Home > Social Issues, The Body Politic > Charter Schools – contrary to ACT’s free market principles?

Charter Schools – contrary to ACT’s free market principles?


we're trialling an ideological approach


When the blogger, Imperator Fish  asked in a blogpost headlined – Did You Vote For Charter Schools? – he wasn’t just using a catchy title. He was raising a valid point.

Nowhere on the ACT website is Charter Schools mentioned in any of their policies.

Not. A. Word.

Instead, ACT’s education policy page mentions the usual waffle about “more choice” and some disturbing rhetoric about “the benefits of making education more market-like and entrepreneurial” (1), and principals setting salary for teachers “like any other employer” (4),


ACT - Education policy



If that is ACT’s Charter Schools policy, the message is hidden deep amongst the swirl of right-wing rhetoric.

Curiously, for a Party that allegedly has an innate aversion to taxpayer-funded subsidies for business enterprises such as farming, exporting, manufacturing, etc, etc, etc – they seem more than eager to subsidise private schools (3 & 5).  Which seems more than contradictory, since one has to question what is the difference between private schools and other private businesses.

If ACT is comfortable  (indeed, eager) to subsidise private schools, including their Charter School agenda, why not subsidise private hospitals? Private power companies? Private radio and TV broadcasters? Private mining compnies?

There appears to be no rhyme or reason to exempt private schooling and Charter Schools from ACT’s policy opposing state subsidies for business.

Unless they’re chasing votes for the Middle Class Aspirationists?

ACT’s “Principals” are quite clear when it comes to using taxpayers’ money,


ACT - Principles policy



Paragraph 5 clearly outlines that the role of central government is to provide “economic support for those unable to help themselves and who are in genuine need of assistance“. It’s hard to see where private enterprise such as private schools and Charter Schools fit with this notion.

Paragraph 8 states that ACT supports  “a free and open market economy“. Are state-funded subsidies to private business conducive to “a free and open market economy“?

Ditto for paragraph 9, which states that ACT will  ” limit the involvement of central and local government to those areas where collective action is a practical necessity“. Is ACT telling us that taxpayer subsidies to private enterprise is a “practical necessity”?

Rob Muldoon thought so, and his government paid millions to farmers through various subsidies, making them beneficiaries of the State.

ACT’s plan will be that whilst Charter will be owned and operated by private institutions (religious groups, businesses, etc), that they will be funded by the taxpayer. And Charter School operators will be able to run these “schools” at a profit.

If this ain’t the State subsidising private enterprise – when very few other businesses are able to enjoy similar benefits – then I fail to see the difference.

After all, we’ve lost 23,000 construction jobs and 18,000 manufacting jobs. If any sectors need state support, via subsidies, shouldn’t it be  Construction and Manufacturing?


Data reveals drop in manufacturing, building jobs



(It’s a shame that the loss of 41,000 construction and manufacturing has been offset by the creation of approximately 68,000 personal/community services – traditionally low-paid roles. See: PM – No money for aged care workers)

The question this blogger is asking is; if Charter Schools are a viable business proposition, why is the taxpayer  paying for it?

Perhaps someone from ACT can explain it to us?




Previous related blogposts

Privatisation of our schools?! (13 Dec 2011)

Charter Schools – Another lie from John Banks! (2 Aug 2012)

Q+A – 5 August 2012 (5 Aug 2012)

Christchurch, choice, and charter schools (15 Sept 2012)

Charter Schools – John Key’s re-assurances (2 Nov 2012)

Other Blogs

Imperator Fish: Did You Vote For Charter Schools?


Fairfax media: Education shake-up ‘biggest for years’ (7 Dec 2011)

The Press: A controversial way of learning (7 April 2012)

NZ Herald: Editorial: Partnership opportunity for teachers (17 Oct 2012)

NZ Herald: Charter schools escape scrutiny (17 Oct 2012)


ACT Policies: Economy

ACT Policies: State Owned Assets

ACT policies: Spending Cap

ACT Policies: Education

ACT Policies: Principals



=fs =

  1. Strawberry Paddocks
    25 February 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Good point Frank!

    Why is ACT encouraging subsidies for private education when no one else gets them? This looks like a double standard to me!

  2. mcclairy
    26 February 2013 at 9:21 am

    “For Profit” is the key component above all the waffle about underachievers behind Act’s ideological private good-public bad rhetoric. They dare not ‘do’ a blitzkreig with education (and Health) as the backlash would be too great so it is “slowly, slowly catchee the monkey”, one step at a time until mission accomplished.
    It is all in the Rogernome book, “Unfinished Business”.
    I think we are all aware of the Corporate/Multinational/Globalised privatisation policies to capture the wealth in natural monopolies and public services – they have nothing to lose and everything to gain from ownership of these essential services, unlike commodities which can go up and down like a yo-yo.
    Taking money out of the present education budget to fund these schools is a scandal. Why not increase the funding to the public sector education budget and employ special skills teachers who, in small groups, or one on one teaching for students who have missed out because the home environment does not allow them to achieve under normal circumstances……..poverty being but one component, along with dysfunctional family lifestyles…… which is the case for the majority of these students. Will these students fare any better without the changes necessary in their home life?

  3. Free Marketeer
    26 February 2013 at 11:18 am

    This is exactly why I quit ACT.

  4. Deb
    27 February 2013 at 9:22 am

    The gov’t is using NCEA2 as acceptable level to determine achievement. What does that say to the many students who leave highschool after achieving NCEA1 to start apprenticeships, attend polytech, etc. Achieving NCEA2 does not guarentee success & not achieving NCEA2 does not mean a student is a failure. When we changed to NCEA from the old exam system, we were told it would better recognise the achievement of all students, not just the academically inclined students. Isn’t this move to requiring NCEA2 a step backwards?

    • 27 February 2013 at 9:36 am

      It occurs to me, Deb – looking at this from the outside – is that we’ve becomes “results” focused, instead of student-focused in our search for appropriate education for people…

  5. 27 February 2013 at 9:34 am

    What your voting options now, Free Marketeer?

    • Free Marketeer
      27 February 2013 at 9:55 pm

      Party vote Libertarianz. Electorate vote “no confidence”

  1. 26 February 2013 at 10:02 am
  2. 7 November 2016 at 10:19 am
  3. 8 September 2020 at 8:01 am

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