Charter schools – heaping failure on disadvantaged kids

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ACT leader Jamie Whyte

I used to think new ACT Party leader Jamie Whyte was a misguided ideologue rather than a particularly nasty advocate for the 1%.

I’ve had to change my mind this week with Whyte’s announcement that ACT will be pushing for all public schools to become charter schools. This man may well have high academic achievement but he’s also a particularly offensive idiot.

I say idiot because that’s the only label for his claim that “…we would see dramatic improvements in the performance of schools, especially those teaching children from poor families” if public schools became charter schools.

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There is now a wealth of international evidence – from 20 years of charter schools in countries like the US, UK and Sweden – that charter schools overall are an expensive failure – a rort of the public and a particularly sick joke on parents and children in low-income communities.

In countries where charter schools have gained a foothold we have seen their education achievement drop relative to countries with strong public school systems. Their education systems have become expensive, incoherent and fragmented – and those that suffer the most are children from low-income areas.

In 2012 Act brought out Mike Feinberg to tour New Zealand. Feinberg was a co-founder of KIPP charter schools in the US which ACT held out as the gold standard which New Zealand should emulate.

KIPP produced startling academic success rates for their students but the whole edifice crumbles when you find out they have a “dropout rate” of 30% of kids before secondary school age. This rises to a staggering 40% (sic) for African American boys.

Just imagine the outcry if a New Zealand primary school kicked out 40% of Maori and Pasifika boys before Year 9.

ACT and KIPP have the same three things in common – lies, filthy lies and bullshit statistics.

Charter schools are not about improving educational outcomes for children from poor families. They are a mechanism used by the wealthy to privatise education for profit – using the poor to advance the agenda of the rich.

New Zealand does have a problem with underachievement of children from low-income families as social problems unleashed by the free-market have escalated. Huge numbers of children are in “transience” – struggling to learn as they shift schools regularly for reasons related to poverty. A recent report from Child Poverty Action Group showed that every Monday morning 400 children change schools in South Auckland.

Having helped create problems like transience ACT now has the “solution” of charter schools to make things even worse.

Whyte also has the gall to want bigger government subsidies for private schools. Unlike state schools these schools pick and choose the children they want to teach – no bare-foot brown kids wanted thanks – and they charge huge fees to attend. Not content with that they want even bigger government subsidies to help them keep maximum class sizes of 15.

Why should taxpayers subsidise these schools to keep class sizes of 15 when down the road public school children are in classes of 30 plus?

ALL children deserve the chance to learn in a class size of 15 – not just the heavily state subsidised children of the rich whose parents want them to learn in a socially cleansed environment.

We need strategic voting in Epsom – not to get ACT in but to get ACT out.

89 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe we should get rid of education altogether. The more of it you have the more stupid you get. Witness Jamie Whyte. And obviously witless.

    • It’s not altogether clear whether Whyte is an object lesson against education or incest – but he certainly makes Colin Craig look refreshingly normal. With outliers like these even the Key kleptocracy can ape something vaguely resembling centrism.

  2. In the Epsom Electorate you have Auckland Grammar School and Epsom Girls Grammar School very good public schools excelling in academic and sporting areas, these schools curriculum and ethos are based around sound academic teaching and discipline. Maybe Government should have a look at how these schools operate and work off these as a basis, I can’t see how Charter Schools can be any better than these current models, it appears to be far right whacky thinking that $’s through the private sector will generate better outcomes.

    • Jack I think you need to look at the socio economic status of the parents of the kids that go to these schools. Except for the few that have scholarships to Auckland Grammar that come from South Auckland, primarily because they are good rugby players, they come from predominantly well to do families. Families that can afford coaching and many other extra curricular activities e.g. music lessons. Less poverty better learning is the answer. These schools will not be run any different to schools in South Auckland.

      • 100% correct less poverty, higher levels of academic performance, within lower socio-economic communities there is poorer levels of nutrition and learning outcomes whether money and the private sector can generate better outcomes only time will tell.

        • With 15 kids in a charter school class of course it will be easier, money has been poured into charter schools.

  3. Thing is that until the state system can deliver us all children with functional literacy within the system there will be advocates for targeting the failing and high needs child outside the system.

    It is simply not good enough that a NZ child has free access to compulsory schooling for 11+ years, yet up to 20% come out the other end unable to read enough to function at even the simplest level.

