Urban charter schools are succeeding—so get out of their way

April 6th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Fortune reports:

Here’s an approach to charter schools that should seem obvious—to those on both sides of the acrimonious debate on the future of charters in public education.

In places where charter schools are not achieving results, they should be suspended or at least curtailed until whatever isn’t working can be fixed.

And in cities where charters are making striking gains compared to traditional public schools, enrollment opportunities should be expanded, so that more kids can take advantage of them.

Absolutely. Close down the failing ones, and expand the successful ones.

The Center for Research on Education Outcomes(CREDO), at Stanford University, has done that in a new study, and it turns out that charters, in general, are strongest exactly where the need is greatest—in urban areas. In some cities, such as Boston, students are achieving six times the growth in math knowledge as are their traditional school counterparts; in reading, four times as much.

And in NZ the parties of the left are dedicating to closing charter schools down.

CREDO’s new study took an unusual tack. It studied students in multiple areas of the country—and exclusively studied urban areas. Three points emerged. When suburban charters were excluded, the smaller average gains registered in previous studies were suddenly magnified. In other words, charters seem to be remedying a particular defect of schools in the most challenged areas. Second, within those schools, gains were greatest among students—those in poverty, African-Americans, Hispanics, English-as-a-second-language (ESL) students—whose performance typically lags. Disadvantaged students gain the equivalent of months (or more) of extra learning for every year in a charter school.

So we may not need charter schools in Epsom, but we do in South Auckland.

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Boston charter schools

March 24th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Boston Globe reports:

Boston charter school students outperformed their counterparts at traditional public schools and at charter schools in other urban areas by a striking margin over a recent six-year span, a Stanford University study found.

The strides at Boston charter schools — in both math and reading — equaled what students would have learned if they had been in school hundreds of additional days each year, researchers said in the report, released Wednesday.

The disparity held true for black, Hispanic, and low-income students in both math and reading, and was particularly strong for black and Hispanic students who live in poverty.

As you read this, remember that the two parties that most go on about poverty, are the two who want to abolish charter schools.

In Boston, the average yearly academic growth for charter school students was more than four times that of their traditional school peers in reading. In math, the academic growth was more than six times greater.

Exceptional.

This month, Los Angeles administrator Tommy Chang was named as the next superintendent of Boston Public Schools. Chang, a former charter school principal, has a reputation for giving schools more freedom to hire and develop budgets, and said he plans to narrow the achievement gap with a focused effort to improve classroom instruction.

Make every school a charter school! Give public school boards the ability to become a charter school and fully manage their own budgets and staffing.

The study compared standardized test scores of charter school students with the scores of Boston Public Schools students with similar demographic backgrounds.

It found that the average academic growth of charter school students surpassed public school students in both mathematics and reading, and at each level from elementary to high school.

So they compare like with like.

Jon Clark, co-director for Brooke Charter Schools, which has schools in Mattapan, East Boston, and Roslindale, said charter schools provide a longer school day and give students intensive personal attention.

Principals have the freedom to hire a staff and craft a budget as they see fit, he said.

That’s the key – local flexibility and control.

Clark rejected the “cherry-picking” argument and said the success charter schools have shown with low-income black and Latino students is the true indicator.

“If you really care about the achievement gap, you can’t look at these numbers and dismiss them,” he said.

But they do.

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Why charter schools do or don’t work

March 22nd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

David Osborne at USA News reports:

The critics also love to repeat that charters perform no better than other public schools. This statement may have been true in 2009, if one accepts the critics’ favorite study, from Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes or CREDO. But a closer look at those results reveals a deeper truth. Where charter authorizers do their jobs, charters vastly outperform traditional public schools, with far less money. Where authorizers fall down on the job, letting failing charters live on just like traditional schools, the average charter performs no better, and sometimes worse.

So the key is to be selective with whom you authorise and move swiftly on failing schools.

In 2003 Ohio gave non-profit organizations both the right to authorize charters and a financial incentive to do so, opening the floodgates to mediocre schools.

In Massachusetts, by contrast, the state board was careful who got a charter and closed schools where kids were not learning. CREDO found that the typical charter student in Boston gained the equivalent of 12 extra months of learning in reading and 13 extra months in math every year, compared to demographically similar students in traditional public schools.

So the debate in NZ should not be about whether to allow charter schools. It should be about what is the authorisation policy.

New Orleans, with 92.4 percent of students in charters, is probably the fastest improving city in America. Graduation rates, ACT scores and college-going rates have all soared. If current trends continue, in fact, New Orleans may become the first major city to outperform its state. CREDO found that charter students in the city gained more than four months of additional learning in reading and five months in math, compared to their peers in traditional schools.

In Washington, D.C., where Congress created a Public Charter School Board, 45 percent of public school students attend charters. Among cities tested by the National Education Assessment Program (which do not include New Orleans), D.C. is now the fastest improving. CREDO found that charter students gained the equivalent of 72 days of extra learning per year in reading, 101 in math, compared to traditional public students.

