Debate on charter schools

August 14th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A reader writes in:

I am studying at the New Zealand Graduate School of Education in Chirstchurch. As part of out studies we have to research a contemporary social issue in schools. I researched . The first paper I looked at was a 110 page 2012 paper from Massey University. This paper started by saying that it is very difficult to get a clear picture on and their performance because almost all papers are written from an ideological perspective. Well the Massey paper itself was no exception: it was clearly opposed to . But even it couldn’t find data to damn – they will not be the cause of an education apocalypse as some hysterics might claim. But nor would an intellectually honest person be able to look at the data and conclude that they were going to be a panacea. The data is hazy and conclusions tend to fall within a few percentages here and a few percentages there. There is also the problem of comparing apples with apples as what a charter school is varies from country to country and district to disctrict. 

So what is a charter school in New Zealand? Firstly, in New Zealand Charter schools have no more freedom around the curriculum than special character schools (see s 158G of the act). They cannot just invent their own curriculum anymore than other state schools. (In fact schools do come up with their own  curriculum, it just needs to align with the national curriculum). So in that regard, what do they really offer? Second (and this is one thing that really concerns me about charter schools) is that there are no clear criteria for becoming one – it is entirely at the discretion of the current minister (see s 158B). Of course Destiny Church was declined – they’re trying to get this scheme off the ground after all. But in the future who will be approved? It’s not good enough to say that this government wouldn’t approve x or y – what about future governments? Furthermore all this talk about targeting groups of especial need is only talk. Sure the first schools probably will, but there is absolutely nothing in the act requiring this. Thirdly they are bulk-funded, with the consequent discretion around pay and conditions for their employees. A key part of this being that they do not necessarily need to have registered teachers in every class. Now the idea that any educated person can stand up in front of a class and teach is frankly offensive and ridiculuous. Two placements in (both at high-decile schools I might add) and I can tell you that teaching is HARD. Behaviour management is a genuine skill, as is the on-the-go assessment that effective teaching requires, not to mention lesson plans. The attitude that teaching is something you can just do is one that can only be held by those that never have. Fourth charter schools do not have to have an elected board. Now the idea that markets solve all our problems is one that I am pretty scornful of, but here the mechanism seems pretty sound. Charter schools will be very sensitive to their “market”, they will want to keep parents happy. I don’t see this as a major issue.

What are the issues?

Well we need to be vary wary of apparent results. My last supervising teacher told me that the parents who tend to come in to talk about their children are generally the ones that don’t need to. In other words they’re already engaged with their child’s education and consequently the child is generally progressing well. The parents of the students who need support are the ones that need to be asked to come in. Which of these parent types are going to be the ones to engage with their options, do the research and make the considered chioice to attend charter schools? The children who REALLY need to be targeted will not seek the schools out, the children who REALLY need help need us to come to them. There is no official mechanism for selection of students by charter schools in New Zealand (thankfully). (Ironically, special character schools CAN exclude students if their parents do not share their values). But there doesn’t really need to be, the students self-select. So yeah, set a charter school up in an area of high need, and yeah you might get some data to support the project, but have you really gotten to the students who have the real need? Lies, damn lies, and statistics. (I should say that having got a BSc I know that statistics are our best and only way of getting to the truth for many things, but they need to be viewed critically when it comes time to interpret.)

How do we address the tail. Well let’s look at the OECD rankings. Sweden, USA, and Britain all have charter schools and all consistently rank lower than New Zealand. Should we really be emulating them. Out of western nations New Zealand ranks highly consistently. We don’t need to be copying this model. Who ranks the highest does a few simple things. They provide meals, health services and counselling in schools for free. The key thing about this is that both the Left and especially the Right talk about not so much equality, as equal opportunity. Now a five year old who arrives at school hungry, and in poor health does NOT have an equal opportunity to succeed. School is the perfect opportunity to set up equality of opportunity. Now you can talk about the responsibility of the parents all you like, you can say they should do this and should do that till the cow come home. This does absolutely nothing to address the problems faced by a five year old kid. The other thing they do is set an extremely high bar for becoming a teacher in the first place. You have to have a masters degree and something like 10% of applicants are accepted into teacher training. These are just a couple of things. Obviously Finland is richer than us, but they are actually spending an ever-shrinking percentage of their GDP on education.

