Charter Schools: The Future of Success
Managed to catch the encore screening of 3rd Degree (TV3) this week which had an exposé on the 5 trial Charter Schools being run in Auckland at the moment.
All in all Charter Schools have been portrayed as the greatest thing happening in our education system. We obviously think that just because they’ve failed overseas in the UK and the US, that they won’t fail here.
There are many benefits to the charter schools; ones that the staff, parents, and children are more than aware of, and make these school incredibly popular on paper.
Lets have a look at some of the benefits:
With State Schools often bursting at the seams with 30-35 students in a class, a class size of 15 is brilliant for those who are struggling with aspects of their learning. They get to work more intently with their teacher and receive help more regularly.
Before Charter Schools, the Government wanted to save money by increasing class sizes across the country. Obviously the government is trialling small class sizes with these Charter Schools so that they can see if it works for the State sector as well…right?
Not Just Teachers
How much more invigorating and real would learning be if you had a skilled professional accountant running the economics class. Or heavyweight boxer David Tua running a boxing class for fitness. What amazing engagement and opportunities would be presented to the students at the school, to have people at the top of their professions giving back into the learning. They don’t have to be a registered teacher at all in order to be able to inspire the next generation of society.
Of course, one does take a little precaution, because as it turns out, even with tight registration guidelines from the Teacher’s Council, there were a few cases of inappropriate conduct.
But I’m sure getting rid of registration for Charter School teachers will instil a new sense of trust for employees and employers, and in turn, parents and students.
Freedom of Curriculum
At Charter Schools, the staff are able to offer a flexible and selective curriculum for their students. They’re able to pick and choose what they teach. So many students have failed the state system because they don’t like the prescriptive nature of the learning and all of the subjects that gets crammed in every day. At Charter Schools, you can rely on real life experiences, like going to the beach, exploring, and learning through hands on activities.
Charter schools are also exempt from having to report against National Standards, and so will be able to focus on other areas of learning, rather than get burdened into Reading, Writing, and Maths that the State schools have to focus on, even though the National Standards, of course, have been given honorary status as raising kids achievements.
New Zealand has one of the best curriculums in the world, and was designed over countless hours, weeks, months, years, to be flexible and to encourage creativity, to allow students to engage with a rich learning that was unprecedented anywhere else in the world. Of course, it only has that freedom if Teachers are empowered to do so, and aren’t hog-tied by the constant monitoring and assessing required of them by the National Standards in Reading, Writing, and Maths.
Charter schools are wonderful. They take kids who dropped out of state school and re-invigorate them with learning in various different ways. They allow parents to make choices for the future of their children’s education.
But questions linger in my mind. Why do we need to set up a new breed of schooling, with private investors running schools for a profit, or picking and choosing their students? If all of these great things are happening in these 5 trial schools, why can we not make it a reality in our current state schooling?
If smaller class sizes is such a big draw card in raising student engagement, why not have smaller class sizes in ALL schools across New Zealand, instead of charter schools?
If access to the wider New Zealand Curriculum (which already exists by the way) is what gets kids enthused about learning and engaging them with the big wide world, then why do we narrow teacher’s minds by getting them to focus on National Standards so much? If it’s good enough to ditch the National Standards for Charter Schools, then why not ditch it for ALL New Zealand schools, seeing as it doesn’t seem to make a difference on student’s ability to learn.
Note: In essence, we could return education to the way it was before National implemented all these changes, and we would have a wide and rich curriculum that teachers felt empowered to choose from, and the freedom to make that choice. We would have a set of registration requirements that drive so many good teachers out, and yet somehow keeps some bad ones in. We would have less focus on Reading Writing and Mathematics that narrows and stunts the grown of learning in the classroom. And after the comments of students, parents, and staff regarding class sizes at the Charter Schools in the 3rd Degree exposé, I truely hope that one John Hattie doesn’t give this government any more advice, and that they might use the $359 million they are spending on the new career roles (IES) to put towards more classes in schools with less students in each class.