Hekia Parata, Catherine Isaac and John Banks continually assure Kiwis that charter schools will offer something innovative and provide students with an excellent, modern, almost-mystically-good education.
And yet what’s this?
Not some land with a building on.
Not even an old fashioned school.
And Ms Martin says the school has no money left for buildings.
So where will the students receive the promised world class, top notch, supernaturally-good charter school education? They are planning to use portcabins, says Martin.
Yes, you heard that right – portacabins.
Tracey Martin caught Hekia off guard at Question Time today when she asked whether the Minister was aware that Te Kura Hourua ke Whangaruru, a bilingual secondary school for years 9-13 in Whangaruru, Northland run by the Nga Parirau Matauranga Trust has used its funds this way.
Hekia was clearly flustered, as well she might be, and couldn’t give an answer.
It’s well worth watching it for yourself (from 3 minutes onwards, in particular):
The Trust has said Martin’s information is wrong and that its toilets are brand new, permanent ablution blocks. The spokesperson didn’t expand much on the ‘property’ part, so we will have to wait for more revelations and clarity there.
But in any case, we do know that the Trust now owns 81 hectares of land. It is theirs. Paid for with your tax dollars.
Partnership School Funding Mysteries
The document “Funding for Partnership Schools” states:
The funding model for Partnership Schools is intended to give sponsors flexibility to manage their resources; provide a broadly similar level of funding to that for schools and students in the state system; be transparent; and allow the Crown to manage fiscal risk.
I would argue whilst the funding model seems to have certainly fulfilled the former of those missions, it could well be failing miserably on the latter.
It goes on to say:
“It is assumed that many Partnership Schools will rent premises. The schools may be established in remodelled commercial or other premises, or possibly in existing educational buildings such as a closed state school or by a private school converting to a Partnership School.”
No mention of portacabins…
Anyhoo, back to the question about funds…
I’ve had no luck tracking down anything that says that partnership schools will have to return land, buildings, funds or any other assets should they close down at any point. And as partnership schools are private businesses, I can’t demand that information under the Official Information Act.
So, along with Tracey Martin, I am non the wiser.
If anyone has any information on this or knows how I can apply for it, do tell, either in the comments, by message on the Facebook page, or by email.
trust funds trust
Whatever the case with this particular school, I do wonder whether the government is nevertheless guilty of grossly misplaced trust in deciding that:
“funding will be non-tagged to give [partnership school] sponsors flexibility to make investment decisions that support the achievement of the contracted outcomes.“
Tracey Martin MP does a sterling job of trying to get the Minister to admit that charter (or partnership) schools are not bound to return or refund any funds they receive should they never open, shut down or fold in any way. She tries repeatedly, in fact, but the Minister refuses to give a straight answer on that contractual point.
Why not indeed.
Well I for one can’t wait to see what come out in the wash with this one…
Sources and further reading:
Sometimes the only thing that covers it is a meme:
For more from Kelvin, see his blog here.
Diane Ravitch notes:
In my recent book, Reign of Error, I quote extensively from a brilliant article by Keith Baker, called “Are International Tests Worth Anything?,” which was published by Phi Delta Kappan in October 2007. Baker, who worked for many years as a researcher at the U.S. Department of Education, had the ingenious idea to investigate what happened to the 12 nations that took the First International Mathematics test in 1964.
He looked at the per capita gross domestic product of those nations and found that “the higher a nation’s test score 40 years ago, the worse its economic performance on this measure of national wealth–the opposite of what the Chicken Littles raising the alarm over the poor test scores of U.S. children claimed would happen.”
He found no relationship between a nation’s economic productivity and its test scores.
Nor did the test scores bear any relationship to quality of life or democratic institutions.
Read the rest here: My View of the PISA Scores.
Fair enough, I understand that – I am passionate too, and immediately want to know what the results do or do not tell us about how NZ is doing, educationally.
But surely it’s a time to read, reflect, research, and discuss the findings and the study itself, and try to eke out something meaningful form it, rather than just jump in and score Brownie points?
The goal is to see where we can improve things for our learners, after all.
Below are the Ministry’s main take away points from the study, copied verbatim from their web site.
I am going to refrain from commenting or adding my own observations or thoughts for now, as I would rather people read them with an open mind and ask questions of them.
Here goes – get your thinking caps on:
In New Zealand, over 5,000 students (4,291 for core PISA subjects, 958 for financial literacy) from 177 schools took part in the study, in July 2012.
- New Zealand students scored above the OECD average in mathematics, reading and science.
- Australia had similar scores in mathematics and reading but had a higher science score.
- New Zealand student performance remained relatively stable up to 2009. Between 2009 and 2012 performance in mathematics, reading and science declined.