    • Just to be very clear, 20% do not leave functionally illiterate. Do not equate the overall exam pass rates with functional literacy (or numeracy). They are not the same thing.

      • The debate about being literate goes on. Many people who post on blog sites would consider themselves ‘literate’. Go over to Whaleoil. They might be ‘functionally literate’ but functionally they’re also idiots.
        And like I said above about Jamie Whyte. Education doesn’t necessarily make one bright.

    • Yep…that’s right …so lets ensure we all vote tactically this election in order to give neo liberalism and their proponents a good hard kick in the guts, Trev !

      We don’t need any more of their poison in our community.

    • Seems to be a reason for flooding state schools with money, not the ones charging parents exorbitantly then expecting our money as well. cd.

      • Unfortunately money is not the answer, the schools with poor results are generally in lower socio-economic areas where the parents are also not well educated, hence there is little guidance at home.

        In NZ with the neo-liberalism and the breakdown of society we are getting poor outcomes at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, add cheap alcohol and drug abuse ie marijuana and P and we have a recipe for a social disaster.

        Nationals last GST increase further assisted in knocking around the lower socio[economic groups.

        • In NZ with the neo-liberalism and the breakdown of society we are getting poor outcomes

          hey, it’s not all bad, neoliberalism has delivered on:

          Casinos, lotto, reality TV, cooking and DIY shows. We’ve got cheap DIY products, imported used cars, big Red Sheds in every suburb and consumer electronics that last all of three years. Maccas and bars that open 24 hours.

          Oh, and we’ve got Seven Sharp, Paul Henry and Patrick Gower to analyse stuff for us, so who needs an education.

          We’ve can even buy lightbulbs that last for an average of a whole three weeks.

          All this stuff brought to you to make life comfy and stress free.

          You don’t want to mess a good thing up.

  4. Excellent point re: transience. I mentored a boy who in a typical year would move schools approximately 3-4 times, in addition to moving home/motel and so on.

    He was 10 years old and borderline illiterate/ innumerate.

  5. Charter schools are a parting one fingered salute from the disgraced John Banks.

    Supported all the way by national ……………… who have overseen the fastest decline in Nz’ education system in history.

  6. I strongly suspect that Whyte’s education involved mummy and daddy footing the bill. Its apparently less difficult to get into Oxbridge if you are paying and have the right family connections.

    • You strongly suspect, but do you really know? It’s sad when you have to resort to insulting people just because they disagree ideologically with you. Please stick to facts, not rants. It does your cause no service.

      • Sophia – I thought Tom made a perfectly valid point.

        If you trhink he was “ranting”, have you had a look at the cess-pit that is WhaleOil?

        Now that is ranting.

  7. John the simple fact that you and other left wing ideologues don’t like charter schools is because you oppose anything that challenges public school domination of education.

    You mention the cases of Charter School failure, yet there are many, many cases of Charter school successes. Why don’t you mention those? And while you’re at it, why not comment on the numerous public schools that have failed, that have required the Govt. to intervene to ensure the schools survival?

    Charter schools are a big threat to your myopic view of education for the simple reason that they are successful, and the more entrenched they are in the NZ educational system the more proof there will be that you are wrong.

    • No, Anonymous ACT Supporter Intrinsicvalue, we’re opposed to Charter Schools because,

      (a) They are not required,

      (b) it is a taxpayer subsidy for private businesses,

      (c) they are an ideological ‘solution’ to problems that require other solutions.

      • a) Yes, they are. They are catering for pupils the current system is failing.

        b) You mean like private hospitals, private roading contractors, private elder care providers….

        c) They are a viable solution to problems that no other solution has yet resolved.

        • thats bullshit – what do charter schools allow that werent allowed before?

          1) existing as a profit generating business, but being funded by taxes
          2) teaching outside the curriculum, , but being funded by taxes
          3) employing non-registered teachers, , but being funded by taxes

          if you want to make a case for independant schools not being allowed pre-charter schools, your failing.

        • IV you haven’t read, and as a result know nothing. Still. So for the third time, do your homework. I will make it even easier for you:

          http://dianeravitch.net/category/charter-schools/

          The best charter schools do not do better than the best public schools. The worst charter schools do far far worse than the worst public schools. The majority are allowed to cherry pick their students and still do no better than the public school down the road which is required to accept everyone.

