Area men, women panic as Key, Banks unveil December surprise.

Charter schools are coming. Should we be concerned? I think there are some reasons to be cautious about charter schools, but they are not the reasons that have dominated the New Zealand commentariat.

"Charter schools will only select great students"
Some say charter schools will cherry-pick all the great students, and that they will therefore appear better than public schools without actually being any better than public schools.

Not necessarily. Government can regulate how charter schools select their students. In many US States, charter schools are required to accept anybody who applies up to their enrolment cap, and to hold a lottery for places if the number of applicants exceeds the number of seats. No picking and choosing.

"Charter schools create winner schools and loser schools"
Some say charter schools are bad because they stigmatize those public schools that lose many students as a result. Students at these progressively abandoned schools suffer psychological and educational harm as a result.

All school systems feature winner and loser schools. In our current system, some public schools have highly motivated, proud kids gliding around sparkling, well-located facilities steeped in tradition and dripping with alumni-funded extras like stone cricket pavilions and endowed theatres. Other schools straddle motorways or sit on old landfills, feature a hodge-podge of cheap, cold prefabricated classrooms, and have no little or big extras. Those schools also tend to have more disadvantaged student rolls. Then students from those schools visit each other, and see the difference. We already have winner and loser schools, and (if carefully located) a few charter schools have the potential to lift some current occupants of our loser schools and put them into winner schools instead.

"Charter schools do not work"
This is the big one. This argument states that the educational benefits of charter schools are a myth, and that kids at charter schools do no better than kids at regular public schools.

Wrong. To be sure, some charter school experiments have not succeeded. No question. But there is also robust statistical evidence showing that other charter school systems really do produce better educational outcomes. See here and here. In Boston, for example, one study showed that sending an African American child to a charter school for four years eliminates the otherwise yawning racial gap in maths ability that otherwise exists between blacks and whites.

How do we know it is the schools actually producing these improvements and not just stacking the deck with great students? The lottery. The demographics of charter school lottery winners and losers are the same, meaning any subsequent difference in outcomes is due to factors other than the students. Very likely, it is due to the school.

We should be asking what makes successful charter schools successful, not declaring all charter schools a failure on the basis that some charter schools failed. More on that later.

"Charter schools are a tool for the rich to get even richer"
Some see charter schools as basically publicly-funded private schools. Private schools are for rich people, so charter schools are just a way to subsidize rich people. Right?

Not necessarily. If charter schools could be set up anywhere and do whatever they want, that could be a real issue. But governments do not typically give charter school movements that much license. Government, if it wants, can direct charter schools into areas of poor educational outcomes. It can make them run enrolment lotteries, place restrictions on bringing in kids form far away, prevent them from making kids pay extra for anything, and so on. If it wants. In the US, many charter schools are directed towards badly performing areas. In Boston, for example, 72% of charter school students are black. In their public schools, it is 43%.

The unintended consequences of charter school strategy
Having discussed reasons why many current arguments in New Zealand may not hold water, now I turn to an area where concern really is warranted, but that hasn't been discussed much. How do successful charter schools succeed, and what does that mean for kids in other schools?

Boston's charter schools succeed by having low teacher/student ratios. How can they afford that, given they get the same per pupil funding as regular public schools? They have very young teacher pools. In Boston, over 65% of charter school teachers are under 32 years old. Less than 10% of their teachers are over 49. (For public schools, these numbers are about 30% and 40% respectively.) So charter schools succeed by hiring a large quantity of junior teachers, then paying them more than junior teachers would get elsewhere, but less than the average wage across all teachers elsewhere. Because of the relatively generous salaries, they get the cream of the crop. In return, the teachers are not covered by existing collective bargaining arrangements, which mean the teachers can be hired on fixed-term contracts. At the end of the contract, when the teacher has more experience and expects higher compensation, they are let go and the school goes back to the teachers' college pool.