- The proportion of New Zealand students (below Level 2) increased between 2009 and 2012 in mathematics and science (eg, up from 15% in mathematics in 2009 to 23% in 2012). These are students who struggle to do mathematics or science and whose lack of skills is a barrier to learning.
- Students who achieve Level 5 or 6 have advanced skills in mathematics, reading or science. In particular, New Zealand has a high proportion of students who are top performers in reading (14%).
- New Zealand has a relatively high proportion of all-rounder students who are top performers across mathematics, reading and science even compared to the top performing countries (21% are top performers in at least one subject area and 8% are “all rounders”).
- New Zealand has a relatively large proportion of both top performers (Level 5 and 6) and low performers (below level 2) in mathematics. In addition, New Zealand is counted among the 10 PISA countries and economies with the widest spread of achievement in mathematical literacy.
- New Zealand students demonstrated relative strength in the mathematical area of uncertainty and data (statistics) and weaker achievement in space and shape (geometry and measurement). Their performance on change and relationships(aspects of algebra) and quantity (number and measurement) was close to the overall New Zealand average for mathematics.
- Overall boys did much better than girls in mathematics, girls continued to do better than boys in reading and there was very little difference in science.
- Overall New Zealand European/Pākehā and Asian students scored above the OECD average in mathematics and Māori and Pasifika students scored below the OECD average. However, students from all ethnic backgrounds attained scores right across the achievement spectrum.
- The average scores in mathematics for boys and girls and for New Zealand Pākehā/European, Māori and Pasifika students all declined between 2009 and 2012, but there was no change for Asian students.
- Overall, New Zealand is a country characterised by relatively high achievement (when compared to the OECD average) but the distribution of student performance shows that we have relatively low equality (equity) in learning outcomes.
- New Zealand is a country where the variability of student PISA mathematics scores within a school is high while the variability in scores across schools is relatively low. However, the variability in scores across schools is increasing.
I’d love to hear others’ observations, in the comments below or on the Facebook page.
The big drop in New Zealand’s student achievement in recent years is a direct result of a failure of this government’s education, economic and social policies, says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President Judith Nowotarski.
Mrs Nowotarski says the results are a clear wake up call to the government.
She says the Minister of Education has overseen one of the biggest drops in our student ranking in recent years.
The OECD PISA results, measuring 15 year old student achievement in science, maths and reading, shows that since 2008 New Zealand has had one of the fastest-growing rates of inequity as well as a corresponding decrease in student performance.
“Across the board New Zealand’s performance has dropped on all the scores and this is something that the government should be ashamed of. It shows its policies are nothing short of disastrous.”
“For five years the government has been obsessed with collecting unnecessary and irrelevant data when it should have been focussed on making a difference for students.
“The Minister is being misleading when she claims that this decline is a long-running trend. By far the biggest drop in achievement has occurred since 2009.
“This government’s obsession with data combined with no solutions for failing education policies has been a disaster for many New Zealand children. Instead of working with teachers and schools to improve education, the government has been hell-bent on dismantling our public education system.
“Countries that have a higher level of equity also have better achievement outcomes for all students. Eighteen percent of New Zealand children now live in poverty and the student achievement gap reflects the impact that poverty has on students’ learning.
“All the findings are saying the same thing. It’s now time for the government to start to look at what really works in education.
“We need the government to work with teachers and schools to restore our education system to its previous top performing level instead of having one of the fastest levels of decline in the OECD.”
If you do, you might want to go and add your vote to this poll: Why aren’t teachers represented on the Teachers Council?
Because as it stands, the only voices on there are hand-picked by the Minister.
The poll asks:
Do teacher members have to continue to put up with the various weird aggregations put together by the minister as somehow representing them, when they paid membership fees, and participated democratically, to be represented very differently?
The poll goes on to point out, quite rightly:
Everyone knows that the real purpose of the Teachers Council (whatever its current appellation or stage of development) is to bring in school and classroom measures that will be another controlling bureaucratic layer encompassing burdensome appraisals focusing on national standards and decisions about teacher competency
You have to have a voice.
Because, to be honest, if we as a profession don’t show that we want, expect and demand to have true representation on our own professional body, we can do nothing more than hang our heads in shame when our rights are eroded, more poorly-thought-out reforms are implemented, and any old person can rack on up and ‘teach’ our students.
Doing nothing is as good as saying what is happening to our schools, students and teachers is good enough.
As the poll states:
Many principals and teachers, having stood up bravely against national standards in their implementation, will be dismayed to see them introduced in a circuitous way through the Teachers Council; doubly offensive in being an organisation in their name – and which they fund.
Enough is enough.