          The evidence is overwhelming and incontrovertible.

          Further, Sweden is about to abandon its dalliance with public schools:
          http://dianeravitch.net/2013/12/10/sweden-market-based-reforms-in-big-trouble/

          Charter schools have absolutely no leg to stand on at all.

          • Cherry picking. There is ample evidence of the success of Charter Schools. But my question is, what are you so afraid of? Is it something different? Choice? The threat to public school monopoly? What exactly is it?

            • IV your trolling on this issue is just not subtle enough mate. You’ve got to make readers believe that Charter Schools are great and pro choice and good for the disadvantaged, you’ve got to talk up the positive spin lies, you can’t get into facts and figures because Charter Schools are a screaming abomination. The only point this far right policy was taken from a criminal political party like ACT was to create a destabilisation effect on teacher labour costs. This is a snide right wing attempt to cheapen and degrade the labour costs within education. Any attempt by you to spin it any other way than that is disingenuous bullshit.

              Back to Troll school.

            • As i said:
              The best charter schools do not do better than the best public schools. The worst charter schools do far far worse than the worst public schools.
              This is indisputable. And, if true, makes the case for charter schools disappear.
              Just to be clear. Their success is the same success as public schools, who are required to take ALL students.
              As for being afraid, yes I am very afraid of my hard earned tax dollars being gifted to executives of charters schools operating with no oversight. Isn’t everyone?

            • Intrinsicvalue says:
              July 1, 2014 at 8:12 pm

              Cherry picking. There is ample evidence of the success of Charter Schools. But my question is, what are you so afraid of? Is it something different? Choice? The threat to public school monopoly? What exactly is it?

              When it comes to “cherry picking”, Anonymous ACT Supporter Intrinsicvalue, you’re quite the little expert at it.

              Anyway, you ask what we’re afraid of with Charter Schools?

              Let me turn it around for you, sunshine.

              What are you afraid of that you demand taxpayers’ money to subsidise a business?! Can’t it succeed without handouts?!

              If Charter Schools are better – they should be profitable without the need for subsidies.

              So if anyone is afraid, my little anonymous ACT Troll, it’s you and your subsidy-seeking party.

              The stench we can smell is the acrid odour of flaming hypocrisy from you and your right-wing mates.

              I’m with Labour on this; close down every fucking one of those ‘schools’ and re-integrate them into the public system.

              If you don’t like it, piss off.

              Don’t let the door hit your pale Tory arse on the way out. 😀

                • What we certainly don’t do is justify more use of taxpayer’s money by subsidising other businesses.

                  Otherwise we might as well nationalise the whole damn lot and do away with the middle man/woman.

                  In effect, Anonymous ACT Supporter Intrinsicvalue, you are advocating for State ownership.

                  Because that is how your argument reads.

                  Do we also subsidise farmers and the local superette store? What about petrol stations?

                  Hmmm, maybe you aren’t an ACT supporters after all.

                  Marxist much, comrade? 😉

                  • “Otherwise we might as well nationalise the whole damn lot and do away with the middle man/woman.”

                    Middleman? You mean the private firms who invest in plant and equipment, who employ people, who deliver products and services to the public at a consistently high standard?

    • You failed to mention Whanganui Collegiate a private school that the government bailed out. Why, I thought the market ruled.

    • HEY, VALUELESS! PAY FOR YOUR OWN PRIVATE EDUCATION!! DON’T EXPECT THE TAXPAYER TO DO IT!!

      Charter schools are a subsidy by any other name!

      • You mean like private hospitals, private roading contractors, private elder care providers….

        Are you suggesting these too are all ‘subsidies’?

          • Charter schools are private schools in that they are privately owned and operated. As are private hospitals, private roading contractors, private elder care providers….

            Get it now?

            • My challenge to Theodore is to agree to never accept any Govt. funded service provided by a private contractor.

              • So who will fund the purchase of:

                1. The thousands of early childhood centres that are currently privately owned?
                2. The private roading companies, and their associated equipment?
                3. The private healthcare providers, and their property and equipment?
                4. The private schools, including their property?
                5. The private eldercare facilities, including their property and equipment?
                6. The printing companies who supply all of the Government printing requirements, including their property and equipment?

