your true belief: that profit in education is bad in a way it’s not in food production or most other aspects of our lives.

    But you don’t seem to be able to explain exactly why that should be – aside from profit providing an “incentive to lie about success.” – which begs the question of why public educators don’t have any motive to lie about their success (or lack of). Presumably in your eyes profit is a much more powerful motivator for lying than self-preservation in a public job or an ideological devotion to the collective!

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  26. jgw739 (26 comments) says:

    I have a cheap, simple solution for getting kids to be more attentive in school.
    Bring back the cane.

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  27. mpledger (425 comments) says:

    When the money comes from the taxpayer than schools shouldn’t be run as a profit-making vehicle for individuals. Any profit should go back to the taxpayer.

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  28. KevinH (1,236 comments) says:

    The hidden factor behind the success of high quality charter schools is funding.Underfunded state schools struggle to deliver results whereas well funded charter schools can deliver better results that are linked to their funding models.
    However in the case of Harlem there are mixed views on the success of these schools:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/03/education/new-charter-schools-thrive-in-harlem-but-some-parents-are-feeling-left-out.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

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  29. BeaB (2,144 comments) says:

    mpledger
    Few charter schools will be run to make a profit as the main motive. There’s not much money to be made in running schools which is mainly why we have only 4% of our kids at private schools. They cannot survive without state funding.

    I expect philanthropy and altruism to be greater forces in founding charter schools. But that said, the profit motive is a powerful one and may well be to the benefit rather than the expense of kids as the bottom line is dependent on success. A bit different from primary schools – with barely any accountability at all – just shuffling kids up year by year whether they can read or not.

    And while the schools may be free from state intrusion, there is nothing to stop the students, their parents and even members of the community visiting to see what is going on. It’s very hard to keep a school’s operations secret.

    Why are people like you so scared of giving it a go? Imagine the brighter future for these kids if the charter schools work!

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  30. Rightandleft (670 comments) says:

    I have nothing against people making money from education. I went to a private high school, they made a profit and I left well-educated, so no problem there at all. I have a problem with them making the profit from taxpayer funding. If they’re making a profit they’re either underfunding the kids or overcharging us. I don’t want my tax dollars going to the likes of Destiny Church or some US company. And I think Tuhoe already have enough of my tax dollars thanks.

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  31. Ross12 (1,454 comments) says:

    mpledger @ 11.57

    What I said was that was the original idea –trialling a couple of schools to see they made a difference. They measure success is simple –If parents leave their kids there they will have judged they have been effective for their kid. No one will be forcing parents to send them to the schools.
    If people think it is acceptable to maintain the status quo with about 20% not acheiving then we really have a problem in this country.

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  32. emmess (1,432 comments) says:

    I have a problem with them making the profit from taxpayer funding. If they’re making a profit they’re either underfunding the kids or overcharging us.

    So, do you have a problem with private companies bidding on contracts for building roads or should it all be done by the Ministry of Works?

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  33. Mark (1,489 comments) says:

    [DPF: As I understand it their charter or partnership agreement with the Government will include clear targets they need to achieve, and they will lose their status if they fail]

    Yes but will the information be public disclosed and objectively measured. If it is to be objectively measured what will be the standards they are to be measured against if they are not going to be required to

    1. Teach the National curriculum
    2. Participate in National standards.

    I dont necessarily disagree with the idea of a charter school if it is demonstrably better but this whole process is waffly at best about what the objectives, standards and criteria will be.

    My concern is that this is a distraction more than a genuine strategy for improving the lot of kids at the lower end of the decile tree. If it works, great; but currently the information is poor, the success of these schools overseas is at best mixed and in the mean time we have an underfunded stateschool sector that money is being diverted from to fund this experiment.

    Nor I am not convinced the National government is committed to this. It is a sop to the ACT party for support on confidence and supply. If Banks is rolled at the next election – surely a fairly strong likelihood – is it one of those programmes that will quietly disappear as the government (assuming they retain power) are not particularly committed to it.