If we could get those sort of results in South Auckland and Northland, it would be exceptional.

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Labour MP condemns charter schools then turns up to open one!

March 7th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Whale Oil has the story of Labour MP Su’a Wiliam Sio who made speeches condemning charter schools, yet also turned up to pose for photos at the opening of one in his electorate.

Did the good MP announce at the opening of the Nga Whare Waatea Training Centre that if his party becomes Government, he will be voting to close them down?

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Agassi’s charter schools

March 4th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

His campaign began 14 years ago, with the establishment of the Andre Agassi Preparatory Academy in a run-down part of Las Vegas, and is still expanding.

By the end of this year, Agassi hopes to have extended his tally of charter schools (which are similar in spirit to our own free schools) to more than 100, spread from Nevada to Tennessee.”

The USA has dropped to 29th in the world when it comes to educating our children,” Agassi told The Daily Telegraph. “The demand for good schooling is huge, but the infrastructure is not there.

“Rather than wait for the government to do the job, I wanted to create a model that would be scalable and sustainable.

The idea is to find partners on each job, investors who aren’t looking to give their money away, but neither do they insist on having an annual return of 20 per cent.

I’m in an exciting place where I can raise $175 million of funding in 15 minutes of phone calls, and the total we have gathered so far is well north of $1 billion.”

Superb. And from Wikipedia:

In 2001, Agassi opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy[151] in Las Vegas, a tuition-free charter school for at-risk children in the area. He personally donated $35 million to the school.[152] In 2009, the graduating class had 100 percent graduation rate and expected a 100 percent college acceptance rate.

Also:

In 1997, Agassi donated funding to Child Haven for a six-room classroom building now named the Agassi Center for Education. His foundation also provided $720,000 to assist in the building of the Andre Agassi Cottage for Medically Fragile Children. This 20-bed facility opened in December 2001, and accommodates developmentally delayed or handicapped children and children quarantined for infectious diseases.

Those charter school funders are really evil aren’t they.

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Dom Post editorial repeats lie twice

February 26th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial asserts:

And indeed charter schools do not operate on a level playing field.

They appear to get much more money per pupil than most state schools. …

They receive more money than state schools and therefore their pupils do better.

Once upon a time an editorial may have opinions you would disagree with, but its fact would not be incorrect. Now it seems an editorial thinks if you repeat a lie twice, then that makes it okay.

The Ministry of Education has a site that shows the actual funding for two partnership schools, compared to state schools of similar size and decile.

The decile 3 primary charter school receives $647 a student less funding than a comparable state school.

The decile 3 secondary charter school receives around 1,142 a student less funding than a comparable state school.

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Vanguard Military School academic results

February 25th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Been sent the academic results for the Vanguard Military School, one of the five charter schools. Their results are hugely impressive, especially when you consider that many of their students wer estruggling in other schools.

Their results are:

  • 96% achieved NCEA Level 1, compared to 83% nationally
  • 100% achieved NCEA Level 2, compared to 87% nationally
  • 100% of Asian students achieved NCEA Level 1, compared to 85% nationally
  • 100% of European students achieved NCEA Level 1, compared to 89% nationally
  • 92% of Maori students achieved NCEA Level 1, compared to 71% nationally
  • 100% of Pasifika students achieved NCEA Level 1, compared to 69% nationally
  • 97% of Year 11 students achieved literacy standard, compared to 90% nationally
  • 95% of Year 11 students achieved numeracy standard, compared to 88% nationally
  • 100% of Year 12 students achieved literacy standard, compared to 95% nationally
  • 100% of Year 12 students achieved numeracy standard, compared to 94% nationally

For some reasons Labour and Greens remain determined to close down schools like Vanguard.

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Charter school likely to close

February 21st, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Education Minister Hekia Parata has issued a formal warning to the troubled charter school in Whangaruru which now has a month to show it can rectify its problems or it could face closure.

Ms Parata has released her letter to the trust which runs the Te Pumanawa o te Wairua School advising it was now on notice over its performance and would be audited in a month. The letter said it had failed to meet criteria for truancy and the size of the school roll and there were indications of under achievement.

She would use the audit to decide whether the school had any hope of fixing its problems before making any decision on its future. The letter warned that if the trust did not take immediate action to address the problems, it could face closure.

This is a great example of the enhanced accountability that comes with charter schools. When was the last time you heard of a state school facing closure because it is under achieving and having too many truants?

Four out of the five initial charter schools are doing well, and producing what look to be some great results. One of them is not. But again, this is why the charter school model is useful – the sucessful schools prosper, and the unsuccesful ones close down.

When a state school is unsuccessful, it gets more funding, its neighbours are told they have to shrink their zones to stop parents leaving it, and after around five years of under-achievement, there might be some government intervention.

