Here at My Thinks we are excited to profile another preferred bidder for a licence to run one of the new charter schools being set up by the National-led “democracy”. We sent our reporter to the depths of the central North Island to interview a retired army drill sergeant.
The day will dawn in three hours and already I’ve been awake for two. I’m with retired Drill Sergeant Mike “The Rabid Goat” Shepherd. He’s had me and his class of 7 recidivist young offenders doing press-ups for the last hour. Someone to my left has reached 753 while I struggle past 49. This fact has not been lost on Sergeant Shepherd who has been hunched down over me for the last 45 minutes questioning the relationship I have with the majority of my female relatives. I feel physically and mentally exhausted.
Shortly afterwards we are ordered out of the slushy mud for thirty short minutes of running on the spot followed by 1500 star jumps. As 7am rolls around all eight of us have either thrown up, pulled a muscle or burst blood vessels in our eyes. We need rest but I know we will not get it.
Sergeant Shepherd grew up in small-town New Zealand. An only child, he joined the army after his mother decided to enlist him in the army following a decision to embrace her “life-change” and share it with a hypnotherapist she met at a conference in Temuka. Shepherd reports being hardly harmed by this event.
Breakfast is three dry Weet-Bix and a smack over the head. This is washed down with a long drink of feeling sorry for myself.
Shepherd’s charter school revolves around what he calls the “3-Ds” – discipline, detention and divisiveness.
“I’m a firm believer in firmness,” the soldier grunts while downing a tin of some kind of meat-based consumable, “the firmer you are the learnier you can be.”
I’m uncertain where he’s going with this, but I let him continue.
“You ain’t got nothing and nobody but your own self. And nobody does none owes you nothing.”
Shepherd goes on to add something about hitting and it’s unclear, but I think makes reference to a prison term. Whether this is his or one of his charges remains unclear.
What is clear is that ArmEd is a tightly run ship with high standards and even higher barbed-wire fences. It truly is a testament to its founder that no pupil has ever escaped or graduated.
I suspect the National government share my enthusiasm for this highly skilled militarist and educator.