The government had confirmed it is very happy with the NCEA results from its beloved charter schools. This follows concerns being raised about the different methodology being used to calculate pass rates in the privately run but publicly funded cash cows.
Undersecretary of Hekia Parata (pictured) has taken time out from his own exams to say how delighted he was with the results.
“100% of charter school students passed their NCEA exams,” said a delighted David Seymour outside a Wendy’s he’d just been taken to by his mum, “and I’m not afraid to tell all those naysayers and woolly wowsers that they’re all egg-burgers for thinking charter schools would be a failure.”
Mr. Seymour said the seven charter school students who ended up sitting NCEA exams did very, very well with 100% of the students who passed the exams being counted towards the 100% pass rate.
Her Grand Highness Hekia Parata said she had no problem with charter schools not counting students who left or failed in their data because they were “losers” who would actually end up being counted in local public school data because, “that also makes the charter schools look good.”
John Key was reported as saying, “meh… I’m off the clock.”
Current Education Minister and well-loved closer Hekia Parata, has today announced a hugely exciting development in her charter schools policy.
The minister, speaking in front of a crowd of six as a guest at the ACT Party conference, outlined her plans to boost the performance of charter schools.
“The idea is to bring us in line with much of the public sector and many different private sector organisations,” the minister told the packed loungeroom, “by paying performance bonuses even when performance targets haven’t been met.”
Ms. Parata said charter school targets were only really suggested outcomes and it didn’t really matter if schools met them or not because, at the end of the day, the government was going to give them anything they wanted.
The speech was given a warm applause by the six old white dudes in the audience who were all in agreement that government subsidies were terrible when given to the poor, but wise and sensible when given to the rich.
When asked by waiting reporters how she was going to bridge the gap between funding levels of state schools and their operating costs, the minister laughed. And laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed.
What follows is a transcript of a press conference given by Education Minister Hekia Parata when announcing the closure of the Whangaruru partnership school earlier this week.
HEKIA: Hello everyone. I’ve called you here today to announce the closure of the Whangaruru partnership school in sunny Northland. Despite our best efforts, this school has failed to live up to the high standards we set for education in this country. The board will have time to consider its options and I expect them to make their submission to me early next year before making the final decision. Thank you. Are there any questions?
TRACEY – NZ HERALD: Do you see this as a failure for your partnership schools policy?
HEKIA: Absolutely not. This decision from the government shows the strength of this ACT Party policy. Currently we have 4 out of 5 partnership schools remaining open next year. That’s an 80% success rate. Frankly I would have been stoked with 80% in School C.
ANDREA – TVNZ: Is it true that concerns were raised even before the school opened?
HEKIA: Yes. It’s true there were a few teething issues in the run up to the school opening and the whole time the school was opened. This is to be expected from the exciting world of unqualified and inexperienced educators.
BARRY – NEWSTALK ZB: Isn’t this policy just a joke? Aren’t you a joke? You’re a joke, aren’t you? You joke.
HEKIA: I’m not sure that’s a question Barry, but I’ll answer it anyway. This policy is not a joke. No. I’m not a joke. In fact, I have never been more…
BARRY – NEWSTALK ZB: Stupid joke!
HEKIA: …serious in my entire life. I intend to…..
BARRY – NEWSTALK ZB: baaahaaaahahahahaaaaa. What a great joke!!
HEKIA: Be quiet you toady little man or I will tell on you to the Prime Minister. He knows heaps of people. YOU’LL NEVER WORK IN THIS TOWN AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you all for coming. Good afternoon.
BARRY – NEWSTALK ZB: Total joke.
Today MyThinks travels deep into the Ureweras where multi-national public service operator Serco has just opened their new charter school. This state of the art facility will educate some of the country’s most uniquely challenged students.
Bay of Plenty
Heavy mist hangs in the air as I drive through the chilled spring morning to my destination – the new Serco-run charter school in the heart of the Ureweras. Having recently been opened by the Minister of Corrections, Sam Lotu-liga, this facility is an exciting new development that will be at the vanguard of innovative learning in Aotearoa New Zealand.
I park my car at the gate and take the short walk to the entrance – a 2 metre high steel door set inside a 5 metre high wall of reinforced concrete. Drops of morning dew high on the razor wire above me sparkle with each pass of the powerful search lamp. As I arrive at the door it opens and I head inside.
Once the full cavity search has been completed, I put my clothes back on and two guards lead me through several heavy steel doors to the office of the headmaster Commandant Fraser Hitchcock. I’ve been told this former Navy diver is a hard man but I find his generous greeting and firm handshake a welcome juxtaposition to the sign-in procedure I’ve just been subjected to. He motions for me to sit in the plush antique leather seat in front of his desk.
We exchange pleasantries for a couple of minutes – me giving him some background on my career and he staring intently at me not saying a word. Eventually I pull out my notebook and commence the interview.
