The government?s policy to shut down charter schools is racist

Dominic Elliott interviewed by Te Reo at the Save charter schools rally on Sunday: photo supplied Whaleoil

The government?s policy to shut down charter schools is racist. Their claim to work ?in good faith? with charter schools to help them transition to special character schools has proven to be a lie. They have largely neglected to visit the schools or talk to the students, they have not responded to letters or engaged in ?conversation? with stakeholders. They have not been transparent or fair.

Why are the Maori and Pasifika MPs in the government not absolutely outraged at this policy?

When charter schools transition into state schools, they will lose their ability to function as they are now. Their incredible documented success with priority learners will be threatened. Vulnerable students who have found a school that works for them will be faced with uncertainty again.

Why has the voice of our Maori and Pasifika MPs been silenced?

Despite Jacinda Ardern?s backtracking in the days after Chris Hipkins announced this disastrous policy, there has actually been no room for negotiation from the very beginning. The process of calling for submissions has been lip-service: the decisions have already been made. In this ?democratic? government, the people have had no ability to influence the policy one iota.

My grandson attended a charter school for three years and I asked for his opinion. This is what he wrote:

I don?t think charter schools should close.

The charter school I went to (Middle School West Auckland) helped me to achieve highly in most of my subjects, much better than before.

State school was okay but I didn?t really like some of the subjects I did because I found them hard for me. Maths, English and Science were hard and I know I would have got worse at those subjects. I only went to school because I had friends.

I don?t like what Labour is doing in closing the charter school down because it is a place where you can succeed. You can succeed in many subjects even if you don?t like them because they teach you in a small class in a way you can achieve.

A charter school would suit kids who are not achieving that well or kids who haven?t been going to school will find it easier to come to school every day and then feel comfortable.

I also got help at MSWA with my anger because the community liaison manager checked up on me almost every day until I was able to control my anger. I could talk to him to cool down. The key was to release that anger out in sports rather than out on other students, teachers and walls.

I think it would have taken a lot longer to control my anger if I had stayed at the state school. I was not able to be open and say what I was feeling because no-one was looking out for me.

I graduated last year in Year 10 and now I am going to a state school for my last three years. My goal is to get an overall Merit/Excellence in NCEA. I feel like Maths, English and Science are much easier to understand than before.

Dominic Elliott


PHOTO-Supplied to Whaleoil
Dominic Elliot holding a sign: “Jacinda where is your support now?” 

I made the decision to remove my grandson from the intermediate school he was attending and send him to the charter school, Middle School West Auckland. From age five he had struggled to learn to read. He was diagnosed as having borderline auditory processing disorder but it was not severe enough to warrant any extra assistance at school. The teachers did the best they could with the large class sizes but he did not begin to make progress with reading until he was seven years old. By then, he was already nearly three years behind his classmates.

Despite some great teachers at his primary school and a lot of help at home, he never caught up. At intermediate school, he was tested at below standard in Maths and well below standard in reading and writing. He started to lose interest in school and his anger became more of an issue.

MSWA completely turned him around. I think the small class sizes of 15 students were the single most important factor in his progress. The quality teachers, the academic emphasis, and the project-based curriculum all contributed as well. After three years at the school, all his grades improved to at standard, and occasionally above standard. He is confident that he will be able to achieve NCEA with a merit endorsement.

This term, at year 11, he has transitioned back to the state system and, despite his school having a roll in excess of 2000 students, he has already been spotted as a potential leader.

Closing partnership schools would be a huge mistake. Though their rolls are small, the students who attend are making enormous progress, progress they were not making at state schools. In many cases, it is life-changing progress.

There is room in New Zealand for a variety of educational models. Partnership schools that are working should not be closed, nor should they be transitioned into anything different.

Liane Young

Dominic Elliot is honoured by the PM before she closes down his Partnership school. PHOTO supplied