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Labour against philanthropy in education

February 18th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An American equity fund manager who wants to open charter schools in New Zealand was introduced to Ngai Tahu leaders by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bill English.

Hong Kong-based Marc Holtzman plans to open charter or “partnership” schools which he hopes will lead to an education “revolution” in New Zealand.

He said Mr English, who he has known for many years, introduced him to Sir Mark Solomon of Ngai Tahu, who wants to establish schools in partnership.

But the plan, revealed in the Herald yesterday after a confidential report was obtained, is opposed by Labour, which has promised to scrap charter schools.

“I’m very concerned about the idea that you get these sort-of philanthropist, corporate people coming in and trying to buy up large chunks of the education system,” Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins said.

So Labour is against wealthy people donating money to try and improved educational outcomes for the most disadvantaged!

He thinks donating money is “buying up chunks of the education system”.  He must think Bill Gates has purchased huge chunks of the welfare system in Africa!

There is absolutely no personal return to Mr Holtzman. He just wants to improve educational outcomes and is happy to donate money to do so.

“If they are genuinely philanthropic and want to contribute, then they could start by supporting the existing education system rather than trying to do something in competition with it.”

Note Labour is concerned about the “system”, rather than outcomes. The thinking is that if some schools do well, this makes other schools look bad, and this is bad for the system. All schools should look equally bad!

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Fisking QPEC

February 17th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

John Minto writes:

When the Government changed the Education Act to allow for charter schools, it bet that a bunch of non-educators using their own untested theories of education could run schools for our most disadvantaged students and achieve better results than state schools.

Who are these non-educators that Minto claims are running charter schools in NZ? As far as I know they are all educators.

Not only that, it stacked the decks by deliberately removing the charter schools from the checks and balances that all state schools must face and gave them more money (as a series of set-up grants).

They actually get slightly less money than an equivalent new state school as detailed by the Ministry.

For example, these schools are exempt from making disclosures under the Official Information Act, despite the fact that they are government-funded.

The OIA applies to organisations owned by the Government, not funded by them. Personally I think it should apply to all bodies funded in whole or majority by the Government, but it doesn’t. All those NGOs that are 95% government funded should come under the OIA, as should charter schools. But I suspect John doesn’t want it extended to all bodies funded by the Government – just those he disagrees with.

The Quality Public Education Coalition (QPEC) has been tracking US charter schools daily for more than two years ago now, and not only are many of them an educational disgrace but they continue to contribute to the overall educational collapse of the US in world educational rankings. Per dollar spent, US schools are the world’s worst.

It is because the US school system is so bad, that charter schools have done so well there. And there have been numerous studies showing that they overall lift achievements rates for pupils. Also in some states, they have seen a lift in achievement rates for neighbouring public schools also.

There is no empirical research that supports this model of charter schools, and plenty of evidence against the model. It is being driven by the first-term, right-wing Act MP, David Seymour, who promises to support these schools through thick, thin and very expensive, success or failure – competition at all costs, and the taxpayer must pay.

There is a huge amount of empirical evidence. But the best empirical evidence will come from NZ. Minto and others want to close these schools before they can be given a chance to succeed. I say judge them on results. If a charter school produces bad results (as one looks to be doing), then close it down. But if they are producing great results, then support them. In the state school system a failing public school is never closed down – they are just given more money and a bigger zone!

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A Ngai Tahu charter school?

February 14th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A wealthy American businessman wants to set up charter schools in New Zealand that he believes could lead to an education “revolution”.

Marc Holtzman was pen-pals with his political hero Ronald Reagan and secured millions of dollars from Microsoft founder Bill Gates to found a charter school in his home state of Colorado.

He told the Herald that, while it was early days, he planned to see if Mr Gates and other acquaintances might help raise the $10 to $15 million seed money for a first New Zealand school.

The 54-year-old backpacked in New Zealand as a young man and has had his luxury Gibbston, Queenstown property on the market for $4.75 million for over a year, with plans to build again in the region.

The Hong Kong-based businessman contacted Ngai Tahu about the possibility of working together to open schools as well as Act Party leader David Seymour.

In January he took a delegation, including Ngai Tahu’s Sir Mark Solomon and Che Wilson, to the United States to look mostly at charter schools based around science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem). Among the schools visited was the successful Denver School of Science and Technology, which Mr Holtzman co-founded.

A Ngai Tahu charter school would be an excellent idea. I’d love to see Labour then campaign on scrapping charter schools!

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The Myth of Charter-School ‘Cherry Picking’

February 10th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Eva Moskowitz writes in the WSJ:

There is a concept called the big lie, which holds that if you repeat a falsehood long enough and loudly enough, people will begin to believe it. Sadly, fearing the success of charter schools in New York City, the United Federation of Teachers and other education-reform opponents have been telling a big lie for years.

