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Treasury documents reveal scepticism of charter schools

Treasury documents reveal scepticism of charter schools

Treasury documents released today reveal that Treasury is sceptical of charter schools and questions their educational or economic merit.

The documents were released following an Official Information Act request by NZEI and are now publicly available on the Treasury website.

NZEI National Secretary Paul Goulter says that the Treasury documents largely support NZEI’s own opposition to charter schools including the need for registered teachers.

Treasury aligned itself with Ministry of Education advice and agreed that all teachers at charter schools must be registered.

“Quality teaching is the most important in-school factor in influencing student achievement,” one report said.

“This directly opposes Associate Minister of Education John Banks’s proposal that charter schools do not need registered teachers, ’’ Mr Goulter says.

“Treasury is saying what we have said all along – charter schools are a waste of money and will not produce any rise in educational achievement. In fact they do the opposite – they increase inequality wherever they have been established and they do not increase parent choice,” says Mr Goulter.

One Treasury report says: “This competition takes place in a context of parents having poor information on which to base their choice of school and empirical evidence that suggests the gains from competition are minimal or negative….”

“We remain sceptical around the student achievement benefits that could be gained from introducing more actively competitive mechanisms into the New Zealand schooling system, such as vouchers, removal of zoning arrangements and increasing financial support for private schools. Systems that have pursued these policies have not gained systematic improvements in student outcomes.

“There are provisions within the current system to increase the diversity of schooling choices available to parents….although these have been used infrequently…..this may indicate that the current level of diversity within the state sector is sufficient to meet parents demands.”

The Treasury advice also addresses Crown involvement in school property and says: “The potential fiscal implications are uncertain as there are a number of design parameters that would influence the fiscal cost.”

It said of capital funding that: “the balance between sponsor and government contribution on capital costs was yet to be determined.”

“They clearly have not done the sums on this. This is going to be an expensive mistake and the taxpayer will be bailing out these failed schools and for what? There is no evidence they increase student achievement,” says Mr Goulter.

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