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Charter Schools, Education, GERM (Global Education Reform Movement), Government Policy, New Zealand, Partnership Schools, Protest - Have a Voice

Open Letter to Parliament regarding charter schools

Updated version of letter (as of 10th june 2013)

More than 50 representatives of groups the government says charter schools will help have signed a joint statement saying they don’t want them.

Signatories include spokespeople for the Māori and Pasifika communities, IHC, Every Child Counts and the Child Poverty Action Group, as well as academics, principals, teachers, psychiatrists and members of parliament.

Group spokesperson Waikato University Professor of Māori Education Russell Bishop has recently returned from the United States where he observed the charter school experiment first hand.

He described charter schools as “part of the problem, not part of the solution”.  He described the initiative as “a serious wrong turn for education” that exploited vulnerable children.

Attached (and below) is the letter and full list of signatories.


Dear Minister

Investing in what works

Everyone agrees that all children should receive the education that meets their needs: that engages, motivates and supports them to learn to their full potential. In Aotearoa we have the knowledge to make this happen, but sadly it seems that we sometimes lack the political will.

This government’s charter school plans are a distraction from investing more in what we know works for the young learners we represent and work with. Some of these things include increasing opportunities for bi-lingual education, supporting high quality te reo learning in kura and mainstream settings, programmes such as Te Kotahitanga and the various AIMHI initiatives. While the government has recently announced more resourcing for some of these, others have had funding withdrawn or frozen.

Charter schools will also take the focus away from developing the special character and Kura Kaupapa Maori models which already give New Zealand state schooling unprecedented flexibility. These models need more support, more opportunity to share good practice and innovation, and not to be undermined by the latest, politically driven fad.

Charter schools are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

On the advent of the government passing the charter schools legislation, we express our deep concern that this initiative is a serious wrong turn for education.  The legislation allows for-profit and foreign-owned organisations to set up schools. It permits unqualified people to replace qualified and registered teachers and principals.  It removes the right of parents to take part in school governance.  And it takes no account of how new charter schools may impact on existing schools.  There is a serious concern that in the process of introducing charter schools, groups of students are being put at risk.

Charter schools exploit vulnerable children.

Charter schools are not the solution for New Zealand’s most vulnerable learners. Overseas, charter schools have not raised achievement for children who need it the most. For example the US-based KIPP (Knowledge is Power Programme) charter schools which have been held up as a successful example, have a “push-out” rate of 40% for African American boys before Grade 8 (Year 9). This is the opposite of what we need in New Zealand for our Maori andPasifika boys.

Our most vulnerable learners need more assistance, not less. They need schools responsible directly to parents; they need trained and qualified teachers who are supported in an ongoing manner by effective professional development that has shown results; they need their schools to provide information when parents request it; their parents need access to the Ombudsman.

Why would these most vulnerable of children get less than every other child in New Zealand and why would they be subject to being profited from just because they are deemed to be struggling? Don’t experiment on children; do what works.

Yours sincerely

Professor Russell Bishop

Professor of Māori Education

Faculty of Education

University of Waikato

Dr Damon Salesa

Associate Professor

Department of Pacific Studies

University of Auckland

Deborah Morris-Travers


Every Child Counts

Trish Grant

Director of Advocacy


Dr Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni

Senior Lecturer

Pacific Studies & Samoan Studies Programmes

Vaaomanu Pasifika Unit

Victoria University of Wellington

Dr Peter Brunt

Art History

School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies

Victoria University of Wellington

Dr Teresia Teaiwa

Senior Lecturer and Post-Graduate Coordinator

Pacific Studies

Victoria University of Wellington

Ann Milne


Kia Aroha College

Philip Harding


NZ Principals’ Federation

Dr Leonie Pihama

Senior Research Fellow

Te Kotahi Research Institute

University of Waikato

Dr Jenny Lee

Head of School

Te Puna Wananga

University of Auckland

Dr Mera Penehira


Te Puna Wananga

University of Auckland

Ngaropi Cameron

Ronald Ngata, BSS (Hons)

Maryann Lee

Educational Designer

Centre for Educational Design and Development

University of Auckland

Ani Mikaere

Kaihautu of Te Whare Whakatupu Matauranga

Te Wananga o Raukawa

Angeline Greensill, LLB, TTC


School of Social Sciences

University of Waikato

Helen Te Hira

Dr Amohia Boulton

Senior Researcher

Whakauae Research for Māori Health and Development


Dr Robert Gregory

Adjunct Professor of Political Science

School of Government

Victoria University of Wellington

Dr Wally Penetito

Retired Professor of Education

Te Kura Māori

Faculty of Education

Victoria University of Wellington

Metiria Turei

Member of Parliament

Co-Leader of the Green Party

Lesley Rameka

Senior Lecturer

Educational Psychology and Pedagogy

Faculty of Education

Victoria University of Wellington

D. Cindy Kiro

Head of School Te Kura Māori

Victoria University of Wellington

Seth Brown, DPhil

Senior Lecturer

Institute of Education

Massey University

Dr Jenny Boyack

Massey University

Steve K.W. Lang, PhD

Senior Lecturer

Institute of Education

Massey University

Dr Tim Burgess

Senior Lecturer: Mathematics and Statistics Education

Institute of Education

Massey University

Brian Finch, EdD

School of Educational Studies

Institute of Education

Massey University

Dr Roberta Hunter

Massey University

Dr Michael Irwin

Institute of Education

Massey University


Dr Tracey-Lynne Cody

Lecturer Arts Education & Initial Teacher Education

Massey University

Dr Peter Rawlins

Senior Lecturer

Institute of Education

Massey University

Le’aufa’amulia Asenati Lole-Taylor

Member of Parliament

Dr Kama Weir

Institute of Education

Massey University

Maurice Walden

Wellington Tenths Trust Board Member

Damon Heke

Te Taitonga Kapa Haka Trust

Kapa Haka Tutor, Community Liason

Kelly Henare-Heke

Te Taitonga Kapa Haka Trust

Kapa Haka Tutor, Community Liason

Dudley Adams

Clendon Park School

Deputy Principal

Avele Tanielu

Teacher in Charge of Samoan Language

Papatoetoe High School

Penelope Togiatama

Pasefika Liason

Papatoetoe High School

Mohi Thompson


Manurewa Intermediate School

TeAriki Tuiono

Teacher Te Whanau Awhina

Clendon Park School

Matene Karena

HoL Māori

Alfriston College

Barbara Tauranga


Opuatia Marae

Dr Alyson McGee

Senior Lecturer

Institute of Education

Massey University

Annette Sykes

Barrister and Solicitor

Partner Aurere Law

Dr Penny Haworth

Institute of Education

Massey University

Nanaia Mahuta

Member of Parliament for Hauraki-Waikato

Carmel Sepuloni

Su’a William Sio

Member of Parliament for Mangere

Dr Diane Lysette Mara

Associate Dean, Pasifika

Faculty of Education

University of Auckland

Professor Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop

Professor of Pacific Studies

AUT University

Michael O’Brien


Child Poverty Action Group

About Save Our Schools NZ

"One needs to be slow to form convictions, but once formed they must be defended against the heaviest odds." Gandhi



  1. Pingback: Open Letter to Parliament regarding charter schools | My Thinks - May 28, 2013

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