Charter schools do not seem to be a problem. We have not heard or read complaints from parents whose children attend them, or from those who inspect them, teach in them or have anything to do with them. They were not an issue in an election campaign. So why has Education Minister Chris Hipkins moved so quickly to abolish them?
He calls them "ideological" but his stated reason sounds more ideological. "The Government's strong view is that there is no place for them in the New Zealand education system," he said.
Why? They do not interfere with state schools, they get public money that would have to be spent to educate the pupils anyway. They provide the national curriculum but do in slightly different ways that, they say, help some children who were not succeeding in conventional schools.
Furthermore, the state system has long managed to co-exist with integrated religious schools and other of "special character" which it partly funds. In fact the charter schools Hipkins is determined to close by the end of this year have been given the option of applying for a designated character status that hopefully will enable them to continue functioning just as they are.
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But why put the 11 schools and their 1300 students through the uncertainty over the next few months?
The only reason seems to be that the Act Party conceived them and Labour opposed them, along with the teachers' unions. It is a knee-jerk ideological decision from the new Government and that is sad.