 Either side of this debate can cherry-pick data about results. Let’s raise the level of the debate. I come to Kiwiblog as someone of the opposite political persuasion to the one that dominates at Kiwiblog. I come to Kiwiblog because I want to make sure my views will hold up to the best arguments the right has to offer, You’re just not doing that on this issue I’m afraid.

I don’t think charter schools are a silver bullet. However I do believe that there are a number of states where charter schools have had a very significant improvement in student outcomes – especially New Orleans and Washington DC.  I think the charter school model in NZ does provide more flexibility than character schools, which if implemented well will make a difference.

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31 Responses to “Debate on charter schools”

  1. Redbaiter (8,022 comments) says:

    Your correspondent is correct in his criticism of the charter school “approval” process as established by National and John Banks. It really offers nothing special and has been perverted by left wing pressure and lack of gumption from Banks and National into a farcical statist operation.

    The only value in establishing Charter schools in their present form is a symbolic public victory over the left.

    The real answer is the complete privatisation of education.

    Public schooling was once a reasonably rational idea but since it has been perverted into a socialist immersion process supporting the power seeking objectives of Progressive politicians, it has become virtually useless as an education facility.

    Charter schools are a step, but in their current format only a very small step. The real solution is complete privatisation.

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  2. SW (235 comments) says:

    RB: what makes you think that the correspondent is a man?

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  3. Redbaiter (8,022 comments) says:

    BTW, as to your writers concerns with “equality of opportunity”, you will not get this from putting your fate in the hands of politicians, or worse any centrally controlled system of government.

    All such attempts are bound to fail and have historically done so. Why people keep preaching centralised government control as the solution to any problem is beyond me.

    If there is ever to be any reality surrounding such a concept as “equality of opportunity” it must be acknowledged that such reality will only be reached by means of inculcating within each child and citizen the idea that they are the masters of their own fate.

    Your correspondent, with his suggestions that “improved” government will provide the required solutions seems to have yet to come to this simple but true realisation.

    Obviously no one has given him the lead on where his thinking should be on this issue, and he merely reflects the statist views that are presently in vogue and perpetuated by the current education system and its believers and disciples.

    IE all we ever need to solve any problem is bigger and better and improved government.

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  4. Redbaiter (8,022 comments) says:

    “RB: what makes you think that the correspondent is a man?”

    Thanks for a really intelligent response. I don’t know what sex the correspondent is and it doesn’t matter. Its the ideas that should be being discussed here. I fully realised the problem that the correspondent could well be a female but I am not bothered with putting alternative pronouns at every point as a solution.

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  5. SW (235 comments) says:

    Fair enough RB, I understand it was off topic. I was simply wondering if I had missed something. Obviously labelling everyone as male is an intelligent solution when faced with the problem of an unknown gender!

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  6. RightNow (6,841 comments) says:

    There’s no substance to this letter at all, only a vague point about self-selection of pupils, and then the usual bit about how hard it is to be a teacher.

    At least some self-awareness comes through at the end:
    “I come to Kiwiblog because I want to make sure my views will hold up to the best arguments the right has to offer”

    You’re just not doing that on this issue I’m afraid.

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  7. Jimmy (16 comments) says:

    The writer raises a valid point about the skills needed to teach, but he or she wrongly assumes that the ability to plan lessons, control behaviour, constantly assess and effectively deliver information can only be taught at university. I was in the army for 10 years, including 4 years as an instructor – where I was taught all of those skills without needing to go to a university dominated by unionists and liberals. I would feel very comfortable going to a high school and being asked to control the kids’ behaviour, teach and assess and anything else expected of a teacher.

    In fact, Michael Gove in the UK (secretary of education) is making exactly this possible – for members of the Armed Forces to transition into teaching seamlessly.

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  8. radvad (703 comments) says:

    How about some incentives to encourage personal responsibility. If we feed kids at school it should be deducted from parents benefits if they receive one, or they be sent an invoice if they are working.

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  9. Bob R (1,357 comments) says:

    ***very significant improvement in student outcomes – especially New Orleans and Washington DC. ***

    As the US teacher blogger Education Realist notes, Charter schools have greater scope to suspend/expel troublemakers:

    “Any public school teachers are nodding vigorously right now, because this is a sore point. Charter schools can suspend, expel, and just make life miserable for any problem students. Public schools can’t. Thus, charter schools, even the ones who don’t deliberately “cream” or “cherry pick”, have far more power to boot misbehaving (or simply high maintenance) students out, back to the public schools, who are legally bound to accept them.

