Labour’s Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis has promised he’ll resign before the two charter schools in his Northland electorate are closed. He says it’s an easy promise to make because the schools will only change in name.
So Davis is saying Labour’s policy is merely to rename them. That’s what he tells the many parents in his electorate who are benefiting from them. But is that what Labour’s policy really is?
Under a Labour-led government charter schools will be repealed and the party’s education spokesman Chris Hipkins said the options on the table for those schools would be anything from “closure to integration into the state school system”.
It is the charter school model that allowed these schools to open. If they could operate as an integrated school they would have opened years ago. So behind the spin Hipkins is saying they will close.
A commitment to keep charter schools open was also made in May by Labour list candidate Willie Jackson, who was heavily involved with Te Kura Maori o Waatea, a charter school based in South Auckland.
At the time Labour leader Andrew Little made it clear those schools would close under Labour and there was no hint of changes to the special character school model – nor was it mentioned in the party’s education manifesto released on Friday.
So Davis and Jackson say one thing and Hipkins and Little another. Can you trust them?
On Monday, responding to Davis’ pledge to resign over them, Hipkins said “tweaks” would be made so there weren’t any “unnecessary barriers” for new special character schools.
That could include allowing schools to have more than one special character, which would make it easier for some Maori and Pacifica-targeted schools, he said.
Asked whether those changes were needed for some charter schools to be able to stay open, Hipkins said: “quite possibly, but that wouldn’t be the driver of the change”.
Tinkering is not the issue. What is special about the charter school model is it allows the schools to receive all their funds in one pool, and decide for themselves how much to spending on buildings, on IT, on teachers, on equipment etc. Labour will never ever agree to this.