Charter schools plan gets the cold shoulder (+poll)

By Genevieve Helliwell

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Tauranga educators are slamming the Government's charter school model, which will allow unqualified or unregistered teachers in the classroom.

  Opponents to the move say it will be detrimental to education in New Zealand.

Under the New Zealand Model of charter (partnership) schools, schools will be able to negotiate the number of registered teachers they wish to employ, school hours and term dates, negotiate salary levels and employment conditions.

Geoff Opie of Otumoetai Primary school said he was "unimpressed" with the direction education policy was heading and questioned why a "failed model" from England and America was to be introduced here.

"Call me cynical, but ... we have a good public education system that far out performs both the English and American systems and the politicians, for reasons only known to them, are in the process of stuffing it up. A bit of a shame really."

He said if state schools were not meeting the needs of students, alternatives should be available.

However, there must be accountability to the community and at present there was no accountability measures in place for charter schools and no core curriculum required to be taught, he said.

"I don't think the preset charter school will fit the bill, not the least, because it has been based on a political expediency between a defunct Act party and this National government. Any educational change based on political expediency unfailingly cuts across best educational practice."

Gate Pa principal Richard Inder believed there were much higher priorities than charter schools. He disagreed with the charter school initiative and said the decision to introduce charter schools was a political decision that was not made in consultation with those in the education sector.

He also believed state schools would end up financially disadvantaged and said if there was such faith in the charter school model, private enterprises should fund the schools entirely.

Dave Randell, principal of Otumoetai College, said taking under-achieving children out of mainstream school was a mistake and research showed when low achievers were with higher achievers they were more inspired, he said.

He also said employing unregistered or unqualified teachers was a mistake.

"The Government is talking about raising student achievement where every teacher by 2015 must have a master's degree but now they're contradicting themselves and saying you don't have to be qualified or registered.

"In the medical profession, it's like saying you don't have to be qualified to be a doctor and this is the same. I feel this is detrimental for the whole teaching profession," Mr Randell said.

The establishment of charter schools is dependent on the passage of the Education Amendment Bill.  


 

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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