Dear Dr Sharples,
I am writing to express my concern that you and your party are supporting the Education Amendment Bill through parliament.
Recently I’ve heard you saying you support the bill because you are concerned about the speaking of Te Reo. You say that charter schools will give Maori the freedom to teach and learn in ways that are not offered by the public school system.
It may interest you to note there have been many, many examples of schools in this country which teach in a bi-lingual or total immersion context. A quick search using the keyword ‘kura’ on TKI offers up 34 examples. There are many more units attached to primary schools around the country.
The public education system is incredibly well suited to offer teachers the freedom to teach in the ways you desire. The New Zealand Curriculum is an internationally recognised document which allows school communities to develop their own own curriculum, unique to their local area, reflecting local community needs.
I believe the Education Amendment Bill your party is planning to support will work to reduce this freedom by narrowing the curriculum to the Literacy and Numeracy. Learning languages will be pushed aside to make way as teachers and schools focus on their “core work” of meeting National Standards in those areas.
If you and your party support this legislation Maori will lose out. Charter schools, particularly if they are run for profit, are able to pick and choose their students. International experience shows us that the most troublesome, those in most need of empowerment in the way you desire, are often the most marginalised.
Here are some examples from the United States of America:
There are many, many more.
I implore you to withdraw your support from this flawed legislation immediately. Otherwise Maori, actually all New Zealand children, will be the losers.
Mike Boon, Teacher