                Shall I go on?

                How will you pay for this Martyn? Or do you propose ‘stealing’ these assets via nationalisation?

                • …and Martyn my challenge was to never accept services from private contractors. Put your money where your mouth is. Will you guarantee never to accept service from a private medical provider, or a private elder care provider? Will you guarantee never drive on roads built by a private contractor? Or use a form printed by a private print contractor from the Government?

                  • Intrinsicvalue says:
                    July 1, 2014 at 8:16 pm

                    …and Martyn my challenge was to never accept services from private contractors. Put your money where your mouth is. Will you guarantee never to accept service from a private medical provider, or a private elder care provider? Will you guarantee never drive on roads built by a private contractor? Or use a form printed by a private print contractor from the Government?

                    You mean the Government Printing Office and Ministry of Works that were broken up and privatised in 1989/90 and 1996, respectly?

                    Fuck yeah, re-nationalise them both, Anonymous ACT Support Intrinsicvalue..

                    Then you won’t be able to use them as examples as to why the State has to buy services from private contractors.

                    Jeez, your BS gets more outrageous by the day!

                    • With whose money Frank?

                      And perhaps you could answer the question in full.

                      “Will you guarantee never to accept service from a private medical provider, or a private elder care provider? Will you guarantee never drive on roads built by a private contractor? Or use a form printed by a private print contractor from the Government? “

                    • Perhaps you can answer the question why Charter Schools require subsidies if private enterprise is much more efficient than the State?

                      You have haven’t answered that question.

                      Because you can’t, Anonymous ACT Supporter Intrinsicvalue.

                      Gotcha.

                • Anonymous ACT Support Intrinsicvalue;

                  1. The thousands of early childhood centres that are currently privately owned?
                  2. The private roading companies, and their associated equipment?
                  3. The private healthcare providers, and their property and equipment?
                  4. The private schools, including their property?
                  5. The private eldercare facilities, including their property and equipment?
                  6. The printing companies who supply all of the Government printing requirements, including their property and equipment?

                  Subsidies are already stealing, Anonymous ACT Support Intrinsicvalue.

                  The examples you provide above are rubbish.

                  For example, the State is forced to buy services from private printers because the Government Printing Office was privatised in 1989/90. (http://www.treasury.govt.nz/government/assets/saleshistory)

                  Same for buying healthcare from private providers. Chronic under-funding has meant the state forced to buy services from private providers.

                  Same for the old Ministry of Works privatised in 1996. That’s why the State has to buy roading services from private contractors.

                  All you’re doing is bullshitting to justify more subsidies by using past examples of privatisations.

                  You knew that already off course. But you’re such a dishonest little prick that you leave out salient facts like that, in the hope someone buys into your lies.

                  As for nationalising the lot?

                  Why not?

                  If we’re going to be subsidising them as well as Charter Schools, we might as well cut out the middle man/woman.

                  Then watch rightwing clowns like you froth with hysterics at “theft”! 😀

                  It’s mendacious idiots like you that pushed me from the Right into the arms of the Left. Hopefully you will continue by pushing others further left with your dishonest crap.

                  Cheers, bud! 😉

                    • Intrinsicvalue says:
                      July 2, 2014 at 8:14 am

                      And whose money will you use to nationalise them, Frank?

                      It’s a very long list.

                      We can start by taxing the likes of you.

                  • Ah, the Govt printing office. Yes I know a bit about the printing industry Frank. It requires huge amounts of capital expenditure.

                    You might be surprised to learn that some Govt. forms are printed in Singapore because of the specialised nature of the identification match up required for each form. Are you suggesting the Govt. invests in this technology Frank?

                    The issue here is similar to many other discussions we have had. You simply don’t live in the real world. You live in a cocoon of surreality that existed in the 70’s but which has been left behind by a changing world.

                    • Intrinsicvalue says:
                      July 2, 2014 at 8:23 am

                      Ah, the Govt printing office. Yes I know a bit about the printing industry Frank.

                      Oh ho!!

                      Now you’re in the printing industry?!

                      Before that it was property investment!

                      Before that, early childhood care!

                      Bit of an “expert” in everything, Anonymous ACT Support Intrinsicvalue?

