The Minister of Education has spent much of her time, notably on Q+A and during Parliamentary Question Time on 16th October and 17th October, dancing around questions and offering responses that fail to address the actual questions. Even the speaker of the house seemed exasperated on a number of occasions, trying to get a straight answer out of her. In my experience, people who answer in the kind of way Ms Parata does have one of two problems – they are either not very bright and do not understand what is being asked, or they understand only too well and do not want to give the answer.
3/10 For Accuracy
Just about everyone is aware that there were errors in the original information upon which closure/merger/relocation decisions were based. Now it transpires that even more errors have been unearthed. “It is concerning that new information is only now coming to light. This is information that should have been given earlier if school principals and their boards and communities were to have any meaningful dialogue with the Government” said NZEI President, Ian Leckie today.
Sorry, Did I Say Flexibility?
- Geotechnical information has been passed on just this week, two weeks into the consultation process.
- It is understood ministry representatives will meet schools individually next week, three weeks into the six-week process.
- Schools are still waiting on replies to requests for information under the Official Information Act. (One school, at least, has had its request denied).
Despite all this, and despite repeated assurances from the Minister, Hekia Parata, that she is listening and the consultation is genuine, no flexibility will be given to Christchurch schools fighting for their survival. No opportunity for extra time, support or help in any shape, way or form in fact. Yes, that sure sounds like they’re listening. Sure sounds like they’re flexible.
A Shameful Roll-Call
Christchurch is suffering. That’s the fact of the matter.
The quakes have left behind huge ongoing problems and a stressed and exhausted people. Health and alcohol problems are on the rise as time moves on and issues are not resolved. According to an article in Scoop today, “Chris Mene said proposed school mergers and closures affected families in the ”most deprived and vulnerable areas.” and “Andrew Dickerson said the ”appalling performance” of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, the Earthquake Commission and insurance companies would take its toll on people’s mental wellbeing.” Andrew might well have added The Ministry of Education to that roll-call.
Just being upset or angry is not going to help. Action is needed.
The boards of schools in greater Christchurch proposed for merger or closure will have until 7 December to carry out consultation with their local communities and report back on the proposals. Find out where community consultation evenings are taking place – go along – see what you can do to help.
At Chisnallwood Intermediate, a community consultation evening is to be held in the school gymnasium on Wednesday 31st of October at 7 pm. They are asking for everyone to attend and support them. They have invited politicians, education ministry people, media, community boards, etc. It would be astounding to have a high community turn-out to canvass opinions and show the government that this matter is of huge and high importance to the community.
And if you know of further events, feel free to add details or links in the comments below.
Kia Kaha, Christchurch.
Links & Further Reading
Proposals for state primary and intermediate schools can be found on the Shaping Education website – http://shapingeducation.minedu.govt.nz.
Geotechnical information will inform future proposals for secondary provision in Christchurch. For more information, see Proposals for Future of Christchurch Schools [PDF; 90kb]
Principals denied more time to respond: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/7824735/Deadline-stands-Parata
Schools Grieving – Longstone: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/schools/7818675/Schools-grieving-Longstone
Schools all ears for Ministry talks: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/7810511/Schools-all-ears-for-ministry-talks