    Then the charter schools and eduformers brag about their wonderful results which aren’t that impressive in the first place and are achieved in no small part by ridding themselves of the low ability/low incentive/high impact students. This nifty little feature is often called “attrition”, which implies that the students leave by choice. Indeed, they often do, since charter schools can also make demands of their students that public schools can’t.”

    http://educationrealist.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/charter-schools-and-suspensions/

    His/her suggestion is to make Charter schools focus on the difficult students:

    “So how do we fulfill our commitment to educate all children while still preventing these kids from doing any harm? First, allow public schools to permanently expel incorrigible students. Here, finally, is a legitimate role for charters: let them take the truly difficult kids, the incorrigibles, the willful destroyers. Let them enforce their behavior requirements or their educational agenda or whatever on kids who have no choice but to comply, because they can’t go back to public school.

    This agenda, of course, will make it extremely difficult to recruit teachers. Charters will no longer be able to beguile high-achieving do-gooders with romantic tales of helping kids who “just need a chance”, who can pretend, for a few years at least, that they are educating the kids who public teachers just didn’t care about. Instead, they’ll need to pay big bucks to teachers willing to be enforcers to a dangerous population. No takers? Off the kids go to the alternative schools, where they can fill out worksheets.

    As for those well-meaning philanthropists who want to give a boutique education to a few select low-income kids, let them start a private school.

    What would such a policy entail? Well, the impossible. We would have to accept that permanently expelled students would be disproportionately black, Hispanic, male, and low-income—but that the students who benefit from this policy would also be disproportionately black, Hispanic, male, and low-income. Then we’d have to accept that this policy would not magically improve academic performance of low-income students, and that charter schools educating the toughest kids would have an even more dismal record of academic achievement. And none of that’s happening, which is why the Education Realist’s opinion is not heavily sought in educational circles, be they eduformer or progressive.

    But consider what this would achieve. Poor kids would be given a secure and welcoming school environment without the requirement of a parent willing to enter a lottery. The kids who routinely destroy that safety and security would still be educated, but in a tougher and more restrictive environment, losing some rights due to their behavior. Knowledge of this dire fate might—just might—make more kids appreciative of the environment they have, and less likely to act out.

    Giving all kids a safe, controlled environment in which they can learn and feel that the larger society cares about them, whether or not their parents do, is no small thing. Couple that with an incentive to behave, because otherwise a much tougher school awaits, and maybe a number of borderline kids will stay and “invest”, as TFA rather tediously puts it.

    So what it comes down to, really, is who determines what kids should be expelled for the good of the majority. Right now, charter schools are making this determination and sending these kids back to the genuinely public schools, who have to take everyone. It’s time to look at giving public schools that determination, and leave charter schools to experiment with the genuinely hard to educate, as opposed to skimming the kids who want to learn. It will scale better, if nothing else.

    http://educationrealist.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/why-charters-skim-and-why-they-should-stop/

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  10. Bob R (1,357 comments) says:

    ***How about some incentives to encourage personal responsibility. If we feed kids at school it should be deducted from parents benefits if they receive one, or they be sent an invoice if they are working.***

    @ radvad,

    I tend to agree although some parents simply lack the future time orientation to plan ahead. To realistically stop the “the tail” growing you need to make contraception a condition of welfare entitlements. Otherwise this group will simply expand. Eric Crampton outlines the case.

    http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.co.nz/2012/08/coercion-everywhere-welfare-edition.html

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  11. unaha-closp (1,140 comments) says:

    Let’s talk about “real need”. Teachers have different real needs from parents & students.

    So yeah, set a charter school up in an area of high need, and yeah you might get some data to support the project, but have you really gotten to the students who have the real need?

    Real need for a school teacher (or teacher trainee) is getting as many of the bottom 10 – 20% up to a passing level as possible. This is pervasively indoctrinated into teachers somewhere, someplace.

    Well we need to be vary wary of apparent results. My last supervising teacher told me that the parents who tend to come in to talk about their children are generally the ones that don’t need to. In other words they’re already engaged with their child’s education and consequently the child is generally progressing well. The parents of the students who need support are the ones that need to be asked to come in. Which of these parent types are going to be the ones to engage with their options, do the research and make the considered choice to attend charter schools? The children who REALLY need to be targeted will not seek the schools out, the children who REALLY need help need us to come to them.