    [DPF: My understanding is that all agreements will be public, and reporting against them will be public]

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  34. m@tt (631 comments) says:

    “As I understand it their charter or partnership agreement with the Government will include clear targets ”
    There is a massive difference between clear targets and useful targets.

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  35. tom hunter (5,081 comments) says:

    When the money comes from the taxpayer than schools shouldn’t be run as a profit-making vehicle for individuals. Any profit should go back to the taxpayer.

    Emmess has already made the point but just to reinforce it a bit further – especially in terms of the improvements that profit can bring, rather than just a maintenance aspect – there’s this story out of the USA.

    In the 1920’s the US government needed to deliver mail by air around the country. Rather than getting the USPS to own planes, pilots and all the infrastructure involved, they placed contracts with various airline companies. The result was that the USPS got mail delivered where they wanted for the price they wanted, while at the same time helping the civil air industry develop.

    And this process is actually being repeated right now – in NASA. When the Shuttles were retired NASA started building a brand-new rocket and spacecraft system, just as they always had done before. After seven years the whole thing was far behind schedule and way over it’s already expensive budget. Obama took the advice of a special committee and scrapped it. Instead he picked up a Bush-era program called COTS (Commercial Orbital Transportation Services) and used it to get private sector companies making fix-bids for contracts to supply the ISS.

    One of the two who have won contracts to date is an outfit called SpaceX – and to get the contract they had to build their own rocket and spacecraft. NASA ran their design/cost models across the plans and told them how much it would cost. Space X thanked them, and then went on to build the whole thing for about ten times less money – while still making a profit. It all sounds like magic to a left-winger – that’s impossible – but it happens all the time. SpaceX’s second Dragon spacecraft is currently docked with the ISS and in 2015 they’ll likely start flying astronauts as well.

    Amazingly it’s the Obama administration that’s doing this. It’s a pity they don’t think they can get the same improvements in other areas of government – like healthcare and education – but like you, they probably object to the idea of making a tax-payer profit from the sick and uneducated.

    If the government has an objective (educating kids, supplying the ISS) then it’s perfectly sensible to use private-sector groups that can make profits from the tax-payer – the only thing that should count (if one is not an ideologue) is the results.

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  36. Rightandleft (670 comments) says:

    The issue then is whether you think the issue is that the current system is being inefficient and the private sector could deliver better results for less money. My position is the system is badly underfunded as it is. How many newspaper stories are there about the fees parents are forced to “donate” to fund their supposedly free public schools. Then there are the activity fees, the course fees, the sports fees etc. The only way I can see a company making a profit on matching funding to the public sector is by charging higher course/activity fees to parents or lowering labour costs by paying some teachers or support staff less (while perhaps paying just a few much higher rates in a performance system).

    The other question is still about whether our current system needs reform and if so what kind of reform. First of all the 20% number is not real. Whenever it is quoted people link it to different measures, Level 2 NCEA, literacy, PISA testing etc. In fact the pass rates for all levels of NCEA have been consistently rising for the past decade and are far above the pass rates of the pre-NCEA days. The MOE says that moderation results for NCEA have also improved, so it isn’t just a case of teachers passing more kids who should be failing.

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  37. MT_Tinman (3,256 comments) says:

    mpledger (367) Says:
    October 23rd, 2012 at 12:44 pm
    When the money comes from the taxpayer than schools shouldn’t be run as a profit-making vehicle for individuals. Any profit should go back to the taxpayer.

    I completely agree.

    100%!

    Will you explain to the teachers that they must now work for subsistance wages?

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  38. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    [DPF: Nonsense. Provide some proof for your assertion]

    You’re kidding, right? US public schools are centrally administered by the state, have no control over what they teach and how, and anyone wanting to send their child to a public school must send them to the school they’re zoned for. Those are the factors that make the essential difference between public and charter schools in the States. In this country, schools operate under charters, are administered by local boards of trustees, have significant control over what they teach and how, and are free to accept out-of-zone pupils. They’re more like US charter schools than US public schools.

    [DPF: Again nonsense. NZ public schools do not have charters which define them, do not control their own funding, can not accept out of zone pupils unless all in zone are accepted. You’re just making this crap up]]

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  39. rg (214 comments) says:

    Good to see a National Party blogger talking up ACT Party policy. We need more ACT Party policies to be implemented.

