Another twist in the National-ACT charter school experiment comes with the revelation that a private foundation is apparently to sponsor a visit to New Zealand by the head of a controversial charter school management organisation – the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP).
QPEC understands that the right wing USA-based Roberston Foundation is bringing Mike Feinberg, KIPP co-founder, to New Zealand to promote the establishment of charter schools in New Zealand through its local arm, the Aotearoa Foundation. Aotearoa Foundation and the Roberston Foundation were established by American Hedge Fund billionaire and honorary New Zealand knight Julian Roberston. The Robertson Foundation is now headed by former Auckland and Oxford University vice-chancellor, John Hood. Hood is also a trustee of the Aotearoa Foundation.
The Robertson Foundation is one of the new breed of so-called ‘philanthrocapitalists’, private sector investment funds and trusts that view charity not as altruistic giving, but as just another business investment opportunity to influence government policy and the delivery of public education. And, to do so by lobbying behind closed doors, completely outside the democratic process.
In the USA, the Robertson Foundation donates several million dollars each year to the KIPP Foundation and other charter school management organisations. In New Zealand, Julian Robertson has also been associated with the establishment of the equally controversial Teach First New Zealand fast-track six-week teacher training scheme at Auckland University. A scoping study was jointly funded in 2010 by the Aotearoa Foundation and The Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall’s Tindall Foundation. The Robertson Foundation is a major sponsor of the USA-based Teach For All network of self-styled social entrepreneurs. Teach for All aims to establish fast-track teaching schemes across the world.
QPEC is appalled at the way in which New Zealand public education policy, services and assets are being privatised without any public mandate. The New Zealand public needs to know that the global corporate sharks are now circling our state school system looking for a quick killing.
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