What is the problem? This strategy is not demographically viable on a large scale. If you have only a few charter schools, then the practice of disproportionately hogging the great young teachers only marginally distorts the pool of teachers available to all the other schools. And, if the charter schools are located carefully, they can provide real educational benefit to some previosuly disadvantaged kids, and give some maltreated areas some hope through their kids. But if you end up with a large number of charter schools all going after the great young teachers, then either:

  • if they are successful it enormously distorts the pool of teachers available to the public system, leaving that system with all the older, more expensive teachers and the unwanted young, cheap ones. That harms the cost-effectiveness of public schools; or
  • if the charter schools become less successful at targeting these particular teachers when there are many of them in the market, the added value of charter schools rapidly diminishes towards zero.

Either way, it is hard to see how a large-scale charter school system, which relies for its success on hiring all of the most cost-effective teachers for themselves at the expense of other schools, is good for the education system as a whole. But that is very different from saying that no charter school system can help alleviate some of the most glaring inequities in our current schooling arrangements.

People who are about progressive educational outcomes should ask hard questions about the government's proposal. Where will the schools be placed? How will the schools select their students? How many will there be? The answers to those kinds of questions will determine how supportive I am.

What we should not be doing is writing off charter schools en masse. There is evidence that charter schools, done right, are progressive institutions. Our challenge is to make sure the government does them right. That will involve battling the natural instincts of ACT. But it should not involve battling the very idea of charter schools.

Comments (26)

by Dave Guerin on December 07, 2011
Dave Guerin

Nice post Rob and congrats on being so considered. The debate needs more cool heads.

I don't agree with your analysis on the HR area, mainly because things are more complicated. If a charter school is freed up from: (a) collective employment agreements (and their usual use of pay steps based on years of service); (b) given bulk funding; and (c) allowed to develop their own culture; then they may be able to offer employment packages that appeal to a wide range of teachers. In NZ, we probably also have a flatter teacher pay scale than in places such as NYC or Boston, so the age impact of a charter school may be less. I'm not saying you're wrong, but that the context needs more development.

You are quite right to focus on employment practices, as that will be the underlying focus of the charter schools debate in the medium term in NZ. And the core issue you've identified is that great young teachers may not get valued as much in the current system as less great older teachers, therefore creating a market opportunity to easily attract those young teachers. Whether or not we have charter schools, that's a useful issue to explore.

by J McKenzie on December 07, 2011
J McKenzie

Charter schools come from failed education systems and from systems which are huely different from ours. Over 60% of our schools have less than 100 pupils - our needs are very different from the needs of the USA and UK systems. Many of our innovations are exported to these countries and yet our unimaginative politicians continue to import their silly ideas like national standards and charter schools. Crazy. We should be looking at Finland which is the top performing education system in all the studies. They encourage creativity, professional leadership, and personalising the curriculum to the needs of the child; theirs is a high trust model! Tolley would hate it.

As an aside, if Key and co didn't plan to introduce charter schools, why an English woman responsible for charter schools in the UK recently appointed as the secretary for education here????

by Rob Salmond on December 07, 2011
Rob Salmond

@Dave: Thanks for the props. It would be interesting to see whether there are charter schools systems somewhere that (1) have enjoyed educational success; and (2) employ a similar basket of teachers to the surrounding public schools. At the moment, the examples I have seen employ a non-random subsection of the teacher pool, often with negative implications for other schools. Certainly worth thinking about these HR issues as the specifics of the government proposal emerges. (As I argued before the election here.

@J: Like you, I would love for us to have a FInnish education system. But we do not have enough teachers to make our system work right, let alone the Finnish system where every teacher has a Masters degree.And we do not have enough money, either. Maybe one day. Like you, I live in hope.

I think you dismiss charter schools too lightly. The American education system may not perform well on some metrics, but it has pockets of excellence and progress. The data show that some of those pockets of excellence are located in certain charter schools. I think is valuable information. Put it this way: If there is a way to *adapt* charter schools made for American or British needs so that they work instead for New Zealand's needs, wouldn;t that be worth thinking about? The reaction that charter schools are "crazy" and "silly" because they come from places other than New Zealand is itself crazy and silly. Look at the evidence, not at the flag.


by Stephanie on December 07, 2011

Hi Rob

I'm going to out myself right now as a first year teacher for 2012.

One scary implication to the idea that charter schools work is because they are able to take large numbers of beginning teachers is a lack of professional oversight for young teachers for their first few years on the job.

