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PM must reject ACT's "supermarket schooling" policy

PM must reject ACT's "supermarket schooling" policy

29 June 2014

Prime Minister John Key should immediately reassure parents about his commitment to quality public education by ruling out ever doing a deal with ACT over its latest education policy of state schools "opting in" to become charter schools, NZEI Te Riu Roa says.

NZEI Te Riu President Judith Nowotarski said voters in the upcoming General Election will rightly dismiss ACT's latest education policy as crackpot nonsense, and Mr Key should too.

ACT leader Jamie Whyte has suggested education should be treated in the same way as food production and left up to market forces.

"Parents know, however, that children are not tins of beans and schools are not supermarkets," NZEI Te Riu Roa President Judith Nowotarski said."The charter school experiment has been dogged by controversy in its first year. No one is queuing up for more. Opinion polls show parents have no appetite for this experiment being rolled out any further."

She said if National wanted to maintain any credibility with parents and the teaching profession over its commitment to quality public education, it should immediately rule out acceptance of such a policy under any future coalition deal.

"Charter schools have not lifted the educational success of the US, UK or Sweden - on the contrary, New Zealand has consistently out-performed these countries. Charter schools are a diversion of precious taxpayer dollars away from public education. We don't want to see the future of our children put at risk by another dodgy cuppa tea deal."

She said New Zealand already had one of the most diverse schooling systems in the world, with state, integrated faith-based schools, special character schools, bilingual and Maori medium schools. Tackling inequality, not creating more competition, was the biggest challenge for New Zealands system, she said.

"ACT's policy is a dangerous diversion from the real issues of how we invest in every local school to ensure it's a great school and how we support every child to get the education they need."

ends

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