NY Times on charter schools

October 21st, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The NY Times editorial:

In all the bombast it is worth making two points. First, there’s little question that New York has one of the nation’s most successful charter school systems. A study published earlier this year shows that the typical New York City charter student learned more reading and math in a year than his or her public school peers.

The is one of the most consistently left voices in the US (it has endorsed only Democrat presidential candidates since 1956), so when its editorial boards say NY are sucessful, you can’t claim this to be a right wing view.

The second point is that the next mayor can improve the system, in part by shutting down poorly performing schools, awarding new charters only to groups with proven track records, and smoothing relations between charters and traditional schools by making sure “co-locations” take place only in buildings big enough to house both.

All for shutting down poorly performing charter schools – and poorly performing non-charter schools!

The teachers’ union is never going to fall in love with charter schools because a vast majority of them are not unionized

Hence the opposition.

and they have real financial advantages because their work force is younger and more transient and their payrolls, pensions and medical costs are lower. Many charters plow these savings back into educationhiring social workers, lengthening the school day, or staffing classrooms with more than one teacher as a way of helping disadvantaged children

How awful!

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58 Responses to “NY Times on charter schools”

  1. Kleva Kiwi (290 comments) says:

    But they must be terrible because the Unions are not in control…

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  2. RightNow (7,014 comments) says:

    But I heard a professional educator say charter schools are replacing children with midget actors in order to bolster their statistics so that corporates can make huge profits. Apparently the real children are sold into slavery to make running shoes and smart phones.

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  3. Manolo (14,166 comments) says:

    Ideology for ideologies sake: the alliance of communists Greens and lefty Labour will oppose charter schools for ever and a day.

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  4. Samuel Smith (276 comments) says:

    If charter schools are so successful, why does the U.S have one of the worst performing education systems in the OECD and New Zealand one of the best?

    Will we see New Zealand fall down the OECD PISA ladder with the introduction of charter schools?

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  5. dime (10,212 comments) says:

    Cherry Picking!!!!

    ALL charter schools are useless and evil.

    NZ already has tons of different schools of choice! This is just right wing blah blah blah

    Shows how far left this country really is.

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  6. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (899 comments) says:

    Charter schools are gone by lunch time when Cunliffe-Norman take over in November 2014. All opinion polls point to that now…so all these good news stories are waste of print space…

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  7. RRM (10,099 comments) says:

    If charter schools are so successful, why does the U.S. have one of the worst performing education systems in the OECD and New Zealand one of the best?

    Well the NZ secondary school system appears to have failed to teach you about the fallacy of affirming the consequent; so I wouldn’t sing its praises too highly if I were you ;-)

    The USA is a vast country with pretty much a broken society in many places. It will take more than just Charter Schools to fix the problems they are facing.

    But all the U.S. evidence is pretty clear that [having charter schools] is better than [not having charter schools.]

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  8. Samuel Smith (276 comments) says:

    @Sir Cullen’s Sidekick – Good point. Unless Key scrapes in with some slimy NZ First/Conservatives coalition e.g National 42% + NZ First 5% + Conservatives 3.5% and an electorate seat.

    I see Gove’s taking a hammering in the U.K over failed “Free Schools” aka charter schools.

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  9. Samuel Smith (276 comments) says:

    @RRM. Is the evidence clear? One of the worst performing education systems in the OECD.

    I would have thought having quality public education for all is the sign of a successful system.

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  10. RRM (10,099 comments) says:

    I would have thought having quality public education for all is the sign of a successful system.

    :lol: Two legs baaaaaad…

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  11. RightNow (7,014 comments) says:

    “I would have thought having quality public education for all is the sign of a successful system.”

    A pragmatist would say “having quality education for all is the sign of a successful system.”
    A retard says what you said.

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  12. JeffW (327 comments) says:

    Sam Smith – what does the adjective “public” add to the goal of having quality education for all? Why doesn’t the government focus on funding and standards rather than provision? I suspect 95% or even more of government effort in our system is spent on provision, whereas it should be on the other much more fundamental concerns. Leave the private sector to do all the provision.

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

    The New York Times is one of the most consistently left voices in the US … so when its editorial boards say NY charter schools are sucessful, you can’t claim this to be a right wing view.

