[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]
Gimmicks, Fads and Fancies
Trevor Cobbold, in his seminal paper : “School Autonomy is Not the Success Claimed” [http://www.saveourschools.com.au June 2012 ] points out clearly how wasteful it can be, when Governments think-up a diversion to the mainstreamconversation by inventing or copying a new fad or gimmick that they can easily popularize, mostly because of the amount of money that can be poured into the gimmick and they don’t want to talk about schooling too much. Charter schools is the latest, another New York based gimmick, not working very well up-over. Cobbald points out the gross irrelevance of the innovation by citing empirical and other forms of hard evidence that indicate that they are a waste of money. Never mind, the federal government, not wishing to worry itself too much about the schooling of children, has committed $475 million over the next seven years to spread them around the continent. Wow! $475m ! $69m over the next two years! Must have plenty to throw around.
Peter Garrett says, “We are doing it [???] because we know it [???] works.”
‘Charter’ Schools are those with degrees of freedom not granted to neighbourhood schools and are supposed to increase productivity. Fully funded by the government [no school fees] they are run by private organisations or a more placid form of state control, on the condition that they sign a charter that commits them to certain conditions in the first place. The concept in some countries has been linked to a McDonald’s franchise because they can offer fast products. Taxpayers pay whether they approve or not; as they did with NAPLAN testing. Principals and parents organisations are chosen and blessed with what sounds wonderful. The British call them ‘Foundation’ schools or ‘Academies’ or ‘Free’ schools. Same dog, different leg-action. New Zealand education, renowned and widely-regarded as a system of such ‘stand alone’ schools is going to start some Charter Schools, and any Kiwi will describe the level of current discussion to you, if you are prepared to listen to bad language. No form of charter schooling anywhere has ever lived up to promises. In no state or country have they proved to be anything better as places for improved teaching and learning than the ordinary neighbourhood school. They waste valuable space and money. Queensland is calling them by the confuse-parents-trick, oxy-moron Independent Public Schools. Cunning beggars.
Charter schools join middle [aka muddle] schools, pre-schools, prep grades as costly gimmicks designed to show-up neglected neighbourhood schools always trying to provide a place which kids love to attend because they love the learning that goes on there. Well cared and well supported with learning-based resources, one can’t invent any fad that is better.
There will come a day when all Australian schools will join those wonderful neighbourhood schools that now provide learning experiences; and children attend them because they love learning and want more of it.
Phil Cullen AM, FACEL, FACE, FQIEL.
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point 2486
07 5524 6443