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Charter schools reminiscent of a separatist society

JESSICA CRAIG ARTICLE: 19 July 2013, Taken from the Accent Learning website

Nelson Mandela and charter schools – what’s the connection in my head? I have been thinking about how uncomfortable the introduction of charter schools makes me feel and I could not work out why. Then I heard someone on National Radio saying he felt distressed because charter schools represent a further fracturing of our education system and the word ‘fracturing’ triggered a chain of thoughts.

As I write Nelson Mandela lies very ill in hospital. I came to New Zealand with my family when he was still in prison and we thought he would die there and that apartheid would never end. I grew up in a divided society. People were separated by race and by language. As a child I never met any African children, or Afrikaans, or mixed race or Indian children; we all lived in our separate and very unequal spaces.

When we came to New Zealand I enrolled my two boys at Titahi Bay North School. It was the end of November, and quite soon there was a Christmas end of year concert. I remember weeping with joy at the sight of so much diversity in one space. There were Pakeha children, my South African boys (celebrated because at that time they were a bit unusual), Maori children, Pasifika children and Asian children all singing together. It was the moment I knew for certain that we had done the right thing by coming here. No class system I thought.

We have in New Zealand a rich, exciting and inclusive curriculum. Why would you want to teach stuff that is not in the curriculum? I agree that we need to do better with students who are struggling, but not enforcing the curriculum and allowing untrained teachers seems a really dangerous solution to me. We need better training not no training.

Giving tax payer money to people who want to replicate schools developed by zealots seems a terrible mistake. One MP could never manage such a huge change unless it resonated with John Key and Bill English. They already divert money that should be spent on improving the system for everyone to private schools for the wealthy who want to keep their children apart from those who are poor.

Charter schools are a further drain on a stretched budget. Why should our taxes subsidise the wealthy and fanatical? Nelson Mandela gave me hope to believe in a free and undivided but diverse society; charter schools will add to the divisions in our society rather than solve any problems.

Jessica Craig
Accent Learning

Charter schools reminiscent of a separatist society

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