Ending the charter school experiment will be the "beginning of the end" for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, says ACT leader David Seymour.
Charter schools can be profit-driven, set their own curriculum and don't have to use registered teachers. The existing 11 schools have until Tuesday to file an application to transition to the state system, or else face being shut down.
Mr Seymour expects only "just over half" of them will bother.
"That's a distant second-best option. If they're forced to have the same governance, the same drip-fed funding dictated by the Ministry of Education and employ all their staff on the same union contracts negotiated in Wellington, why does anyone think that they're going to deliver a better result?" he told The AM Show on Monday.
"I'll make a prediction - this is the beginning of the end for Jacinda Ardern. It's just a little chink, because it shows that when she says 'we're going to put children at the centre of everything this Government does' actually that doesn't apply when it really counts, which is some of the most disadvantaged kids who have found education that works for them."
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He accused the Government of burying a "glowing" report into the effectiveness of charter schools by releasing it on a Friday night.
"It says that kids who are disadvantaged, who were falling through the cracks, found a place where they could finally feel good about themselves."
The report by consultancy firm MartinJenkins didn't actually cover how students were performing academically because they hadn't been operating long enough and the NCEA data provided wasn't comparable to that used by state schools. Most of the responses from students and parents came from only two of the 11 schools, and hardly any parents of students who'd left the schools responded.
"Low response rates to surveys and selection bias meant we were not able to examine student and whānau perspectives from all angles or across all schools," the report, released on April 6, read.
The findings from the first two years of the three-year report "draw heavily" on the perspectives of the groups sponsoring the schools, and the third year findings of students and parents had "low and uneven response rates".
"It doesn't tell us... about academic achievement and progress, and obviously that's where a lot of the attention really should be focused," Education Minister Chris Hipkins told RNZ at the time.
Eighty percent of parents who did respond said they were satisfied with their child(ren)'s learning.
"The very least they could do is honour the contracts signed with the existing schools," said Mr Seymour.
National Party leader Simon Bridges said a future National-led Government would "absolutely" bring back charter schools.
"If I could have been at the protest David Seymour did, I would have been," he told The AM Show.
"I didn't think much of this until I went to Vanguard Military School, and I was moved by what I saw... Some of them - not all of them - are from the wrong side of the tracks who are overachieving now. Failing, and now they are proud and overachieving."
Photos of the Sunday afternoon protest outside the Prime Minister's electorate office posted on social media showed between 30 and 60 people.
Ms Ardern told The AM Show in February the charter school model was "broken".
"I don't believe we should be making money out of kids' education, when that money could be going into kids. There are some that probably don't run a for-profit model, and for them the transition probably won't be a problem."
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