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  40. RightNow (6,995 comments) says:

    BeaB (1,357) Says:
    October 23rd, 2012 at 11:49 am
    You are all missing the point. The unions know what the purpose of schools is. To employ teachers.

    Bingo, we have a winner.

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  41. David Garrett (7,533 comments) says:

    So…the thick end of eight hours later, and no-one cares to explain why unregistered untrained teachers are just peachy at kohanga reo by virtue of their special knowledge and abilities, but people who fit that same description mustn’t be allowed anywhere near children at charther schools…

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  42. nasska (11,796 comments) says:

    David Garrett

    The noise you hear is the socialists’ guts knotting as they try to devise an answer to your question without making absolute cocks of themselves.

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  43. Rightandleft (670 comments) says:

    David,

    Personally I absolutely agree that unregistered, untrained teachers have no place anywhere near the kohanga reo. Special cultural knowledge is no excuse and if it weren’t for the way PC has gone mad in this country this would have been called out as bullshit long ago. Some of the employment practises in those Maori immersion schools are shocking. The unregistered teachers should be immediately removed until they get proper training and there should be absolutely no apology.

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  44. David Garrett (7,533 comments) says:

    Rightie: Actually, I respectfully disagree….as I am sure is obvious, the point I am making is that “culturally safe” untrained teachers albeit with special skills are fine in one environment, but an abomnation in another, and this is yet another complete double standard in our ever more PC left dominated world.

    To be clear, I think there is a place for truly special natural teachers in both learning environments. But it’s both or neither.

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  45. Rightandleft (670 comments) says:

    And I also feel it is a both or neither choice, except clearly what I advocate is neither. There is no place for untrained doctors in a hospital or untrained plumbers on job sites and there is no place for untrained people being entrusted to educating children. We shouldn’t be making exceptions based on ‘cultural’ knowledge. I’m also quite surprised so many on the right are happy to hand over more tax money to Tuhoe to let them run their own sovereign school system using who knows what curriculum under this ‘partnership’ model.

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  46. David Garrett (7,533 comments) says:

    Rightie: I am not all sure most taxpayers are “happy” for Tuhoe to get given money for any purpose! But since we seem to have adopted a policy of appeasement with regard to all things Maori, this is at least consistent with that policy…of course there will never be enough money which will provide the excuse when these schools turn out first class bone carvers who are illiterate in English and can’t add up….

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  47. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    And that argument is that profits do have a place in education

    That’s not an argument, much less a philosophical argument. It’s just an assertion.

    You lot can’t see how you’re being had. Education reform can’t carry the political weight it is being asked to bear. They’ve got you hooting and hollering and making plans that will serve only to keep you occupied in argument and distracted.

    Arguing about education is a middle class sport. Nothing else.

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  48. tom hunter (5,081 comments) says:

    That’s not an argument, much less a philosophical argument. It’s just an assertion.

    I put quite a few reasons around it that explained how profit works in most other areas of our life and that there is therefore no logical reason why profit would not work in education. That makes it an argument.

    It would be even better were there a counter-argument – one where somebody demonstrates that education has some quality to it that is so different that profit cannot work the same “magic” it has with food, airmail, supplying the ISS, and just about everything else in our lives.

    But so far I’ve seen none – which makes your statement above …. just an assertion!

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  49. kiwigunner (230 comments) says:

    [DPF: My understanding is that all agreements will be public, and reporting against them will be public]

    Your understanding is wrong. They will report to the Ministry alone and are not subject to OIA requests so will not even report to the press (I know I know).

    I wonder about this. If schools are compelled to provide information, as they are, including achievement data, and financial data presumably because they are funded by the state and Charter Schools are funded by the state why the difference? If National Standards are necessary for State schools why not for State funded schools?

    These conflicts and confusions are what make many folk believe Parata and co haven’t a clue what they are doing past an ideological desire to privitise eduaction which has not led to better results anywhere in the world than are already achieved here at far less cost..

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