Charter school clash between Labour’s education and Maori interests

As Labour’s education spokesperson last term Chris Hipkins always seemed to represent the education unions. They and he have always opposed the Partnership Schools (charter schools) championed by ACT and introduced by the National led government.  But this has clashed with Labour’s Maori constituency who like the educational alternative charter schools have given them.

Hipkins always signalled that a Labour government would scrap the charter schools, but that didn’t go down well with Labour’s Maori MPs. From 2015:

And last July:

Davis threatens to resign if charter schools closed

Labour MP Kelvin Davis has said he would resign if two Northland partnership schools (the media persist in calling them charter schools) were closed down, but he would be happy if they remained but were renamed.

But this week (Stuff): Government moves to scrap national standards and charter schools

The Government has introduced a bill to scrap national standards and charter schools in New Zealand.

However, charter school operators wanting to be involved in education could apply to establish another form of school, such as a designated character school, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

The new legislation was introduced by Hipkins on Thursday, who said it was backed by the vast majority of the education sector.

“Both National Standards and charter schools were driven by ideology rather than evidence. Both were rejected by the vast majority of the education sector. The Government’s strong view is that there is no place for them in the New Zealand education system.”

And the opposition to charter schools of Hipkins and the education unions also seems driven by ideology.

ODT editorial: Ideology-driven education changes continue

Education Minister Chris Hipkins made his intentions about the future of New Zealand’s education system very clear before the election. And he is now starting to deliver on his promises.

The changes, although well signalled, are said to have caught some of his opponents unaware.

At the top of the list is Mr Hipkins’ requirement for private charter schools to change direction, quickly.

Mr Hipkins is quick to condemn the National and Act charter schools, despite evidence non-achieving pupils were reaching levels of achievement previously unheard of. It seems wrong for Mr Hipkins to complain about ideology-driven decisions when, clearly, his dislike of the charter schools is a major reason he is demanding changes.

The preferred option for Mr Hipkins is to explore early termination of contracts by mutual agreement. Operators wanting to be involved in education can apply to the minister to establish another form of school, such as a designated character school.

Strong concerns and resistance has already been expressed by some partnership school operators – who tend to be private trusts rather than money grubbing businesses that opponents of charter schools claim.

As part of the process, applications will need to meet the relevant and so-far unspecified requirements.

It sounds like Hipkins is rushing into this.

The establishment of charter schools gave parents the right to decide how their child was to be educated. Unions criticised the amount of money used for establishing the schools, ignoring the fact it was much less than to establish a state school.

A lot of criticism has been wrong, if not deliberately misleading.

And the Opposition has waded into it: Bill English attacks Labour ministers as ‘the worst kind’

Opposition leader Bill English has lashed out at Government ministers Kelvin Davis and Willie Jackson and their stances on charter schools, accusing them of being “the worst type of politician” by turning their backs on the pupils they used to serve.

Davis, who is Labour’s deputy leader, said last year that he would resign if the charter schools Te Kura Hourua O Whangārei and Te Kāpehu Whetū in Northland closed down.

Labour MP and Employment Minister Willie Jackson has also shown support for charter schools. He used to run the Manukau Urban Māori Authority (Muma), which sponsors Te Kura Māori o Waatea in South Auckland and last year successfully applied to open a second charter school.

English lashed out at the ministers today, saying the decision to close the door on charter schools was “nasty and vindictive, and the victims will be the kids”.

“The people in those schools will be very disappointed to find that Willie Jackson and Kelvin Davis didn’t mean a word of it. Despite the fact they went to set up the schools, now they’ve become politicians of the worst sort – turning their backs on the people they used to serve, and worst than that, shutting down the schools they founded.

“For a Government that says that children are at the heart of everything they’re doing, the Prime Minister has not been able to give one reason why it’s good for those kids to have their school closed. It’s a disgrace.”

He took a swipe at the Prime Minister’s Waitangi Day barbecue.

“This is complete contradiction to everything the Prime Minister has said. That’s why she won’t go to these schools. It’s all very fine to make a show of cooking sausages for people on Waitangi Day.

Ardern spoke fine words about a new era in government relationships with Maori at Waitangi, so the timing of Hipkins rush to close charter schools is awkward.

“I challenge her to go to the schools and cook some sausages for the kids, and tell them, ‘It’s the last one, because I’m going to close the school’.”

Hipkins has refused to visit a charter school.

One charter school operator said that a scheduled meeting with the Ministry of Education next week may be pointless now that Hipkins has acted before consultation.

Davis declined interviews today and would not be drawn on his previous promise to resign if the schools closed.

In a statement, he urged the two Northland charter schools to transition into the state school system.

