The New Zealand context and what we know about overseas charter schools:
- There is no evidence that charter schools are better than state schools. There is some evidence that overall they give slightly worse educational outcomes for the children they teach.
- Provision already exists under the Education Act (s.156) for parents to propose new schools; there is no evidence of demand for new forms of schooling. New Zealand parents want high quality education at their nearest school.
- Charter schools have the negative effect of removing funding from local state schools. Creating charter schools will increase the total number of schools, with the result that all New Zealand schools will get a smaller chunk of the education dollar.
- The United States has had charter schools for a more than a decade and there has been no measurable improvement in that country's overall performance in literacy, maths and science. The United States lags far behind New Zealand on recent performance tests in all those areas.
- Charter schools in the United States continue to be at the centre of ongoing disputes. Many have been closed for poor performance. There are issues about profit-taking, quality and whose needs are being met.
- Charter schools are said to be able to operate outside regulations and even laws. They will be receiving substantial taxpayer funding but will not be accountable to the New Zealand taxpayer via parliamentary scrutiny.
- Under Tomorrow's Schools New Zealand schools are responsible to their communities. Charter schools are responsible only to their financial backers.
- The state requires students to attend school by law and as a result has the responsibility to adequately fund schools. This responsibility should not be left to the charitable instincts of business.
- Charter schools will allow private companies to profit from providing what most New Zealanders consider core government services. The coalition agreement explicitly states for-profit companies could run charters.
- There is little evidence that charter schools produce innovations in classroom practice; instead many rely heavily on rote learning and standardised testing.
Importing an experimental charter school model puts the well-being of New Zealand students at risk
Importing ideas, such as charter schools, from countries that do less well than our own, fails to identify and protect the best things about New Zealand schools and puts the well-being of all New Zealand children at risk.