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Maxim Institute - real issues - No 191



Maxim Institute - real issues - No 191

- All Parents Deserve Access To Schools

- Two Different Legacies

- Motives For Restraint

- Maori Entrepreneurial Spirit Strong

All Parents Deserve Access To Schools

Added to the noise created this week by New Zealand's children returning to school for a new year was the voice of many desperate parents determined to get their child into the school which is right for them. Stories emerged of parents in Northland keeping their children back at primary school and of schools such as Auckland Grammar and Avondale College being forced to hire enrolment officers to deal with parents pretending to live within the school zone. There is a growing realisation that parents want their voices heard on matters of schooling.

This week Maxim Institute released The Parent Factor: Access to Education, the fourth report in a series based on independent quantitative research conducted by Colmar Brunton. The report's key findings are that: 96 percent of parents would like to select the school their child goes to and 80 percent of parents think education should be funded in such a way that parents can afford to send their children to the school of their choice.

The findings are remarkably simple and deserve serious consideration. All parents want to make important decisions about their children and few things impact a child as much as their schooling. Unfortunately, under the current system, families on low incomes are disadvantaged. They are sidelined by a system in which the only families who have genuine choices are those wealthy enough to move into the zone of their preferred school, or pay private or integrated school fees. In a publicly funded education system it is unfair that household income is the primary factor determining which school a child can attend.

Allocating a nation's children to schools is no easy task, but we need ask whether the current system of 'selection by mortgage' is the fairest way. The Parent Factor: Access to Education, looks at how other countries are giving parents access to schools, examines the research on the impact of such policies and concludes with some positive policy recommendations to help make schooling more reflective of what New Zealand parents want.

To read The Parent Factor: Access to Education, visit: www.maxim.org.nz/parentfactor

TWO DIFFERENT LEGACIES

In the last week, two very influential women in the United States passed away. The lives of Betty Friedan and Coretta Scott King will both be remembered as examples of how an individual life, through means as diverse as literature and political lobbying, can capture the imaginations of whole generations and shape an entire culture.

Published in 1963, Betty Friedan's book The Feminine Mystique was instrumental in igniting the contemporary women's movement. Ms Friedan confronted issues affecting women's lives in the post World War II era, including limited career prospects and the campaign for legalised abortion. The ideas promoted in her writings book gained traction and went on to drastically transform the social fabric of the western world. Three million copies later, The Feminine Mystique is regarded by some as one of the most influential non-fiction books of the 20th century and regarded by others as one of the more destructive.

Coretta Scott King was the widow of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and unlike Betty Friedan her influence has received almost unanimous support. Mrs King continued to pursue the dream of racial equality in the United States for nearly 40 years after her husband's death. Acknowledged as a respected civil rights leader, King dedicated her life to removing racial segregation in America and promoting equal rights and freedoms for black citizens. King was the first woman, and the first black person, to lie in State at the Georgia Capitol where President George W Bush and three former US Presidents joined 160,000 mourners to pay their respects.

Although their visions and methods were different, both women have left a significant imprint on Western culture - challenging prevailing norms and stereotypes. The Kings' legacy is one of justice and equality before the law for all and will be remembered favourably. Friedan's legacy has been similarly influential but has not received the same widespread endorsement. Each generation must weigh up the ideas and values it inherits and conserve those which will make it strong.

MOTIVES FOR RESTRAINT

By now, everyone is probably aware of the so-called Muhammad cartoons and of the furore they have created in Islamic states the world over. The now infamous cartoons were first published in Denmark's Jyllands Posten newspaper in September last year. As the Western media have spoken of democracy in action and freedom of expression, twelve people have been killed in Afghanistan in protests, Saudi Arabia has recalled its ambassador to Copenhagen, and angry Muslims have marched on Danish, Norwegian, Italian, British, French, and Dutch embassies and consulates throughout the Middle East and beyond. Protestors have even marched up Auckland's Queen Street.

This week the cartoons were reprinted in The Dominion Post and in The Christchurch Press, and screened on both One News and 3 News. Consequently, Trade Minister Phil Goff is working hard to prevent New Zealand from potentially losing hundreds of millions of dollars in exports to Muslim countries demanding boycotts of products from Western nations that have published the 'blasphemous' images.

Editors worldwide who have published the cartoons have exercised their right to freedom of speech, but the fallout has reached wider than their own backyard. While the offence that may be felt is understandable, the scope of the fallout is arguably disproportionate. Ideally, it should not be fear of economic sanctions, but rather good taste and a willingness to respect others, which tempers the way we exercise our rights.

MAORI ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT STRONG

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Aotearoa New Zealand 2005, Maori are among the world's most entrepreneurial people. The GEM report is the largest study of indigenous entrepreneurship ever undertaken and features several interesting findings. According to the report: For New Zealanders, both Maori and non-Maori, wealth creation is not as important as is independence. Maori have twice as many independence-driven entrepreneurs as wealth-driven entrepreneurs. Maori also have much higher growth expectations. 12.3% of Maori entrepreneurs believe they will create 20 jobs in five years compared to 8.1% of the general population.

To find out more about the GEM and to read an executive summary of the report, visit: http://www.lulu.com/items/volume_10/226000/226039/1/preview/Pages_from_GEM _Aotearoa_First_Lulu_electronic_edition_preview.pdf

TALKING POINT

Which inherited ideas are being conserved by our society?

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Real Issues is a weekly email newsletter from Maxim Institute. The focus is current New Zealand events with an attempt to provide insight into critical issues beyond what is usually presented in the media. This service is provided free of charge, although a donation to Maxim is appreciated. Items may be used for other purposes, such as teaching, research or civic action.

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