Bishop on PPTA and charter schools

Chris Bishop wrote on Facebook:

This just makes me want to weep.

I encourage people to read the whole article along with the correspondence (which Stuff.co.nz has put up online too), but here’s a summary of the story:

Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa is a partnership school based in Whangarei which opened in 2014. It’s a new school but since opening it’s been doing well – its roll increased from 50 to 72 in 2015, it graduated five year 13 students all with UE; it placed 4th at the regional kapahaka competition, to name a few. All of its students in 2015 were “priority learners” (Maori, Pasifika, kids with special needs or from low socio-economic backgrounds). The exact kids we really want to be helping.

It’s achieving great NCEA results for its students – 100% NCEA Level 3 and 2 achievement rates in 2015; and 84.2% at Level 1 – well above the average for Maori.

Earlier this year a local high school, Kamo High School, offered to let the kura use their chemistry fume cupboard to mix chemicals for students’ science experiments. Sounds sensible right? Who could possibly be opposed to that? As the Principal of Kamo said, she “saw this as an opportunity to support a highly successful emerging school in our area, and to improve the chemistry results for Maori students.”

Well, the PPTA it seems, the union for secondary teachers. This was a “major issue”. The executive turned up unannounced at the school for a “vital” meeting with the staff. Soon a long menacing letter arrived, threatening all sort of legal repercussions – all over the simple offer to let a nearby school use some science resources.

So now the offer’s been withdrawn. What a shame for the students of the kura. Once again, the PPTA is putting its ideological (and frankly wrong) views about partnership schools ahead of kids in our education system – and kids whom the system has largely failed so far (that’s why partnership schools exist).

This is not an isolated incident. In 2015 a teacher studying to become qualified was asked to leave one of his placements because he was employed at the kura. The PPTA has instructed all its members to “refrain from all professional, sporting and cultural contact with ” – so no playing rugby against them, participating in arts festivals, no debating competitions – nothing.

I find all of this really sad. Partnership schools are a genuine, well-intentioned attempt to try and tackle the long tail of under-achievement in our education system. Every kid deserves a good education. For some, the existing system doesn’t work well. Partnership schools may help them; and the evidence so far is that they are. Nobody is forced to send their children there. No teacher is forced to work there. They’re a choice. I haven’t been to the kura (yet), but I’ve visited South Auckland Middle School in Auckland, and looked at their results. Sadly, many opponents of partnership schools have not bothered to do the same.

So this school agreed to allow students at another school their chemistry fume cupboard and because of that they had almost the entire PPTA Executive descend on their school to threaten them.

UPDATE: I’m informed that it was not the entire PPTA Executive, but just two people – the President and a staffer. Also the visit was known in advance.

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