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What John Banks needs to explain about charter schools

25 September 2012

Media Release:

What John Banks needs to explain about charter schools

QPEC will be distributing a new leaflet on KIPP charter schools at the ACT-organised public meetings to promote charter schools for New Zealand.

ACT leader and Associate Education Minister John Banks is promoting KIPP schools as the charter school model for New Zealand to follow and ACT have organised to have KIPP co-founder Mike Feinberg speak at public meetings tonight in Wellington, tomorrow in Christchurch and Thursday in Auckland.

The serious concerns QPEC has relate to blatant misinformation used to promote KIPP schools which “weed out” 30% of lower achieving students before Year 9 (40% for African American boys) but ignore this as they claim marvellous success for the rest.

If we take into account this high drop-out rate then KIPP “successes” pale dramatically. Some researchers have even suggested the percentage of KIPP students progressing to University could be lower than that for comparable public schools.

If 40% of lower-achieving Maori or Pacific boys were “weeded out” of school by the start of Year 9 there would be questions asked in parliament and a commission of inquiry – and quite rightly so.

These are the very children John Banks claims he wants to help but these are the very students charter schools leave behind.

What John Banks really wants to do is help the corporate sector take over the management of public schools in New Zealand for private profit.

A copy of our new leaflet is attached and in light of this some of the questions we will be endeavouring to ask Mr Weinberg at the public meetings are:

Questions for KIPP Co-founder Mike Feinberg

1. What does NZ have to learn from an overseas schooling model that discards 30% of the most disadvantaged children and 40% of African American boys?

2. If KIPP is about 'no excuses', what's your excuse for such high reported rates of student attrition?

2. Would you want your own children to attend a school where they get punished them for the slightest misdemeanour, for example raising their eyebrows, or allows them to speak only when spoken to by the teacher?

3. Why should other schools in the local community have to restore the self-belief and aspirations of the kids who drop out from KIPP curriculum boot camp?

4. KIPP is regularly referred to by critics as 'Kids in Prison Program'. Is this a fair description?

5. Why should kids and families have to sign up to a strict behaviour contract to attend a publicly funded school?

6. Why does KIPP expend so much effort trying to discredit the results of independent research that asks perfectly responsible questions about KIPP's claims?

7. Where do all the tens of millions of dollars of private funding raised from right wing private foundations go? Very little appears to be spent directly on the students.

8. KIPP schools get more money overall than public schools. Isn't this just an argument for better funded public schools?

9. Despite their much higher student drop out rates, KIPP schools don't reimburse the district or generally accept students during the year. They keep the money even when the kids leave. How is this fair?

10. Isn't education about a lot more than success on standardised tests in the basics and, if so, why aren't KIPP kids allowed to proceed to the next grade with their friends unless they pass the grade tests?

11. Independent researchers claim that when KIPP's obscene attrition rates are included, as many disadvantaged kids, or more, from public schools go on to college as they do from KIPP schools. Please comment.


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