Labour won't close my charter school - Willie Jackson
Labour candidate Willie Jackson says his party's cool with his charter school because it's not at risk of being privatised.
Mr Jackson's Manukau Urban Maori Authority runs charter school Te Kura Maori o Waatea in south Auckland. Problem is, Mr Jackson's own party has a policy of dumping charter schools.
In May last year, before joining the party, Mr Jackson gave Labour education spokesperson Chris Hipkins' Education (Charter Schools Abolition) Amendment Bill an 'E'.
"When you look at the success this alternative style education model has had for Maori, then it gets an A+ every day," he wrote in an opinion piece for Fairfax.
Charter schools were an ACT Party initiative the National-led Government picked up to secure the party's support. Mr Hipkins' bill failed 57-63 at its first reading in November.
But should it win September's election, Mr Jackson says Labour has no plans to close his school.
"Andrew Little, Chris Hipkins, they're very supportive of our schools. They've been clear to me about that right from the start, otherwise I wouldn't have joined," he told The AM Show on Friday.
"They support Maori trying to do their own thing. But what they're saying is look, we can't go with a policy that perhaps could lead to widespread privatisation. We can't have big corporations coming in and running schools. That's what Andrew and Chris are saying."
Mr Jackson says the Manukau Urban Maori Authority is a social provider "giving our kids a chance", as opposed to a "big corporation".
"Education is a public good. We're not into companies coming in and running schools. They know that what we're doing in a Maori sense is working, so they'll fit a model around that."
Mr Jackson says he can't envision a scenario in which he and Labour split over charter schools.
"There's no need for that type of talk. I don't have to walk away from the party because the party is walking with me. They're walking with the people."
Asked about Labour's chances at the election, Mr Jackson broke with political orthodoxy and admitted "things aren't going too well at the moment" for the party.