When it comes to education, governments bandy the word choice around with evangelical fervour saying, amongst other things, they are opening charter schools for us, the parents.
In New Zealand we have heaps of choice already: Special Character schools, Steiner Schools, home schooling, private schools, bilingual schools, correspondence school, Te kura kaupapa Maori (Maori language schools), State integrated schools, special schools, Health Units, and teen parent units, single sex schools, day schools, boarding schools and more. How much darned choice does anybody need?
No, it’s not about choice. It’s about selling off education system to private companies and leaving it to the same market forces that lead to the world economic crisis in which we currently languish. seems to me ironic and somewhat ridiculous that any one believes the neo-Liberal rhetoric that market-forces will produce the best of anything and will raise our schools to new heady heights of brilliance, given that it was those same market forces that lead to a world-wide economic collapse perpetrated in the main by those bastions of competition, profit and guesswork, the banks.
Improvement by privatisation?
As soon as a school is a business first and a place of education second, you risk trouble. Privatised schools need your children – they need your tax dollars – so they sing their own praises to the heavens and keep a tightly closed door on what goes on within. Brilliant. That should lead to great honest reflection and collaborative work aimed at benefiting our kids.
Oh sorry, I mean that should lead to great profits for someone up top. Slip of the tongue.
As for competition, as soon as schools are pitted against each other they are be tempted to, at best, exaggerate their standing and, at worst, they just plain lie about their achievements. You only have to look at the raft of self-funded We Are Fabulous ‘research’ charter schools in the USA have spewed out to see that. Just like the banks did, strangely enough, just before heaps of them went bust.
In New Zealand we have a great education system. It’s not perfect – no system is. But charter schools offer nothing at all in the way of improvement for students and everything in the way of profit for the few.
Competition is not everything. Choice is not everything. Privatisation is not the answer.
Bank collapse anyone?