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Let Parents Choose

Let Parents Choose

Friday 30 May 2003 Deborah Coddington Press Releases -- Education

If New Zealand had an education system like that of the Netherlands, parents in places like Putaruru, Papakura, and Stratford would not be writing to me, pleading for help to keep their schools open, ACT New Zealand Education Spokesman Deborah Coddington said today.

"The Dutch have had a constitutional right to freedom in education since the 19^th century," said Miss Coddington, who is studying that country's education system from Wolfson College in Cambridge.

"That means that, because the funding follows the students - no matter if they attend private, public, or church-owned schools - parents have much more say in the delivery of education.

"If they want their schools to be small, but perfectly formed, then they can do that. Unlike Mahoe Primary School in Stratford, which is under threat of closure - despite being a successful rural school. Unlike the two primary schools in Putaruru whose communities, despite being divided by the main trunk line, are being threatened with amalgamation.

"None of the parents, boards of trustees, or even teachers want this to happen, but the Minister is just not listening to them.

"Teachers will be forced to reapply for their jobs. Children will have their education disrupted. Schools will inevitably lose some of the community support.

"As one principal wrote to me: `It seems most undemocratic that a person - namely the Minister of Education, can enforce his views on rural New Zealand so strongly when I suspect he has never had a hands-on experience with rural New Zealand education.'

"These people pay their taxes in the belief that their money will be used to educate their children as they see fit. Instead, the Education Minister uses their money to decide how he thinks their children should be educated.

"It's time New Zealand caught up with countries like the Netherlands and Sweden - hardly right-wing countries - and let taxpayers have more say in their children's education.

"It's time to Let Parents Choose," Ms Coddington said.

ENDS


For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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