CoL: Corruption on Learning
The next phase of the privatisation of the education system is in full swing, with a series of schools being lured by the promise of $365million into Communities of Learning.
Although there was a slight majority of 93% of NZEI voters voting to exit the negotiation tent when the Corruption of Schools initiative was announced, they continued working with the Ministry to develop a watered down version that is supposedly more palatable version of it.
Unfortunately, as I have written in the past, a poisoned apple is still poisoned even if you polish it up nice, red and juicy. Or in slightly more crass terms; I’m not going to be eating a turd just because you’ve put chocolate icing on it.
Groups of schools were then asked to submit expressions of interest into forming or joining a CoL and many did to explore the options. However, an “expression of interest” was taken by the Ministry as a firm “yes” of commitment, and when consulted about whether a CoL was to be formed, the Ministry responded with “well you’ve signed an expression of interest so you’re in one”. Fantastic. This is of course a numbers game, and the Ministry will spin it whichever way it can to show that it is working. Take this map for example. It says where all the communities of learning are around the country and all the schools involved, and all the students from those schools – failing to actually realise that as of March 2017, 61 CoL’s have approved achievement challenges. As of December 2016 there were 180 CoL’s, so only one third have had the go ahead on an achievement challenge. These achievement challenges essentially set a direction for the CoL and until they have been approved, the CoL is somewhat rudderless and ceases to exist. Thus, the Ministry’s numbers are overly inflated as to how many CoL’s there are, and how many schools are actually participating in one.
At the NZPF Moot last week, Whetu Cormick spoke of the plans the Government is making, with international visits to the UK where Communities of Learning models have been rolled out and the devastating nature of them has become evident. They all centre around privatising education, and will spell the biggest asset sale in recent New Zealand history.
Of course, as Whetu states, all of this is presented to the public and parents as a way for schools to be equally equipped, for resources to be shared. It’s far too difficult to argue, because all of these things seem very appealing at face value. However, the implications of these lead us to the issues that the UK and US are facing; neither of which has raised any kind of improvement in the achievement results of students. Of course, using National Standards to measure this is completely flawed anyway.
What I find somewhat amusing is that every opportunity the minister gets at the moment she seems obligated to say “parents should get the choice”. But under this CoL model, schools will have a set of expectations dumped on them and they will all conform to eventually all be the same, with no room for individuality or working with the community. No chance to build a school curriculum or focussing on what is important to that school’s culture.
I would be very interested to hear from anyone who is in a school involved with a CoL;
- What are your experiences of it so far? Positive? Indifferent? Negative?
- What are your “achievement challenges”? How do they relate to your students at your school?
- Is the CoL having a positive impact on your school, and on student achievement?