    And in the US public school system, which actually is as centralised, inflexible and choice-free as right-wingers like to pretend the NZ system is, the NYT’s view certainly isn’t a right-wing one. It would make more sense for the US to reform its public school system than to set about piecemeal improvements for a tiny proportion of pupils via charter schools, but I guess a sensible approach would be too much to hope for.

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  14. Camryn (481 comments) says:

    SCC – That does not make sense.

    (1) You’re saying that any news article is worthless if it contains an opinion contrary to the policies of a likely government. That means we shouldn’t have any articles on stopping asset sales because it’s against the policy of the current government.

    (2) There’s unlimited “print space” online. Even in newspapers, there’s plenty of space to fill.

    So, I know you’re just trying to get a dig in… it would’ve been a more coherent one if you stopped typing 11 words earlier.

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  15. RRM (10,099 comments) says:

    It would make more sense for the US to reform its public school system than to set about piecemeal improvements for a tiny proportion of pupils via charter schools, but I guess a sensible approach would be too much to hope for.

    Maybe, but why not allow charter schools to contribute whatever they have to offer?

    Let the public sector reform to its hearts content. But that is not a reason to bar the charter schools.

    What you are proposing is like saying “we should never use private builders to build new school classrooms. The Ministry of Works is old, slow and inefficient, but with the right reforms it should get better.”

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  16. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    The US, unlike NZ, is not one unified education system rather it is a patchwork of 10,000’s of individual school districts that govern themselves and are not forced into even a statewide let alone a nationwide curriculum or organizational model. There exists huge variations in quality with some school districts easily the equal of NZ a few even better.

    For the NY Times to publish this article, when they normally unfailingly report the viewpoints of the powerful US teacher unions, is significant. It is because even in left leaning liberal bastions like New York, the benefits of the well run charter schools is impossible to ignore because too many neutral non-agenda driven studies back the contention – that the better run charter schools offer quantifiable benefits especially to low socio-economic groups and neighbourhoods. The NZ teacher unions and their various allies in the media and academia have limited their research to the agenda driven studies showing the negative outcomes of the poorest examples of charter schools completely ignoring the evidence of the success of the properly run ones and assuming that NZ is incapable of learning from the best and avoiding the worst of the experiences in the US, UK and Sweden. I note that Sweden’s education system is highly ranked and yet Swedes see the need for, and the benefits of, charter schools.

    The claim that 5 schools with a combined budget of a single large state high school will single handedly lower NZ’s global ranking is as silly as all the ‘sky falling down’ claims the teachers unions made about Tomorrow Schools, NCEA and National Standards.

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  17. cha (4,138 comments) says:

    It would make more sense for the US to reform its public school system than to set about piecemeal improvements for a tiny proportion of pupils via charter schools, but I guess a sensible approach would be too much to hope for.

    But a sensible approach might help poor people.
    /

    “When you break down the various test scores, you find the high-income kids, high-achievers are holding their own and more,” Rebell said. “It’s when you start getting down to schools with a majority of low-income kids that you get astoundingly low scores. Our real problem regarding educational outcomes is not the U.S. overall, it’s the growing low-income population.”

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  18. Bob R (1,420 comments) says:

    ***Samuel Smith (122) Says:

    @RRM. Is the evidence clear? One of the worst performing education systems in the OECD. ***

    @ Samuel Smith,

    The US education system actually outperforms most Asian and European education systems. Tino Sanandaji reports:

    “Rather than being at the bottom of the class, United States students are 7th best out of 28, and far better than the average of Western European nations where they largely originate from.

    “The mean score of Americans with European ancestry is 524, compared to 506 in Europe, when first and second generation immigrants are excluded. So much for the bigoted notions that Americans are dumb and Europeans are smart. This is also opposed to everything I have been taught about the American public school system.

    For Asian-American students (remember this includes Vietnam, Thailand and other less developed countries outside Northeast Asia), the mean PISA score is 534, same as 533 for the average of Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong. Here we have two biases going in opposite directions: Asians in the U.S are selected. On the other hand we are comparing the richest and best scoring Asian countries with all Americans with origin in South and East Asia.”

    http://super-economy.blogspot.co.nz/2010/12/amazing-truth-about-pisa-scores-usa.html

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  19. seanmaitland (501 comments) says:

    @Samuel Smith – “If charter schools are so successful, why does the U.S have one of the worst performing education systems in the OECD and New Zealand one of the best?”

    Using lame strawman arguments like that is an indictment on your intelligence. Is that really the best excuse you can come up with?

