A teachers' organisation says a leaked document shows New Zealand has joined a group of countries pushing for education to be included in a murky trade deal.
The New Zealand Educational Institute said the Trade In Service Agreement (TiSA) was bad news for teachers and education academics.
The Institute's national secretary Paul Goulter said the deal would lead to foreign corporations suing any government that tried to legislate against the expansion of charter schools.
Mr Goulter said the deal could lead to further "commercialisation and privatisation of education", with negative impacts on the quality of education available to Kiwi students.
Other teachers' unions were aghast after seeing the leaked document.
"The proposed deal would restrict future governments' rights to regulate the quality and provision of education and protect unique aspects of New Zealand's education system," said Tertiary Education Union president Sandra Grey.
"The kind of marketisation TiSA would open up would be extremely harmful for students' education," PPTA president Angela Roberts said.
She said the TiSA education deal would restrict the government from purchasing local publications, in favour of cheaper standardised foreign publications.
The document's authors intended for it to stay secret for at least five years.
On its website, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) said there were 24 participants in the TiSA negotiations.
They included Australia, the entire European Union, Pakistan, Taiwan, the United States and several Latin American countries.
The ministry said TiSA participants collectively accounted for 70 per cent of global services trade.
--View the document at http://www.nzei.org.nz/documents/email/TiSAdoc.pdf