​”If they want to continue delivering kaupapa Māori education, they can – as a special character school.”

Davis, Jackson and Heeni will be under pressure to represent the interests of their Maori constituents – which could clash with Hipkins representing the interests of the teacher unions (I think he’s an electorate MP but his focus seems to be as a union lackey).

42 Comments

  1. Bill Courtney

     /  February 10, 2018

    What’s your point, Pete?

    All 3 parties in the current government were clear heading into the election that the charter school model – which is privatisation by way of contracting out – would be discontinued. All the Maori MPs knew this. Now they are delivering on a very clear manifesto position.

    There is an awful lot of hot air from the supporters and their political allies but not a lot of hard evidence to support the view that – across the model – student achievement is really that much better than across the system as a whole.

    So, if they really want the schools to continue, then why don’t they cut the grizzling and get on with the job of converting to one of the 3 types of school authority that will still be in place after the ideologically driven charter model is removed.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 10, 2018

      Gutless state employees fear competition and innovation. Unprincipled Lefty politicians protect them.

    • Corky

       /  February 10, 2018

      Let’s leave education to one side, Bill. Where do you think children who’d have gone to charter schools will now go?

      Even if these kids learn zilch at charter schools, at least they aren’t on the streets, getting bashed at home or being vicious bullies making life a misery for kids in mainstream education who just want to learn, and arent interested in learning appropriate gang gestures.

      As Alan points out, teacher unions fear being shown up.

  2. Kitty Catkin

     /  February 10, 2018

    Act first, consult afterwards. Thanks, Chris.

  3. Trevors_Elbow

     /  February 10, 2018

    Its interesting that Labour are doing this so quickly.
    All the memes of profit orientation, cost more to set up, unregistered teachers etc have been rebutted numerous times.

    But still kids second, PPTA first it seems is the Governments motto in education

    Why are Unions and by extension Hipkins soooo very threatened by PARTNERSHIP Schools [note the non USA designation for these schools – Partnership School is how the are designated under ACT policy]???

    Is choice that frightening? Are disadvantaged kids really not worth any further attempts to prevent them heading into the morass that under achievement at school can lead into?

    Sad really that Hipkins has at least called for a balanced committee/independent inquiry to look into how well these schools are functioning BEFORE giving them the axe…. suppose you don’t need a smokescreen committee/independent inquiry when you are ideaologically opposed and have spent nine years spreading misinformation and half truths about the target of your obsession…

    • Trevors_Elbow

       /  February 10, 2018

      This paragraph should start as follows “Sad really that Hipkins has not at least called for a balanced committee/independent inquiry to look”.. missed the not out above…

    • Bill Courtney

       /  February 10, 2018

      The ACT/ National agreement in December 2011 was to introduce the American charter school idea into NZ. But every public school in NZ already has a “charter” as its governing document, so that is why they couldn’t even use the American brand name.

      Why do you need an inquiry to get rid of American ideology?

      • Trevors_Elbow

         /  February 10, 2018

        What are you scared off Bill? That Andre Agassi will turn up and talk about how these type of schools help under privileged kids? Why would you not supported an inquiry/commission with a balanced membership to prove the case one way or the other?
        Just because Bill Courtney spouts they are no good is not a good reason to dump an approach that could be benefiting kids who otherwise end up on the scrap heap…

      • Gezza

         /  February 10, 2018

        Let’s see these achievement reports & let’s see the special character schools requirements Bill. I can go with no more partnership schools approvals meantime but the case for existing charter schools having to transition into special character schools can’t be fairly made without these.

        • Bill Courtney

           /  February 10, 2018

          But I don’t think that approach is practicable, Gezza. Once they amend the Education Act they will remove the provisions inserted in 2013 to enable schools to be governed by way of commercial contracts with private sector Sponsors ( as they called them). From that point in time on, I can’t see how the existing commercial contracts can stay in force, as there will be no enabling legislation to support them.

          So, by leaving the Education Act unchanged, they do not remove the charter school model, as is their clearly stated intention, and would allow a following government to simply crank up the model again and carry on with the privatisation it represents.

          • Gezza

             /  February 10, 2018

            Anything is possible in legislation, Bill. And there is nothing to stop the next government repealing this government’s legislation.

      • Are the New Zealand partnership schools the same as America Charter schools Bill?

        The idea may have come from the US, but that doesn’t mean it has been implemented the same.