The UFT and its backers have kept up a steady drumbeat of false claims against charter schools in New York City: Charters cherry-pick their students, push out those who need extra support, and generally falsify their impressive results.

We hear this here also, even though charter schools in NZ can not pick their students – if there are a surplus of applicants, they must choose by random ballot.

Well, a recent report from New York City’s Independent Budget Office, a publicly funded, nonpartisan agency, proves that these accusations are false.

So what does it say?

The IBO report, released in January, found that—contrary to what some people have come to believe—“students at charter schools stay at their schools at a higher rate than students at nearby traditional public schools.” The IBO reported that charter schools in the city retain 64% of their students, compared with 56% of students retained by district schools. Among special-education students, the IBO found that 53% stay at their charter schools, versus 49% at district schools.

And:

The vast majority of Success Academy students are children of color from low-income families. On last year’s state exam, our schools ranked in the top 1% of all New York state schools in math and the top 3% in English, outperforming schools in affluent areas of the city and wealthy suburbs. On the science exam, 100% of our fourth- and eighth-grade scholars passed, with more than 90% scoring at the highest level.

Success Academy schools have reversed the achievement gap: 94% of African-American students and 96% of Hispanic students passed the math exam, compared with 56% of white students citywide.

Imagine if we could replicate that in South Auckland!

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Why charter schools improve over time

January 10th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Cato Institute looks at charter schools:

or a deeper understanding of charters as a market-oriented reform, it is necessary to examine the dynamics of the charter sector.

Our research on charter school quality in Texas brings new evidence to bear on these important issues. Our analysis clearly indicates that charter school quality has improved over time. As seen in the figures below, the distribution of charter school quality initially lies to the left of that for traditional public schools but then converges and subsequently moves slightly to the right of the public school distribution.

This improvement is the result of three consistent changes. First, schools that close are drawn disproportionately from the least effective charter schools. Second, schools that open during the period of study far outperform those that close; the average value-added for new charters is roughly equal to the average among existing charters. Third, charter schools remaining open throughout the decade from 2001 to 2011 exhibit increases in average school value-added.

This is a key thing to understand. A charter school that performs badly will close.

Non charter schools that perform badly rarely close. Even when students flee them, nearby schools are now allowed to expand to allow more students in, so students are forced to keep going to these badly performing schools.

The Cato research shows that school performance improves when you allow failing schools to close.

 

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Guest Post: Partnership Schooling – Year 1 – A Chink of Light.

December 14th, 2014 at 8:23 am by David Farrar

A guest post by Alwyn Poole:

Whenever anyone in New Zealand talks of making a difference to the lives of children and their families then the topic of education is not far away.

 I began thinking about the NZ education system as far back as 1988 when I took some Education options while completing and Economics degree (I hadn’t thought education  much when I was at school as I was too busy playing cards in class or running around on the sports fields when I shouldn’t have been). The massive preoccupation with the content of  the Education papers was with the under achievement of Maori and Pasifika children and the subsequent over-representation of those groups in statistics of social ill. Given the left wing bias of the lecturers and the material presented the claim was that these outcomes were semi-intentionally generated to perpetuate power structures within society and serve Capital. It almost goes without saying that the “high flying” academics proposed nothing of effect/worth to change anything. There are still a lot of these hopeless finger pointers in NZ today pretending they have something to say about education.

A quarter of a century later much has changed in the world. New Zealand is materially better off. Around the world rates of poverty are in decline, people live longer, opportunities are expansive. The variety of careers has broadened immeasurably. The understanding of how children learn and how it can be enhanced has improved exponentially. Information technology and the availability of high quality learning resources – at very low cost – has exploded.

A quarter of a century later much is the same. Maori and Pasifika children and those whose families are on lower incomes are over represented in underachievement and qualifications statistics. So are those with defined learning difficulties even though we now know how to do a lot about those (although sometimes parents also have to have the trust, knowledge and courage to stay with a programme).

The other thing that is the same is that academics and those on the political left would rather point out and perpetuate problems than openly evaluate every possibility of solving them. Maybe it is their power structures that now feel a little threatened in the field of education and they have circled the wagons.

Twelve years ago the Villa Education Trust (VET) was established. It was done so because there is a need to provide innovative models to produce excellence in Education. It was also done because after the Economics degree I did a teaching qualification, a masters degree specialising in programme design for teaching high ability children, a sports management diploma, traveled overseas to look at ideal models, taught at 3 high quality schools in NZ, did system wide study of NZ schooling, talked to anyone who would share their ideas and read widely about how to assist children and young people to develop knowledge, attitudes and skills. The VET was established after massive hours spent on model and curriculum design. It was established through my wife and I deciding that the reward of making a difference to the education of children was worth the risk of selling all we have to start a Charitable Trust.

