Act's plans to introduce Charter Schools have found an unlikely ally; the Herald reports:
Waipareira Trust chief executive John Tamihere wants the charter school pilot expanded to West Auckland - where he says schools are failing children.
Act's confidence and supply agreement sets out the schools will be set up in areas where educational underachievement is most entrenched.
South Auckland and Christchurch are the first two regions where the Government says that iwi, private, community groups and existing educational providers will compete to operate a local school or start a new one.
Waipareira is in discussions with Remuera's Mt Hobson Middle School to establish a charter school for pupils in years 7 to 10.
Mr Tamihere said Ministry of Education figures which revealed that 30 per cent of students leave the region to attend other schools is indicative of parents' dissatisfaction with educational results in the area.
"We've got a low track record of excellence. All we're looking at doing is bringing the best practice from Remuera to the west."
Education Minister Hekia Parata would be approached for support once details were worked out between the trust and school, Mr Tamihere said.
Ms Parata's office was unable to respond last night to Herald questions about whether the programme could be expanded to Waitakere.
Teacher union NZEI has been critical of the policy saying the overseas experience shows they take students and money away from existing schools, undermine communities and increase social segregation.
We've got a not-inconsiderable level of respect for John Tamihere. Even though he was a Labour MP for many years before committing the unpardonable sin of saying what he thought, he sees the bigger picture. He chairs a trust which is trying to lift Maori achievement in many ways, and he sees the importance of education in that.
The teacher unions will of course demonise Tamihere for dancing with the devil, but that doesn't change the fact the Maori ARE failing in our schools. And just as the point was made by Henare O'Keefe at the weekend in the radio interview we blogged about, Tamihere understands that Maori hold the key to solving Maori problems.
So we hope that his entreaty to Hekia Parata is well received. She too has a vested interest in seeing Maori achievement lifted, and we are sure that she will look favourably on John Tamihere's proposal. Let's face it; the system as it is today isn't working, so what's to lose through trying a new approach? That's especially valid when unnatural allies emerge seeking a solution to a problem which overall affects us all.