“Kelvin Davis’ push for compulsory Māori in schools shows Labour is deeply committed to social engineering”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.
The Minister responsible for Māori education has said he wants te reo to become compulsory in state schools as soon as possible.
“Too many children leave school without having acquired basic literacy skills. A 2014 report by the Tertiary Education Commission found 40 per cent of Year 12 students failed to meet international benchmarks for literacy and numeracy even though they had NCEA Level 2.
“The idea that we would force children who already struggle to learn another language seems like a cruel joke.
“Parents, not politicians, know what is best for their children. Students have a wide range of needs. A one-size-fits-all education system often fails to provide every child with a good education. Schools must have the flexibility to respond to a diversity of needs, and every family - not just the well-off - should have a choice in education.
“That’s why ACT would allow state schools to apply to become Partnership Schools. Government should fund a range of schools, letting families, not politicians, choose what is best for them.
“Until Jacinda Ardern's Government ended the Partnership School model, iwi, Pasifika, and community groups were providing innovative education and changing kids' lives for the better.
“ACT would also put parents in charge of the education budget. Every child’s share of taxpayer funding would go into a unique Student Education Account, for use at a state, Partnership, or independent school.
“Government spends almost $15 billion on education each year, but the results are highly unequal and slowly declining. New Zealand has a long tail of underachievement in disadvantaged communities. We could get much better results by putting taxpayer education funding in the hands of parents.
“ACT is focused on giving students the freedom to learn and succeed in the 21st century. The Government is making them pawns in the last generation’s battles.
“We need an education system that engages every student. Rather than forcing an ideological agenda on students, the Government should allow every child the freedom to learn.”