In 2003 the VET began Mt Hobson Middle School (www.mthobson.school.nz). It is a private Year 7 – 10 school for 48 children (12 per class). It teaches the NZ curriculum through core classes in Maths, English, Science, Social Studies and Technology. The children also have an hour of guided independent time each morning working on fully cross curricula topic based projects – e.g. Architecture, Flight and Space, Oceans (that set the context for the school). They do 8 projects a year – learn a massive amount in terms of self management, research and academic product skills. They also develop their knowledge base superbly. The afternoon programme is activity based – Art, Music, Sport, Community Learning, Community Service. We work with a broad group of children – from those with fantastically developed all round abilities looking for extension to those who have areas to overcome to set them up for Year 11 and beyond. It is demanding and effective. We have significant data and case studies of generated change and improvement. We also continue to innovate – for instance – a complete rethink going into 2015 with many new start aspects in response to further changes/understandings in education.

Given that background in 2013 we gained permission from the New Zealand government to take the developed model to Manurewa and begin South Auckland Middle School (SAMS: http://www.southauckland.school.nz/). We had looked for this kind of opportunity before but under past legislation it was not even close to feasible (NB Labour party). We were allowed an establishment period of four and a half months and an establishment fund of $1.3 million dollars (compared to a two year lead in for a State School and at approximately 5% of that model’s establishment cost). We are funded at a decile 3 level on a per student basis each year and, like State schools, have a guaranteed fund during the establishment period. We were not given a zone and there was no certainty that anyone would come. We attracted high quality staff even though the PPTA took out ads in the Education Gazette telling teachers not to work for us (very sporting of them – must have made their members proud). We leased premises and outfitted them to facilitate the tried and tested model from Newmarket.

After a year is is worth thinking about the progress:

- A full SAMS roll is 120 students. In Year 1 our Year 7, 8, 9 were all full with waiting lists. We have averaged seventeen Year 10 students coming in for a year or less to re-boot their education.

- We are full for 2015 and have substantial waiting lists.

- The children have thrived on the day structure and have worked very hard through the academic mornings.

- The children have excelled on the Projects and produced some remarkable work – both individual tasks and completed projects.

- We can evidence significant progress in the basics of all 5 core subjects in our morning programme.

- To ease the financial pressures of families we provide uniform and stationery (and do not ask them for per annum donations) and have a Community Liaison Manager who is working hard at getting to know and to help solve the external pressures that impact on learning.

- We are significantly under local school averages for truancy, disciplinary actions and transience. 

- We have a very good ERO report and have students able to eloquently express their experiences: http://www.southauckland.school.nz/dir/index.php/admissions/what-students-say/

- Like MHMS will be SAMS will be better in 2015 than in 2014 because when you see areas of needed change in education smart educators make the changes.

We are able to make many of our choices, such as a student:teacher ratio of 15:1 through receiving our funding in bulk. We don’t carry large infrastructure items, our Principals/Academic Managers teach large programmes, and we keep much of what we do simple in terms of resourcing.

The long established Mt Hobson model and the immediately evidenced success of SAMS earned the Villa Education Trust the opportunity to begin Middle School West Auckland (http://www.westauckland.school.nz/) which will grow to 240 students from a beginning in February of 2015. Again – our establishment period is short but we already have a remarkable staff in place under former St Peter’s College Deputy Head James Haggett. Great teachers want to work in an innovative situation. We are setting up quality facilities and have a good level of enrollments coming in. We are confident that this will also become and outstanding academic school.

To ensure that all we do is cutting edge I had the privilege of travelling to New York City and spending 3 days meeting with a group of the very best educators I have ever met – who happen to be running sets of simply outstanding Charter Schools that are changing the lives if under-served children and their families. These were the top organisations such as KIPP, Achievement First, Uncommon Schools, Success Academies. Their success is clearly evident and given that we have visited them and Charter Schools in Tampa, Jacksonville and Andre Agassi’s school in Las Vegas the dishonesty of the teacher unions in NZ and the political Left for saying that this is a failed model overseas became crystal clear. As the Stanford Credo report 2013 stated: (http://credo.stanford.edu/documents/NCSS%202013%20Final%20Draft.pdf

Black students in poverty at charter schools gain 29 additional days in reading and 36 additional days of learning in math.Students in poverty, English language learners, and special education students all benefit from attending charter schools as well. 

On Friday December 12 I was a guest at North Shore’s Vanguard Military School’s first prize-giving. The testimony of the children, the evidence of academic success, the pride of the parents and the job satisfaction of the staff was clear to all.

As I think back to the readings of systemic failure thrust upon me in 1988 through to misguided people today stating that schools can achieve nothing because of socioeconomic disparity – I see a light in the tunnel that is not just a train coming the other way. There is growing hope of a genuine means for Partnership Schooling to be a part of systemic change and a quiet revolution in the provision for children who are otherwise not doing well. Like all changes and challenges it will not be smooth at every stage or with every establishment – but for the children and families that need innovation and choice the necessity to persevere and enhance the model is clear.

