The release yesterday of the parties interested in establishing a charter school has, yet again, signalled an utter contempt for the public interest, says QPEC (Quality Public Education Coalition)
Only last year, Ombudsman Professor Ron Paterson ruled that a more informed public discourse about the creation of such schools is in the public interest.
In particular, the Ombudsman stated:
“I do not accept the Ministry’s position that later disclosure of the information at issue will satisfy that public interest. Disclosure after the Minister has taken decisions on the applications may serve the public interest in accountability, but it would not satisfy the public interest in the public being informed, and being able to participate in the debate, about the creation of partnership schools prior to those decisions being taken.” [emphasis added]
Yesterday the Ministry of Education named the parties who have lodged applications to run a charter school.
It also released the minutes of a meeting held by the “Partnership Schools Authorisation Board” held on 5 February 2014. It contained the timetable for evaluating second round applications, which closed on 11 March.
Disturbingly, it is clear that applications have been evaluated, shortlisted and clarified all behind closed doors. Shortlisted applicants were scheduled to be interviewed during the week of 12 to 16 May.
Once again, there is no opportunity for any public engagement with the Authorisation Board and no chance for those affected by the opening of a new charter school to have their say.
In contrast, in many jurisdictions in the USA, charter school applications are subject to far greater scrutiny. For example, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education requires public hearings in the areas where charter schools are proposed to be located and invites written submissions from the public on shortlisted applicants.
This example is streets ahead of the secrecy and lack of accountability that has characterised the introduction of this ideology in New Zealand.
It shows an utter contempt for the democratic process and the right of the public to have a say in how their considerable funds are being spent.