Understanding Charter Schools: Research Note #3
In this third and final Research Note in our Understanding Charter Schools Series, Dr Luke Fenwick interrogates whether for-profit operators should be allowed to operate schools under the Government’s proposed partnership school programme.
Read the research note here:
Understanding Charter Schools: Are for-profit charter schools a good idea?
Background Research Note: How to read research about charter schools’ impacts on pupils’ achievement
In terms of management, Partnership Schools may be run either not-for-profit or for-profit. One debate about the initiative in New Zealand, as overseas, is the proposed role of for-profit operators: should they be allowed to manage schools at all?2 There seems to be a general lack of clarity about what shape a for-profit Partnership School will assume. There are fears that we will see an industrial McDonald’s or IKEA-type chain of schools concerned only with profit.3 This conception leads to other objections, including the idea that for-profit operators will offer a cheap, low-quality education that maximises profits and does not deliver sufficient educational benefits, and the idea that they will draw profit from children at taxpayers’ expense. These critiques seem to proceed from the assumption: public, good; private, bad.
The purpose of this Research Note is to engage with such concerns and evaluate their soundness. We have done so with recourse to evidence from schools run for-profit overseas, particularly in the United States (US) and Sweden, and examine whether certain objections have explanatory, and not just rhetorical, force.
Read the other Research Notes in our Understanding Charter Schools Series: