Maori-Labour charter school differences

Members of the  Labour Party continue to openly air differences over partnership schools (charter schools).

This is an interesting situation for Labour, who last week were promoting the strength of Maori in the Maori electorates and on their party list, with predictions that a quarter of the MPS will be Maori after September’s election.

But Maori MPs and candidates are taking advantage of their growing strength and their importance to Labour, which is highlighting some differences, especially on partnership schools.

This started in the weekend on Q&A – see Labour to ‘rename’ Partnership Schools?

Yesterday at RNZ: Labour committed to anti-charter school policy – Little

The Labour Party remains opposed to charter schools despite new candidate Willie Jackson being involved in running one.

Mr Jackson, the new Labour list candidate and Māori campaign director has been a vocal support of the schools.

The Te Kura Māori o Waatea charter school in Auckland comes under the Manukau Urban Māori Authority, of which Mr Jackson is the chief executive, although RNZ understands he intends to step down from that role.

He spoke on TVNZ’s Q and A at the weekend about Labour’s charter school policy.

“Well, they’ll get rid of the name, and they’ll get rid of the concept but the principle of turning kids lives around is something that … all of Labour believes in,” Mr Jackson said.

“So call the school whatever you like.”

Labour Party leader Andrew Little told Morning Report that Labour’s policy was clear – it opposed charter schools. He said the funding model for the schools was a “con”.

“Willie Jackson is a Labour Party candidate and he signs up to Labour Party policy, that’s it, that’s a fact and that’s what has happened and is going to happen.”

But Jackson responded: Jackson at odds with Labour’s charter schools policy

Mr Jackson said he saw no reason why any of the charter schools operating now should be closed under a Labour government.

Mr Jackson said that could be an option for the charter school, Te Kura O Waatea, that was run by the Manukau Urban Authority, which he heads.

“The area has seen clear benefits from the work that we do – so obviously I’m not going to sacrifice anything we do just for a seat in Parliament.”

Mr Jackson also questioned why any charter school should be closed under a Labour government.

“I think just about all the schools are doing well, there’s been one or two hiccups, but there would be no reason, from my observation, to close any schools.

But that was not viewed as a conflict to party policy by Mr Little.

“No I don’t think so, he’s expressed his view, but the Labour Party policy is the Labour Party policy – that’s what we’ll take to the election and that’s what we’re going to do.”

This is another example of Labour not sorting out obvious differences privately so it has become an open rift.

And this morning RNZ reports that Labour MP backs Jackson on charter schools

Labour MP Peeni Henare has backed fellow party member Willie Jackson’s call to dump the party policy of shutting down all charter schools.

Peeni Henare, the Labour MP for the Auckland Māori electorate of Tamaki Makaurau, was described as having made an error of judgement by Mr Little when he attended a fund-raiser at a charter school in 2015.

Mr Henare said Labour had been keen to see if some charter schools could continue to operate as special character schools.

“The bottom line is, why would you stop something that is working.”

He said there was some discussion within the caucus about this issue, but he did not believe it would cause any internal conflict.

This poses quite a challenge for Little and Labour. They have policy development processes that slowly work through their systems, but if they really want to be seen as a party that strongly supports Maori then they may have to give more attention to policies and positions that reward the Maori support they desperately need.

The Maori caucus and campaign team seems to be in a bit of a power play with the party.

This could turn out badly for Labour.

But it could jolt them out of their 9 year malaise and do them some good. A party that openly debates issues of importance isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as they end up being handled well.

Jackson’s up front and brash manner makes a refreshing change in a way, this has been badly lacking in Labour for a long time.

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  1. While Little claims Labour policy is to ditch partnership schools it is more complicated than this. Labour on their own won’t get to decide. If they form the next government they will need to negotiate policies like this with the Greens and/or NZ First – and potentially with the Maori Party.

    • Gezza

       /  10th May 2017

      Maybe someone else can enlighten me but I can’t think of any other party that has ended up having an ongoing public debate about an important policy difference like this. It doesn’t really matter how anyone tries to spin it, it makes the party look fractious & divided & me wonder how it would be effective in government if public arguments continued.

      • Anything’s got to be better than what Labour have been trying for the last nine years.

        Open debate of issues is healthy in a democracy if done well. Yes there is a risk of looking fractious and divided, but Labour needs to take risks to change public perceptions.