        • David

           /  February 10, 2018

          The American model varies by state as education is not a federal thing. It differs a little in that inner city schools in Democrat run cities are beyond woeful and the charter model was used to get around the unions intransigence for any sort of reform. If you are poor and brown and in South Auckland your prospects are better than being poor and black in south central LA but its a pretty low bar.
          Poor neighborhoods get poor schools with poor teachers and few opportunities for the children to breakout and now we are into the 4th and 5th generation of it and Charter Schools were just a small way of helping a small number of the most disadvantaged getting the same attention and support as an elitist child who attends Christ College.
          The only complaint is from the teachers unions.

  4. David

     /  February 10, 2018

    Just shows that Ardern is full of shit, she is doing the bidding of the union paymasters rather than what she said her priorities are which were children and under privileged ones at that. The charter school model has proven to be very effective for the most under privileged both here and overseas just read the ERO reports, Obama faced down the unions and supported them Ardern wont even visit one and see for herself.

  5. Bill Courtney

     /  February 10, 2018

    The charter school model is not as effective as you claim – either in NZ or the USA. See my release yesterday with a few links about the American experience:
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/ED1802/S00022/fact-checker-david-seymour-and-his-charter-school-facts.htm

    And here is the link to my analysis of the secondary School Leavers stats which are not good:
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/ED1802/S00022/fact-checker-david-seymour-and-his-charter-school-facts.htm

    • David

       /  February 10, 2018

      I think its a bit unfair to tarnish the Charter School model on the unique circumstances of New Orleans. Acknowledge they have had problems with their implementation there but its near third world in some parts.
      The NZ model has some incredible ERO audited results from some pretty challenging kids and given its very small scale here because we have mostly an excellent education system the only reason to stop these schools is the unions dont like them, cant see any other reason and Ardern should have the guts to say that.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 10, 2018

      @Bill Courtmey. It’s appalling that poor kids especially Maori should have the same opportunities to be educated outside the state system as rich kids. The Left will fix that and ensure they stay in their ghettos where they can be ignored except as dependent voting fodder.

  6. David

     /  February 10, 2018

    Anyone interested should watch the documentary “waiting for superman”.

  7. Bill Courtney

     /  February 10, 2018

    Waiting For Superman is one of the most biased so-called “documentaries” you could ever hope to see. Here is Diane Ravitch’s excellent review of it:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2010/11/11/myth-charter-schools/

    • David

       /  February 10, 2018

      She is a tad biased Bill I suggest you watch it with an open mind.

      • Blazer

         /  February 10, 2018

        and you would never be a ‘tad’ biased would you..David…so biased you walk crooked I imagine.

        • David

           /  February 10, 2018

          I am just one of those people who think equality of opportunity can make material differences in the outcomes of peoples lives. Unfortunately some kids are born into chaotic homes and a good education and supportive school environment could help them break out and fulfill their inherent potential. All my family went to expensive private schools and have thrived in life and the charter model is in many ways similar so yes a little biased to try anything to help the least advantaged.

          • Blazer

             /  February 11, 2018

            being born with a silver ladel in ones mouth usually inspires one to join the race to privatise,to monetise every endeavour in sight.Especially if there’s Govt money to be…had.The prisons are another great example.We don’t want to be like the U.S.A….hardly a success story for the disadvantaged…you are concerned..about.

  8. Bill Courtney

     /  February 10, 2018

    “I am just one of those people who think equality of opportunity can make material differences in the outcomes of peoples lives.”

    But read John Hattie’s paper in the link I posted and you will see that – across the model – the outcomes are essentially no different from public schools, David.

    And that’s the point.

    Lots of huffing puffing but substantially no different in the long run. So why do it? Answer: ideology. Pure and simple.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 10, 2018

      Hattie’s claim is just plain silly. It is obvious to anyone with experience that between school differences can be large both for individual children and for the majority.

      Using gross statistics to try to prove otherwise is both misleading and pointless.

    • PDB

       /  February 10, 2018

      You are being disingenuous Bill in comparing directly with public schools – the partnership schools are supposedly full of students that the public school system has failed so even one of them passing is doing better than what the public school system was providing them. The fact they do way better than this should be applauded.

      A more appropriate comparison would be comparing the results of partnership school students against the lowest results of the bottom 10% of students from public schools as that is where they have come from.

      Willie Jackson 2016: “Last year 82 per cent of its students passed NCEA Level 1;100 per cent passed NCEA Level 2; 100 per cent passed NCEA Level 3; and 100 per cent passed University Entrance.

      To me it appears that Labour’s need to appease the unions is at the expense of children’s education. John Tamihere, who is the chief executive for the Waipareira Trust and a former Labour Party minister, and I have supported the charter school concept for a number of years now.”

  9. robertguyton

     /  February 10, 2018

    Bill’s entirely correct. Won’t convince the ACToid commenters here though. Ever.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 10, 2018

      Self-interested state union propaganda.