The New Zealand system as it is has a two-year process of induction for beginning teachers in which they are mentored and further develop their practice. For charters to work in the way you describe that would have huge implications on teacher quality in the chartered schools as presumably the teachers would not go through that process if the chartered schools are to be staffed predominately by junior teachers? So actually rather than finding quality teachers the inverse might be true.

The smart beginning teachers will be looking for schools with good induction programmes to develop over the long term rather than a short term salary offset leaving the charters with the leftover graduates. The employment situation for beginning teachers, at least in primary, is that there are huge numbers of graduates and not enough jobs so finding beginning teachers isn't the problem as your analysis suggests.

I also think there's a huge assumption that because a young teacher is talented they aren't in need of support and guidance from experienced teachers. In fact I would arge to encourage that attitude is downright dangerous. Most experienced teachers will tell you the minute you think you know everything about teaching is the day you need to resign because it means you aren't open to learning from others especially the kids.


by Mr Magoo on December 07, 2011
Mr Magoo

If only the charter schools were implemented correctly then everything would be ok? And if the school system was implemented well there would be "no child left behind" either I am sure.

What are the chances of that with the "urgency" national party and Ann "national standards" Tolley in charge?

And I find it funny that somehow we cannot adopt Finland's policies because of monetary concerns but somehow we can do this correctly. (with the added overhead parrallel systems always incur and the expected private profit margins and govt. savings)

This is national's way of trying to undermine the union and privatise the school system. It will not be implemented in anything other than a cost-saving way and targetted at the people national do not care about. And the spin machine will be in full effect to make out they are working when they are not. It will not be well researched and when the experts point this out they will be ignored.

Just like for the private prisons, boot camps and cycleway.

Giving people the benefit of (exceptionally) reasoned and well informed action when they have consistently shown otherwise is neither reasoned nor informed - regardless of how it may be written.

by Peter McCaffrey on December 07, 2011
Peter McCaffrey

Well done Rob for not jumping to assumptions on Charter Schools.

Shame on you for doing exactly that for ACT's intentions.

You list your three concerns as:

  • Where will the schools be placed?
  • How will the schools select their students?
  • How many will there be?

And then go on to imply that ACT and the government will get it wrong and you'll have to pursuade them.

But if you'd actually bothered to just read the confidence and supply agreement, all the detail is there...

  • The schools will be placed in deprived areas like South Auckland and Eastern Christchurch.
  • The schools will have to accept any child in zone, will have to use a lottery if oversubscribed, and can't adjust their zone to exclude disadvantaged students.
  • There will be a small number of schools (exact number not listed, but it's a trial).

by Rob Salmond on December 07, 2011
Rob Salmond

@Stephanie: My guess is that charter schools will have to employ qualified teachers, which could potentially mean that they offer their higher salaries to top performing teachers at the start of their third year, as the induction comes to an end. Whether more of the best teachers will take the salary package today or the job security for later is an empirical question, but I am suspicious of any argument suggesting *all* the best teachers will reject the money. And to the question of whether talented but junior teachers need the level of oversight they currently get in public schools, or could do well even with less, I would point to the evidence from Boston. Those mainly junior teachers appeared to do OK with much less oversight.


@Mr Magoo: If your concern is the capacity of the government to do this progressively and well, then that is a very legit concern. But the appropriate thing to do then is aim your criticism at the craftsman, not the tool.


by Kyle Matthews on December 07, 2011
Kyle Matthews

What are the barriers to taking some of the good elements of charter schools or similar systems, and putting them into our public schooling?

by Rob Salmond on December 07, 2011
Rob Salmond

@Peter: I did, in fact, read the document. It does not say what you say it says. It says:

- Charter schools *may* choose to deal with oversubscription using a ballot;

- Charter schools *may* set their own zone, with the loose restriction you noted about not excluding disadvantaged kids. But that zone may equally include some disadvantaged kids and also include a bunch more fortunate kids, too, at the school's discretion.

- And this is jsut a pilot program. I want to hear more about the parameters of the follow-on large program, especially given my concern about labour market distortions detailed above.