        No debate and no policies hasn’t done anything for them so far.

  2. Yes Pete, and the reality is that dismantling these schools would ruin the educational chances and aspirations of thousands of kids.

    The idea that one size fits all is so foreign to my POV . A child’s education is not an appendix that needs extricating, and no one Government initiative or system can possibly work for our nation. Wake up Labour, show you’re not intransigent, that Little,s leadership doesn’t mean the Unions are in absolutely in charge and accept you’ve got this wrong.

  3. David

     /  10th May 2017

    just goes to show that while they can clearly see the benefits to their natural constituency they are beholden to their union bosses and thats why its a bit of a mess.

  4. I find the topic fascinating philosophically and ethically. No real interest in the Labour rift … just some ruminations for people not to read …

    Traveller says, “one size fits all is so foreign to my POV” and yet, at the behest and under the control of MoE, partnership schools are trying to teach the same one size fits all education – focus on literacy and numeracy – to people whom the one size fits all education system has failed …

    The result appears to be an education system that is splitting along racial, ethnic, social class – income & wealth – and religious lines, or a combination of these … into different ‘delivery systems’ for one size fits all education …? This is highly conditional ‘freedom’?

    I don’t know whether parents pay more to send their children to partnership schools, but if they do its a malignant paradoxical absurdity – a kind of sick neoliberal joke – poor people paying more for special one size fits all education for their ‘under-privileged’ children …

    According to what information I can find – not much – it seems it’s definitely costing the taxpayer more … Wiki says as much as 500% more … for this ‘alternative’ system … which begins to look like a way of isolating-out and partially privatising one size fits all ‘special education’ or remedial education programs for racial, ethnic, social class & religious communities’ children who don’t fit the one size fits all mold … ‘Special’ minority schools?

    A very expensive way to do so? Publicly funded, privately run and privately remunerated … If its all about ‘cost-benefit’ then do partnership schools stack up to cost-benefit analysis?

    Such programs [and their funding] might have been incorporated into existing schools using additional or spare classrooms, unwanted or closed school facilities and alternative teaching staff? Is this what the much hated and so terribly dreaded ‘union’ is preventing happening?

    I surmise that many state schools are attempting to do the same anyhow … where racial, ethnic, social class & religious ‘minorities’ make up the majority of their students …

    Finally – Question: What has partnership schools gone hand-in-hand with?

    Answer: Public-private partnerships to build schools.

    • duperez

       /  10th May 2017

      Ironies abound with the flexibility that the charter schools have.

      I commented the other day about inflexibility and constriction for and on the state system. The Government says to State schools, “You are our schools, we are funding you, this is what you will do.” A local community through its Board and staff might have other ideas. Too bad.

      The blatherers apparently don’t want “one size fits all” they want systems to suit circumstances. They want the people who know to make the decisions. They likely are those who don’t like being dictated to by Government because “Government doesn’t know best.”

      I think those very ones who most loudly eschew one-size-fits-all, uniformity and conformity bizarrely are those who also most strenuously supported and advocated the edicts of Tolley and Parata. They bemoan lack of flexibility in state schools while giving their strength and weight to a regime which inevitably has as its result:

    • High Flying Duck

       /  10th May 2017

      The Public / Private partnerships are only for the construction and maintenance of the schools, not the education of its students.

      Is leasing a building rather than building it against your ideals in some way?

      The PPP’s save the government from having to make significant capital outlays when they have a huge demand for infrastructure spending. This allows far more to be done in a shorter time frame.

      • But …… Ummm …. NO.

        A PPP is “an agreement between the Ministry of Education and a consortium of private companies to design, finance, build and maintain …”

        So what’s in it for the ‘private’ companies? One-off government design, finance & build plus ongoing government maintenance contracts? In an area where I assume “experience counts”. I wouldn’t mind betting there’s only ONE consortium, like SecureFuture Consortium in the PPP prisons industry? [Fletchers, Spotless, John Laing, Serco … all sheeting back to Macquarie Finance in Australia]

        What then is the education provider? A private contractor to, in partnership with the government?

        Partnership Schools are PPPs!

        If a government wanted to save itself making “significant capital outlays” I would hope they’d ask themselves a few questions before even entering into a new PPP school, much less a State-funded one.