    • David

       /  February 10, 2018

      In comes the idiotic bearded privileged hippy who has never set foot in South Auckland in his pampered life and makes a statement replete with his usual fuckwittery. You demonstrate why the left are absolutely useless at lifting outcomes because for you lot its all where you stand on the political spectrum as to whether ones argument is valid.

  10. Bill Courtney

     /  February 10, 2018

    I am not being disingenuous at all. When the contract performance standards were being drafted, Hekia made a hand-written comment on the 24 May 2013 policy paper from the Ministry. It read: “There is to be NO compromise on the system level benchmarks.”

    The fact that the charter school aggregate results are not reaching system results is why they are all scrambling to renegotiate their contract performance standards.

    The two Villa schools, for example, are set targets against National Standards for their year 7 and 8 students. Across both schools, at two year levels and in 3 subjects gives a total of 12 standards targets. And how many did they achieve in 2016? NONE. Yes, that’s right: Zero out of 12.

    And, by the way, you have absolutely no genuine evidence of the true background and prior achievement of the student population attending charter schools. It is all anecdotal to support the marketing spiel.

    And, don’t forget to read John Tamihere’s press release from 2016 when he declared that the charter school model is a mirage. Well said, John.
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/ED1607/S00068/partnership-school-model-a-mirage-says-tamihere.htm

    • robertguyton

       /  February 10, 2018

      Well said Bill. Your argument is supported by research and facts, making it a winner here where re-heated, one-eyed opinion is king.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 10, 2018

      Tamihere demanded ToW status for his school and got shown the door. Irrelevant.

    • Gerrit

       /  February 10, 2018

      if we read the press release from John Tamihere it has nothing to do with the performance of charter schools but all to do with the then government refusal to fund the type of school he wanted to set up.

      “We were in the final stages of developing a Kura which would have offered excellence in education for our people. Our students would have been supported to achieve through individualised learning plans, wellness plans, and the kind of career and tertiary support available at only the most selective and expensive schools in country – all at little or no cost to the Whānau,” Tamihere said. ”

      He actually says the Charter school model would have “offered excellence in education for our people”

      He was miffed the state would not fund his school.

      He said nothing but great things would be done by the charter school model for urban Maori.

    • PDB

       /  February 10, 2018

      Tamihere spat the dummy because the govt wouldn’t fund his school the way he wanted – getting desperate there Bill.

      Wanting to set high standards should always be the goal (as Hekia did) but considering these schools were set up to help those children failing within the public system that was always going to be a tough ask.

      I look forward to your evidence that partnership schools are not catering for those failing the public system – in the meantime read these letters from students at Vanguard that shows what sort of background these students have come from. Failing at school, not going to school, alcohol and drugs a common theme before finding some purpose in life at a partnership school.

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/96814389/english-chokes-back-emotion-faced-with-charter-school-kids–lays-challenge-to-labour

      No doubt Mr Guyton also hates seeing children in unfortunate circumstances turn their lives around because the unions aren’t happy.

      • Bill Courtney

         /  February 10, 2018

        Are there any letters from any of the students that Vanguard expels every year? That’s another so-called “performance standard” which they make a mockery of.

        The School Leavers stats in the main report I linked to earlier contains the data that you may be seeking.

        • Gerrit

           /  February 10, 2018

          The mission statement for SOSNZ (from the link your provided) in part states that

          “SOSNZ asserts that prior to any proposed changes to the education system, it is essential to hold open and honest cross party, cross sector consultation with all relevant stakeholders including educators, parents and students.

          SOSNZ believes that students must be at the forefront of all education decision-making”

          Is Chris Hipkins asking the students what they want? Is he asking the parents what they want?

          Seems like you are like the teachers union, only interested in what the educators and their ideology, wants.

          Do the recipients of the education system not count in your eyes?

          For all you have trotted out are NCEA comparisons (when NCEA i will no longer be measured).

          When will Chris Hipkins and Jacinda Ardern front up to the parents and pupils of the charter schools and tell them and the country, the teachers union and the state know best.

          Most shameful are Willie Jackson and Kelvin Davis who campaigned during the election that Charter Schools would not close but be strengthened.

          Both should hang their heads in shame.

          Storm clouds gathering?

          http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11991301

  11. Bill Courtney

     /  February 10, 2018

    By the way, Alan W, is there any news on what your friends at Whangaruru have been doing with the $1.6 million that they netted out of their venture?

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 10, 2018

      They were never my friends and I said that project was doomed as soon as it was announced.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 11, 2018

        And I suspect without any checking or proof that those involved were the same who turned up in their suits and flash new cars each year to tell the local iwi they wouldn’t be getting any money from their Trust again.