Monday, February 29, 2016

Charter schools are a rort

Surprise, surprise - it turns out that three-quarters of National's charter schools are failing, but they'll all be paid their bonuses anyway:

The four remaining charter schools which opened in 2014 have all been paid a performance bonus despite three not meeting their targets.

Documents released to the Labour Party under the Official Information Act show that Education Minister Hekia Parata approved the payments - 1 per cent of the school's budget - on advice from the Education Ministry and Charter School Authorisation Board.

The payments total around $60,000 and were made to Vanguard Military School, Terenga Paraoa, the Rise UP Academy and South Auckland Middle School.

The "justification" for charter schools is that the financial incentives on private providers, the risk of not getting paid if they fail to deliver contracted-for services, and the possibility of getting bonuses if they do well, will produce greater performance. But what we're seeing here is the same problem we saw with Whangaruru school: the Minister has an incentive not to admit failure. And that means that schools get bonuses even if they are failing, because to do otherwise requires the Minister to admit that she made a mistake. The net result: the victims of these schools get a poor education, a failure which will cost us millions in the long-term, while their fatcat private providers laugh all the way to the bank. It's a rort, pure and simple. But its also a potent reminder of why we should never privatise services.