A Tale of Two School Types & Their Different Treatment
The release of the decision on accountability funding for charter schools, and the Ombudsman’s report on school closures, shows one set of rules for state schools dealing with vulnerable communities, and another set for charter schools, who were supposed to be accountable for their performance but are essentially given a free pass by the Minister.
The Ombudsman’s report noted that the Christchurch school closure process was poorly run, lacked transparency, did not have a clear policy framework, had competing goals and had to deal with the “needs, visions, plans of ministers” (these were not specified).
“In short, the case for closing Christchurch schools was unclear, muddled and lacked a clear focus and goals. This means, for example, that the goal of improving educational outcomes got lost under less worthy goals, and indeed there is no evidence of improved educational performance resulting from the closures and mergers” said Liz Gordon, QPEC spokesperson on charter schools.
“While a number of schools in the South thus closed for no other reason than they served poor communities, or were smaller (as poorer schools tend to be because of white flight), up at the top of the North Island, charter schools get a free pass”, Dr Gordon said.
“Let us be very clear that only one of the nine charter schools – a brilliant community school that should have been opened under existing provisions of the Education Act, the Rise Up Academy - is the only one that met its goals.
“Notable among the three schools that did not meet their goals but received the performance funding is the Vanguard Military Academy. This school failed to meet its performance standards around student engagement, instead setting up a disgusting record of suspending and expelling students, getting rid of those that do not conform to its rules. The Ministry then excused this behaviour by noting that the school, by its nature, instilled military discipline. That being said, why did the Ministry contract with that school to deliver on community engagement if it was not to be judged on that performance?”
In all, 8 out of 9 charter schools failed to meet performance guidelines, although three of the failing schools still received performance funding. Five schools are failing but are allowed to continue even though they are not meeting their contractual obligations.
“One set of rules for state schools in crippled communities, and another for the failing charter school model. How long will taxpayers have to put up with this expensive experiment?”