                      But really, you’ve side-stepped the point I made and refused to address the core issue;

                      Namely that governments have to rely on private providers for various services because of mass privatisations in the 1980s and 1990s.

                      Without those privatisations, governments would be carrying out work in-house, without having to subsidise private firms for delivery of said services.

                      You right wing thieves thought nothing of acquiring state assets and now you’re using that theft as justification for subsiding private providers when they can’t deliver private services efficiently and profitably??

                      The same reason why NZ Rail required state subsidies after it was sold to private interests?

                      You are proving very well (as if proof was needed) that privatisation is a fraud, and ultimately requires taxpayer bailouts (Air New Zealand) and subsidies (NZ Rail, Charter Schools, etc).

                      Labour is right. Close them down or integrate them into the state system (nationalisation).

                      End of story.

                  • For example, the State is forced to buy services from private printers because the Government Printing Office was privatised in 1989/90.”

                    Actually they are’nt forced at all. They could set up a new Govt Print. It would cost millions in capital, and the products would likely cost more than they do from the private sector, but that’s socialism for you.

            • No, you don’t seem to “get” it, Anonymous ACT Support Intrinsicvalue.

              Otherwise you’d acknowledge that the government does buy services from the private sector because so much of it has been privatised since 1984.

              Roading is a perfect example now that the old MoW was brokern up and sold of.

              Under-funding of healthcare has led to services needing to be purchased from private providers.

              So don’t put up the argument that the State already buys services from the private sector because that is precisely the problem here.

              Funny how you rightwing hypocrites oppose the State owning services but think nothing of the State subsidising private companies like Charter Schools, smelters, movie companies, etc.

              Hypocrisy at it’s most profitable.

              • The hypocrisy is in the fact that you use privately provided services Frank. If you were true to your principles you would refuse to do so.

                • No, the hypocrisy is with you, Anonymous ACT Support Intrinsicvalue.

                  You spout ACT policy asserting that the State should not be involved in business; demanding a free market – and then hold your hand out for taxpayer largesse.

                  The fact that right wing governments have stolen State assets and privatise them is now your apparent justification for expecting state subsidies to “purchase” services from private providers?

                  Closer analysis of your beliefs reveals them to be a fraud.

                  Your Charter schools are a failure because they cannot survive without taxpayer subsidies.

                  • They can and they do. They sell services to the Govt at a price. Just like private medical centres, schools, roading contractors, etc etc.

              • “So don’t put up the argument that the State already buys services from the private sector because that is precisely the problem here. ”

                I do put up that argument because that is precisely what happens. And unless you can explain where the money will come from to re-nationalise every private education provider, every private health provider, every private roading contractor, every private elder-care provider, every private print provider, etc etc, AND unless you are prepared to boycott every one of these services, your case is nothing more than socialist dogma.

                • Intrinsicvalue says:
                  July 2, 2014 at 8:26 am

                  “So don’t put up the argument that the State already buys services from the private sector because that is precisely the problem here. ”

                  I do put up that argument because that is precisely what happens.

                  Sorry, sunshine, that won’t wash.

                  Having privatised State services is not a justification for taxpayer subsidies to private enterprise. Especially in the school ,system where we don’t require Charter Schools.

                  We still have adequate schools available, so Charter Schools are not sole providers as are roading contractors, etc.

                  Do you suggest we sudsidise all businesses, as well as Charter Schools?

                  Simple question. I guarantee you have no answer to it.

                  • “Do you suggest we sudsidise all businesses, as well as Charter Schools? ”

                    Simple. No. Charter schools aren’t subsidised, they provide services at a price. Just like private education providers, healthcare providers, roading contractors, printing companies, etc etc etc.

                  • “We still have adequate schools available, so Charter Schools are not sole providers as are roading contractors, etc. ”

                    There is more than one roading contractor, Frank. There is more than one healthcare provider. There is more than one elder-care provider.

                    Bt you premise is simply false. There are many children who the current schools do not cater well for. We could throw more money at a solution that has failed them, or try something that has had demonstrable results overseas. Charter Schools are the latter. Fear not. The sky is not falling.

              • “Namely that governments have to rely on private providers for various services because of mass privatisations in the 1980s and 1990s.”

                That’s utter bollocks. The reason the Govt uses private contractors is so the Govt doesn’t have to invest in the capital equipment, and because private enterprise does a far better job!