“So, you’ve only just opened. How are things going so far? Will you be ready for the start of the new academic year in February 2016?”
The headmaster opens a ring-binder labelled Appropriate Responses to Media Inquiries Approved by Serco Head Office and flicks through half a dozen pages before nodding to himself, looking up at me and saying, “Yes.”
“That’s good,” I reply, “you must be very excited.”
Several minutes pass while he again consults his ring-binder.
“Yes,” replies Commandant Hitchcock before returning to the ring-binder for a further seven minutes before adding, “very excited.”
“Is there any chance of heading out on a tour of this excellent facility?” I ask.
The ring-binder is again consulted before an adamant no is given. Concerned that I have driven some five hours to get here and already have the permission of both the Minister of Education and the Minister of Corrections for a tour, I question his answer.
“But sir,” I begin, “I do have permission from the ministers. They have told me that I could come here and tour the brand-new learning centre you have created.”
“The answer is no,” he replies before pressing a buzzer on his desk and informing the two teachers who escorted me in to escort me out once more. Following a further cavity search I am taken to my car and told to leave the school grounds immediately. Both teachers have their hands on their side-arms.
As I drive back down the long driveway I can’t help thinking how wonderful it would have been to see learning in action inside this fantastic new amenity. Who knows? One day Serco may indeed open their doors to someone else who will be able to see the amazing things the highly skilled educators are offering the incredibly lucky students in attendance.
That’s the last in this series of charter school profiles from MyThinks.
Today MyThinks continues their profile of New Zealand charter schools as they come towards the end of the second year of operation. Today we are in South Auckland at the Rearguard Academy of Military and Ballistic Operations – a charter school committed to the stripping down and building back up of some of the toughest youth.
My car pulls up to the checkpoint. A smartly dressed and rather pimply year 11 student greets me with a salute and a demand to see my papers. I show him my identification papers. He looks at it for a few moments before motioning to a comrade in the nearby kiosk to remove the barriers. They team up to do so and I drive on.
As I slowly make my way up the drive toward the main barracks, on the patch of grass next to the drive I see one of the younger students being hazed by a platoon of much older boys. I think to myself, hair grows back but I’m not too sure about thumbs.
I park my car and get out. I’m greeted by the turgid salute of a young cadet who clearly believes himself to be far more smartly dressed than I could ever hope to be. Following the salute he eyes me with disdain before marching me briskly around the back of the admin block.
When we arrive I am greeted by the unusual sight of several nine-year-olds digging a large hole in the ground. They are using plastic spoons. A slightly rotund staff sergeant is shouting mercilessly at them.
“YOU WILL HAVE THESE LATRINES COMPLETED BY OH-SIX-HUNDRED TOMORROW MORNING WHEN THEY WILL BE COMMISSIONED BY MYSELF AND THE COMMANDANT!!! IS THAT CLEAR!!???!?!”
Some exhausted murmurings drift from the hole. The sergeant responds.
“I SAID, IS THAT CLEAR??!!?”
“Sir, yes sir!” they retort in unison. The staff sergeant turns to me.
“You must be the journalist,” he begins, “I’m Staff Sergeant Bill Williams.”
He extends a hand and we shake. I just can’t help myself. I ask if those children are old enough to be doing such demanding work.
“Of course,” he replies in a much more soothing tone, “great military powers around the world were all built around high-quality latrine systems. Hitler lost World War Two because the German army didn’t have the technology to dig into the frozen Russian mud. No latrines made for very unhappy and clogged up solders.”
Having studied some military history at university I wasn’t sure that substandard latrines were the main reasons the Germans lost the war, but I let it rest. Sgt Williams begins his tour of the base.
As we travel around the barracks and other buildings I can’t help but notice the number of young people lying exhausted in the mud while outraged adults thunder instructions or let them know in no uncertain terms how worthless they are to society.
“How do you measure the learning outcomes for your students?” I ask Sgt. Williams.
“Easy,” replies Sgt Williams, “each student who comes through those front gates is disrobed, de-loused and fully shaved. We then spend six to eight weeks totally destroying them. Any soldier who comes out of the process alive is considered to have successfully graduated. They are given a little medal with a green ribbon.”
“And where do they go when they leave the academy?”
“Generally they return to some kind of juvenile detention facility,” he replies, “We get some of the most troubled youths from across the north of the North Island. What we do is give them a huge range of military skills in their time here. It’s scary to think criminals with those sorts of highly refined skills could be roaming around our communities.”
We conclude our tour back at my car. What I have seen has really impressed me. Young people following instructions, authentic learning experiences, and extreme military degradation – all the elements one needs for a successful charter school.
MyThinks returns tomorrow with a tour around Serco’s brand-new Bay of Plenty facility.