    This pervasive attitude will make you a great teacher who is being highly responsive to the real needs of 10 – 20% of parents/students. The other 80 – 90% aren’t getting going to get their real needs met by you.

    The real needs of parents are to get the best education for their children. For 80 – 90% of parents being informed that your children have no real needs is a bit shit.

    Someday you may have children and consider doing what teachers do to disproportionately large extent – not send your kids to a public school.

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  12. Bob R (1,357 comments) says:

    ***How do we address the tail. Well let’s look at the OECD rankings. Sweden, USA, and Britain all have charter schools and all consistently rank lower than New Zealand. Should we really be emulating them. ***

    This is not a very helpful comparison. For instance, the case of Sweden they make up less than 10% of schools?

    “Voucher funded schools have more satisfied teachers and parents and students. They cost less for taxpayers. They don’t appear to hurt public schools. In addition, they have been improving their test-scores in a period where public schools scores are declining.

    Despite all of this, the Social Democrats blame the crisis of Swedish education on private schools, even though it is the 90% or so of children in public schools who are doing particularly poorly, and even though they present no evidence whatsoever that this long term decline is caused by private schools. If anyone is being blindly “ideological” on this issue, it is the left. This is especially clear with regards to their emotional aversion to and overestimation of profits.

    Having written all this, let me criticize the right.

    This will pain them to learn, but they are putting too much faith in private schools, and too much weight on test scores in evaluating private schools. The sad truth is that test-scores are mostly determined by I.Q and home environment, not by which school you attend.”

    http://super-economy.blogspot.co.nz/2011/03/on-swedish-voucher-system.html

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  13. unaha-closp (1,140 comments) says:

    Charter schools offer the possibility of providing improved education to children who want improved education thus catering to the real needs of parents and children, not teachers.

    Will this help the bottom quintile who have what you define as REAL need? Nope.

    Will it help children in lower socio-economic areas? Yep.

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  14. Nigel Kearney (917 comments) says:

    >Which of these parent types are going to be the ones to engage with their options,
    >do the research and make the considered chioice to attend charter schools?

    This is really the crux of the issue. The left thinks that the general population are clueless and need to be told what to do instead of given choices. If you agree with that then the charter school idea is much less attractive. The right thinks that people are generally rational and will tend to make the best choices for themselves and their family if given the opportunity.

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  15. marcw (238 comments) says:

    “Now a five year old who arrives at school hungry, and in poor health does NOT have an equal opportunity to succeed. School is the perfect opportunity to set up equality of opportunity. Now you can talk about the responsibility of the parents all you like, you can say they should do this and should do that till the cow come home. This does absolutely nothing to address the problems faced by a five year old kid.”

    And may I add, just feeding the 5 year old when they arrive at school will also do absolutely nothing to address the problem.

    - the loser parents will keep on breeding and expecting other people to provide for them
    - the child will still be spending most of their time in a non-caring environment
    - in 10 -15 years, there will be another generation of losers to bludge off the taxpayers.

    Unless every child who arrives at school unfed, or without lunch, or without adequate clothing, or is showing signs of abuse is then comprehensively followed up by social services with the power to impose sanctions if a satisfactory outcome is not achieved, then we are just wasting our time and money. And the child will be no better off, just not so hungry temporarily but the cycle will repeat.

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  16. wf (400 comments) says:

    I thought charter schools were being tried to see if THEY could do something about the ‘tail’.

    IMO, if kids were not allowed to progress out of infant classes until they could read and write sentences and compute basic maths, a lot of problems could be solved.

    Teachers could then focus on what they claim to do better than anyone else.

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  17. Bob R (1,357 comments) says:

    ***The left thinks that the general population are clueless and need to be told what to do instead of given choices. If you agree with that then the charter school idea is much less attractive. The right thinks that people are generally rational and will tend to make the best choices for themselves and their family if given the opportunity.***

    The only problem is that the key to a good school isn’t just the teachers, it is the students. The presence of a significant number of difficult, disruptive students is going to drag down any school. The key to the Charters, as indicated above, is that they have greater scope to skim the most motivated students from the area (in that respect they are probably a good thing as they offer a better opportunity for students in poor neighbourhoods with a higher proportion of troublesome students). You still have the problem of what to do with the worst students.

