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Charter Schools Coming to New Zealand

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An undisclosed number of charter schools will open during the 2014-15 school year in New Zealand after a law allowing the creation of those schools passed the country's Parliament, the New Zealand Herald reports.

According to the new law, charter schools—also called partnership schools—will be allowed more flexibility than traditional schools in a variety of ways, as they typically are in the United States.

The schools do not have to comply with requirements to hire registered teachers, for example, or follow the national curriculum. They will also be able to set their own hours and schedule, and the schools will not be held to the country's Official Information Act, which allows citizens to request and receive information from government departments and organizations.

The schools will be funded based on their academic achievement and results, which officials hope will insure the schools are held to a high standard of accountability.

About $19 million has been set aside by New Zealand's government to help open the first set of charter schools. Charters will target typically low-achieving groups of students such as the Maori and Pasifika (two groups of indigenous peoples in the country), special education students, and students from low-income families.

The schools will be run by for-profit and nonprofit organizations, including philanthropies, faith-based organizations, and private schools. So far, the Education Ministry says at least 35 proposals have been submitted. The applications will need to be approved by an authorizing committee formed by the Education Ministry.

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