Thursday, September 26, 2013

Exclusive Brethren Will Test Govt Priorities


The Exclusive Brethren have removed their children from the state system so that they can provide an educational environment that supports their religious beliefs. They have 24 sites, or satellite schools, that operate under one school administration (Westmount School) that already receives $2.9 million of Government funding. The Decile 8 school has applied to be fully integrated at an estimated cost of an extra $7 million (or around $4,300) per student.

The Exclusive Brethren have been accused of operating as a cult and many members who have left the church have cited, bullying treatment. The story of the Brethren's treatment of gay journalist Craig Hoyle is especially shocking. The Exclusive Brethren have also had a long connection with the National Party and their privately produced election pamphlet in support of the Party for the 2005 election was mentioned in Nicky Hager's The Hollow Men. The Pamphlet was highly critical of Labour and the Greens and made a number of wild accusations that could not have been made in official material from National itself.

While the Exclusive Brethren claim that support for them is no different from the integration of Catholic schools, this isn't actually true. Some years ago in London I taught in a Catholic School (despite being an agnostic) and found their religious instruction taught tolerance of other religions and they even accepted students who had other cultural and religious backgrounds.

The Government have already provided support for the elite Wanganui Collegiate by bailing out the 400 student school by $3.9 million and committing to $3 million a year of ongoing funding. This was against the advice of the Ministry of Education and ignored the available space in the local public secondary schools. While the Government recently announced $27 million of new funding will go to those children who are 'priority learners' we must also remember the $35 million of extra funding that they gave to private schools shortly after coming to power. Given that private schools cater for only 4% of the student population they already get a fair whack of Government support.

Both the PPTA and New Zealand Educational Institute have come out strongly against supporting the sect as the $7 million would be more usefully spent elsewhere. I'm sure Christchurch communities will also be watching the decision with interest. How the Government responds to the request from the Exclusive Brethren will be a real test of priorities, does it really support struggling learners or is it more interested in propping up schools for the wealthy and rewarding coalition partners (Charter Schools) and past supporters?

12 comments:

travelling_without_moving said...

Dave, curious if you're aware of Dmitry Orlov. His recent series on 'communities that abide' http://cluborlov.blogspot.co.nz/2013/07/communities-that-abidepart-i.html?m=1 is interesting reading on the subject of groups that choose to take a stand on particular issues that set them apart from the mainstream. Note, I'm not defending their particular stance!

bsprout said...

I wasn't aware of Dmitry, Nathan. I actually like the idea of communities that buck the mainstream and have a self sufficient approach to living and operating. The danger of such communities is when their basis for existence is based on principles that lose democratic processes and allow personalities to dominate. If a community is based on sound principles then they should be open to outside scrutiny. If such communities are successful one would hope that others could learn from them and their ideas will spread.

Canterbury Atheists said...

What a bunch of crap starting with The Catholic Church teaching ‘tolerance’. You talk about The Brethren having a hate complex against gays they are light-weights when it comes to the centuries of religious bigotry of your old employers. The Catholic Churches tolerance was seen in the recent marriage equality debate. The only five ‘test’ partnership schools announced so far are a quasi military one in Albany, two Maori coed schools in Northland, The Rise Up Academy in Mangere and a Christian middle school in South Auckland. These are the so-called schools for wealthy, National voting strongholds eh? Get your facts right. I doubt even a single child at these schools has a parent who would vote ACT who were behind the scheme! When the Government wrongly saved the Catholic schools and ‘integrated’ them it basically openly the door to any other theist group to seek similar funding.See ya. Paul.

bsprout said...

Canterbury Atheists-you have taken more from my post than I intended, I was hardly promoting the Catholic Church as a good example of tolerance. The purpose of my post was to point out that the EB is attempting to justify the spending of public money on supporting their school by claiming there is a precedent set with the integration of Catholic Schools.

You may question Catholic Schools and their religious teaching but in my experience they do teach about other religions and encourage tolerance of other beliefs. In the school that I was associated with, we even visited a Mosque and a Synogogue.

The Exclusive Brethren are unlikely to accept others outside their faith into their schools and as far as I know they do not include a broader view of world religions in their teaching. I would even have concerns about how well they would teach the National Curriculum.

Canterbury Atheists said...

The EB’s do in-fact have a precedent and so does every other weirdo religion. An inevitable result of letting Catholic schools amalgamate, nothing to do with National, which you seem to want to tie-in. Integrated schools came about in the third term of Labour and all Governments are stuck with them. Catholic schools have less than 5 per cent non-Catholic ‘preference’ pupils only because they are compelled to by the Ed Dept, so do EB schools it’s just no one wants to send their kids there. As to your inference Charter school benefit the rich, National voting demographic you are actually believing what the Trotskyite PPTA have to say without looking at the evidence. Refer the 5 trial schools (listed above) which are all in low decile areas, not Remuera which would hardly help get ACT to the 5 per cent threshold, now would it? Deals are also part of coalitions e.g. Labour creating Kiwi Bank for Alliance. Your arguments are based on rhetoric and not fact.

bsprout said...

Oh dear, CA, you actually appear to be agreeing with my main point regarding no rational justification for integrating the Exclusive Brethren School and yet are trying to pick an argument anyway.

I have never even implied that National was responsible for the integration of Catholic Schools.

I have never claimed that Charter Schools will only benefit the rich, my main criticism of them is the lack of evidence on their merits in a New Zealand context and the lack of safeguards around their operations and staffing. Educational change should be based on evidence, not the ideological view of a party that only achieved 1% of public support.





Canterbury Atheists said...

