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Jamie Whyte challenges Labour on partnership schools

ACT Leader-Elect Jamie Whyte challenges Labour on partnership schools

Press Release: ACT New Zealand

18 February, 4:20pm

“The Labour Party must stand up to its teachers' union members and back down on its promise to scrap the partnership schools programme,” Jamie Whyte, ACT Leader-Elect said today.

The PPTA has led a determined campaign to close the new schools with recent reports of the possibility of industrial action by its Whangarei members.

“Labour’s policy to close the five partnership schools, which was announced before they even opened and have had a chance to prove themselves, has nothing to do with education and everything to do with a political party being a hostage to its union funders," said Dr Whyte.

“Having attended the opening of Whangarei’s partnership school Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa, I can say that I was impressed. The school has great ethic and is ambitious, not only for their own students, but for all students in mainstream education who they believe will over time benefit from the innovation that can develop in partnership schools.

Dr Whyte urged the teachers' union representatives and the teachers who were being called upon to boycott any involvement with partnership school students to visit the school and see for themselves what it is about.

“I can understand the insecurity and the fear expressed by the PPTA that they would lose members, but this fear could only be real for them if they believed that a significant number of parents would choose partnership schools over state schools - so they obviously can see potential in partnership schools.

“But the PPTA is a teachers' union and so serves teachers' interests. This union, aided by its subservient mouthpieces Chris Hipkins and David Cunliffe, would cut short the bright opportunity being offered to kiwi kids. It would send these kids trudging back to the very same schools which have failed them for years. Teachers should be motivated by what is best for the country’s children, not the coffers of the PPTA.

“I have a lot of respect for teachers and their profession; their skill and dedication and patience make teaching a profession that is highly regarded and worthy. But there is nothing worthy about threatening the education of the students you teach as well as the education of the students of partnership schools by taking industrial action.

“At the opening of Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa on Saturday morning, speakers used the analogy of the new school being a new baby that needed protection, because at every birth the wolves gather - exactly what is happening now in Whangarei due to the actions of the PPTA. To take the analogy further I say that wolves are not well-regarded in any story and usually play the role of the villain. I urge the teachers of Whangarei not to play that role.

“Partnership schools are a reality, with five now open and making history. They are one of the most exciting innovations in our education system ever. Labour must not simply succumb to the demands of a major financial backer. 

“Let's give partnership schools and the kids enrolled in them the opportunity to prove themselves.”

ENDS

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