The government says it wants a level playing field for all schools.   

But opponents say the government is taking away the autonomy of how charter schools operate and that some of its MPs are doing a flip-flop.

The Associate Education Minister, Kelvin Davis believes that schools will be equal by scrapping charter schools.

“One of the best things the Education Minister has done to level the playing field is to get rid of National Standards because they were so prohibitive. Now charter schools didn't have to abide by National Standards so they were free to explore an expansive curriculum, while state schools were restricted.”

But the opposition, including Act Party leader David Seymour, begs to differ.

“What he's proposing is re-assimilation of these schools back into the mainstream that has failed Māori for 170 years now. He will be levelling the playing field by pulling the successful hourua kids down.”

Seymour also says if the law changes it will remove the autonomy of charter schools.

“I think it's a question of sovereignty, and you're right, if you get your money in lots of little dollops from the Wellington bureaucracy then you no longer have Tino Rangatiratanga in your particular school.”

But Davis says the autonomy of schools won’t be diminished.

“Like I said the changes are purely administrative and there's nothing that says the school has to change their curriculum or their pedagogy, another word what they’re teaching and how their teaching it.”

Graeme Osbourne, the chief executive of E Tipu E Rea alleges that Willie Jackson is kind of hypocritical in his thinking because he founded a charter school.

“He set up Te Kura Māori o Waatea which is a very, very successful partnership school, Willie's wife is the CEO of that organisation. They've also got permission to open up another school, Waatea High School in 2019, so you would think that would be proof that Willie's a supporter of the system.”

Willie Jackson however, says it’s about funding.

“I was a convert early on, but one of the things you realise with the schools is that the pressure's always on in terms of finding your own funding. We had to find a million dollars over the next couple of years. The new model is probably appealing to some of our schools, some of the Māori schools like our one, not undermining some of the other schools because I hear what they're saying, but all the Māori side of things and the perspective can be accommodated under the new model.”

The Education Minister is meeting with charter schools and time will tell if those schools transition into special character schools.

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