A letter to Tracey Martin, from a principal

Alwyn Poole is the principal of the Mt Hobson middle School, and an advocate of Charter Schools. He write a letter to Tracey Martin of NZ First.

He figured it would get more of a reaction on a million pageviews a month blog than emailing her direct.

Dear Ms Martin

I understand you are on the Education and Science Committee currently hearing submissions on the Education Amendment Bill. I would have assumed someone with integrity, such as yourself, would have brought an open mind to this process and that those submitting could expect that of you.

However – on February 14th you made a press release that included the following

“The so-called partnership schools have the potential to seriously damage our world-leading education system, giving them the power to throw the curriculum out the window.

“They’ll lack openness and transparency, shunning the usual constitutional safeguards by exempting the schools from the Official Information Act and the Ombudsman’s Act. Even Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakeham is worried.

“Charter schools will also become a cash cow for foreign investors who can operate multiple schools and receive handsome dividends at the expense of New Zealand taxpayers.

“The Government has no mandate for this move and once again puts profits above democracy.” 

Seriously?….you cannot think very highly of state schools or of the teachers in those schools if, for a moment, you think a few Charter Schools have the potential to “seriously damage of world-leading system”. How fragile do you consider those schools and teachers to be?

You are right about the need for openness.

In terms of the “cash cow” comments. You have stated that before. You are also aware that it is nonsense and that those that have shown interest in Charter Schools in New Zealand are largely non-profit organisations and that many people, including yourself, also make money out of education in New Zealand.

From a personal point of view. I appreciated when you visited Mt Hobson Middle School. You were very positive about the quality of education the children were receiving there and seemed to understand that for many of those children it was a life/pathway changing experience.

I expressed at the time that the frustration we have is that under the current system we are only able to provide for people who can pay. If the Bill passes we are likely to put in a proposal or two and we don’t think we will change the world but we do think we can help 60, 120, 180, 240,…, children and their families and make a big difference to their future prospects. I also stated that we would do that on a non-profit, open and cooperative basis. I am not sure why you are trying to stand in the way of that opportunity for those children. Can you explain? If the bill doesn’t pass – or – like the Greens you aim to reverse the Act should you ever be in government will you explain to the children who are not given this opportunity why they have to stay in system that is not working for them?

And please don’t do the NZEI/PPTA thing and say there are no good examples overseas. There are plenty and I, for one, think NZ educators are good enough to both copy those examples and innovate their own models – away from the inherent inertia of the state system (that you acknowledged in our meeting).

One last thing. You keep using the word “mandate” around the Charter School proposal. In the words of Inigo Montoya (that great swordsman and philosopher from the Princess Bride) “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

If NZ First happens to be a small part of a future government I assume you will recognise that you have “no mandate” and will propose no policies or changes.


Alwyn Poole

Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.