Reinforcements for the GERM (the global education reform movement) aka charter schools, privatisation, deregulation and high-stakes testing are coming to town.

From October 15-17, Teach First NZ and Teach for All will host an international conference in Auckland. Teach for All came out of Teach for America, the highly political organisation that campaigns to put unqualified, new graduates in front of students in low income districts, and then to move graduates on into influential positions in education policy-making. It is increasingly recognised in the US as part of the problem of underachievement, rather than as the solution it claims to be. Recruitment is down in the US, according to the New York Times, and accusations against it include “white saviourism” and “reinforcing deficit ideologies”. It also squeezes qualified teachers out of classrooms, as is happening in New Zealand.

The government’s fascination with GERM policies seems to know no end. From 22-26 November, Minister of Education Hekia Parata will host an international GELP (Global Education Leaders Partnership) conference. GELP was set up originally by corporate giant Cisco which works with Pearson to commercialise public education. It appears the minister will attend the Global Education Industry Summit in Finland in October, ahead of the GELP meeting. (See feature p14.) In Australia, Pearson will run a “National Learning and Teaching Conference” at Sea World on the Gold Coast in early November.

Meantime, charter schools have been in the news for paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in administration and management fees to their owners. Last year, Vanguard Military School paid $309,391 to the owner’s company for management of its 93-student school, over and above what it paid its principal.