Charter schools worry principals
The potential march south of charter schools into the region has the Manawatu Primary Principals' Association wary.
New Zealand's first charter schools were announced yesterday, with the five partnership ventures set to be up and running in Auckland and Northland by the beginning of the next school year.
The news is causing concern among education watchers, with opposition parties promising to change the law and education unions calling for the $19 million of government funding for charter schools to be redirected.
Manawatu Primary Principals' Association president David Reardon said: "We really don't want to be experimenting with kids' education . . . I would certainly hope that the systems, protocols and processes are there for the early opportunity to make a judgment."
Through the National and the ACT Party agreement, private businesses and charities can run schools outside of the state and private system, but the schools are not subject to normal rules regarding hours or holidays, will not have to hire registered teachers and do not come under the Official Information Act.
"It just makes me wonder in the kind of democratic world that we belong in - what have they [charter schools] got to hide?" Mr Reardon said.
"Is there a wider agenda here with the privatisation of our state school sector?
"Is it to reduce the burden on the Government for finance and resourcing education systems for the future rather than being driven by the best educational outcomes?"
The Government said the schools were a new way of reaching the 20 per cent of students, mainly from Maori, Pacific and poorer backgrounds, who were failing in the existing school system.
"[The schools would] help young Kiwis be the best they can by helping raise aspirations and encouraging them to succeed," Education Minister Hekia Parata said.
If they were found not to be performing, the Government would work with them to try and improve them, with the ultimate sanction being forced closure, she said.
However, it has been controversial from the outset. The Post Primary Teachers Association, the Green Party, the Labour Party and the New Zealand Educational Institute have all spoken out against the creation of charter schools, saying New Zealand's public education was taking a hit, educational accountability was being lost and the schools lacked oversight and protection for pupils.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you agree with increased oil exploration?