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Charter group would not dirty shoes in NZ’s poorest areas

Press Release – Quality Public Education Coalition – QPEC

Press Release Charter schools group would not dirty their nice shoes in New Zealand’s poorest areas Press Release
Charter schools group would not dirty their nice shoes in New Zealand’s poorest areas
Minister of Education Hon. Lady Hekia Parata correctly stated this week that every New Zealand school is a charter school. Yet today she has announced a group who will lead the introduction of American-style charter schools in New Zealand.

“Supposedly there to benefit the poor and undeserved, the committee is packed full of people who would never dirty their shoes in the poorest areas of South Auckland and Eastern Christchurch”, says John Minto, QPEC spokesperson on charter schools.

“There is Vicki Buck, who helped set up two discovery learning schools in Christchurch, which are innovative but serve a middle-class clientele. Vicki’s work, ironically, demonstrates that there is already an option for parents to set up schools under section 156 of the Education Act.

“There are two senior Māori persons, both of whom support kura kaupapa Māori schools that are already able to be started and run under section 155 of the Education Act.

“There is a Pacific representative from a polytechnic.

“Then the obligatory private school, private business ACT types”.

An initiative which is supposed to be about providing high quality education for the poor does not have a single person on the committee with the slightest knowledge or experience in working with underserved children, says John Minto.

Critics of the ACT – National charter school agreement argue that it is not about raising achievement but about re-inventing the failed bulk-funding arguments of the 1990s, de-unionising the teaching workforce and bringing business into the education sector.

“It’s like a replay of the Lockwood Smith years all over again”, says John Minto. “The aim is clearly to make progress on the right-wing agenda for the New Zealand schooling system, not to improve academic achievement”.

John Minto says the sad thing is that this experiment is most likely to affect the overall achievement of New Zealand’s most underserved children. “Opening a new school in a poor area means that surrounding schools will lose students, staff and funding. Programmes already in place will be weakened. It is not a zero-sum game”.

After twenty years of charter schools in the United States, that country ranks far below New Zealand in key indicators of school success. Charter schools in any form are not going to solve schooling problems.

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