For those who doubt and have genuine interest in the well being of the young people of New Zealand our doors are very open and we are willing to collaborate and share our experiences. For those that criticize from a distance – have some courage and come and see.

 Alwyn Poole
(VET Board member, Principal MHMS)

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Charter school funding facts

December 3rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Ministry of Education has done something very well – a clear easy to comprehend brochure on charter school funding that dispels the myths put out by opponents.

Some key facts:

  • Charter school funding is $14.1 million vs state school funding of $5,570 million
  • There are five charter schools and 2,438 state schools
  • State schools have the Ministry pay for property and insurance costs on their behalf, while charter schools pay themselves, so to compare funding you have to allow for this
  • A decile 3 primary state school gets $8,235 per student and a decile 3 primary charter school gets $7,588 once you remove insurance and property costs
  • A decile 3 secondary state school gets $9,594 per student and a decile 3 secondary charter school gets $8,452 once you remove insurance and property costs

I encourage people to circulate the pamphlet linked above.

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Vanguard Military School

December 1st, 2014 at 7:45 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Green Party has attacked the Government’s charter school policy after one school’s roll dropped by a quarter this year – but Vanguard Military School says that’s because its students have qualified and moved on to other courses.

The North Shore charter school, which starts every day with a military parade, had 79 students attending in October this year – 25 per cent below the 108 it was funded to teach, Green Party education spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty said. …

But Vanguard Milliary School chief executive Nick Hyde said roll numbers had dropped because students had already passed their qualifications and had moved on to other courses, including some in the military or, in a few cases, at other schools.

“The reality is these kids have gained the qualification they signed up for, and we should be celebrating that, not throwing stones at them.”

He said 41 out of 45 students sitting NCEA level 2 this year had already passed the course, and 84 per cent of students had passed level 1.

So this is what the Greens are against – a 90% pass rate for NECA Level 2 among students who traditionally have very low pass rates.

Delahunty said she disputed that education was about getting children over the line and then moving them on.

“It doesn’t stop because they’ve had one assessment.

Vanguard is only set up for NCEA Level 1 and 2. But Catherine will be pleased a solution is in sight.

However, Hyde said taxpayers were getting “good value for money” with charter schools, which were “making an impression” on the 20 per cent of students who were not succeeding in other schools.

“If they’ve got their level 2 qualification and don’t want to do level 3, then why should we make them stick around until the end of the year when they could be going on to do other things?”

Next year the school roll would increase to 144 students, when the school expanded to include NCEA level 3.

Excellent.

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The focus should be on students not schools

November 22nd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Free uniforms and stationery are on offer to those who enrol at a new charter school.

How terrible. Helping poor families.

Millions of dollars will be spent on new charter or “partnership” schools despite hundreds of spare places at surrounding state options.

I don’t care about schools. I care about outcomes for students. The outcomes in these communities to date have been pretty poor.

That has not stopped disquiet from one principal who says it is unfair to expect lower decile schools to compete with charter schools offering free uniforms, stationery and no donations.

They complain that fees are too high and then complain when a school is innovative enough to not need them.

Six intermediate schools are near the site of Middle School West Auckland, a Year 7-10 partnership school that will have a maximum roll of 240.

The schools have enough spare places to enrol an additional 588 students at Year 7-8, according to the ministry document.

Yes, but they are all offering much the same, while the charter school is offering something different, Parents will have a choice.

Partnership schools cannot charge donations, and the school would provide free uniforms and stationery, Mr Poole said, but not as “sweeteners”.

“What we want is that every child walks through the gate at 100 per cent equal.”

Shouldn’t the left be cheering this on?

Mr Poole said that, despite attacks from opponents of charter schools, they did not get more funding, and start-up costs were well below usual amounts for state schools. Creative budgeting and a lack of expensive infrastructure like playing fields enabled them to offer smaller classes and items such as uniforms, he said.

It’s about flexibility. A charter school has greater ability to set its own priorities.

What’s interesting is that the principal complaining about a charter school offering free stationery took part in a protest march where he complained about funding for stationery.

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Former Alliance MP applies for charter school

September 18th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Opening a charter school in Mangere is a “strategic decision” that will help turn around Maori achievement, Willie Jackson says.

The Manukau Urban Maori Authority chief executive welcomes the Government plan to open four new charter schools next year, including two in South Auckland. The schools will cost $15.5 million over four years.

Jackson’s organisation will sponsor Te Kura Maori o Waatea, a primary school based at Nga Whare Waatea Marae.

Good to see more applications for charter schools, as run properly they can make a real difference with some kids who are not succeeding in the current system.

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Another benefit of charter schools

August 6th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The University Herald reports:

Low-income minority adolescents enrolled in California’s high-performing public charter high schools are less likely to engage in risky health behaviors, according to a new study by the University of California – Los Angeles.

Researchers said that these adolescents also scored better on Math and English tests as compared to their peers from other schools.

