It seems the Minister is still learning and Willie Jackson may soon be the teacher.
His organisation, Manukau Urban Maori Authority, has just signed a contract with the Minister to establish a charter school.
CEO of MUMA, Willie Jackson says, “We are extremely happy to be able to support this initiative, even though it's a new model, the time has come to start something like that.”
“We should all get behind it at this time, not criticise it, because we know it's not a simple issue,” says Minister of Education, Hekia Parata.
The initiative has certainly copped a lot of criticism from many, including both the Labour Party and the Greens. They say the issues facing one of the new charter schools in Whangaruru should be a warning.
Labour Party’s Nanaia Mahuta says, “It's happening much too fast because as we know the first round is still not underway smoothly regarding charter schools.”
Jackson says Te Kura Māori o Waatea will start at 50 students, Māori being a core philosophy. He says that's not a challenge to Māori immersion schools, instead it's directed at mainstream schools.
“I want to meet with all the principals next week, they know I was the former chairman of the Māori immersion school in Māngere. This is not a competition, absolutely not,” says Jackson.
One of the biggest debates includes the level of funding charter schools receive. The Minister says it's no different to any other school and while Angela Roberts, president of the PPTA, agrees she says this is the difference.
“For a long time people have been upset about those underachievers. Now we have an avenue in which to solve the problem and what do we get – criticism,” says Minister Parata.
The new charter schools will open in February next year, though it may depending on the election results.