        Questions like: Didn’t we just close a school near here a year or so back? Is there a school near enough to bus the students to? [Give the contract to a transport provider instead, which will require a PPP highway upgrade]. Is there a privately owned commercial building that could be converted into a school, eg, like the old Pak’n’Save and Warehouse buildings rotting away in Kaitaia …?

        I’m with duperez on this. There’s much more to partnership schools and PPPs than meets the eye. Could it be, for instance, the next and one of the most important final phases of union-busting …?

        • High Flying Duck

           /  10th May 2017

          The PPP’s for schools are all infrastructure only. A company (or consortium of companies) design, build and maintain the facilities and lease it to the Government over a 25 year period.

          The consortium gets investment returns while the government frees up capital and eliminates ownership risks as the deal includes upkeep.

          The school benefits as they can concentrate on delivering learning outcomes (their core purpose) instead of building maintenance issues.

          It is a sound practice that benefits all concerned if managed correctly.

          Many successful toll roads have been constructed in this way – I think the Puhoi stretch of the Northern motorway is to be done this way.

          This is the nefarious result:

          The Hobsonville Point schools’ contract covered the first 2 schools built under PPPs. These 2 schools are in Auckland.
          Hobsonville Point Primary School opened in term one, 2013.
          Hobsonville Point Secondary School opened in term one, 2014.
          The PPP delivered the schools on time and achieved high-quality innovative modern learning environments. The principal of Hobsonville Point Primary School has reported his time spent on property issues has reduced significantly.

          You make what is a standard and long used method of funding large capital projects sound like a sinister capitalist plot.

          And Partnership Schools are quite different, being a bulk funded model.

        • High Flying Duck

           /  10th May 2017

          As an aside, the PPP does not result in any extra private sector profits – when the government builds a school construction is always completed by the private sector, and maintenance of the school is generally also completed by private companies.

          The PPP model simply adds certainty and takes work off the school management.

  5. Gezza

     /  10th May 2017

    I think the Catholic College I went to had to be built mainly from donations from parents & I imagine funding from the Catholic Church. Originally I don’t think there was much in the way od state assistance & recall there was criticism & complaints from heathens & the other usual anti-papal heretical sects when they were integrated into the state system and given more state funded assistance as a matter of government policy.

    Don’t you think it’s a good idea for all students to be numerate & literate PZ?

    • High Flying Duck

       /  10th May 2017

      Yes I think schools have an obligation to teach basic life skills that are needed by pretty much anyone to function in a civilised society (the so called 3 R’s).
      That still leaves plenty of scope for individuality and expression through the the myriad of other subjects available to be taught.
      There is also plenty of differing processes to choose from in which to impart knowledge to children.
      State schools have their curriculum requirements (what and how things are taught) and by and large state schooling is very very good.

      I think research backs up that learning outcomes are on the whole exceptionally good in this country.

      Where we are let down is the “long tail” of those who get left behind.

      For these children are not suited to the mainstream education providers it appears that Partnership Schools are starting to provide genuine progress in lifting the outcomes for these students.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  10th May 2017

      Just add to the above – there are those commenting that Partnership Schools are needed due to the deficiencies of the state system. I do not believe this to be the case. The Partnership Schools are a complementary option that gives an alternative to students not suited to the mainstream.

      Hopefully this results in less disruption at state schools and improved results for the marginalised students at institutions better suited to their specific learning needs.

      It must be remembered we are talking of meeting the needs of the bottom 5% (results wise), not wholesale cannibalism of the State Education Sector by rapacious capitalist organisations.

      • We’re “talking of meeting the needs of the bottom 5% (results wise)” now, but who knows where this will lead in the future? Its interesting that there’s never been any problem about [essentially] private education for the rich and/or Catholic … Kings, St Peters, Marcellan et al … for longer than I’ve been alive …

        Rather than “wholesale cannibalism of the State Education Sector by rapacious capitalist organisations”, partnership schools might instead be “creeping retail commodification of the State Education Sector by ‘market capitalist’ organisations – rapacious or not – and their government ideologues …?

        • High Flying Duck

           /  10th May 2017

          I’m not sure why you mention private schools in this discussion as they are a completely different model in terms of target market, operation and funding. In other words quite irrelevant.

          How on earth is ADDING choice “commodification”?