        • What are you saying, he taught there and was hugely respected and is back there teaching now! I have yet to hear of a kid who didn’t rate him highly as a teacher.

        • Anonymous ACT Support Intrinsicvalue – personal attacks now is it?

          Your ‘courage’ in hiding behind a pseudonym and making ad hominem snide remarks is noted.

          But I wouldn’t expect anything less from cowards who fight behind anonymity.

            • You are still an anonymous coward, spouting ACT garbage, and hiding behind a pseudonym. If you stood by your beliefs with your name, instead of hiding behind a pseudonym, you might be more credible.

              That was no personal attack Anonmymous ACT Supporter Intrinsicvalue. Just a statement of fact.

              • So anyone who posts here under a pseudonym is an ‘anonymous coward’? That takes in the vast majority of posters here Frank.

  8. I am very much a fan of alternative education systems as kids do not all learn the same way, HOWEVER, I believe that all of that could be offered under a publicly funded NOT FOR PROFIT system. Even in the UK where charter schools have been around for some time, they are not allowed to PROFIT, earn their way, PROFIT no! That is probably my biggest objection to them, that public money will be going to profit private shareholders, which means, quite frankly, that money that should otherwise be used for schooling is actually going to line the pockets of private investors – buggar that. I have the same sentiment about elder care, frankly.
    However, to think parents will have actual choice is ridiculous. Who among you can see several different schools in a similar density to public as they are now (though Natl will keep working on fewer and fewer schools and more and more distance for kids to travel).
    You’d have to look at having separate alternative schooling in very tiny proportions, a bit like ECE centres, that are often run from not much more than a converted house. That is the ONLY way you would be able to get actual choice for every parent, as just one charter school in a large area is NOT choice at all, so you lot thinking charter schools are a choice are mad. It is NOT an alternative other than for a few to whom they are accessible, either physically or financially

  9. I don’t think that calling Jamie Whyte “a particularly offensive idiot” or “a particularly nasty advocate” is getting us anywhere. He would not talk that way. His experience of the UK education system might offer us some light, as we are not doing that well. I’m not about to vote ACT but am thinking of switching my allegiance away from MANA.

    • Ummmmm WTF? ‘as we are not doing well ‘ you do understand that NZ has one of the best public education systems in the world right?

      • I received my primary school education in four different countries. I was surprised at how little the teachers knew here. I have been a teacher aide in Decile 1 and Decile 10 classrooms. There is a huge difference in both the level of knowledge kids come to school with and also the level of knowledge of the teachers. I suppose I am talking about “the long tail”, which is eerily parallel to income inequality. The Americans also say they have the best education system in the world. The Brits are quite proud of theirs also (rightly). It is a very old mantra heard in NZ. I suspect that the Danish and Germans have the best. They look after their teachers, which I think is the best thing of all to do to ensure good education at schools. The Brits also have the advantage of the BBC as a role model for language. We lack any such role model.

    • Jem – Any suggestion we are not doing so well should be taken in the context that our drop in rankings on OECD’s PISA scale happened since 2009 – whilst National has been in government: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/229756/nz-well-down-in-education-rankings

      In short, it is current government policy that is the problem (I refuse to call it an “issue”) here – not our education system.

      Perhaps National’s education policies are an utter faiulure – not the education system per se.

  10. Interesting that Anonymous User Intrinsicvalue is drawn like a candle to a flame, when ACT policies are being criticised…

    Obviously an ACT Party member.

  11. “Perhaps you can answer the question why Charter Schools require subsidies if private enterprise is much more efficient than the State?”

    I have answered this, but you just don’t live in the real world. Payments to Charter Schools are for services rendered. They are no more a subsidy than payments by the govt for private healthcare, education, roading, printing etc etc. you have abjectly failed to explain the difference.

    • Tell me why they only have 15 to a classroom, why are they funded to do this, so THEY SUCCEED….. state schools have 25 to 30 kids per class, they are not funded to have smaller classes.

  12. “We can start by taxing the likes of you.”

    Do you have the slightest idea how much it would cost to purchase every roading contractor, every private elder care provider, every private medical care provider, sufficient print capacity to service the Govt (local and national) requirements, private housing contractors who build state homes…the list goes on and on.

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