The program as described is very vague. Most two pagers are. I'm holding out for more and better information.


by NBH on December 07, 2011

Kyle's comment/question above is surely the most relevant one.  The proponents of using charter schools in New Zealand are essentially arguing that the charter school model in and of itself will benefit students, which seems a bit odd.  Surely what we should be doing is looking at the successful charter schools (and, indeed, successful schools in other systems too), identifying why they are successful, and then looking at how we can replicate those practices or features in our own system.  Since - as has been pointed out in many places over the last couple of days - many of the key features of charter schools already exist in our system, I suspect that it wouldn't be too difficult to implement those practices/features here without implementing a new 'type' of school.

Furthermore, it's also really worth bearing in mind that all data is(are) contextual.  In other words, even if the evidence conclusively showed that charter schools overall were better for a student compared to the US system - which appears to not be the case from the most comprehensive evaluation of the model that we have available - you need to compare that outcome to *our* system before you use it to inform policy.

by Tom Haig on December 07, 2011
Tom Haig

Nice article Rob, with some thoughtful points that now the knee-jerk of revulsion has subsided are worth engaging with.

A few points:

You write "...there is also robust statistical evidence showing that other charter school systems really do produce better educational outcomes."

Looking at aggregated data shows in fact quite the opposite. The most complete studies of academic achievement at charter schools have been done by Stanford University's Centre for Research in Educational Outcomes (CREDO). Their synthesis of 16 states' charter school outcomes showed that (as has been pointed out in the media already) only 17% performed better than public schools, while 37% performed worse.

Caroline Hoxby, who you link to, disputed the methodology of the CREDO survey, but there's definitely room for doubt about her impartiality - she's a conservative economist and high profile advocate of charter schools.

Another substantial survey on the impact of charter schools was conducted for the US Department of Education last year. This one only looked at 36 charter schools across states,  but has a wider scope than the CREDO study. The schools chosen were all oversubscribed... so arguably therefore all 'succesful schools.' A key finding is that "charter middle schools... are neither more nor less successful than traditional public schools in improving student achievement, behavior and social progress."

I'd be interested where your 'robust statistical evidence' comes from?

I'm happy to acknowledge that when the data is disaggregated, for certain groups, of students in certain contexts, charter schools do seem to allow them to achieve better than they would in public schools. Of course there will be variation, and as you say, if we are going to have them, in principle one would like to see them doing well for their students. But on balance the achievement data suggests that this is not a model that we should follow.

You also dispute the "rich getting richer" argument against charter schools. Approaching this from another perspective, charter schools are an example of turning the public sphere into a competitive market place, with profits to be made. Capitalism demands growth, and growth needs new markets.

This is Rupert Murdoch's take:  "He said that he sees the American education sector as a $500 billion market that's largely been untapped by companies like his."

This is how it is about enriching the rich... through the profits to be made from 'efficient use of taxpayer funds.' And if you doubt that there is much cash to be made, quarter of Microsoft's earnings last year were in the education area.

That, I think, is the main reason to be cautious. There has been an incremental marketization of public services in New Zealand since the 1980s, often driven by arguments of efficiency; just like your claim above that charter schools are better for students. But, when we can empirically show that these arguments are rubbish, then it is time to expose the ideological imperative that's really driving them.


by william blake on December 07, 2011
william blake

National Standards AND Charter Schools; make up your bloody minds!


by Flat Eric on December 07, 2011
Flat Eric

Take a look at the American documentary film, "Waiting for Superman", which is about the US education system and charter schools.  The scenes where kids desparately await the drawing of their name from the ballot, knowing it will change their lives, speaks volumes.

by Stephanie on December 07, 2011

SPM Question is why do we need to ration quality education to have these scenes? Why not have that freely available to all rather than just a few?

by Rob Salmond on December 07, 2011
Rob Salmond

@Kyle: It is a good question. One element of Boston's charter schools that is striking is they rely on a different pool of teachers than normal schools. Much, much younger. Cheaper. And more of them. As I mentioned in my post, this strategy can only ever work on a small scale, meaning we cannot apply that lesson to New Zealand schools as a whole.