          And since when are the partnership schools run by “market capitalist organisations”?

          Despite the fact the schools seem to be run by very committed educationalists who want to see disadvantaged children succeeding you seem incapable of contemplating that the children may actually be the focus and the raison d’etre of these schools.

          • Some good points again … thanks …

            Do you believe that State schools are “run by very committed educationalists who want to see disadvantaged children succeeding” … and who want to see all children succeeding?

            • Hmmm … this may not apply to you HFD … but I suspect many people who comment on this blog would answer that question in the negative …

              No, State schools are run by obsessive, socialist, mean-spirited, narrow-minded unionists whose only interest is maintaining the power of their union and keeping their snouts in the trough …

              Education is not even a secondary consideration to them … let alone a tertiary one … Its not a factor at all … Teaching is merely the repetitive drone-like work they do in a kind of ‘dream stasis’ inbetween excessively long and numerous holidays …

              Indeed, most of them are actively sabotaging education as part of a nearly century-old, cultural marxist “long march through institutions” …

            • High Flying Duck

               /  10th May 2017

              I’ll answer even though you went ahead and answered yourself…
              I think schools in general are run by very committed hard working people who only want the best outcomes for children.
              I also think teacher unions are dogmatic and fit nicely into your description.
              I have no issue with teachers – PS are generally staged with registered teachers as well.

    • That’s a big question Gezza, a huge discussion topic. I know someone who was virtually illiterate into their 20s, but still worked hard in a semi-skilled occupation, then suddenly decided they needed to learn how to read and spell better, did so in a very short time and started their own business …

      There’s plenty of evidence that people [of all ages] learn what they want and need to learn when they want and need to … “Want to” being the optimum concept here …

      Consequently I think numeracy and literacy in very young and young children is somewhat over-rated. Freedom and play – within safe limits – are stifled much too early … (the many unintended effects of compulsory schooling) …

      I think for some people, perhaps many people – myself one – the compulsion element of schooling, along with its social incongruity and relative brutality, especially early-on, can be more detrimental than any ‘teaching’ is beneficial … There’s a big difference between learning and being taught …

      My real suspicion and fear is that ALL EDUCATION as we know it is primarily designed to manufacture ‘bricks in the wall’ … That the objective is not to give people the tools to rise above Maslow’s lower order of needs – physiology and security – up to self-esteem, love/belonging and self-actualisation … but merely to entrap them at the lower levels … to perpetuate what has become the status-quo in the last 30+ years …

      Hence to me – aside from a few religious indoctrination institutions – partnership schools look [potentially] like ‘re-education facilities’ for those young people who are shaping up NOT TO BECOME square bricks …

      This is where I differ from a lot of people … I think we should encourage people to be whatever shape they want to be – round, oblong or hexagonal – and to have their input into ‘shaping’ our society … into multi-faceting our society more, if you will …

      I feel very sure that if such was the case the status quo, which I will call ‘the neoliberal paradigm’, would not be perpetuated for very long at all …

      • Gezza

         /  10th May 2017

        I thought it was a small question but I enjoyed reading the long answer. At what age did you learn to read, write and use numbers, & in terms of your own situation would you now rather have not learned to do it until you needed to at say age 20 or some later time?

        • In terms of the educational progression of your average *BRICK* Gezza, as measured by the education system I was FORCED to enter, the abject terror of starting school probably set me back a couple of years …

          To some degree or other I DID learn what I wanted when I wanted and I put it to you that so did EVERYONE ELSE as well? That may actually be all that’s going on here. While Janet and John buckle-down and excell, Jack and Jill rebel against being forced to learn what they don’t want to … YET …

          Functionally I could read at about age 8 or 9 but I only became interested in reading aged 11 or 12 and learned to read fluidly fairly quickly by simply doing it, reading …

          Half (or more) of the ‘failure’ we’re talking about is really the failure of our compulsory schooling system to provide what students want … which may range from physical activity to creative play to socialising … depending on the INDIVIDUAL … that unique thing that gets somewhat lost in our factory-school system …

          If this isn’t the case then we are effectively saying that young people don’t inherently want to learn, and don’t intrinsically learn from every experience they have, unless its provided by a compulsory school … That, I think you’ll agree, is utter *TOSH*

          When at the age of 24 I really wanted to learn touch-typing, I bought myself a portable typewriter and a booklet and JUST DID IT in a matter of weeks, part-time …

          Yous, my YourNZ compadres, are the beneficiaries of just how good I got!

