What are charter schools?
Fri, 09 Dec 2011 8:00a.m.
By Lloyd Burr
Charter schools have received a lot of attention this week after National and ACT revealed plans on Monday to roll them out in New Zealand.
The plan for the schools was floated by ACT in their confidence and supply agreement negotiations with National. It has now been signed and charter schools seem set to become a reality.
But what exactly are charter schools?
The structure for the charter schools has been taken from Canada, US and Europe, with ACT envisaging a similar model in New Zealand.
Charter schools will receive the same per-child funding from the government as state schools currently do but will have freedom from some rules and regulations set by the Ministry of Education.
This means charter schools will be autonomous and free to set their own curriculum and qualifications, teacher pay-rates, school-day length and school terms.
In return, they are accountable for certain achievement outcomes and standards and results, which are written into the school’s charter or mission.
Each charter is different for each school but all will have a rigorous academic focus, a traditional curriculum, and focus on a particular area of specialisation – language, vocation or other.
Charter schools will not be operated by the Ministry of Education but rather sponsors such as Iwi, not-for-profit organisations, businesses or existing education providers.
In turn, the school is accountable to the sponsor - not the Ministry of Education – and the sponsor is responsible for the charter school meeting its charter objectives and staying financially viable.
The schools will remain free and open to everyone and if there is excess demand, students are pulled out of a ballot at random to determine which pupils will attend.
The ACT party rarely focussed on charter schools in their election build-up but have floated the idea intermittently for the last decade – this year focussing on the charter school system in Alberta, Canada.
Alberta is the only province in Canada that has charter schools and passed legislation in 1994. The province now boasts 13 of the schools, although two schools were closed down – one in 1998 and the other in 2006.
Before the election, former ACT leader Don Brash said if Alberta were a separate country, it “would be the top performing academic jurisdiction in the English-speaking world”.
The National Education Association in the US says charter schools “have the potential to facilitate education reforms and develop new and creative teaching methods that can be replicated in traditional public schools for the benefit of all children”.
They also said that the results and effectiveness of charter schools varied widely and unqualified teachers were less effective than qualified teachers at the schools.
A review into the US charter schools programme in five states came to the conclusion that they were less likely than public schools to meet state-school performance standards.
PPTA president Robin Duff is against charter schools and says New Zealand doesn’t need them.
“We rank in the top two or three countries in the world in these areas,” he says. “Yet we’re having imported these sort of stop-gap programmes from largely underachieving economies and underachieving education systems, like the US, like Britain, who seldom appear anywhere in the terms of the success of their youngsters at international level.”
Despite the concerns, charter schools will be rolled out – or ‘trialled’ as ACT says – in South Auckland, Christchurch Central and Christchurch East.
Once established, ACT plans for charter schools to be rolled out in other areas of “low educational performance”.
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27/03/2013 7:12:15 p.m.
I think charter schools will open more opportunities for kids, and are generally a good thing, but with the school making their own rules and regulations things could get out of hand.
27/02/2013 8:08:50 a.m.
might be a good idea so we can specilaise with our own Maori language and be autonomous and not lose it the language and a cultural heritage
25/01/2013 2:44:42 p.m.
So how does someone go about opening a Charter School?!!
15/10/2012 4:20:22 p.m.
harvey Daniel wrote:
If they are so great in Alberta why is the number of chools decreasing rather than increasing?
3/10/2012 10:07:50 a.m.
This is just another wrong decision (One of many) that the Ministy of Education are making, with little thought and insight into 'WHAT IS BEST FOR OUR STUDENTS'I have huge concerns about Charter Schools and believe its just another way the "Ministry" are washing their hands of the responsibilities of providing a healthy EFFECTIVE educational system. My question is... If we continue down this road of educational changes Where will most of our students end up????? I forsee we will need to build more prisons, and need more money for welfare because the Charter Schools system will not meet the individual needs of the students. I am extremely against even the idea of Charter Schools. Its time parents understood what wrong choices the government is making Charter Schools being one of them.
26/09/2012 2:31:55 p.m.
I am concerned about the monitoring of this. How do we know the curriculum is of an educational standard for the children and if the teachers are the quality kids need. Will these teachers understand and accept the wider changing world and have an open thought to each child's progress in the classroom according to their needs and lifestyle. Also, who are the staff of these schools accountable for? How will each staffs responsibilities be maintained and kept within reason. Could there be some danger and lack of support from disengaging schools as a part of the ministry of education. What about the costs this could mean for parents who want to give their children quality education but cannot because of the level of funding received by these schools to keep running. It makes you think. Are we doing this for the well-being of our children and their growth and development for the future? Or is this just another way for the government to loose a part of their responsibility for their society.
28/05/2012 4:24:08 a.m.
Janakie Balasuriya wrote:
Charter schools are a good step taken by the Government to improve the standards of education in New Zealand. These schools will be a good opportunity to create competitiveness in student performance so that parents will have more choice in the selection of schools for their children. Competitiveness also measures the strength of the capabilities of both the students and the staff.
21/04/2012 7:53:33 p.m.
Don't worry about the corporations. Fear the charter schools run by fundamentalists religions that are burgeoning with the increase of immigration from ultra-conservative cultures. In Pakistan charter schools are called madrassa and are staffed by religious, often brutal, imam, who undergo no oversight.
8/04/2012 2:21:41 a.m.
Andrew Mackenna wrote:
For once the tremendously abused/misused term 'politically correct' applies; 'Charter' Schools are PC for corporate indoctrination. Cultural 'management' has always played a part in traditional state/secular education, however Corporate Schools are conspicuous private sector indoctrination cells or camps. I particularly resent the 'introduction' of these abominations on the bogus basis that (a)politically impoverished state education is 'now failing', and (b)that ACT has selected vulnerable targets for their 'experiments' (Sth Auckland and wreaked Christchurch). It is Roger Kerr, reaching out from beyond the grave, with fascistic corporate 'hot-housing'. Additionally these 'schools' will vacuum state education sector funds that they should not qualify for, but will be fully controlled by their dominant share holders; they are only ever likely to be corporations and business - given the ideology of their political sponsors and the inherent financial demands.We, who value the ideals of the enlightenment, not to forget the enlightenment of our children, should oppose corporate/merchantile indoctrination in this repositioned dissemble from ACT, though no-doubt a 'dinky' sell in such, difficult times... - Andrew Mackenna, Christchurch 8/4/12
11/12/2011 6:57:30 a.m.
James J.Read wrote:
With our 15 year olds doing worse at science & maths according to an OECD survey that their peers in Turkey & Bulgaria, I'd welcome any improvement.The PPTA have not produced worthwhile results so far, despite their commitment to ideological purity.
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