New Zealand Union: Charter Agreement is Political Suicide

The post-primary teachers union (PPTA) of New Zealand has hit out at the "disastrous experiment" of charter schools in other countries and accused the government of not even reviewing the evidence before supporting a measure that will bring charters to the country, writes MSN News.

Prime Minister John Key signed an agreement with ACT's sole MP John Banks this week, affirming government support for the establishment of the schools.

But PPTA president Robin Duff has been vocal in his disappointment:

"It seems the lure of the one-off, simplistic, fragmented quick-fix, blindly copied from other countries that don't even operate in the same education context as us, remains irresistible to New Zealand politicians."

Mr Duff also points out that there hasn't appeared to be any assessment of the venture's cost or the value of its return.

"For National to incorporate another party's such poorly-concocted education policy into its own education portfolio looks like political suicide – the party should know better."

Mr Key has rebuffed concerns about charter schools, accusing critics of attempting to prevent children in some of New Zealand's poorer regions from having access to quality education, writes Dylan Moran at 3 News.

"The reaction from the unions is highly predictable, that they wouldn't be happy with that, but why wouldn't we give some kids in underperforming areas some choice and see if we could get better educational outcomes for them," he says.

The agreement says public funding will be provided and education spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty suspects existing state schools will suffer cuts.

"National and ACT's agreement to set up and fund this form of private school is a huge policy to spring on the electorate post-election," she said.

"The government must explain if new spending has been allocated for this project or if the spending will come from existing education baselines."

Ms Delahunty says state schools in the poor areas chosen for the first charter schools need every cent they get to meet the needs of their students.

"If this policy is to be paid from the already stretched education budget then presumably cuts will have to be made that will affect those schools that are already struggling."

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