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  20. Bill Courtney (163 comments) says:

    Stay calm and keep reading the truth:
    “New York City’s charter schools are often held up as exemplary, which is the spin that the Bloomberg administration has fed the media for a dozen years. This insider says the spin is wrong:

    http://dianeravitch.net/2013/10/15/what-you-need-to-know-about-new-york-citys-charter-schools/

    http://dianeravitch.net/2013/10/15/the-charter-school-bubble-in-new-york-city/

    David Farrar scans all of the US mainstream media to detect every positive charter school story he can find. But almost all the claims about “miracle schools” and the success of the “reform agenda” can be debunked with very little trouble. It has nothing to do with left or right leaning media.

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  21. seanmaitland (501 comments) says:

    @Bill Courtney – hold on a minute, you just linked to a university lecturer’s blog – how is that in any way relevant?

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  22. Bob R (1,420 comments) says:

    @ Bill Courtney,

    I think charters probably offer some advantage to the more motivated or able students from lower SES groups because the charter schools have greater scope to remove trouble makers.

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  23. scrubone (3,097 comments) says:

    Charter schools are gone by lunch time when Cunliffe-Norman take over in November 2014. All opinion polls point to that now…so all these good news stories are waste of print space…

    Translation: I don’t care about the evidence since the government will change soon and enforce my view of the world.

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  24. scrubone (3,097 comments) says:

    If charter schools are so successful, why does the U.S have one of the worst performing education systems in the OECD and New Zealand one of the best?

    LOLOLOL

    Because, (as we’re constantly told) our system already has most of the features of charter schools!

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  25. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    Bill Courtney
    You, the teacher unions and other opponents of charter schools do exactly the thing you accuse David Farrar of except you scour the literature to find all the studies decrying charter schools ignoring studies that show success.

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  26. doggone7 (846 comments) says:

    Easy to summarise the debate so far:

    “The US, unlike NZ, is not one unified education system rather it is a patchwork of 10,000′s of individual school districts that govern themselves and are not forced into even a statewide let alone a nationwide curriculum or organizational model. There exists huge variations in quality with some school districts easily the equal of NZ a few even better.”

    “:The USA is a vast country with pretty much a broken society in many places. It will take more than just Charter Schools to fix the problems they are facing.”

    So we need to copy from the USA because most everything thing there is excellent, some say how different schooling/society is there, the big story of the day is from the NY Times but when Bill Courtney links into Diane Ravitch he’s told “hold on a minute, you just linked to a university lecturer’s blog – how is that in any way relevant?” So I’m confused what IS relevant? Is Ravitch as relevant as a newspaper editor on educational issues? How relevant is the USA to us?

    Okay, I know the answer and if John Banks weren’t too busy I’d share it with him again. It is: Get all the lowest achievers and put them in Charter Schools because you said that’s what they were for. Then trumpet their success.

    And if it were addressed to Banks directly: Don’t go on radio with Willie Jackson and lie about the success of a group of Maori boys in Whangarei schools, saying they are underachievers and their 100% NCEA success is down to their Charter School. The Charter School hasn’t opened, the boys have attended Whangarei Boys High, Kamo High and Tikipunga High and have been taught by the “scumbag unionist ” teachers. That probably makes it three lies at once which even if it isn’t a record for you, is pretty good.

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  27. Mark (1,502 comments) says:

    I do not give much credence to any of the articles written about charter schools whether they are positive or negative as the debate is so politically motivated that the truth seldom finds the light of day. The only self evident truth seems to be that for every positive spinfest on charter schools there is a matching negative one.

    Given the tiny sampling that NZ will have it will be interesting to see over time whether the charter schools make a difference. It will also be interesting to see the real cost per student put into this programme. Certainly parts of our state education programme are excellent and some are poor so whilst I am not sold on the concept of charter schools being better than state schools I cannot see too much damage being done in giving them a go; if they work great, if not no harm in trying..

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  28. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    doggone7
    “So we need to copy from the USA because most everything thing there is excellent” – I have never made that claim nor have any proponents of charter schools. Even in AZ where I live where charter schools have been established for a while with a myriad of options good and bad, they are still a niche educational option. I live in an excellent school district with one of the high schools being in the top 25 ranked state schools in the whole of the US. That school works awesomely for some and yet some families I know have some of their kids at this school and others at a local well regarded charter school – they are happy with both. It’s horses for courses depending on the needs and personality of the child – but at least the parents here have the choice.

