Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It was to be a post-election, post-marking dissection, but I'm way too tired and munted to not write a post....

So the election results were predictably horrid; why on earth anyone living in a household earning under $100,000 a year would vote for National is beyond me... But I know that electorates and countries swing back and forth between the left and the right, and that turnout was low, and I know that an ‘attractive’ personality is pretty important to many people, and that national disasters and World Cups can have interesting effects on the general populace’s voting behaviour, so I can accept the results, as vomitous as they might be. But I must admit, I didn’t anticipate the recent announcement that the government is keen to give charter schools a go; I have been anticipating National Standards at years 9 and 10, as well as pay disputes, resourcing cuts etc. etc….but oh how generous I was with my expectations of the Nat/Banks/Dunne government; they are obviously much meaner than I could ever have imagined.

I was planning to wait until I’d finished my marking before I made another blog post, but I’m there’s some scary stuff being proposed by the government. So, instead of dissecting the bollocks that was the election results and the horrors of marking hundreds of papers in a short space of time, I’m simply going to make a quick post centered around why charter schools are not a good idea. In fact, I’m not even going to discuss much, as my two cents is really more like 0.002 cents because so much has been said by teachers, principals and the general public over the last 24 hours or so. I guess I’m more spreading the word in this post, than creating it.

Charter schools are, to summarise, private schools that are state-funded yet have the freedom to teach their own curriculum and hire and pay teachers based on their own standards. They can be started by any community group, including businesses, and they’re allowed to raise funds however they want. There’s been a lot of good discussion amongst my friends, and their friends, on Facebook about how they work and how (in)effective they are, so I’m reluctant to explain things when someone else can do it so much better. So, check out these links:

Reaction and analysis:

It can be argued that integrated schools in NZ are not entirely dissimilar to charter schools in terms of the amount of freedom they have to do whatever they want. But as far as I can tell, charter schools are yet another step along that path to a teacher-hating, student-mind-numbing path of ‘education’. And as a resident of East Christchurch, where Banks and Key want to ‘trial’ these schools, I’d have to say, the whole thing is scary and crazy, but not unpredictable in hindsight.

You don’t have to be a genius (whatever that might involve; I’m thinking it might involve being taking lots of IQ tests) to figure out that charter schools are not going to ‘fix’ low-performing schools in low socio-economic areas. You don’t have to be a genius to see how they could become severely corrupt institutions. But obviously, Trevor McIntyre, principal of Christchurch Boys’ High School and Thomas Proctor, principal of Christchurch Rudolph Steiner School believe that for-profit companies can provide a better education for people than the state can. I, as well as thousands of other education professionals up and down the country, seriously doubt that belief because there’s no real evidence to suggest it’s true:

So it’s a big BOOOOOOO to those two principals from me..

Anyway, I’m looking forward to my next PPTA meeting. I trust my union to fight this rubbish and I urge everyone to be ready for a fight (although the whole thing seems so ridiculous, I know…). I encourage any new and/or non-member teachers to join the union. Interesting times are ahead.

Also, I strongly recommend at this point watching episode 19, season 6 of The Simpsons (‘Lisa’s Wedding’), again, for light relief. There’s a Simpsons line for every occasion and a Simpsons line always lightens the mood. I fear I may be watching that episode (amongst numerous other scenes set in Springfield Elementary School) over and over again for at least the next three years… No change there then…

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