Following the recent passage through parliament of the third reading of the Education Amendment Bill, My Thinks thought it would be highly appropriate to profile some of the preferred bidders who are lining up to operate the new charter schools. We sent our intrepid reporter out into New Zealand to ask the hard questions, and some quite easy questions also.
Well, here I am in the southern suburbs of Auckland City. In one had I hold a copy of the Education Amendment Bill – just three pages long. Most of the wording is appropriate for constitutional legislation of this nature except Part 1, Section 17E which just simply states: mooo-aaah-ahhhh.
In my other hand is an address. It says simply: The Destiny. Is it my destiny? Is it The Destiny of my children? Of that I am uncertain. What I am certain of is in front of the building I’m walking towards is a very expensive looking Harley Davidson motorcycle, 2 BMW 5 series cars and several hundred security officers.
I show them the address and the phalanx parts to let me through.
Inside I am struck by the sheer scale of the building which I am unable to see the end of. Apart from three plastic chairs near the door, everything is covered in either 14 carat gold or emeralds, diamonds and rubies. I am hurried through to a small office which is under a stage. The only way in is through a lowering trapdoor. While we descend a fanfare plays backwards. It is eerie.
Under the stage we are greeted by a very plush waiting room. Some of the plants are real, although being away from any natural light the gentle hum being emitted by a brace of Switched On Gardener™ grow lamps add some pleasantness. I am shown to my seat in front of a huge ebony desk. I assume the white edging to be formica or some kind of acrylic and not ivory. The security detail offer me a bottle of sparkling mineral water before leaving.
Suddenly a loud fanfare begins playing and something begins rising up from behind the desk. First I am greeted with a smiling head, then some broad shoulders which are quickly followed by a muscular torso. As the lower abdomen comes into view the smile disappears from my host’s face. It quickly becomes apparent the rising chair he has perched himself on was meant to have stopped some time ago. The fanfare trails off and the seating device is expelled from the mechanism sending my host and his chair over my head. The chair cashes to the floor but the man, obviously highly skilled in a number of disciplines, completes a graceful dive-roll coming to a halt with a casual lean against the solid gold door frame.
“How can I help?” he asks nonchalantly.
“I’m here to ask about your application to operate one of the new charter schools?”
“Of course,” he replies.
We discuss the ins and outs of the application. It turns out that The Destiny have been very keen to get involved in a public private partnership with the government for many years.
“Ever since we realised that teachers in the public education system weren’t teaching my teachings,” muses their founder.
He goes on to add that it is important in order for group members to have an expanded view of the world, and education was key to that view.
“What’s more important,” he proposes, “knowing how to add 34 and 42 or understanding everything that’s happened on this 6753 year old earth?”
It’s hard to argue with a man who wields a bible with one and a wagging finger with the other.
As my ten minutes with the founding guru of The Destiny draws to a close I can’t help thinking that I would quite like to work as a teacher at this school. Yes, I have very little tertiary education other than my AUT journalism diploma, and I’ve never previously worked as a teacher, but there is something about this man that makes me want to stay. He’s almost hypnotic in his convictions.
We shake hands and I exit, but not before writing out a cheque for 10% of my gross yearly income.
I can’t wait for The Destiny’s jewel-encrusted charter school to open.