By: Audrey Young & Lucy Bennett
Respected educationist Sir Toby Curtis has accused the Government of “bullying” behaviour over ending charter schools and called on the Prime Minister to show some “aroha”.
“”I’m sure she’ll understand the meaning of ‘te aroha’, which she has given the name to her child,” Curtis said. “I think this situation is calling for a bit of aroha in terms of how we think and how we move forward.”
Curtis, a former Auckland College of Education Primary Teacher Education director and faculty dean of the Auckland Institute of Technology, was appearing before the education select committee asking it to shelve legislation that abolishes charter schools, also known as partnership schools.
He was joined by John Shewan, a former deputy chairman of the statutory board that authorised the schools.
Sir Toby and fellow educationist Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi have just lodged a Treaty of Waitangi claim alleging the Crown’s actions in closing partnership schools will have a disproportionately detrimental effect on Māori.
Shewan first used the term “bullying” when talking to the select committee but it was also picked up by Curtis.
“It is one of the most skilful forms of bullying that I know,” Curtis said. “It’s very well done. A lot of people wouldn’t realise it is bullying but it is political bullying as far as I’m concerned.”
Green MP Chloe Swarbrick told Curtis the allegation of “bullying” was serious and substantive and asked for examples.
“You understand obviously that the press is here this morning and that’s the stuff which is going to be reported.”
Curtis replied: “If the minister hasn’t gone to the schools to talk to the people in the schools, if the minister hasn’t gone and spoken to the parents, if the ministry hasn’t gone to the schools and talked properly to the teachers, if the ministry hasn’t done their job properly, I’m left with no other view other than that this a process of bullying that we have never had or experienced in this country.”