Prominent Maori leader Dr Lance O’Sullivan has added his support to the campaign launched by Sir Toby Curtis against the closure of Charter Schools.

Dr O’Sullivan met with Sir Toby this week to pledge his support for the campaign and thank him for the role Sir Toby played in his own education pathway.

“I was a student who failed twice in the traditional education system. It was only when I had the privilege of attending a school where my own culture and language was valued and encouraged that I understood that I had the ability to succeed and create a better life not only for me and my family, but also for others,” Dr O’Sullivan said.

“The traditional state school model works for a large proportion of students, but many Maori and Pacific Island students in particular are under-achieving in this system.

“I have been astounded at the huge increase in academic achievement for Maori and Pacifica students that charter schools have achieved, and it is a tragedy that what is working so well for these students has been taken away.”

Dr O’Sullivan said he had talked with many students in charter schools and the common theme was that for the first time in their lives they had experienced the structure, discipline, caring and hope that encouraged them to take a more positive attitude to their education and their future.

“There is absolutely no doubt that charter schools have worked very well for Maori and Pacifica students.   I simply do not understand why the Government has insisted on closing down a model that has worked so well and has forced these schools to become integrated into a state system that failed so many of their students,” he said.

“I urge the Government to put aside their ideological view that only the State can provide a decent education to New Zealand children.    Charter schools have proven that thousands of young New Zealanders who were previously truant, uninspired and isolated have found  a bright future within the charter school model.

“These young New Zealanders deserve encouragement and positive reinforcement for turning their lives around.  I am simply gutted that other young New Zealanders who deserve an education which works for them will no longer have that opportunity,” Dr O’Sullivan said.

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