Charter schools

Sweden had problems with its state schools: disruption, bad behaviour, demoralised teachers, poor learning.

Sweden set up charter schools. They were popular and successful, and raised learning standards generally, including in state schools.

Most children in our charter schools are Maori and Island kids, kids failed by the state system. In charter schools, these kids score above average for all children. Charter schools give these children hope for the future.

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A friend of mine was horrified to discover that his 10-year-old daughter could not read. The teacher and principal just said she was not ready to read, and she would learn when she was ready.

I could not sleep at night if any child in my class could not read.

I ask teacher unionists why so many kids leave school after 10 or 12 years unable to read. They offer long explanations about poverty, parents etc, and never take any responsibility themselves. My friend moved his daughter to a Catholic school, where she caught up after a year.

ALAN DAVIDSON
Gonville


Colonisation

In response to your editorial on February 14:
1. Bob Jones' comments are to be taken, hopefully, as a satire on our society.

2. Colonisation is the same all over the world, and colonialism, at the end of the day, is neither good nor bad in what it does to people and how it affects them. In my case, I was colonised by France. For better or worse, it made me a francophone and a Francophile.

True French colonialism is a steamroller; like tar on the road and in one generation we became acculturated. We did not become Frenchmen by nationality, but we identified with Gallic culture and society.

Such was the case of James Baldwin, Samuel Beckett, Josephine Baker and Picasso — expats living in Paris — and countless others.

The only writer that identified with Algeria was Albert Camus, author of The Outsider. He hated Oran, the scene of his novel La Peste (The Plague). It reminded him of New York in the worst days.

Leopold Sedar Sengho from Senegal wrote, in part, the French constitution.
3. It is time to decolonise the archives and writings and have indigenous people write their own account of colonisation.

Texts are not finished objects, to quote Edward Said in his seminal book Culture and Imperialism and Orientalism.

It is time to put aside French, English, Spanish colonial scholarship in favour of native writings like Albert Wendt.

4. Collective memory is the glue that binds us together with New Zealand history: Waitangi Day, Anzac Day, the women's vote 1893, Dame Whina Cooper (1975 march), ACC (not the right to sue, believe it or not).

5. It is unfortunate that we are two "solitudes" in New Zealand: one is the dominant culture and the other the dominated one. This is the result of assimilation, alienation, detribalisation and loss of identity.

6. I would rather have heard Sir Bob Jones' barbs on Valentine's Day than on Waitangi Day. Sir Don Brash made similar disparaging comments on Kim Hill's show — that Maori language was useless and we would be better to learn Chinese.

Both men do not deserve space in the media. We have more important things to ponder.

LÉON BENBARUK
Wanganui