I stumbled across this on the web, looking for something else. Worth reading.
From the Autumn edition of Education Aotearoa:
The influence of the business lobby, particularly the Business Roundtable and ACT, in pushing New Zealand into the hands of the charter school movement is shown in a timeline of developments put together by NZEI’s Stephanie Mills.
This interesting analysis shows how an observer with an attention span can point to a long trail of manoeuvring and influence peddling (PDF) and the recent irregular-to-say-the-very-least appointment of former ACT president, list candidate and pin-up Catherine Judd-Issacs-Kerr to the (Surprise!) National-ACT coalition agreement generated ‘implementation group for charter schools’.
The Tea Tapes Timeline
aka How We Got To Get Charter Schools
Education Forum established by Business Round Table and others to lobby for the introduction of competition into public education. BRT Executive Director Roger Kerr was a key member of the Forum, which is very active until 2006-7. (The BRT says Business Roundtable was instrumental in establishing and continues to support the Forum http://www.nzbr.org.nz/Projects/Education+Matters.html)
Kerr was close to the ACT party (see obituary http://www.act.org.nz/posts/roger-kerr-1945-2011) and in 2010 married Catherine Isaacs, former ACT President (2001-2006) and ACT list candidate. Isaacs’s company, Awaroa Partners, has acted as communications consultants to the Business Roundtable throughout 2006-2010 at least. A staff member of Awaroa Partners is currently given as the contact address on the Education Forum website.
Education Forum contracts Caroline Hoxby, well-known proponent of charter schools in the US to visit NZ and write a paper on school choice http://educationforum.org.nz/upload/book/60517Hoxby_2006.pdf
Nicky Hager’s book, The Hollow Men, alleges that Catherine Isaacs and Awaroa Partners participated in the election of Don Brash to the leadership of the National Party. Judd stated that she was not willing to comment on material based on stolen property. http://salient.org.nz/features/through-a-glass-rightly-bangs-and-whimpers-in-rightearoa
The National Party is elected Government in November. National Standards are introduced under urgency before Christmas with no parliamentary scrutiny.
As part of the National-ACT Confidence and Supply Agreement, an Inter-Party Working Group is set up to ‘examine the concept of trust schools [UK charter-type school] and other models which might facilitate greater self-management and innovation, and the registration and accountability mechanisms for such schools that might accompany the relaxation of detailed controls.’
The membership was Heather Roy, Chester Burrows, Roger Douglas, Te Ururoa Flavell, Hekia Parata, and Jonathan Young. This group was charged with meeting fortnightly and to produce a report by 30 November 2009.
The National-led Government amends the Education Act to allow corporates to be appointed as statutory managers of commissioners of schools, and to allow the Minister to appoint one Board of Trustees for two or more newly established schools without any obligation to consult the community.
The inter-party working group on school choice releases its report “Step Change”. It recommends radical changes to schooling, including the use of vouchers and private learning “brokers”. The Working Group proposed that a taskforce be established immediately, with the outcomes to be trialled in the 2011 school year. The Minister of Education takes no immediate action on the report.
February – National Standards introduced into primary schools
April – The Government appoints Catherine Isaacs to its welfare working group.
August – Roger Kerr argues for charter schools in Christchurch quoting Hoxby on his blog:
Education Minister Anne Tolley attends an OECD Education Ministers meeting, where officials include UK delegate Lesley Longstone.
Teach First, a fast-track teacher training programme pioneered in the US as “Teacher America” is launched. It is funded by philanthropists and management companies, notably include Sir Julian Robertson, a New Zealand resident US billionaire who has made large contributions to US charter schools, including KIPP:
July – Lesley Longstone appointed as new Secretary of Education. She is described as an “unashamed advocate of the British equivalent of charter schools” in her previous roles in the UK.
November – Tea tapes – Key urges John Banks to make Catherine Isaacs (formerly Judd) the leader of the ACT Party in place of Don Brash: http://thestandard.org.nz/key-and-banks-on-act-snap-elections-coups-isaac/
ACT wins just 1.07 per cent of the vote, with the election of John Banks in Epsom. Leader Don Brash stepped down immediately, saying he underestimated the intensity of dislike for ACT.
National forms a Government after general elections.
December 2011 The National-ACT Coalition agreement announces
introduction of charter schools. According to NZ Herald writer John Armstrong, Catherine Isaacs, “long-time watcher of the successes and failures of charter schools overseas” wrote the two-page annex to Act’s support agreement with National which outlines the process by which two state-funded trial charter schools will be established, one in south Auckland and the other in Christchurch.
The Business Roundtable calls the move “a potentially momentous step forward in the battle to break the mould and lift educational achievement in New Zealand”
February – Catherine Isaacs is appointed to chair implementation group for charter schools
Business Round Table publishes extensively on charters. Its Education Matters project says “we have actively engaged in the promotion of school choice” http://www.nzbr.org.nz/Projects/Education+Matters.html
Catherine Isaacs and Lesley Longstone are pictured together in the social pages of the Sunday Star Times (February 26, 2012).
March – The Implementation Group is announced, and will set its own terms of reference. The impartiality of the group is questioned by the Green Party, and others. The Green Party calls for an inquiry.