Frankly I don’t know anyone who would quote Nicky Hager as a font of all knowledge. I don’t know if the Southland Times is still on sale but hardly a week goes by when a registered teacher isn’t pulled up for some sexual indiscretion so being a member of a union isn’t currently protecting children from predatory teachers, now is it? If you want to state “(charter) schools for the wealthy” you should at least provide an example or correct the article by stating correctly as I have pointed out already the five existing trial charter schools are actually in low decile areas = to this date benefit the poor. All parties must make deals such is the nature of our electoral system. When you state “this isn't actually true” in reference to EB versus Catholic Church it is in-fact largely correct, the reason why the Government will grant them the o.k. As to links to the National Party the Brethren don’t even vote, it’s against their religion! Your article is full of innuendo and dripping with envy e.g. “propping up schools for the wealthy”. You clearly have something against the rich the number of times you refer to them. Can’t you get a job at a private school? Let go of all this jealousy and try and raise your own bar. Start your own school like other enterprising Kiwis have done recently.See ya. Paul.




bsprout said...

CA-all one has to do is compare the treatment of Salsbury School and Christchurch schools to the special treatment that Wanganui Collegiate got to know who this Government really favours. Wanganui got millions thrown at 400 elite students ( against all advice) while both ombudsmen and judicial decisions have expressed concern at the treatment dealt to Christchurch communities and high needs students.

There is little equity in shown in educational decisions, the 4% of students who attend private schools have captured a far greater share of public funds than can be reasonably supported. The Governments claim that raising achievement for disadvantaged Maori and Pacifika children is their main priority is only words as it has been never been supported by a financial commitment. This isn't about envy it's about fairness. Why should 25% of students sitting NCEA,at John Key's son's private school get special needs support when schools with much greater needs get a fraction of that support?

Canterbury Atheists said...

Once again you can’t control your hatred of rich and successful people having a choice in education. Interestingly David Cunliffe claims he will exterminate Charter Schools like the two Maori high schools in Northland created recently yet he lives in a swanky house in Herne Bay valued at way over a million, kids go to a decile 9 i.e. living the life of a Champagne Socialist. So why target Keys kids when Cunliffe, the white knight of the left, has sent his kids to an elitist school by N.Z standards? Cunliffe is happy closing charter schools in South Auckland because his kids will never go to them and his parties primary funding comes from the Teachers Union and he in parliament to do their biddings. The kids that lose out here are mostly Maori and Pacifika the same ones you claim National isn’t paying enough attention to! As to your insinuations that non-union teachers pose more of a danger than unionised ones what a load of bullocks, once again back your assertions up with facts and not PPTA rhetoric. You also claim wrongly (must I point this out to you again?) charter schools will benefit the rich when all the facts so far say something different. I hope Charter schools will work because I care for the kids and not for some tired old failed socialist agenda which sees 20 per cent of kids leaving school without basic literacy skills. “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” (Churchill)

bsprout said...

CA-I don't hate rich people, I just don't think it is fair that they can use a greater share of public money per pupil to add to the financial advantages they already have. The New Zealand public. education system system used to support the philosophy that all schools should be good schools and no matter how deprived a child was, at least they could be assured of receiving a quality education.

Why should public money be used to ensure those who are attending private schools have far better pupil teacher ratios? Private schools can also remove students whose behaviour and learning creates greater demands on resources while public schools are often forced to take on high needs students with minimal support. Many Charter Schools in the US have boosted their results by removing those children who brought down their collective results.

Again you misrepresent me, you will never be able to find a quote where I have stated that Unionised teachers are better than others. I have said that qualified and registered teachers are more likely to be better than unqualified ones. No one would feel comfortable with being treated by an unqualified doctor and why should the teaching profession be regarded differently? Also Charter Schools are exempt from the OIA and yet in the US there have been lots of examples of poor professional and financial management.

You seem to be determined that education should be lottery and support a culture that will create winner and loser schools. In the research on societies where there is great disparities there are social and economic costs from supporting those who have fallen through the gaps and you seem happy to allow those gaps to widen.

Canterbury Atheists said...

Enterprising Maori have decided Charter schools fashioned in the way they perceive will produce better outcomes in their kids, thus the new High Schools in Northland and similarly the Pasifica military fashioned one in South Auckland. I don’t personally give a rats if the teachers have ten degrees or simply went to ‘The University of Life’ – it’s the results that count. The outcomes and the kids that should be the focus and you should judge them on their outcomes not their very concept which goes against your ideals that only the State can deliver education, the way to solve all problems is to toss more money at it. Unionised teachers are shit-scared Charter schools will produce superior results with non-unionised labour. The 20 per cent of children education currently fails will get better outcomes from Charter schools and thus parents will take their kids out of their classes to the one down the road which is getting the results. In other words the traditional ‘issue’ with the teachers – they hate competition, their profession is beyond personal review, they want to be considered the same like Albania in 1960. Competition is far too of a capitalist ideal for teachers in N.Z to grasp. Cripes, the next thing parents will be able to measure their own child’s results against their peers. Horror of horrors ‘league tables’ of schools. Life is about winners and losers, someone always comes second even in a race of two. I applaud National/ACT getting charter schools off the ground. Gotta shoot. Paul PS: You do hate the rich, come-on admit it.

bsprout said...

CA- I think we will just have to agree to disagree. I would rather have the money being spent on an experiment directed back to support PD and resourcing for existing schools. You may actually be right about some of these Charter Schools, one or more may do a good job, but given their success in other countries it is a one in four chance. These are not good odds when children are concerned.