Beyond hysterical

The Herald reports:

The Government has promised that the first charter schools in New Zealand will have publicly released performance targets, a high proportion of registered teachers and will not be able to stray too far from the national curriculum by teaching creationism.

Five organisations in Northland and Auckland successfully applied to run New Zealand’s first state-funded, privately run schools. The organisations had a range of backgrounds including military-based training, bilingual schooling and faith-based teaching, and all but one were established entities that had run educational courses or a school.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said the “partnership schools” would be expected to meet the same NCEA and National Standards targets as public schools, and the targets in their contracts would be made public.

All sounds good. And the quality of the applicants and what they wish to do to help struggling under-privileged (mainly) Maori and Pasifika students should be commented. Even Hone Harawira has noted:

“On the other hand, I know the people involved in the two Tai Tokerau projects and they are genuinely good people, dedicated to doing the best for Maori kids. The Leadership Academy already does a wonderful job and the Whangaruru project, although new, kicks off with the best of intentions. And the kids they’re going to help are going to be young Maori, so I wish them all the best.”

But the PPTA wants to treat these schools as some sort of evil regime akin to apartheid South Africa. They said:

The association plans to fight for the abolition of the charter school legislation and the paper will explore a number of options including instructing members to refrain from all professional, sporting and cultural contact with the schools and their sponsors and advising them not to apply for positions in them.

That is a response so far beyond hysterical, it defies belief.

They seem terrified that these charter schools might actually produce some great results, improving the lot of those who voluntarily choose to attend them next year.

Ms Parata said yesterday that in one of the schools – a Mangere primary school targeting Maori and Pacific students – all of the teachers would be registered. In the others, registered teachers would teach core subjects and non-registered teachers would take subjects such as carving, hospitality, and engineering.

Exactly the sort of flexibility you might expect, using an occasional expert in an area who is not a qualified teacher

Government has put aside $19 million for the first charter schools, and Ms Parata said the allocation for each school would be equivalent to similar schools in the same region.

Critics such as the New Zealand Educational Institute said that the funding was wasteful given the small rolls in the five schools – 369 students in total at first, rising to 800 within four years.

One of the new schools, the South Auckland Middle School, promised a teacher-student ratio of 1:15 – a better ratio than state schools.

University of Auckland Associate Professor of Education Peter O’Connor said parents in South Auckland might question why a state-funded public school had larger class sizes than a state-funded charter school in the same area.

Well if the funding is the same, then it is because the charter school has made a decision to spend more of its budget on teachers. I would have thought you’d applaud such a decision, not condemn it.

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