I'm not one of those people who think Act MP David Seymour is a complete dick.

He said people have written to him since appearing on Dancing with the Stars saying things like "I used to think you were a complete dick but now I think you're okay".

I guess people only see what they want to see. When they see the human side to a person they can have a change of heart.

He took himself right out of his comfort zone and went hard on the TV show to raise money for his special charity Kidsline. Pretty damn brave if you ask me.


He has always struck me as someone who knows government policy, better than most sitting in the Beehive I would suggest.

When you're a one-man band you have to be well informed. I first heard David Seymour speak at Nga Whare Waatea Marae in Mangere at the opening of their charter school.

Also referred to as Partnership Schools and Kura Hourua.

They were promoted by Act and introduced by the National Government as part of their coalition arrangement.

Opposition to their establishment started early, I presume it was felt they would be the start of public asset privatisation. An imported idea that would threaten New Zealand's education system.

David Seymour explained at the opening that charter schools were public schools of choice. Families choose them for their children.

He said they had the potential to turn around the low educational achievements of young students already labelled and consigned to the "too hard basket".

I came away from the opening thinking if there are members of a community who believe their children will be better served by a school that specifically addresses their educational needs than the current one on offer, then they should be supported in establishing such a school.


I think everyone present was impressed by the intent of charter schools, their potential and that Act MP David Seymour was prepared to promote and back them along with the National Government.

The majority of New Zealand parents are probably happy with the current education system and the educational outcomes for their children.

An increasing number of Maori and Pasifika families are not. They know charter schools were established to focus on priority learners: Maori, Pasifika, students from low socio-economic backgrounds and learners with special education needs.

And they have seen the spectacular success of the schools so far. Most are performing well above national averages and some are above the rest of the country, in particular in results for Maori students.

Attendance is high. I suspect this is why the Government is doing away with them. Our current education system can't afford to be shown up.

But is it? If it suits the majority, all good and well. Charter schools are designed to be different so their outcomes will be different.

The Education Amendment Bill, introduced in February this year, will remove the opportunity that allows new charter schools to be established.

Current schools will see out their contracts this year.

Act, along with parents and many Maori and Pasifika community leaders, are bitterly disappointed.

They believe parents should be able to choose a school for their children that suits their needs and has community involvement and support for the outcomes.

I wish all schools in New Zealand had community involvement and support for educational outcomes.

They don't. That's where charter schools are different.

Since inception they have been part of our current education system but families choose them for their children.

Sometimes that's the first time a family has had the chance to make a considered choice about their child's education.

I am told by the principal of a charter school they are accountable for academic results and for upholding the promises made in their charter.

Who has been held accountable for the abysmal academic results of Maori and Pasifika children over the past decades?

For the students, the priority learners, charter schools are successful. That's why Māori leaders in particular are not happy.

Sir Toby Curtis, a member of the Partnership Schools Authorisation Board, is spot-on when he said recently, "This Government has decided to do things 'for' us, rather than let Māori do things for ourselves. I've seen this happen countless times. I've watched billions being spent on government and NGO initiatives designed to fix our problems. But things keep getting worse."

History repeating itself once again. At the expense of priority learners, those who can least afford it.