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New Zealand’s current government has embarked on a course of supporting private providers of
education in the form of “partnership” schools with the claim that these charter schools can
address the recalcitrant problem of disparity of achievement between students from different
ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. This paper examines evidence from the research on
charter schools and argues that attention should rather be paid to the Finnish example of high and
equal educational achievement and to the landmark achievements of New Zealand’s own
pioneers of progressive education as we prepare a new generation for the twenty-first century.