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  18. Harriet (4,614 comments) says:

    Thomas Sowell on Charter Schools: Are We Serious About Education?

    http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2013/08/13/are-we-serious-about-education-n1662372

    “……Housing an educational disaster in an expensive new building is all too typical of what political incentives produce….” -TS

    “……Other examples could be cited of educators who produced outstanding results for minority students — but faced the wrath of the education establishment, which sees schools as places to provide jobs for teachers, rather than education for students, and which will not tolerate challenges to its politically correct dogmas….” -TS

    “…..Years ago, high school math teacher Jaime Escalante, whose success in teaching Mexican American students was celebrated in the movie Stand and Deliver, was eventually hounded out of Garfield High School in Los Angeles. Yet, while he was there, about one-fourth of all Mexican American students — in the entire country — who passed Advanced Placement Calculus came from that one school….” -TS

    “…..Modern education superficially teaches and stifles the questioning, discussion and analysis that used to be part of a system that produced well-rounded adults prepared to enter working society. All you ever get with lower standards, are even lower standards. It’s like cancer, killing the patient and therefore itself :cool: …….” – [that's from the comments section]

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  19. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,833 comments) says:

    David, your letter writer would do well to learn something of the English language and the construction of a coherent sentence before he goes much further. No wonder he found teaching bright kids to be hard going.

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  20. doggone7 (755 comments) says:

    wf: “I thought charter schools were being tried to see if THEY could do something about the ‘tail’.”

    That was simply the PR. PR, those letters at the beginning of ‘PRivatising schools.’

    One day a Minister of Education, claiming that research is important, might come up with some statistics about the ‘tail’, those unaha-closp says are in bottom quintile. Identifying those who had intensive help from infant classes right through and the impact of that might be part of it. And of course a look at the ones who missed out on individualised help because they were just above the cut-off line and there weren’t enough resources to allocate to them. Some apparently get an inordinate amount of help for little progress, and others, where there might be more chance of success and advancement, miss out on the extra help.

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  21. Redbaiter (8,022 comments) says:

    Adolf-

    Here’s a good read for you.

    The Confused and Misguided Youth.

    Tells it all as it is.

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  22. JC (933 comments) says:

    Here’s the latest massive piece of research on Charters:

    http://economicsnz.blogspot.co.nz/2013/07/when-facts-change-i-change-my-mind-what.html

    With helpful commentary by Donal of the Economics NZ blog.

    Basically charters are evolving and have improved to the point where they are better for particular groups of students.

    We should give them a go.. they can hardly do worse than the 40-70% failure rates of some AK schools.

    JC

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  23. RightNow (6,841 comments) says:

    Bob R:
    “The presence of a significant number of difficult, disruptive students is going to drag down any school.”

    Unless they’re all difficult and disruptive. Then the only way is up. And teachers can treat all the students the same, they won’t have to neglect the students who are eager to learn because there won’t be any. It will be a fantastic opportunity for the fully trained, registered teachers to show how wonderful they are at doing what we pay them to do.

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  24. slijmbal (1,223 comments) says:

    “The sad truth is that test-scores are mostly determined by I.Q and home environment, not by which school you attend.”

    Try going to a UK comprehensive school in Anfield, Liverpool and you will learn that the school matters. An area of very low decile, high violence, crime, drugs, single parent families etc.

    You will literally be bullied and hit by classmates if you do well academically. The teachers have had their ability to discipline children removed and are unable to remove the worst pupils.

    An extreme example, yes, but disproves your point.

    I’ve also meant many a mediocre Oxford grad who got there because of the school they went to. Less due to the Old Boys Club more due to the approach of said schools.

    One driver for charter schools is for parents to be able to get their children in to schools where they are more likely to succeed and one contribution to this is precisely because they are able to remove the pupils who are detrimental to the likely success of others.

    Whilst we should have sympathy for those with crap home life, s***ty parents etc, punishing their contemporaries by sticking them together really is not the smartest way. And yes splitting out the bad from the better and best can be seen to be elitist but putting them together is really the most mediocre way of ensuring the ‘tail’ suffers and the brightest are dragged down to a lower level. Either those who require lots of teacher time get it and the other pupils suffer or they don’t get the right type of focus. The underlying assumption of the current anti-Charter school movement that a broadly one size fits all approach to education is obviously flawed …..

