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Yum Char(ter) Schools!

12 September 2003

Yum Char(ter) Schools!

New Zealand should emulate the school reform policy trail being blazed by The People's Republic of China (PRC), according to Education Forum policy advisor Norman LaRocque.

Mr LaRocque was responding to recent reports that the PRC had introduced a law giving private schools equal status with state-owned schools, in what China's People's Daily newspaper called "a marker of the great changes that have taken place in the educational system in the country".

"The move toward more progressive education policies in China - and in countries around the globe - shows the extent to which fresh thinking on education policy is replacing the tired, shop-worn policies that continue to be advocated by vested interests such as teacher union leaders and other reactionary forces," said Mr LaRocque.

"It is timely that the PRC reforms were announced around the same time as the release of the Independent Schools of New Zealand report calling for more even funding of private and state-owned schools. Both are further evidence of where mainstream education policy is moving.

"The challenges in education are significant in New Zealand, especially for Maori, Pasifika and low-income families. A growing consensus around the best way of addressing those challenges is emerging - with support from across the political spectrum - and school choice has in important role to play in that."

Deng Xiaoping's famous maxim that "It doesn't matter if a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice" makes for good policy, noted Mr LaRocque.

"Developments in China and elsewhere show the degree to which opponents of progressive, choice-based reforms have become isolated. It is time for them to move on," Mr LaRocque said.

The People's Daily story is at

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