Labour’s Maori on charter schools

Willie Jackson and Kelvin Davis appeared on Q+A with Corin Dann

CORIN The conflicting messages, though – I mean, you look at charter schools. We know you?ve had this debate. And Labour is sort of, what, going to give you [Willie] some sort of an exemption on the charter schools that you guys are involved with. Is that right?

KELVIN No, no, no. That’s not it at all.

CORIN It?s a name change, is it?

KELVIN It is a name change, but also by coming in under the current legislation and special character school, it is going to iron out all the anomalies that are currently there for charter schools. Charter schools don?t actually like what I said last week, because they think they are going to be disadvantaged by what I said.

CORIN What you said was that you would resign, right, if the charter school in Northland, the two of them, are gone.

WILLIE It will carry on. It will still happen. Families, the whanau, the children won’t notice any difference, but there will be administrative changes. But what it is doing is ironing out the anomalies that charter schools are perceived to have better conditions.

CORIN Because it is actually a fundamental issue here. Because it is about Maori want to be able to run these schools, don?t they? They want the control. They are sick of the government doing it for them, yet Labour is fundamentally saying no, we cannot have charter schools.

WILLIE See, that is because you media are block-headed. Right? You are not listening, Corin. I have been saying this to a few of you journalists lately.

CORIN Well, have another go.

WILLIE Listen to what we are saying. Labour support innovativeness. They support creativity. They have been to our schools. They have actually got nothing against our schools. What they are against is the charter school model that encourages big business, that talks about privatisation. We are not into privatisation. Education is a public good. Can you get through your head, Corin? Because you keep asking the same question.

KELVIN What Maori want, though, is to have a say over the education of their children. Everyone forgets that actually, every school in New Zealand is a charter school, but they are blocked, really, from actually having broad, wide-ranging charters and curriculum because of national standards.

CORIN So, will the schools that you guys still are involved with, will they be able to hire non-qualified teachers?

WILLIE Well, the rule now is that they can do that. I am not sure about Kelvin?s one up north – all my teachers are qualified. We follow the curriculum.

KELVIN No, but the schools up north, I believe that all of their teachers are registered bar one.

WILLIE Okay. So we follow the rules. It is not a problem.

The biggest problem that Labour has with Charter Schools is that they are successful. ?They are producing better educational outcomes for Maori.

But all this will be a moot point. ?Neither Kelvin nor Willie will be in Parliament. ?Labour will remain a reduced force of has-beens wailing from the cross benches, and the unions, including the teachers’ unions will wonder how it has got to the point that they destroyed the Labour party to the point where it effectively has less power now than it ever had.