          • Gezza

             /  10th May 2017

            Some might say victims rather than beneficiaries, e hoa. 😉

            I think a public education system to teach language literacy & numeracy to young children is a good thing PZ. I think we are seeing the results of parenting failures to support, assist & encourage their offspring to make best use of it, & to behave well among their peers at all age levels, in our prisons & our mean streets.

            • I don’t agree with your “I think we are seeing the results of parenting failures …” Gezza, I genuinely don’t.

              Falling crime statistics definitely don’t support it and while declines in numeracy & literacy may do, they might also be falls from heightened and possibly unrealistic expectations brought about by computerisation and the general ‘glorification’ of higher education since the advent of neoliberalism …?

              I don’t think there’s any more shitbags in our society than there ever was, only that we hear more about them more often … We think there’s more … and that the idea of trying to understand why they’re shitbags has become very politically incorrect … because doing something about it might cost the taxpayer extra money …

              We think there’s more … and the neoliberal paradigm needs someone to blame for its failings … the bad kids … or the bad parents …

              When I went to school there were plenty of guys who just wanted out as soon as they turned 15 or got School Cert. The difference back then was there was plenty of jobs for them … labouring jobs, driving, all sorts of apprenticeships … I don’t remember anyone talking about ‘low-skilled’ … what a f^#ken put-down … I’d have got dropped back then for calling some blokes “low-skilled” …

              Nowadays we insult the (so-called) low-skilled with impunity …

              I seriously believe the problem IS NOT so much people’s inability to adapt to the new circumstances and environment, especially if this simply means “to conform” – although it plays a part – its much more a failure of the system’s systems to adapt to human and technological advancement … The problem is mostly ‘old processes and institutions in the new environment’ …

              Schools the same … Where ‘citizenship’ (along with much else) has become poorly defined by information technology, highly competitive – win/lose – based on individual success – and even culturally narcissistic, but above all else a great deal ‘freer’ – often without social responsibility attached – cracks will inevitably show up in the old-fashioned, relatively regimented training of citizens …

              Sorry to victimize you again e hoa :-/

            • Gezza

               /  10th May 2017

              Whoops. See reply below.

    • Corky

       /  10th May 2017

      Ah, now I know where you received your near perfect knack for using good grammar with only an occasional slip-up, Gezza. Seems everyone on this blog apart from me has had a Catholic education. I must say I doubt I would’ve handled the thrashings dished out to Catholic pupils to facilitate a faster acquisition of learning skills. Practical experience is a nasty but very thorough teacher. Although it can leave mental scars.

      • Gezza

         /  10th May 2017

        “Seems everyone on this blog apart from me has had a Catholic education.”

        Don’t think so Corks. Just out of interest though, which heretical sect do you identify with?

        • Corky

           /  10th May 2017

          Where do I start. I have family that are Catholic, Anglican, Ratana, Ringatu, Satanists and occultists. Most however are atheists who don’t believe in that mumbo jumbo bullshit. Anglican is what my parents were, but they were never serious church goers.
          And they blessed me by telling me a I could make my own mind up about religion. So many children don’t get that choice. So I did make my choice. I studied occultism.
          But it’s not really a religion as above. Its more like studying psychology. So in reality, I have no religion.

          Now, you can’t tell me all your family members are Catholic, Gezza.

          • Gezza

             /  10th May 2017

            Now mum & my uncle the Marist priest have passed away, one brother’s a Catholic, pretty well everyone else on both sides of la famille, whether older, similar age or younger than me, are just quiet atheists as far as I can make out, Corky.

      • I haven’t had any sort of religious education. I’m ecumenically illiterate, virtually.

        • Likewise Pete, I’ve escaped Church doctrinal religion – inimical to life – more-or-less completely … apart from one or two Sunday School sessions … Thank God!

          Actually I should thank my parents …

          However, I don’t believe anyone can escape the spiritual dimension of life, which is ‘religious’ in the sense of being holy, divine and sacred …

  6. Gezza

     /  10th May 2017

    No need to apologise e hoa. I can take it 💪

    Your punishment might be long & cruel, but at least it’s not unusual. 👍😀


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