Christchurch education rally


Another hot afternoon and a stadium full of homemade banners. I saw the pride and hurt on the faces of schools facing closure for reasons they could not fathom. I stood for a few minutes with the man who runs the Community Centre at Phillipstown School. They have been marked for closure and with them the community centre, the breakfast programme the solidarity. He told me there was no space between this school and its community, they were one. I spoke to a Board member from New Brighton Central School. They are being forcibly merged within a year and they thought they had a lot more time, they are gutted.

I hung out with some families from schools who had survived, they were here to support everyone else, they were not convinced this “rejuvenation” would be limited to Christchurch, they issued a warning to the rest of the country. Angry school principals and staff spoke briefly at the stadium along with the NZEI, then we marched to the Ministry of Education to deliver a vote of no confidence. About 1500 people marched and chanted. One little red haired boy was chanting “John Key is a tool, he is trying to close my school”. We couldn’t really disagree with his passion.

The people at this rally are very clear. They have had enough of imposed change, they are angry at the speed of the closures and mergers announced yesterday. They cannot find a logic to many of the decisions that have been made. They believe they are entitled to respect and logic instead of cost cutting and supersizing. The intermediates feel picked on as an easy target. They think the speed of change relates to the election agenda of the Government. People here love their communities and schools for good reason. They are trying to be heard and will accept a reasoned argument, a careful negotiation for evidence based change. This is still not it!

11 Comments Posted

  1. Photonz1-still nonsense, even Parata says that the largest cost in the education budget is salaries, and the number of staff in any school is determined by the number of pupils, it costs little more to maintain and heat five classrooms compared to four. Your example is silly because true costs are determined by the total school budget and dividing by the number of pupils not comparing one random class with another.

    Again, using your arguments, what was the rational for the Government bailing out Wanganui Collegiate? I noticed that you refused to answer this.

  2. sprout says “What nonsense, Photonz1, schools are staffed on their rolls not the number of classrooms.”

    You confuse funding with costs.

    The REAL costs of paying for a classroom and teacher for 20 pupils, are virtually the same as the adjoining class with 10 empty places and 10 pupils.

  3. “the costs for every empty seat for buildings and staff are almost that same as if there was a child there”

    What nonsense, Photonz1, schools are staffed on their rolls not the number of classrooms. Going by your logic the three or four empty schools in Invercargill (left over from the closures 7 years ago) must be costing us millions.

    Can you also explain why the Government was prepared to bail out the private school, Wanganui Collegiate, by $3.9 million (at $9,000 per student) when there were hundreds of places available in the local public schools. Where is the consistency of provision? What is good for private schools appears unacceptable for public schools.

  4. sprout asks “Why use mainly fiscal considerations… ”

    Because the average costs to teach a primary school pupil for a year is around $7000.

    And if instead of a child, there are empty seats in a class – the costs for every empty seat for buildings and staff are almost the same as if there was a child there.

    At 9300 empty places, that’s $65 million per year, that would be better spent on teaching real children ………instead of teaching empty spaces.

  5. Ok, let’s assume for a minute that the government have got the logic screwed, and they are making a mess of this.

    As a response, why didn’t the education community of Christchurch come up with a plan to address the over-capacity in the education system? Lets see if they can do better than the government.

  6. If it was “neo-liberal” then the parents would have vouchers and the schools made completely independent, so funding would follow the parents and the schools they wanted to keep open would do so.

    However, as much as the Greens dress up care and compassion for what parents think, the truth is that you wouldn’t let parents decide for themselves what schools were set up for their kids and what schools should succeed or fail.

  7. Arana, that is the simplified, neoliberal crisis view to justify many unnecessary changes. The real agenda quickly becomes clear when the question why is asked for each individual school:
    Why remove intermediates as a schooling system?
    Why shift kura kaupapa?
    Why close schools that have strong rolls and sound buildings?
    Why use mainly fiscal considerations when some real imagination could have been used like introducing middle schools (years 7-10) years 7-13 schools in cities have identified problems.
    Why close schools so quickly when the dust hasn’t fully settled and population recovery is only just beginning?

    You still have a very simplistic understanding of the issues.

  8. It’s the truth.

    9300 vacant places. Large earth quake. Changing demographics. Many schools will be closed and amalgamated.

    Talk about it, if you want. March about it, if you want. But no matter how long people talk about it, or how often they march about it, many schools will be closed and amalgamated.

    Those that stay open think it’s a great decision. Those that don’t, don’t.

  9. If it was the earthquake for many of the schools they would accept it – but why schools with few cracks, steady rolls and good ERO reports shold close requires a logical response and a respectful process – many are still waiting

  10. I saw the pride and hurt on the faces of schools facing closure for reasons they could not fathom

    Earthquake. Big one. They may recall it.

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