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  25. bc (1,353 comments) says:

    Wow Adolf, smug much?
    I thought the correspondent gave a good summary of the issues, without resorting to unthinking ideology. Well done.

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  26. doggone7 (755 comments) says:

    BOB R; “You still have the problem of what to do with the worst students.”

    As RightNow said, “They won’t have to neglect the students who are eager to learn because there won’t be any. It will be a fantastic opportunity for the fully trained, registered teachers to show how wonderful they are at doing what we pay them to do.”

    In other words there will be real ghetto schools. Don’t fret though, we want our brightest and most capable to take up teaching. You can imagine in St Cuthberts and Kings College, the teachers exhorting their charges to go teaching in the ghetto schools to achieve the good their parents think should be done.
    The clamour from those young people to become fully trained, registered teachers to show how wonderful they are will only be surpassed by the din in their homes of the encouraging and haranguing parents are doing, to get their offspring into the hallowed profession.

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  27. RightNow (6,841 comments) says:

    bc (932) Says:
    “I thought the correspondent gave a good summary of the issues”

    Really? I thought it was vague and waffly. What were the salient points for you?

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  28. OneTrack (2,818 comments) says:

    The correspondent didn’t do too badly to start with, but veered off course in the second to last paragraph, started spinning in the last paragraph and then lost it completely in the last sentence. What a twot.

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  29. SGA (957 comments) says:

    From what I’ve read about charter schools on this blog over the last year, I’ve developed some conflicting feelings about them. On one hand, there’s a lot of talk about charter schools raising the tail of what is, by international standards, a relatively successful education system. On the other hand, those that seem the most organised to take advantage of charter schools are those who want a semi-separatist education – i.e., particular religious or ethnic groups (e.g., christian, jewish, muslim, asian, whatever). The Destiny Church issue made me wonder about this. Is this a real possibility? If so, is this what we want tax payers money to sponsor? Would it healthy for our society?

    I’m not trying to push a particular point of view – I’m just curious about what people think.

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  30. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    A bit late to the party, but just wanted to comment on this part from the OP:

    “A key part of this being that they do not necessarily need to have registered teachers in every class. Now the idea that any educated person can stand up in front of a class and teach is frankly offensive and ridiculuous. Two placements in (both at high-decile schools I might add) and I can tell you that teaching is HARD. Behaviour management is a genuine skill, as is the on-the-go assessment that effective teaching requires, not to mention lesson plans”

    As a high school teacher myself, all I can say is that the OP is correct in that teaching can be hard, and you need to on top of classroom management, but let’s make it clear: the theoretical portion of my teacher’s degree, where I sat in a classroom and learned that all students were like little individual snowflakes and should have individualized learning (oh, except for boys, who apparently all learn in the same way, and Maori, who need to be treated with kid gloves as a group, and teachers, who should all teach and act in the same way), was a complete waste of time in terms of learning that skill.

    I learned the key skills for teaching at my placements, from real teachers in front of real students teaching a real curriculum. Compare someone who has only taught in a classroom for six months, and one who has taught in a classroom for the same length of time as well as had 6 months of “teacher training” in a classroom, and I bet there would be very little difference between the two, except the latter would have a more refined sense of superiority.

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  31. PBJ83 (27 comments) says:

    The original correspondent here. Re. the last post: At NZGSE where I go it’s all about in the field practice. There are four terms a year. In each of these terms we spend about 3 weeks on-campus being taught about the curriculm, a bit of behaviour management and doing some independent academic work, in most of these 3 week blocks we are also doing daily teaching practice in the field in a particular curriculum area. We then spend six or seven weeks on placement in a school. We are expected to do as much as teaching as we can, ideally with a week or two of full control if we can. We have to page into campus to tell them what planned lessons we will be teaching. We have tutors observing lessons all the time. They slip into the class and watch us teach and aftewards we have a coaching session to improve our practice. On my last placement I had about 24 days in which I taught one or more lessons and I was observed by a tutor on something like 20 occassions. We follow this by a grueling one week assessment week in which we “bid”, arguing for our competence in a couple of hundered professional areas, using evidence form our placement portfolio. Then we have a break of a week or two and start again. In other words they completely agree with you, in-the-field practice is the very best way to learn.

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