Previous studies have highlighted the link between health and K-12 education. But, the new study is the first to examine the impact of quality education on high school students’ risky health behaviors.

“These students’ higher cognitive skills may lead them to better health literacy and decision-making. They may be exposed to less negative peer pressure, and the school environment may promote the resilience that steers them away from these risky behaviors,” Dr. Mitchell Wong, the study’s lead investigator and a professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research, said in a statement.

“In addition, in a better academic environment students spent more time studying, leaving them less time to engage in risky behaviors.”

For the study, researchers categorised “Risky behavior” as any use of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana within the past 30 days.

One can see that these charter schools are so evil that we can’t even afford to trial five of them in NZ. Labour has declared they must be wiped out if Labour win the election.

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Yet another study on the effectiveness of charter schools

July 26th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Phys.org reports:

A first-ever report released July 22 by the University of Arkansas, which ties charter school funding to achievement, finds that public charter schools are more productive than traditional public schools in all 28 states included in analyses of cost-effectiveness and return on investment.

All 28 states!

The national report, titled “The Productivity of Public Charter Schools,” found that  deliver on average an additional 17 points in math and 16 points in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam taken by students for every $1,000 invested. These differences amount to charter schools being 40 percent more cost-effective in math and 41 percent more cost-effective in reading, compared to traditional .

So when unions (falsely) claim charter schools do better because they get extra funding, remember this study.

The cost-effectiveness analysis of the report found that charter schools in 13 states were found to be more cost-effective in reading because they had higher student achievement results despite receiving less funding than traditional public schools. Charter schools in 11 states were more cost-effective in math for the same reason. The remaining states produced equal or slightly lower achievement with significantly lower funding.

Better results off less funding. Do you get some idea of why the NZ unions are terrified by the trial of charter schools. Think if they produced the same results here!

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Charter schools rated just as effective as reducing class sizes

July 11th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Now this is very interesting. The meta-meta study of 50,000 studies of 139 factors influencing education outcomes had class size at 106th with an effect score of 0.21. At 107th was charter schools with an effect score of 0.20.

So reducing class sizes has much the same impact as charter schools – a mild improvement.

So how on earth can Labour be vowing to abolish charter schools, yet put hundreds of millions into reducing class sizes?

The answer is the former policy results in fewer teachers in unions, and the latter results in more teachers in unions.

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A school that doesn’t accept failure

June 27th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young reports:

Charlene Reid is what you might call a rockstar among teachers.

It’s not what she would call herself.

She is just getting on with it at what used to be an ordinary school in the Bronx district of New York where she is Head of School.

But she is being noticed for the results being achieved there.

It’s a charter school, privately run but publicly funded, and fees cannot be charged to the parents. …

In state-wide testing, it was ranked the highest K-8 charter school in New York state and fourth among all.

The other top five were schools for gifted and talented or specialty schools that can choose their students. At BCSE they don’t. Anyone from the local area gets precedence. If there are 60 applicants from the area, they get automatic entry; if there is more, there is a ballot. About 10 per cent of the students have special needs.

Isn’t that a stunning result. Up in the top five with schools restricted to gifted students, and they’re in the Bronx and have 10% special needs students.

Having high expectations, said Reid, was a big feature of her school’s success.

“Expectation, confidence and attitude that you can deliver. I don’t think any teacher goes into the classroom saying they want a kid to fail. I think what happens is that you don’t know how to get a child to learn, then it is very difficult to look at yourself and say ‘I’m the reason why’.

“What we’ve done here at BCSE is we have pointed the finger at ourselves and said if it is not working, it’s our fault. It’s nobody else’s fault. We took this job on. We are educators.

“We are going to figure it out. We are adults. There is no way you should blame a child who has only been on this Earth 60 months if they can’t read or they can’t write or that they’re poor or their parents were educated or they live in a particular environment.

This is what I find so appalling by the apologists for poor performance on the left. Their worldview is that poor achievement is all about the family’s income, and that you shouldn’t expect students from poor backgrounds to be able to achieve at the highest level. The bigotry of low expectations.

This principal shows what you can achieve when you don’t buy into that.

 

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The success of US charter schools

June 11th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Philanthropy Roundtable writes:

Twenty-five years ago, charter schools hadn’t even been dreamed up. Today they are mushrooming across the country. There are 6,500 charter schools operating in 42 states, with more than 600 new ones opening every year. Within a blink there will be 3 million American children attending these freshly invented institutions (and 5 million students in them by the end of this decade).

It is philanthropy that has made all of this possible. Without generous donors, charter school could never have rooted and multiplied in this way. And philanthropists have driven relentless annual improvements—better trained school founders, more prepared teachers, sharper curricula, smarter technology—that have allowed charter schools to churn out impressive results.

