It’s 19 days until the election but only a week until early voting opens on Monday 2nd. ACT’s 75 stop tour continues around the country, while the party continues to release policy designed to power real change in Government.


Media were beside themselves yesterday as Chris Luxon made two obvious points. One, everyone is obliged to work with the Parliament that’s elected. It would be extraordinary if any candidate was saying they would not respect the election result. Two, National’s ‘strong preference’ is to work with ACT. There is now a very clear choice. A party vote for ACT is a party vote to a) change the Government and b) make sure that change is real.


Education has been central to ACT’s mission since it was founded. In the past week ACT has released not one, not two, but three education papers, making up a comprehensive vision for education. At the heart of these policies is a simple idea. The Government should stop politicising and micromanaging schools, and instead measure the outcomes of kids showing up and being taught.


The first education policy is about testing, to ensure kids are succeeding, and getting politics out of the curriculum. Taxpayers spend a fortune on early childhood education but nobody checks whether kids can hold a pencil, write their name and do their ABCs at the end of it - a common complaint from primary school teachers. ACT would also test primary school kids twice a year and publish the results the same way that Australia’s My Schools website does. The full policy is here.


The second policy deals with the long tail of failing schools. At present, when a school fails, the Ministry of Education intervenes in complicated and ineffective ways. It appoints limited statutory managers and commissioners but the situation does not improve. ACT proposes the successful schools should be able to pitch to take over the management of failing schools, just like how failing companies can be improved by takeover.


Standards and takeovers matter, but the third element is choice. ACT would allow State Schools to convert to Partnership (charter) Schools. They get the freedom and flexibility of managing their own budgets in return for hitting attendance and achievement targets. Schools that remain State Schools would be able to offer a choice of qualifications, with NCEA, International Baccalaureate, or Cambridge International Examination funded equally.


It is now less than a week until the polls open. The voter choice has never been clearer, and word of mouth is the most effective way to get it across. If you agree that the current Government needs to go but, more than that, this country needs a real change, please shout it from the roof tops. Tell people in your circles that you are giving your Party Vote to ACT, and for the future of our country they should too.

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