    Mark
    “I cannot see too much damage being done in giving them a go; if they work great, if not no harm in trying..” My sentiment entirely but if we believe the teacher unions, charter schools are a heinous evil that will be the end of the education system as we know it and should be avoided like rabies.

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

    If charter schools are so successful, why does the U.S have one of the worst performing education systems in the OECD and New Zealand one of the best?

    Er, because there are so damn few of them.

    And that, in turn, is because the teachers’s unions, as ever, sacrifice the childrens’ future for their own greed.

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  30. Mobile Michael (473 comments) says:

    Won’t somebody think of the children!

    And everyone, Sir Cullen’s Sidekick’s comment is hilarious, why the downvotes?

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  31. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    In the event that National gets in again in 2014, the charter schools will be motivated like no others to ensure that they succeed. They will have lots of attention focused on them.

    That huge motivation (and the determination to prove the naysayers wrong) will go a long way towards making the schools a success.

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  32. OneTrack (3,350 comments) says:

    It’s clear that the charter schools must be crushed now. Because if they succeed then the world (as we know it) will end and all these parents will start asking inconvenient questions.

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  33. doggone7 (846 comments) says:

    thor: “In the event that National gets in again in 2014, the charter schools will be motivated like no others to ensure that they succeed. They will have lots of attention focused on them.

    That huge motivation (and the determination to prove the naysayers wrong) will go a long way towards making the schools a success.”

    Will they also ensure the likelihood of success by not taking the underachievers they say blight the present system? Will John banks be in parliament to trumpet their undoubted success?

    Mark: Fair comment about not giving credence to what you read, but here is a repeated bit with the emotion and subjective stuff taken out that you can have faith in as the truth: John Banks was on radio with Willie Jackson talking about success at school in NCEA of Maori boys in Whangarei. He spoke of the success of a group surpassing dramatically the average success rate in the district. The group who is associated with these boys has been awarded a licence to start a charter school.

    The Charter School hasn’t opened, the boys have attended Whangarei Boys High, Kamo High and Tikipunga High and have been taught there in achieving 100% pass rates. Mr Banks attributed the boys’ success to a charter school that doesn’t exist. He spoke of underachievers doing well intimating that description fitted theses boys. In fact these boys have been identified and chosen because of their positive range of qualities. They are do not fit underachiever profile. He used the boys succeeding in a charter school to criticise teachers in state schools, the teachers who had actually taught these kids.

    Mark: This reflects the politically motivated spin you talk about. A way to take that motivation out of it would have been to make a genuine effort to truly identify the issues and if it was needed, having a charter school in say Whangarei for the underachievers who were said to be what the whole thing was all about.

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

    Maybe, but why not allow charter schools to contribute whatever they have to offer?

    Sure – in the environment the NYT’s operating in, charter schools make some sense. I’m just pointing out the 80/20 thing – if there’s a problem that affects a large proportion of school pupils, solutions that cover only a few of them should be peripheral, not the primary focus.

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  35. Rightandleft (691 comments) says:

    Also the article says the charters save a lot of money on pensions, healthcare and salaries by having a young and transient workforce. I don’t see how having inexperienced teachers who don’t stay too long is a good thing for our students. Also the savings available in the US are not to be found here. Our teachers don’t have the generous pension plans American union teachers have. US schools have to provide very expensive private health insurance for their teachers, NZ has the public system. So what’s left for them to cut costs? Salaries, that’s it. Either they have fewer teachers and bigger classes, or they pay teachers less.

    Of course we already know the Whangaruru solution. They contract out the teaching to the local public high school. Then if their kids improve they take the credit, but if they fail they can blame the public school teachers.

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  36. transmogrifier (523 comments) says:

    I’m totally for charters schools, but I’ll be honest and say I would never work in one (I’m a high school teacher) if it is true that they pay less and the work day is longer than regular schools. AND I have to deal with social workers? Bloody hell!

    :)

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  37. doggone7 (846 comments) says:

    Rightandleft

    Whangaruru has advertised for staff.

