Initially it was going to fund charter schools – or “partnership schools” as it prefers – only in disadvantaged areas of South Auckland and Christchurch. But when applications were invited and evaluated, Education Minister Hekia Parata was sufficiently impressed to widen the pilot. This week, she and Act leader John Banks announced five applications had been accepted for schools in Northland and Albany as well as in South Auckland.
It is no surprise that three of the five are Maori initiatives, one in Whangarei proposed by the He Puna Marama Charitable Trust, one in Whangaruru by the Nga Parirau Matauranga Trust and one from the Rise Up Trust in Mangere.
Charter schools in the United States have attracted most interest from minorities who feel mainstream education is failing them.
And in some states like New Orleans and DC, they have had a significant positive impact.
The schools will be obliged to teach the national curriculum which, thanks largely to Labour governments, is not very prescriptive about what is taught. They will want qualified teachers and the information they must supply for their state funding will surely be available. Labour’s and the unions’ real objection to charter schools is one of principle and power.
Equality in education, they believe, requires not only state funding but state management of schools, as well as state control of teacher training and, not least from the union’s point of view, national bargaining over teachers’ pay and terms of employment. Even in the US, teachers’ unions still fiercely oppose charter schools.
For much the same reasons – their grip on power is loosened.
As in the US, charter schools’ futures will depend on their educational ideas producing the desired results. These schools are just an extension of the idea that diversity is healthy, choice is fair and an element of competition never did a public service much harm. This can now be put to the test.
These schools will be under intense scrutiny for their use of public money. If they work, even for a small number of students, that money will have been well spent.
Yep. We should judge them on their results. They can get closed down (unlike a public school) if they fail to perform.