Christchurch schools – proposals or promises?

At the schools rally in Christchurch on Tuesday, Board Members and parents were talking about the promise broken by the Minister of Education.

A number of schools such as Central New Brighton and Branston Intermediate had been clearly told they would have until the end of 2014 to prepare for merger or closure. The announcement on Monday ripped away this promise, reducing the window of time to just one year from now.

It is not rocket science to calculate the influence of the election date on this decision. However it is disturbing when the Minister of Education claims she made no promises, just “proposals”. She speaks as if she had gone to the schools with no more than an idea that two years, not one, might be the timeframe.

As Minister, her word has power. These schools heard her say they would have two years to prepare, if on the list for merger or closure. They didn’t hear some vague suggestion and they hang on her every word because their life does depend on it.

The Government has to stop kicking these people when they are already down. They are recovering and every time I go to Christchurch I see the progress in rebuilding and restoring communities. Unlike the school closures it is quite slow but steady.

On the closures; the Ministry keeps placing schools in invidious positions, which hurt and confuse families around enrollment and stability. One example of this is the proposal to ask the two kura in Christchurch which one will move to north Christchurch. How are these kura and whānau supposed to decide this, when both have spent many years building up their kura on these sites and connecting to the whenua?

Some things are not easily transportable, such as a deep history and local relationships.

What are the parents of the closing intermediate school students supposed to do now?

There are no such worries for the students and their families at Wanganui Collegiate; the newly integrated elite school. They have a commitment of $5 million per year from the Government, not just a proposal!

 

16 thoughts on “Christchurch schools – proposals or promises?

  1. So Catherine, since the government has got it so wrong, can you tell us which schools should be closed?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1 (+4)

  2. The idea that the government isn’t ever allowed to change a proposal is completely absurd.

    If it did that, the it would have been totally pointless having consultations, looking at proposals – and coming up with a new plan, and having additional time until next year for additional consultation.

    Equally absurd, is the idea that we slowly kill off a school over 2 or 5 years, rather than having an appropriate cut off date where the all the kids and their friends stay together by moving to a new school at the same time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2 (+2)

  3. The same necessary flexibility applies to charter schools when governments change.

    The Green position back in 2003-2005 when Labour was closing schools was that their should be consultation with local communities and offering options (including the status quo) to them. That is the prime issue was consent to any change.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  4. And when the school wishes to stay open? They stay open, no matter how high the cost to taxpayers? No matter how low the roll?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2 (+3)

  5. catherine delahunty Posted February 21, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    “The Green Party opposed many school closures when Labour was in Government. Metiria and I visited the Wairoa schools together, she also visited schools down south , she spoke out, please don’t try and re write history! Sometimes schools agree to close because of roll losses, that makes sense, much of the CHCH renewal doesn’t!”

    http://blog.greens.org.nz/2013/02/19/the-heart-has-been-ripped-out-of-christchurch-school-communities/

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  6. So, we have months of roundtables, huis, committee meetings, singalongs, group discussions, one-on-one interviews, seances, BBQs, town hall meetings, weekends away…..

    ….and still the teachers at the school want their school to stay open, even though they have a tiny, diminishing roll, and a pet goose named Gerald.

    They stay open, regardless of cost, until teachers – and presumably parents – and perhaps Gerald – say otherwise?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4 (-1)

  7. And Key kept Parata because she is a “great communicator”, she certainly wasn’t able communicate a clear message to these schools who obviously thought there was a promise that they would remain open for another year.

    I find it extraordinary that Photonz1 defends a Minister that has mucked around these damaged communities so cruelly, I can’t imagine a worse process to be put through. Parata is treating schools like a cat playing with a half dead mouse, constantly letting them think that they have a chance of survival, playing around with them then pointlessly killing them. Her detached, smiling, mocking demeanor as she denies all responsibility for disaster after debacle is winning few friends in the education community.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  8. Arana, you trivialise the surveys, research and professionally constructed submissions that many schools spent untold hours to provide to the minister in an attempt to counter the shonky research and data that supported the original ministry proposals.

    You have obviously never experienced or been part of a strong school community. You also forget that teachers and parents are tax payers too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5 (-3)

  9. Arana, you trivialise the surveys, research and professionally constructed submissions that many schools spent untold hours to provide to the minister in an attempt to counter the shonky research and data that supported the original ministry proposals.

    Oh, I have no doubt the Ministry is useless. I have little faith in government to do anything, but it’s people like you who demand the state control education, not me.

    I would devolve control to the community and school in the form of voucher systems and privatise most of education, except for a standards body to drive ever-increasing standards nationwide.

    So, why don’t the schools in Christchurch get together and decide amongst themselves which schools should close, then present that to the Minister? One problem – will any turkey vote themselves an early Christmas?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2 (+4)

  10. sprout says “I find it extraordinary that Photonz1 defends a Minister…. ….cat playing with a half dead mouse….., then pointlessly killing them. Her detached, smiling, mocking demeanor …..”

    If you stop ranting long enough, you’ll see I haven’t written a single thing, good or bad, that mentions the minister.

    Where does the psychological need to continually and personally demonize people come from? Is it s Southland thing, or a Green thing?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2 (+3)

  11. Photonz1 perhaps I have become confused with your enthusiastic support of the previous Minister (Anne Tolley) and your regular parroting of her messages, so if you don’t support Hekia Parata, I apologise.

    As for my description of Parata, it is a fairly mild description compared to what is being said around the country. Perhaps you have experienced her empathetic, caring side?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 (+1)

  12. sprout says “Photonz1 perhaps I have become confused with your enthusiastic support of the previous Minister (Anne Tolley)”

    No. You’re wrong about that too. I rarely mentioned Tolley at all.

    I try to judge things on merit most of the time.

    Rather than the narrow minded approach of personally demonizing people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2 (0)

  13. Photonz1, you may not have mentioned Tolley’s name vey often but you did channel her public pronouncements very accurately.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2 (0)

  14. Sprout – face it. You make up a false claim, then you try to squirm out of it by making up another false claim, then try to squirm out of that one too.

    If you focused on policy instead rather than demonising personalities, you’d end up with less egg on your face.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 (-1)

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