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  38. Anodos (127 comments) says:

    RightandLeft. The NZ Charter Schools seem to be offering lower student:teacher ratios and are openly advertising for staff. Word is there is considerable interest in working at the schools too – the PPTA boycott and “treating them like a disease” (pretty sure that was what I saw stated on TV) does not seem to be working. Frankly it is embarrassing to the organisation. I guess they could also be working on health benefits and could even do things like kiwisaver assistance for staff. Would that sort of thing help the PPTA be more optimistic?

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  39. rg (214 comments) says:

    Well done ACT.
    An ACT /National coalition is the dream team.

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  40. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    Psycho Milt
    Your 80/20 comment is very apt and it lies at the heart of the NZ charter schools trial. 80% of students in NZ seem, by world standards, to be doing well. What we have is a large gap between the ‘doing well’ group and the doing poorly group and the charter school model has been proven to show good results in tough groups where the GOOD versions of the model has been used (US, UK and Sweden).

    Even if the trial is a success and National are re-elected, I’m sure there will be more charter schools but they will never be more than a peripheral solution tailored to the needs of the lowest 20% of achievers. If NZ can up the performance of its educational tail (a good proportion of which is Maori/Polynesian) it will be a good outcome. But its an outcome that Labour/Greens are determined to not even get close to considering as they believe the trial to be such a threat (to their mates in the teacher’s unions) as to kill it off entirely.

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  41. itstricky (2,021 comments) says:

    Dpf – if it is obvious that the only reason that the establishment fights charter schools is because of the lack of union presence is it not equally possible that the reason that ACT pushes this is to eliminate unions? Are you suggesting that only the centre-right has the kiddy’s best interests at heart? I mean – they could not possibly have an ulterior motive as well could they?

    If so, you have an interesting perception of the human condition.

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  42. Rightandleft (691 comments) says:

    Whangaruru will have its own staff, but they are relying on help from teachers at a local public high school to provide them with all their resources and provide them all sorts of help, even tutoring, marking and/or moderating their assessments. The principal of at least one local public school signed an agreement to help the new charter school this way.

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  43. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    itstricky
    That’s a real leap of logic. Whilst its true that one of the reasons teacher unions the world over have opposed charter schools is because charter school owners tend to hire non union staff, it is a real stretch to infer that ACT’s motives was to break the teacher unions. Given that the target is the bottom 20% and assuming that the National government (unlikely IMO) opted to use charter schools to deal with this entire demographic segment, even if charter schools comprised 20% of student enrolments, that still would leave the teacher unions largely intact (because some of the charter school teachers will remain as NZEI or PPTA members). In the US after 20 years of the movement, only 25 school districts out of over 14,000 nationwide have a charter school penetration rate above 20%. http://publiccharters.org/data/files/Publication_docs/NAPCS%202012%20Market%20Share%20Report_20121113T125312.pdf

    Even if National is re-elected they may only expand if the results are an unequivocal success. Plus ACT is not likely to be back in Parliament in 2014 IMO and so they may not have the confidence and supply agreement hanging over them.

    Both sides of the political isle care about the kids. But the teacher’s union hide behind that care with a ‘sky is falling’ over the top campaign of distortion to shut down even this minute trial.

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  44. doggone7 (846 comments) says:

    kiwi in america

    “Given that the target is the bottom 20%.” Who has said that? Where in the proceedings is that stipulated? Or is the target being the “bottom 20%” merely a notion, a euphemism, a catch cry, a reality, an excuse, a distraction or an aspiration?

    Rightandleft

    Kamo High School? Bay of islands College? Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Te Rawhiti Roa? or some other?

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  45. doggone7 (846 comments) says:

    kiwi in america

    “Given that the target is the bottom 20%.” Who has said that? Where in the proceedings is that stipulated? Or is the target being the “bottom 20%” merely a notion, a euphemism, a catch cry, a reality, an excuse, a distraction or an aspiration?

    Rightandleft: “…help from teachers at a local public high school…”

    Kamo High School? Bay of islands College? Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Te Rawhiti Roa? or some other?

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  46. Rightandleft (691 comments) says:

    Whangarei Boys I believe. It is Kamo that stands to lose the most as their roll has already been cut in half over the last few years.

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  47. Rightandleft (691 comments) says:

    Kiwi in America,

    The concern is that the trial is just the beginning. A decade ago the UK had only a couple hundred academies and free schools, but now there are over 2,000 and they are being pushed by all three major political parties. Once schools are established they become very difficult to shut down even if they are underperforming, because of the political cost. The British model of nearly exponential growth in numbers of these schools is more concerning than the American model where the fact that the system is already so diverse and essential 50 totally different systems exist (and some states are not centralised even within the state) has slowed their expansion.

