Herald on PPTA ads

The Herald editorial:

The timing of the deadline for submissions on the education amendment bill is probably not as devious as the association suggests. Parliament’s select committees set these deadlines and some bill has to start the year’s work.

The editorial could have mentioned that the submission period was set for three months, almost twice the normal six to eight weeks. Also that the Government doesn’t have a majority on the select committee that sets the date.

The PPTA is attempting to widen concern by presenting charter schools as “the dismantling of New Zealand’s public education system”.

I think their worry is how popular they may prove to be.

They are, in fact, nothing of the sort. Charter schools would be fully funded from the public education budget. They would have to accept pupils on a first-come-first-served basis, they could not select them. In that sense they will be much more like state schools than private schools or the “integrated” schools that receive public grants and can charge fees.

Unlike state schools, they will not have to give preference to pupils in a designated zone. They will be able to accept them from anywhere. If a charter school receives more applicants than it is allowed to enrol, it must hold a ballot.

No hand picking of students. And best of all for students from low income families, it means that you don’t have to buy an expensive house in a school zone to get a choice about which school to attend.

Their right to employ some unregistered staff has been a point of contention for the teachers’ unions. So is their lack of accountability to the Auditor General, the Ombudsman and the Official Information Act. Those elements of the legislation should not survive the select committee’s examination.

So long as the schools are spending public money they ought to be subject to the usual instruments of public scrutiny.

If that is the principle, then can I advocate that every NGO in New Zealand that receives over 50% of its funds from the taxpayer, be subject to the Official Information Act? Also arguably any unions where more than 50% of their members are public sector, and hence they are indirectly publicly funded.

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