@Tom: Thanks for the thoughtful comment. The evidence I have seen comes from Hoxby and also from a team of economists including Josh Angrist from MIT. The links are in the main psot. I am a lefty, and I think the methods both those studies use are very powerful. Even though I disagree with many conservatives on ideological matters, I think Hoxby gets the technicalities of her analysis right here. I do some of this broad type of statistical work in my own research and teaching at U Michigan, so I feel somewhat qualified to make that kind of call. Certainly, however, you and CREDO are right that there is wide variance in charter school performance. But included in that wide variance are some big successes. Quoting CREDO: "The policy challenge is how to deal constructively with varying levels of performance today and into the future." As I said in the post, I think that means understanding why successful charter schools succeed and seeing if we can replicate their success here.

As for the "rich getting richer" thing, my understanding is that the school organizations themselves are only not-for-profit, but that they can hire for-profit to run certain bits of the school if they want. They key is the overall school organization. So long as that is not-for-profit, then Murdoch and co. haven't got much of an in.

by Mr Magoo on December 07, 2011
Mr Magoo

Actually I would consider that when it comes to process the tool needs to be able to be used by inadequate crafstman otherwise it is an idealistic waste of time.

I mean your argument against the finnish model was that they all have to have masters degrees and more money? Why is not just as ludicrous to assume a system of review, scrutiny and funding we know will not happen?

Just saying a system works because there have been (a minority) of successes in some places is not a very strong argument. Certainly not the most robust system of education,is it? Give me a crack team of super hard working and intelligent people and an enourmous pile of cash and would even be able make the cycleway work!

Is it therefore worth it at all to pursue it? I mean there are highly successful schools also, typically in well to do areas. Why cannot special programs be looked at in public schools? What about other alternatives? (obviously none of these has been adequately researched of course but then that is National and Act's calling card)

It is a bit like the joke about the mathmatician, statistician and the physicist.

They were all offerred a million dollars if they could accurately predict the winner of a horserace. The mathmatician spent a year trying to rack their brains over this problem and eventually said it could not be done. The statistician said he could predict the winner but only 30% of the time.

However the physician said he could perfectly. Everyone was amazed....

...assuming perfectly spherical horses racing in a vacum...

by Terence Wood on December 07, 2011
Terence Wood

Hi Rob,

Interesting post, thanks.

Boston's charter schools succeed by having low teacher/student ratios

So if this is the case then isn't the main reason to be opposed to charter schools simply that they are a major distraction from the one thing we already know to be essential to better education outcomes: low teacher to student ratios? I'm all for letting market mechanisms unearth hitherto unknown innovations but is there any actual evidence that they've done this in the charter school case?

And, if not, why bother?

by John Stroup on December 07, 2011
John Stroup

Home schooling and charter schools offer an alternative to "government schools".

Pro government school advocates will try and diminish home school and charter school achevements.

The fact remains that both home school and charter school outcomes far exceed gov't school outcomes.

For whatever reason, both of these methods out perform gov't schools. This has been proved through many studies.

If the educational establishment is concerned with outcomes, why do they oppose a superior paradigm? 

by Tom Haig on December 07, 2011
Tom Haig

Thanks for the response Rob.

In regards to the achievement data, I concede that I don’t have a great understanding of the statistical methodologies. Nevertheless, I think it’s pretty clear that there is serious doubt about the  achievement effects of charter schools, and the claim in the coalition document that they will ‘lift …achievement in low decile areas…” is tenuous at best . It’s obvious really – the key characteristic of charter schools is their governance and funding model… and there are many more significant characteristics or interventions that impact on student learning.

I agree, let’s learn from what the best ones are doing, but I’d contend that we can learn from them and implement the good features in our state schools. Our current systems of governance, curriculum and assessment all allow a high degree of adaption to local context and desires, so there is no need for wasteful experimentation.

On the other point, I suggest you have another look at the annex to the confidence and supply agreement. It twice mentions ‘for profit’ organisations being allowed to run schools – once as the board or owners, and once as a contracted body by a board of governors. For further proof that there are serious interests already cashing in on the ‘brave new frontier’ of what-used-to-be public education, have a squiz at this. If you can’t be bothered clicking through, Ron Packard – CEO of K12Inc, which made $193mill in the first quarter of this year, says in their latest investor statement “Our core virtual public school business is strong and growing…”.. That growth was 43%. This is on the back of buying a school in Switzerland, and,  to quote Packard “we opened two new states this fall” – i.e. got their legislatures to allow the sort of thing that’s happening here.

by Ian MacKay on December 07, 2011
Ian MacKay

Given the lack of consultation over National Standards and the lack of substance or credibility in the program itself, how much confidence will there be in setting up trial Charter Schools? (Agree with William Blake.)

