Thursday, October 03, 2013

Charter schools not an unpopular idea

Nearly 45 per cent of respondents supported charter schools because they felt they would provide a different approach to education.
A finding from a recent Herald Digi-poll.

I was having a conversation with an ex ACT staffer about the charter school policy just the other day. He said he was surprised that Labour didn't constantly refer to the charter schools as "ACT's" charter schools thus demonising them in the public eye. I said I thought the policy was actually reasonably popular going on what I'd seen and heard. Then he speculated that's what Labour's polling might be telling them and to tag them ACT's schools would actually accrue credit to the party. It's a possibility given the above result.

I'm in favour of a different appproach as well. But my gut feeling is the upbringing and home environment is the bigger factor in educational failure.

We frequently hear about the 20 percent that come out of the education system without qualifications. And I constantly talk about the 20 percent of children who go onto a benefit at birth or shortly after. The proportion has fluctuated between 18 - 25 percent over the last couple of decades. What's the correlation or overlap?

As a research project it's doable but not by me. A team would need to identify a group and examine their benefit histories, so privacy issues would come into play. I was thinking about any existing research. Perhaps the Christchurch Health and Development Study. But that followed a 1973 birth cohort. Growing up on welfare was far less common in the seventies. In 2028 or thereabouts, the Growing Up In New Zealand Study would have the data but that's a long time to wait. And as I've observed before, the study already has considerable drop-out and those children are most likely to be on welfare and transient.

Of course, any results would be discounted by the opposition as down to poverty and not welfare dependence ... but my, it would be fascinating to know what the overlap is.

(There is a review here -p57- of various studies into the effect of income from welfare on child outcomes. I don't have time now to quote from it. Mixed results anyway.)


Brendan said...

Hi Lindsay

Charter schools are an opportunity to provide the benefits of private education to the less fortunate. It's a small initiative that disrupts the socialist agenda, and it's most welcome.

I think most parents recognise that the current system is not working for 20 - 25% of New Zealand's children at the very least. It didn't work for me and I left it more than 40 years ago!

Thankfully, students are being offered an alternative, and if it fails miserably they will be no worse off at all. If it succeeds however the PPTA's greatest fears will be realised. That sounds like a win-win to me.

Kind regards

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Hi Brendan

I left it 36 years ago a partial 'failure'. Had ability but "didn't apply it". Refused a Sixth form certificate for non-completion of work and absenteeism, but scraped through 4 UE subjects on sitting them.

The curriculum didn't present me with real life. Subject matter seemed irrelevant. I learned to think through challenging what I was taught. So I feel for kids who are just bored wherever they fit on the conventional capability scales.

Jigsaw said...

I was a teacher-both primary and secondary for 37 years and I taught in Ontario for a year. In the 1990's they considered our schools to be charter schools as they were much more independent than theirs and under 'Tomorrows Schools' each school did have a charter.
The biggest fear the teacher unions have is that the charter schools will succeed. We already have another form of charter school in this country in the Maori immersion schools-unqualified teachers as well! Producing a generation of Maori students who can do the haka etc but can't speak or write English - worst still will be the attitudes they come out with.