    In Sweden and the UK the experience was that for-profit charters came in a second and third wave of applications. We know from OIAs that the second round of applications for charters are being put forward to the govt now. John Banks had stated he wanted to see 60 charter school running in just a few years. We also know from these OIAs that the quality of the applications for charters in the first round was very poor and the Ministry had concerns about the ones approved.

    PPTA won’t have any members in charter schools as the Constitution only allows members working in state or integrated schools.

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  48. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    doggone7
    “This is about raising educational achievement, in particular for those groups of students who have historically been under-served by the system,’’

    “Our education system works for the majority of our students but not all. We must continue doing well what we have always done well while finding options for those students who are not achieving.

    John Banks Assoc Min Ed http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/partnership-schoolskura-hourua-funding-focuses-raising-achievement

    “Ms Parata says the Government is focused on raising achievement for all students, particularly for those groups who have historically been under-served by the current system” http://www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=39086

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  49. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    Right and Left
    The US has had charter schools the longest and they are not experiencing exponential growth. The for profit model is mixed also in the US with again good and bad examples of both non profit and for profit. The for profit nature of the school does not seem to be the make or break reason behind success or failure.

    If the quality of the 5 approved schools is as bad as some say then the trial will fail and that will be the end of it.

    If the PPTA are saying that if you teach in a charter school you cannot be a member then they can’t complain about these schools costing them members – they are biting off their nose despite their face.

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  50. doggone7 (846 comments) says:

    kiwi in america

    Okay I’ll accept all that. Like all strategic planning where you say what you want to happen and then how it’s going to happen followed by the minutiae, I’m looking forward to how the system is to cater for “those students who are not achieving.”

    I still want to hear from John Banks about “This is about raising educational achievement, in particular for those groups of students who have historically been under-served by the system,’’ meaning that a charter schools are being set up to cater for the lowest achieving kids in the lowest socio-economic groups and not have him lying about a situation in Whangarei suggesting that his charter schools will meet the noble sentiments you quote.

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  51. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    doggone7
    You have hit on the key issue – that of HOW the disadvantaged kids are helped. My suggestion would be to Google the 5 schools to see what their owners have put out there. The crucial point is that the parents choose and if the stated aims are not met, good parents will pull their kids out. In my city in Arizona because the city school system is so good, parents I know who send their kids to charter schools do so for a variety of reasons – some charters have an advanced college placement programme, others are very small and intimate and cater better for shyer kids, others have a religious flavour that a state school cannot cover and yet others cater for rebellious kids that need a structured environment while others need a free flowing relatively rule free environment better for other kids. Its a smorgasbord of options and the kids can move freely from the state school to the charter school and sometimes even back again as the parent finds the best fit – its been fascinating to watch it in action. It’s hard to know how this will roll out in NZ but if the 5 trialists succeed, I’m hoping NZ will emulate the very best charter school systems where there are a variety of reasonable options.

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  52. doggone7 (846 comments) says:

    The experience of charter schools in USA is quoted all the time here. Two of the five charter schools are (going to be established) in my area. They are not neighbourhood urban schools.

    One for high schools kids is about 50km from the nearest high school. Immediately you set up a school there the choice for parents might be more about bussing. The other is based on an organisation which already involves and works with high school age boys who do their schooling in local high schools. They are not the ‘drop-outs’. That organisation has a “special character” and that is why kids go there not because they are are rebellious and can’t handle the traditional schooling.

    The political selling of the establishment of the schools was based on discussion about kids underachieving at school. If carried through to it’s logical conclusion that would have seen a system evolve that asked, “Who are the kids not achieving? Let’s identify them and give their parents the option of moving the into the charter schools.” That is not happening so the claimed raison d’être is being ignored.

    You used the word ‘disadvantaged.’ The underachievers in NZ schooling, in a broad sense, come from ‘disadvantaged’ backgrounds, i.e. the lowest socio-economic groups. I guess our Minister of Education is onto it as she is not only saying she’s setting up schools to help the underachievers, she’s not, but clever enough to say last year ‘Anyway, experts have found that four consecutive years of quality teaching eliminated any trace of socio-economic advantage.’