Note that the enforced imposition of National Standards is a direct contradiction to the "freedom to set up their own curriculum." Would a Charter School be forced to operate NS?

by J McKenzie on December 08, 2011
J McKenzie
by Mr Magoo on December 08, 2011
Mr Magoo

Another point is the relative rating of the school systems measured against.

Lost in all of this (as always) is that NZ's school system is right up there with the best in the world. So when we talk about UK or US charter schools doing "better" (whatever that means...) in 17% of cases that is not rated against NZ schools.

by Richard Thomson on December 08, 2011
Richard Thomson

Re: Waiting for Superman –

and also

where para 2 makes an interesting point: "The black–white achievement gap, as a recent report put it, 'is as old as the nation itself.' It was cut in half in the 1970s and 1980s, probably by desegregation, increased economic opportunities for black families, federal investment in early childhood education, and reductions in class size."

Rob, I accept your point that some charter schools can provide better outcomes. But many more appear not to, or do so only at the expense of neighbouring schools. You suggest we should carefully pick out the bits that work. Well, you could make exactly the same argument with the public education system we already have.













by Tomek Pietkiewicz on December 11, 2011
Tomek Pietkiewicz

Hello, Kia Ora, Talofa, and Czesc to Rob and everyone else here :)

This is my first contribution to Pundit. I have a Business Degree as well as a Graduate Diploma in Secondary School Teaching. The subjects I teach are Social Studies, Accounting, Economics and Business Studies. I am fresh out of Teachers' Training College and I have had the privellege of teaching at one of the best schools in New Zealand, and also one of the worst schools [best and worst are based on the media's portrayl and public perception].

Charter schools are of huge interest and it saddens me that a select group of politicians have agreed to this. Unfortunately Rob, I don't believe you express in this particular post a proper understanding of the New Zealand education system and its stakeholders, what makes students succeed or have courage to continue at school, what makes an effective and efficient teacher, the role that media plays in portraying our education system, nor do you examine what improvements could be made to the existing public education system. I believe you should incorporate all of these key indicators into your future education-related posts. "The biggest failure of education reform is failing to trust its teachers to teach".

Let's be clear here. New Zealand has the fourth best education system in the world according to the OECD - that is an amazing achievement which is not known by many people, and not expressed often enough in the media. However it has the highest rates of youth suicide and the most common reason students see a guidance counsellor now is depression. One could asssume many reasons for this, but I believe it is largely due to the inequality in New Zealand, and according to a seperate OECD report, New Zealand has the largest wage gap out of the all the developed countries.

Based on my opening address, you will have a list in your head of what are the best schools, and what are the worst schools in New Zealand. Teachers I have come across this year, which are independent of both schools, would overwhelmingly teach at the best school. This seems like common sense, and if I did not know the full picture about the worst school, I would also agree with them. It's unfortunate how our prejudices are formed, and the impact media has on our understanding of the "truth". More on this later.

The cultural and religous diversity of New Zealanders in cumbersome with our ability to get along with one another is a powerful force that is embedded throughout our New Zealand curriculum and not often seen in many developed countries. The New Zealand education system has some of the world's leading professors in education research. One of these professors is Russell Bishop, who devised a programme called Te Kotahitanga []. Throughout the construction of this programme, the voices of Maori students were heard, and as a result of the research and implementation of the programme, not only did Maori achievement increase, but also the achievement of non-Maori. What does this tell you? It tells you that the student voice is one of the most amazing instruments you can have in an education system, and New Zealand fully acknowledges that.

The problem with the New Zealand education system is the politicians who think they know what is best for the "failing schools". We have a political ping pong system which is depicted by the PPTA in this YouTube video - The politicians refuse to collaborate with the PPTA which 97% of teachers belong to, refuse to collaborate with students and parents/caregivers, and they [being National] refuse to acknowledge the research on the positive correlation between class sizes and education. However, they are willing to accept a trial charter school initiative which the majority of prinicipals fail to acknowledge any real reason to implement at all. It is a sad case of politicians thinking they know better than the front line.

