‘The announcement to trial an imported model of ‘charter school’ prompts us to ask ‘what is so wrong with the charter school model we have now?’ said Paul Drummond, President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation.
New Zealand was the first country in the world to introduce charter schools and did so in the wake of the 1980s ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’ reforms. The charter is the document of accountability between the Board of Trustees and the Ministry of Education.
‘We have the best model of charter school,’ said Drummond. ‘It allows our high quality public school system to flourish and allows Kiwi Mums and Dads to have meaningful input into their local school’s curriculum and activities in partnership with the educational professionals,’ he said. ‘The charter document keeps everyone accountable and the Education Review Office audits schools regularly. Furthermore, New Zealand ranks right up the top in the OECD achievement stakes, sitting alongside Finland and Singapore.’
‘Our charter school model also allows local business to support school activities and all over the country, schools are enjoying the benefits of innovative and collaborative partnerships with them. That’s the kiwi way of doing things,’ he said. ‘Why would we want to sell control of our local schools to the highest bidder?, said Drummond.
The Charter school model being promoted in New Zealand is like the American model. Funded by both government and another entity such as a religious sect or a corporate, they can operate as profit making entities and have different accountabilities and obligations from those in the public school system. The latest research results on charter schools in America show that they heighten disparities in society and have no positive impact on student achievement.