By the time your school’s budget has been halved (and the missing money has gone to the charter school round the corner) it will be too late to complain.

Early childhood education in NZ already knows what this begins to look like. Now, the TPPA will enable the same to happen to compulsory schooling.

The TPPA negotiations were secretive and democratic institutions, such as NGOs, voters and unions, were kept out of the talks until the deal was done. Big business had a seat, so to speak, just behind those sitting at the table.

Now the deal is to be ratified through our Parliament, but this process is being reduced to a simple yes/no vote with no means to alter details. It is impossible now to get the same protection, under the TPPA, that Singapore carved out for its education system during the negotiations.

This is scary stuff – that our government refuses to protect education in the TPPA, and the related agreement, TISA.

To protect public education as a ‘social service established for a public good’, under the TPPA, the government will now need to amend the Education Act, which it is currently reviewing. But Minister Parata is refusing to do this.

What this means, currently – and let’s hope some sense prevails – is that a big American corporate charter-school provider, or a big multinational text-book and standardised tester, can demand our public education dollars.

Why should taxpayers’ money go to a local school and not a charter school – will be the question asked by certain politicians and corporates. Then lawyers move in to make sure corporates get the dollars.

At that point protest may be futile (and expensive), as public schools in the US have found.

What can help protect the New Zealand system is that it performs much better than the systems that have gone down the GERM (corporate) route. Teachers here are also well respected according to a recent survey – much more than politicians or big business. New Zealanders have confidence in our primary schools.

As an educator, when you talk to a parent or family member or friend, they are more likely to believe you.

We have to make it clear what is at stake. Already, New Zealanders fear for our current education system – the same survey shows a big drop in the number of people who think education will get better in New Zealand over the next decade, to just 35%.

As the great Kiwi educationalist Marie Bell used to say – educators have to be involved in their communities.

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