    If it’s that easy we’ll have no traces of socio-economic disadvantage quite simply by having quality teaching in schools. We should lend her to some of your municipalities!

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  53. itstricky (2,021 comments) says:

    KIA

    doggone has a very good point that goes to the heart of your claim that only up to 20% of students (i.e. the underachievers) would populate these schools.

    Sure, choice is there and the parents of the underachiever can use that to the advantage of the student. How does the Government, however, intend to make sure that charter schools target underachievers only? I have not seen any documentation on this aspect.

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  54. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    I know, it’s tragic isn’t it? We need the gummint to control choice right?

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  55. doggone7 (846 comments) says:

    expat: I know, it’s tragic isn’t it? We need the gummint to control choice right?

    We need gummint to control telling the truth. Is the prime purpose of charter schools to provide more choice? The furore had been around underachieving kids and the need to do something about that. Are they being set up so the parents of those kids can have a choice so they can try something new to see if that works? Is the choice element to do with people who think their local school isn’t doing a good job so they have somewhere else to go?

    John Banks has not outlined past some very generalised notions what his priorities are and which are aspects could be seen as be incidental advantages. e.g. Is dealing to teacher unions one of his deliberate prime objectives? It sounded like it in a recent rant.

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  56. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    Doggone7
    With only 5 schools in the trial, the choice aspect is obviously far more limited than in my AZ community where these schoos have been developing for 20 years. On the issue of distance to travel, if a school has a particular character that parents feel is a better fit for their child, you’d be surprised at the sacrifices made. A family in my neighbourhood has 4 teenaged children. The two 13 year old twin girls attend a state school and are very happy. The oldest boy 18 switched from top ranked state school to an academy for sport reasons (went from struggling to make the football team to star player – a switch that transformed this kid’s self worth) – middle son aged 16 has mental health and behavioural issues – the big top ranked state school was too overpowering, the academy his brother goes to is too academic and now they drive him 10 miles one way to attend a school that caters for kids in his situation (they monitor the medication taking better, have teachers with mental health training etc). Some specialist charter schools who cater for the underprivileged here have buses picking their students up to assist financially struggling parents.

    Who knows if NZ will ever get to the point of offering such gradations of choice but I could repeat these smorgasbord of choice stories 10 times over with friends, neighbours and colleagues. There have been plenty of duds over time in AZ – a good friend worked for one for a short while – but over time and with parents using blogs and networking to establish and find out detail of reputation, quality has risen. I’m sure NZ will have some duds and I don’t for a minute believe that magically the bottom 20% is waived away with a charter school wand. But the teachers unions, Labour/Greens and their friends in academia are utterly ideologically opposed to these schools in any size, shape or form and will selectively quote studies, engage in alarmism and make threats (no school sports contact) to get their way. I haven’t read Banks’ rant as you called it but its fair to say that the vituperative opposition of the unions would spark a combative response from a man not known for shirking a fight.

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  57. itstricky (2,021 comments) says:

    KiA
    your perspectives from the Northern hemisphere are interesting.
    I do not think the quoting of selective research or other traits are particular to just one side of the argument. Hence my original post.
    You are right – ACT are gone Nat. may dump it. But from what we have here there’s also no indication still that the intended benefactors. (underachievers) are being targeted for these schools in any way. And we do have indication that Banks wants it vigourously extended.

    If we are going to accuse the unions of having ulterior motives then I would say the same about ACT.

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  58. kiwi in america (2,314 comments) says:

    Itstricky
    ACT can have all the ulterior motives they want but they are a spent force – Banks is neutered and isn’t even the minister now so the future of partnership schools is firmly ensconced in Parata’s office (gulp). The partisan nature of the literature is one of the reasons why a trial is not only useful but essential.

    Some of the 5 schools clearly have underachievers in their sights – a few may be catering for a more esoteric market niche (eg religious flavour) but that is how it is in the US. Much of the literature for and against the charter schools model focuses on inner city or minority districts in an attempt to prove/disprove their worth in this area (because that is the politically most sensitive area and one that voters tend to agree with). In reality many of these schools in the mature jurisdictions like where I live have been set up to cover a wide variety of niches with low income/under achievers being but one of these. The mantra in these locations is choice.

    Time will soon tell whether the 5 trialists will make any difference with underachievers. Banks’ exit from the scene is actually more helpful as it may dial down some of the ideological rhetoric a bit.

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