COMMENT: By Bryan Bruce
Let me start by putting my education cards on the table. I think public money should fund public schools. If you want to have a private school that’s fine but do it with private money.
I also think that our current model of funding schools that came out of the Tomorrow’s Schools neoliberal “reforms” has resulted in rich public schools and poor public school and that’s just wrong.
OK – now to the decision announced by Associate Finance Minister and Green Party Leader James Shaw that a privately run Green School will get more than $11 million out of the $3 billion set aside for infrastructure in the covid-19 recovery fund.
Politically this is an own goal.
If you go to the Greens Education Policy page you will read:
- State schools should be funded so they are not reliant on donations, fees, or fundraising;
- Public funding for private schools should be phased out and transferred to public schools; and
- Public-private partnerships should not be used for building or running schools.
To argue that the money for the Green School is not coming out of the Education Budget but the Covid-19 Recovery Programme fools no one.
Betrayal raises issue of trust
It’s clearly a betrayal of policy and raises the issue of trust. Can we trust what else is written on their website is actually their policy?
I note that National’s Nicola Willis has been quick to label it hypocrisy and I can’t say she is wrong. However Willis is also guilty of hypocrisy on this issue because you can’t be pro public funding of private schools and cry foul when it happens.
Chris Hipkins washing his Pontius Pilot hands in public with his nothing to-do-with-me statement, simply reveals Labour’s neoliberal heart is still beating.
Did Finance Minister Grant Robertson also disapprove of this funding of a private school. If so why did it see the light of day?
Should we have green sustainable learning in our education system ?
Shovels ready for school gardens
But in the curriculum for every school. Many schools around the country have got their shovels ready to create school gardens for example. Eleven million dollars would go a long way to creating them.
As I see it, the Greens have been effective on the Climate Change and on Poverty fronts, but they have also made decisions that have left me genuinely puzzled – such as giving up their Question Time slots in Parliament to National, shrugging their shoulders over the Water Bottling issue and now financially supporting a private school.
One sure way to lose an election is to keep scoring own goals and this was a classic.
Bryan Bruce is an independent filmmaker and journalist. The Pacific Media Centre is publishing a series of occasional commentaries by him during the NZ election campaign.