Research has shown that across the board, charter schools in America do not perform as well as public schools []. You do get some who perform better, but if you research that school further you could find all sorts of reasons why [the charter school is highly likely to remove students who are underperforming and get into trouble - whereas most public schools are more likely to look after those students, give them chances, and transform them, which of course, is not measurable in the standardized testing system we have today]. I know of a school that only selected students to take certain courses if the teachers knew they were going to get a high grade in that course - talk about limiting opportunities and defecit thinking! I do accept that some charter schools work, but on the whole, the system is not worth implementing if we already have such a fantastic education system in place already [New Zealand is rated the fourth best education system in the world according to the OECD as mentioned earlier].

The media plays a huge role in portraying New Zealand's education system and social issues of young adults [otherwise known as teenagers or students - how derogratory]. It unfairly emphasises the places in which social disturbances take place, otherwise known as South Auckland, and portrays amazing schools negatively, such as Fairfield College, who in 2009, produced NCEAs best student by the name of Paul Johnston who achieved five outstanding scholarships and three scholarships in other subjects despite the media depicting this school as yes, you guessed it, "failing". Of course, the real achievements of these communities are never conveyed in mainstream media, and instead the media resorts to sensationalism and persecution to further drive them down. Perhaps this is because of the old saying "bad news sells", or perhaps it is foreign and political influence, considering that most of New Zealand's media is now owned by Australia [Fairfax - who own, and most of our newspapers - Ironbridge Capital - who own Media Works which broadcasts, TV3, TV4, and most of our radio stations and whom also received a $40 million loan from the Government to stay afloat despiate Ironbridge being a private equity fund and receiving investment fund of the year status in Australia in 2008.]

The solutions are obvious, and I believe it is not in charter schools. The politicians have to mutually agree that education will not be a political issue [sorry John Banks, you will have to sacrifice part of your $217,000 salary], they have to listen to the PPTA, the students and the parents/caregivers, as well as other interested stakeholders [remember that education has a direct and indirect effect on all of us], get feedback from the supposed "failing" schools and from that feedback identify areas of support, do proper investigations into these schools [you'll be surprised how lack luster the ERO can be at times based on stories I have heard], listen to the communities of those schools, allocate more resources to those schools, celebrate the achievements more regularly of our students [see this TED video for an awesome example of this in India -], support teachers in areas of need, and instruct the media to stop persecuting and sensationalising news stories of these school(s) and their communities.

It is time we make a united stand to end political influence of education in New Zealand and start listening to the people on the front line. I might sound like a PPTA activist, but I'm telling you straight up, how it is, and what some teachers think of the Government in New Zealand. I feel sorry for those students, teachers and unions whose voices are not being heard because a select few politicians think they know what is right.

In regards to your comment about teacher salaries, you will find that a lot of teachers don't enter the profession for the money. They generally want to make a difference, and some teachers will also prefer to only teach at certain schools because they are attached to the school, whether they went there as a student, or because they believe in its ethos [I personally don't believe in students doing Cambridge and NCEA in the same class and having to sit 15 - 20 exams at the end of the year].

Also in regards to your comment about "badly performing schools", I would like to know what your definition of "performance" is. Performance is a very loose word isn't it. I argue passionately that well-being of students in a school is equally if not more important than test scores [Google "testing to the test"]. France is starting to measure the well-being of its citizens, its time we did too.

Teaching is all about relationships, compassion, professional development, support, high expectations, humour, offering opportunities, and most of all, passion. We want every single one of your dependents to do well and be awesome citizens that will improve the world as we see it today.

Kia Kaha to all those schools, teachers, students, and communities who are doing their utmost best. The day of political ping pong is drawing to an end [we hope].

by on March 06, 2012

A really good pair of Burberry Scarf for sale can make or break how a man can look. If you can do it right and everything complements each other then you can be elegant and stylish.

by danniel on February 28, 2013

I think we have yet to see how the charter schools will affect our children's education. Any education system out there has good and bad points, including public schools but this doesn't mean they don't make a good job in teaching our children, after all I have got my doctoral degree after graduating from public schools. Charter schools will certainly change things a bit, but it doesn't have to be bad, and besides how can we improve if we reject any change?

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