Charter Schools

Danya Levy at Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key is defending the introduction of under a deal with ACT despite National never campaigning on it, saying “that’s MMP for you, isn’t it?”.

It is. And I see one of the registered promoters for the referendum was the NZEI arguing we should retain MMP.

Under the deal with ACT, community, religious or ethnic groups, or private companies, will be allowed to operate state-funded charter schools.

School boards will be able to set class hours and introduce performance-related teacher’s pay.

A trial will be held in South Auckland which, along with Christchurch East, will be the first areas to have the state-funded private schools within the next three years.

I’m pleased to see the trial will be in South Auckland, where young kids are not doing that well under the current system.

The prime minister rejected suggestions National had blindsided voters with changes to the system.

“Are you really telling me that because we might trial in parts of the country, one or two schools, to see whether they can deliver better results, that somehow it’s undermining the education system in New Zealand?

“Sorry but it sounds a bit far-fetched to me.”

Oh it could well undermine the current education system – by succeeding. This is the worse nightmare of the opponents. Think if a charter school that has flexibility over staff, property and operational budgets (including ability to do performance pay) actually delivers better results than the existing schools? Think if instead of white flight, we get brown flight – Maori and PI families enrolling in the charter school because their kids get a better educational outcome there.

One prediction I will make. Regardless of how successful a charter school may prove to be, Labour will promise to close it down, or force it to become like all the other schools when the Ministry of Education and the NZEI/PPTA decides how much teachers get paid rather than the school and the teacher decide.

“I don’t think the New Zealand voters are going to be up and arms because in a couple of communities in New Zealand we give some new model a go.

“If those students don’t want to go there, they’ll be free to go to the existing schools they are at.”

Exactly. Of course some people think choice is an evil word.

UPDATE: Danyl at Dim Post thinks that charter schools are a scam and only do better because they can pick their students. However Eric Crampton at Offsetting Behaviour quotes from a study where students were selected by lottery:

Charter schools are publicly funded but operate outside the regulatory framework and collective bargaining agreements characteristic of traditional public schools. In return for this freedom, charter schools are subject to heightened accountability. This paper estimates the impact of charter school attendance on student achievement using data from Boston, where charter schools enroll a growing share of students. We also evaluate an alternative to the charter model, Boston’s pilot schools. These schools have some of the independence of charter schools, but operate within the school district, face little risk of closure, and are covered by many of same collective bargaining provisions as traditional public schools. Estimates using student assignment lotteries show large and significant test score gains for charter lottery winners in middle and high school.

This is highly exciting.

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