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Freedom Of Choice

Freedom Of Choice

Deborah Coddington "Let Parents Choose" Book Launch, The Portrait Gallery, October 9 2003.

We are here this evening to launch an important new book "Let Parents Choose" by ACT's newest MP Deborah Coddington. I believe this book is going to be a turning point in our country's education.

We all know that the nations that will succeed in the new global market place will be those that manage to best educate their people, and it is fair to say that all political parties agree on the importance of education.

Deborah Coddington points out that, despite a four times increase in spending on education, international surveys show that our literacy and numeracy levels have fallen. Just doing more of the same is not the answer.

Deborah does not claim that there is a single answer but, clearly, things like parenting make a difference.

What she does say is that there is a policy, which will not cost the government any more money, that will lift education standards significantly - that is to simply allow parents the right to take their children away from schools and take them to the school they want, whether it's public or independent.

This book describes two nations - Sweden and the Netherlands - where they have done just that: given parents school choice.

It's a book of just 60 pages. I read it in one night.

Deborah had, at her own expense, printed just 1,000. ACT has raised $7,000 and has printed 5,000. We will campaign for school choice, and I want school choice to be the education issue in the next election.

Even if it did not raise children's achievement, ACT would support a parent's right to be involved in their child's education.

The evidence is that school choice is not only right, it's a practical positive policy that works. It's said that all successful campaigns can be traced back to someone writing a book. The "someone" for school choice is Deborah Coddington, the book is "Let Parent's Choose", and school choice is the campaign we are launching here today.

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