New Zealand Labour Party

Parata puts brakes on charter school appraisal

A former ACT party president and current chair of the Board overseeing charter schools has slammed the Government’s attempt to whitewash an ‘independent’ evaluation of the schools, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

Documents released by the Ministry of Education show charter school cheerleader and former ACT Party president Catherine Isaac expressed serious concerns about the government-commissioned charter school evaluation by consultancy firm Martin Jenkins.

“Like every other reasonable person, Catherine Isaac argued there needed to be a focus on educational outcomes.

"However when the Ministry of Education recommended they compare the achievements of children at charter schools to those of their counterparts at state schools, the documents show Hekia Parata specifically prohibited them from doing so.

“She deliberately excluded such a comparison from the review.

“It is inconceivable that the Minister would interfere in such a way - forcing her department to forgo work that aimed to assess the actual educational value of these schools.

“The first report from the evaluation, also released this week, shows little new innovation is taking place at charter schools.

"Taxpayer funding ensures they can provide smaller class sizes, above market pay rates for teachers, and free food and uniforms for students - all ‘innovations’ that would be most welcome at any struggling public school.

“If Hekia Parata really had confidence in charter schools she would want evidence of how well their pupils are doing.

“Instead the National government is throwing large sums at charter schools while relying on a completely farcical ‘independent’ evaluation to justify the expense in the hope they will survive the 2017 election,” Chris Hipkins says.