I want to understand why anyone would choose to start a charter school over any other kind of school, so I’ve been having conversations with people working for charters or with them or who are part of a community that want them. What has struck me is how often these people say they wanted to set up within the pre-charter school system and were repeatedly turned down, only to finally get the chance to have their school once charter schools were brought in.
My question is this: why would that be?
John Key’s rationale for charters is:
“There will be families that will make the decision that they want to send their child to them because it gives them what they believe will be an education that they can’t get in the current system.” Source
Hmmm. Another question: Why were they not allowed to join the system as it stood, prior to charter schools?
There are heaps of special character schools, kura, independent schools and so on. In fact, a new special character opened only this week in Christchurch and is said to have a “unique approach to learning [that] sets the school apart from other bilingual and immersion settings.” So, why would government push for the addition of a new style of school entirely?
I have a lot of sympathy for schools that became charters because they felt they had no other option. Schools such as Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa, which Tracey Martin says:
“…was known for the fabulous work they did with students who were disconnected from mainstream schooling. It enjoyed a close working partnership with other local schools.”
“But the backers of charter schools seduced them and rushed them through the process to become a charter school.”
When I asked one commentator why she was advocating charterisation rather than another type of school, the answer she gave was telling:
So, this leads to more questions:
Why would a government want to “seduce” a school to become a charter rather than, say, a special character school?
Why did government not want them “in the current system.”
What possible difference could it make to the government, so long as the school is there and is doing its job well?
This is what we need to ponder.
Could it be that govenment purposefully created a barrier so that, if those schools wanted to be state funded, they would have to become charter schools?
Is this government so determined to embed charter schools in NZ that it would stoop to dubious tactics?
Are people being hoodwinked?
Have some of the current charters been used?
Because if prospective new schools are being shut out only to be told that if they want to operate in the public system they have to become charter schools, then the push to charterisation is not about innovation or choice or improvement or the students. It can’t be, as all of those things can and do happen in the non-charter school system – the system they have are not being helped to join. It’s not about those things at all.
Charter schools are being pushed through for one reason and one reason only: privatisation of yet another public system.
It’s about economics and ideology, pure and simple. And schools, communities and students are being duped.