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Implacable opposition to charter schools continues

PPTA Annual conference

30 September 2015

Implacable opposition to charter schools continues

PPTA members stand against charter schools was reinforced this afternoon in an update on the association’s fight against the unwelcome experiment.

In his presentation of the charter schools paper PPTA executive member Austen Pageau described the decision made by the association in 2013 to stand in opposition to charter schools as ‘implacable’.

It was not a decision that was made lightly and followed much robust debate.
“It was a position we took to protect our profession and the public good which is public education,” he said.

Charter schools were an American import and American arguments were being used to justify their inclusion in the New Zealand system, Pageau said.
“We don’t have American public schools. I have been to American public schools, I’ve taught in New Zealand schools. They are apples and oranges.”

Charter schools claimed to be a solution to a “one size fits all public system” that didn’t actually exist, Pageau said.
“This ignores kura, state-integrated and special character schools, as well as the huge variation between co-ed state schools,” he said.

The only ‘innovation’ charter schools had shown was the small class sizes and greater resources the state sector has been crying out for, he said.

Pageau also debunked the argument that charter schools were for at risk students failing in the public system.
“I’m sorry but we have support systems we know target students in most need. The problem is they are chronically underfunded.”

The paper examines PPTA’s strategy of constantly highlighting the failures of charter school, and there had been plenty, Pageau said.

Serious financial mismanagement, the building up of huge reserves while local state schools struggled and behaviour management issues had all been highlighted in the media, he said.

“If this was the best they could do for their show pony first couple of rounds I really worry about what could be coming later on."

Pageau updated conference on the impact of PPTA’s ban on professional contact with charter school employees.

“We’ve seen schools in Northland, and more recently in Auckland refusing to help prop up charter schools. It hasn’t been easy, but these are schools created to compete with local state schools.
“It’s a heartening display of union solidarity but also of the profession standing up for the vast majority of students who remain in state schools and who cannot be abandoned,” he said.

“The bottom line is we know there are better ways for the $25 million (for charter schools) could have been spent.

“We have a world class education system and PPTA members have shown we are willing to fight for it. That we will continue to fight for it and for the solutions which will actually benefit the children most in need,” he said.

PPTA’s annual conference runs from 29 September to 1 October and is an opportunity for members to debate, discuss and vote on papers that will shape PPTA policy. Decisions are made by secondary teachers for secondary teachers.

The full conference papers can be found at:

The conference is webstreaming live at

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