Studies show that student performance in charter schools is accelerating every year, as high-performing models replace weaker ones. Charter schools as a whole already exceed conventional schools in results. The top charters that are now growing so fast elevate student outcomes more than any other schools in the U.S.—especially among poor and minority children.

This is what Labour and Greens are vowing to end.

An extract from the report:

Bill Gates explains that after his foundation decided in the mid‑1990s to focus on U.S. schooling, it poured about $2 billion into various education experiments. During their first decade, he reports, “many of the small schools that we invested in did not improve students’ achievement  in any significant way.” There was, however, one fascinating exception. “A few of the schools that we funded achieved something amazing. They replaced schools with low expectations and low results with ones that have high expectations and high results.” And there was a common variable: “Almost all of these schools were charter schools.”

And:

By 2014 there were 2.6 million children attending 6,500 charter schools in the U.S. Every year now, more than 600 new charters open their
doors for the first time, and an additional 300,000 children enroll (while a million kids remain on waiting lists, with millions more hungrily waiting in the wings). Charter school attendance began to particularly accelerate around 2009, and as this is written in 2014 it looks like there may be 5 million children in charters before the end of the decade.

This is the worst nightmare of Labour/Greens and the educational unions. That charter schools in NZ provide successful and popular. Once they do, they’ll never be able to abolish them. They have to kill them off before they have a chance to prove themselves.

And some highlights:

  • The 9,000 students at Uncommon Schools are 78 percent low‑income and 98 percent African‑American or Hispanic, yet all seniors take the SAT, and their average score is 20 points above the college‑readiness benchmark
  • At KIPP charter schools, home to 51,000 pupils in 21 states, 96 percent of eighth graders perform better than their local district counterparts on reading, and 92 percent perform better in math
  • Among charter school students in Washington, D.C. (almost half of that city’s public school population), the on‑time high‑school graduation rate is 21 percentage points higher than that among conventional school students: 77 percent to 56 percent
  • In New Orleans—long an educational disaster zone—the city schools rank first in the state for student growth now that more than eight out of ten students attend charters (some details on the Big Easy’s charter experience will follow in just a few pages)

Wouldn’t it be great if in the next decade we could get some results like that.

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A good start

May 15th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Vanguard Military School have announced:

Initial NCEA results illustrate the outstanding start Vanguard Military School students have made to the 2014 school year, achieving an average 89% success in term 1 assessments, Vanguard Chief Executive Nick Hyde said today.

Mr Hyde was commenting on Term 1 NCEA assessment results that showed Vanguard students across all demographics had significantly lifted their success rates from their previous schooling. 

European and Other students were achieving 93% success, up from 58% success prior to attending Vanguard, while Pasifika students were now achieving 90% success, up from 62%, and Maori students achieving 85% success, up from 57%.

“We’re thrilled to see our students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, already demonstrating the attitudinal and academic excellence we strive for at Vanguard”, Mr Hyde said.

The Labour/Green Opposition have vowed to close schools such as Vanguard down. We can’t allow them to do this well.

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Sense from US education secretary

April 2nd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Nicholas Jones at the Herald reports:

Efforts to ensure all Kiwi kids can access early childhood education are “way ahead” of a similar American push, says the US Secretary of Education.

Arne Duncan has been in New Zealand at the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in Wellington, one of the biggest events in world education.

In an interview with the Herald, America’s top education official also said charter schools could be a valuable opportunity for New Zealand.

Mr Duncan, who has previously hosted Education Minister Hekia Parata, said he was keen to learn more about New Zealand’s early childhood education while here.

“We are pushing very, very hard back home in the States to increase access to high-quality early learning opportunities,” he said.

“And I think, frankly, New Zealand is way ahead of us in creating those kinds of opportunities at scale.”

The National Government wants 98 per cent of children starting school in 2016 to have participated in quality early childhood education.

In the 2007/08 year $807 million was spent in ECE. The budget for the current financial year is $1.48 billion which is a massive 83% increase in six years. For some reason, Labour and Greens call this a cut!!

The US has more than 5600 public charter schools in 42 out of 50 states, and one in 20 students nationally attends one, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

Despite being widespread they do face opposition. Newly elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, has been highly critical of charter schools.

Asked for his overall verdict on them, Mr Duncan said there was “huge variation”.

I’ve visited some amazing, amazing schools that are absolutely closing achievement gaps. We need to learn from those examples and replicate them. [But] when you have low-performing charter schools you need to challenge that status quo as well.”

Duncan is a Democrat, and a former head of the Chicago public schools. When he says some charter schools have done amazing work at closing achievement gaps, he is worth listening to. Why does the left want to close them down in NZ, rather than give them a chance to succeed?

Mr Duncan said the idea for the schools came from union leader Albert Shanker, who hoped to establish “laboratories of innovation”. Successes could then be spread to the wider education system.

“I think there’s a great opportunity there for this country.”

The left in NZ should embrace charter schools, as many of the left in the US have done.

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