My Email to Dr Pita Sharples

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:

Reuters: Class Struggle – How charter schools get students they want

The Washington Post: How Charter School Choose the Most Desirable Students

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


2 thoughts on “My Email to Dr Pita Sharples

  1. Great letter.
    As a teacher and taxpayer I am concerned that money that could be used to improve many aspects of our quality public education system is being diverted into a bottomless pit of experimentation on our kids that had been shown to have no impact on positive student outcomes. Innovative programmes in our schools will wither. I think existing kura kaupapa will be just as worse off as other schools by this policy.
    A commenter on Stand Up for Kids has said these schools will just take more for the Maori elite instead of targeting the kids John Banks touts this primitive policy for.
    The government should be asking educators what should be donr.
    I’d tell them we need more money for teacher aides – to employ more of them and ensure that they get hood PLD so they can work with special needs kids throughout the spectrum. These kids take up heaps of time to the detriment of other students.
    I’d tell them we need good food in schools, especially in lower socio economic areas. That means school lunches provided. More primary schools need social workers to support children and their families. Being a social worker is not my job or what I was trained to do.
    We need less testing and assessment and more opportunity to teach. Looking back through my modelling books for the last term and I don’t think I have done enough teaching for my satisfaction.
    Just three small things. And the budget for charter schools would probably cover it.


    • I know. There is so much to think about. All things going well though, we may not have to worry about the NACTs for too much longer. That poll on Thursday was very comforting…


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