June 13th, 2024

$153m for charter schools diverts essential resources from public education

Union argues funds would be better spent on teacher aides to support public education

Evaluations revealed minimal educational innovation within charter schools, mainly limited to governance and staffing, where hiring qualified teachers was not mandatory.
Evaluations revealed minimal educational innovation within charter schools, mainly limited to governance and staffing, where hiring qualified teachers was not mandatory.

The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) Te Riu Roa has expressed strong opposition to the government’s recent announcement of $153 million earmarked for establishing new charter schools, according to a media release issued yesterday.

Mark Potter, president of NZEI Te Riu Roa, stated that this funding could instead be used to fully finance over 700 full-time teacher aides, providing critical support to the public education system.

“This is money we could put to desperately needed use in our public education system. Most teachers will tell you stronger learning support and smaller class sizes, so teachers can have more time with students, is the priority. A teacher aide for every child that needs one would begin to seriously address the increasing learning needs of our tamariki that are not currently being addressed. Charter schools are an expensive distraction and diversion of funds,” said Potter.

Potter highlighted the previous National government’s failed attempt at charter schools, which had an average annual operational cost per student exceeding $18,000, compared to the $6,600 average for public schools. Evaluations revealed minimal educational innovation within charter schools, mainly limited to governance and staffing, where hiring qualified teachers was not mandatory.

Potter also pointed out the uncertainty surrounding the charter school policy, noting that it might not survive a change in government. He emphasised that the existing public education system is already diverse and capable of addressing educational needs if properly funded.

“If the Government is serious about improving educational outcomes for children they could put $153m into learning support today,” he said.