Toby Curtis, the New Year honours and charter schools



Many important battles will be fought in 2014 and none is more important than the fight against charter schools.

To prime yourself for the battle read these three important stories on charter schools which have emerged in the last couple of weeks. They are a must read for anyone interested in public education.

Firstly Toby Curtis was awarded a knighthood in the New Years’ honours. It’s easier to see why he came in ahead of many outstanding Maori academics when one understands Curtis is a recent convert to charter schools. Retired educationalist Kelvin Smythe has written a blistering piece challenging Curtis.

Secondly a story showing some of the effects on “children of colour” in the US when charter schools take over and mass public school closures occur. Applied here charter schools will have the greatest negative impact on children in low-income communities – disproportionately Maori and Pacifika children.

Thirdly a report, one of many, which outlines the failure of charter schools in Sweden. Sweden was the model John Banks and ACT’s Catherine Isaccs urged New Zealand to follow but they have gone quiet on this example now for good reason. Charter schools everywhere lead to failure in education for kids but big profits for private companies – surprise, surprise.

The battle against charter schools must be won – read these stories and make sure you are ready to do your bit on the front line in defence of our kids’ education.


  1. Interesting, seems if one simply endorses neo-liberal policies, then they are awarded a title. They are trying to get them built these faster than ever, knowing the change in govt is on the way. It is high time Private schools were afforded no tax payer money, as they perpetrate the underbelly of neo- liberal thinking.

  2. Kelvin Smythe’s piece is a must read for everyone interested in education – a blistering attack indeed.

    Curtis should hang his head in shame.

    The haves will always have unless we truly rise up. In South Auckland the plan for a new road is to bulldoze through Wymondley school and hundreds of houses of the poorer in our society but to tunnel under that esteemed private (but funded to the tune of millions by you and I) educational facility, Kings College, that the PM sent his son to and I quote ‘because it has smaller classroom sizes’.

    Says it all really.

  3. Looked into charter schools in the US a few years ago – and with very little research I found exactly what you describe in your article.

    Proponents are seduced into the idea by the thought that “they” can get on and do what they want without interference. Usually these are not true educators, they are administrators, politicians or service providers.

    Money flows out of the education budget into private businesses – education providers, private testing institutions and the like.

    However, the true cost is the change of culture in the state provided education system. Those currently in need at the bottom of the heap, get pushed further down – and it becomes even harder for them to climb back up.

    Charter schools, the Aspire scholarship, the decision to fund all religious private schools, the extra funding for private schools – all contribute to the dismantling of an equitable and robust education available to all NZers.

  4. A very good and important article and I have put it on my Facebook page. I would have preferred to see it on my Facebook page with the above ‘Education is not for sale’ poster instead of the Maritime Union logo, I have nothing against the union but feel that John’s graphic is more apt for the article. We used to have the option of choosing but that seems to have disappeared.
    Anyway- we must all do our utmost to alert as many people as possible to the nasty nature of Charter Schools.

  5. I fear so many in NZ are unaware of the main (yet underplayed) reason for charter schools, which is profit. Tax dollars out of the hands of educators and into the hands of businessmen and women. Money is not saved – standards are not improved – but tax dollars *are* diverted into the private sector. Milton Friedman would be so very proud of NACT.

    Here are SOSNZ’s articles on charter schools here and abroad:

    If you want to know more, come join SaveOurSchoolsNZ on Facebook or Twitter or the blog.

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