The three latest ideas from the Ministry of Completely Off-the-planet Outrageous Loopy Schemes or COOLS (AKA Ministry of Education) have something in common besides being completely wacky .
In all three cases, bulk funding, screwing over special ed kids and now massive online learning schools, the ministry imagines a greater role for itself in monitoring and supporting schools. It says in relation to bulk funding that schools will need more financial help, it promises more early detection and support for special needs students, and it assures the public that the COOLS will be rigorously monitored and audited.
Quantum physics tells us that there's a planet where that might be true but it's not this one.
Currently schools go bankrupt and the ministry doesn't have clue about it - and a whole cohort of kids can pass through before they do anything. This is partly because they don't have the capacity or enough competent staff to properly monitor schools' spending but also because they are chary about intervening in self-managing schools.
Surely no one believes that the ministry really has ability to provide timely and consistent help to schools struggling with special needs students. (I know that in a typical triumph of surface over substance the Minister has banned that term but too bad)
Then there's the rigorous accreditation process for Cools. Anyone remember Whangaruru Charter School? It took two years to close it even though it started failing in the first month of operation - and we still haven't got the farm back. For most of that time the ministry denied there was a problem while putting in its own staff to try to sort out a private business. There is not a snowball's chance in hell that they would intervene when the provider is an American online company registered on Wall Street. Too politically hot - with or without the TPPA.
The ministry doesn't have the competence or capacity to manage this process and given the political delicacies, they won't be looking too closely at any of these little taxpayer-funded sinkholes. In any event, overseas experience says that these fly-by-night affairs lie and cheat and it takes a serious crisis, often a whistleblower, before the truth is revealed. In the meantime, the kids are left to fail.