What now for Partnership Schools?

Dominion Post editorial: How to fix the problems with charter schools

They are officially called Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua in New Zealand, the editorial didn’t refer to them as this at all.

Charter schools pose a number of problems for the coalition government. Labour had made it clear for a long time that it opposed the schools. But now it seems that the government can’t stop some planned charter schools from opening because of contracts signed with the previous government.

Education MInister Chris Hipkins is, as a result, pedalling back from his earlier statement that four new charter schools due to open in 2019 wouldn’t go ahead. It seems fairly clear that the new government can’t renegue on contracts signed by the former one. The law is the law.

That, however, is a passing problem born out of the transition between governments. In future, Labour will prevent any new charter schools, as it is entitled to do. It has campaigned against charter schools and promised to stop them.

In that, it has a far better mandate to stop further schools than the National-led Government ever had for introducing therm in the first place. The charter schools were cooked up in a deal between National and its helper party Act.

The charter schools represented a major shift in education policy promoted by a tiny far-right party whose voter support was negligible.

Agreed to by a majority in Parliament in 2011, passed by five votes. That’s more than the three vote majority that the current government has, so it was a better mandate.

The coalition has a political problem with charter schools because some important characters in its ranks, such as Willie Jackson, have previously been outspoken supporters of the schools.

And some eminent Labourites such as Michael Cullen have wondered how a progressive government might allow for more choice and experimentation in education than under the present system.

The motivation of Māori leaders such as Jackson is understandable enough. The education system is clearly still unsuited for too many Māori students. The gap between Pakeha and Māori achievement in schools remains disturbingly large. So some Maori leaders turned to charter schools as allowing a new and freer way of aiding poor Māori students.

The system certainly needs enough flexibility and scope to allow experimentation and new approaches to this fundamental problem. The question is: how to allow this while removing the grave problems associated with charter schools?

Grave problems?

David commented:

Have to rank as probably the stupidest editorial ever, I think it was dictated by the teachers union. Inevitably Charter schools will remain and be given a different name, as will National Standards, the TPP etc etc. because they are popular with Maori, with parents and with the people who make the money that funds all the extravagance.

If a government wants to shut down what has now proven to help the most disadvantaged in society for no other reason than their key donors demand it then that is a betrayal to all you told us all you stood for.

 

 

5 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  November 8, 2017

    The outcome of this will define Adern’s relationship with the Unions – hostage or independent. And probably with the loony Left.

  2. Bill Courtney

     /  November 8, 2017

    The real culprits here are Nikki Kaye and David Seymour. They should never have signed new contracts only days before an election. To have done so is an act of provocation designed to simply create another mess that now has to be unwound by the new Minister. There would have been absolutely no reason why they could not have held back for a week or two. Given the schools were not scheduled to open until January 2019 there was no genuine reason to have acted in such haste.

    But the real concern is whether any taxpayer money has already been handed over. In the early rounds, the Sponsor received the one-off Establishment Grants within approx. 20 days of signing the contracts. Has the same happened here? Many of the Establishment Grants are likely to be around $500,000 or so each, so this could be a significant sum.

    As for cancelling the four recently signed contracts, I assume they will exercise Clause 25.2, “Termination for Minister’s Convenience”, which, by the way, has a reciprocal clause, 25.3 “Termination for Sponsor’s Convenience”, as you would expect in such commercial arrangements.

    And don’t forget that all of the charter school contracts are fixed term anyway.

    Not that we can see any of the documentation relating to the Fourth and Fifth Round schools. When the Third Round schools were announced, all the supporting documentation, such as the application, evaluation and contract were all released that afternoon. We have now had both the Fourth and Fifth Rounds announced without the publication of documents of any sort relating to any of the schools.

    Transparency and open government? Yeah Right!

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  November 8, 2017

      Is there a Termination at Union’s Convenience clause?

  3. duperez

     /  November 8, 2017

    David said, ” … has now proven to help the most disadvantaged in society.”

    How does he know the most disadvantaged in society are attending those schools? Are some, or all of the kids there the most disadvantaged in society? Do most of the most disadvantaged in society go to charter schools or other schools?

    Or is ethnicity automatically, officially to be a qualifier as a disadvantage with the Act and National Parties the ones wanting to introduce special provisions in our society to minimise ethnic disadvantage?

    After lifetimes of bashing anything to do with special consideration of things for Māori the same people are advocates for separate Māori schooling through charter schools.
    The irony is wonderful.

  1. What now for Partnership Schools? — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition