archives

Christchurch

This tag is associated with 54 posts

Double Standards – Hekia Patara, Wairua Charter School and the Christchurch Schools Closures

FDouble Standardsor those still feeling the sting of the Christchurch school closures, there is a sense of astonishment at the double standards at play when it comes to charter schools.

It seems there is one rule for one and one for another, and never the twain shall meet.

Not sure what I mean? Well, let’s compare Hekia Parata’s treatment of Te Pumanawa o te Wairua charter school with the closed and merged Christchurch state schools.

Hekia’s Double Standards

WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL:  Te Pumanawa o te Wairua charter school has a falling roll and is down to just 39 pupils, despite its contract stating it must have a minimum of 71.   Hekia Parata keeps it open against ministry advice and gives additional money.

CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: Phillipstown had over 160 students.(4) At least one of the other schools had a growing roll. Hekia merges Phillipstown and closes or merges other schools, arguing that falling rolls meant they were too small and too costly. One of the merged schools is already reported to already be overcrowded.

WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL: Communities and professional bodies have grave concerns about the school, but Hekia decides to keep the school open.

CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: Communities and professional bodies spoke up for the schools and fought to keep them open (5) but Hekia decided to close or merge almost all of them.

WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL: Te Pumanawa o te Wairua charter school was given a 28 closure notice in February. It continued until late July, and has been now been given until October to improve. Kept open repeatedly.

CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: Branston, Linwood and Manning school closures were all brought forward significantly, despite promises by Ministry to the communities that they would be remain open for another school year or more.  Closed by Hekia, and sooner than promised.

WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL: Ongoing reports of poor attendance, bullying, drug use and management infighting. (2) School kept open by Hekia.

CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: No concerns about management or student health and safety. Schools closed by Hekia.

WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL: The Ministry of Education, ERO and Deloitte’s audit have all deemed Te Pumanawa o te Wairua charter school to be failing. this school has again been kept open.

CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: All of the schools were considered good schools. Some were outstanding. These schools were closed and/or merged.

WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL: Very low levels of achievement – only one student reported to have gained NCEA, out of 49 put forward.(1) School kept open by Hekia.

CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: Students achieving well. Schools closed by Hekia.

Stark double standards

Time and again we saw these Christchurch schools being given no leeway by Hekia – no time for their communities to settle post-quake and no consideration for distressed staff and students coping with ongoing quake trauma. Decisions were made in a cold, clinical and often seemingly heartless way.

In stark contrast, Hekia is reported to be genuinely concerned about the pupils at Te Pumanawa o te Wairua charter school.  That is to her credit. But why the difference in treatment?

No matter where you stand on charter schools, it’s pretty clear that Hekia Parata is bizarrely unfair when it comes to her treatment of different types of schools: Ideology is clouding her judgement.

Sources:

(1) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11486284&ref=nzh_tw

(2) http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/70505123/northland-charter-school-te-pumanawa-o-te-wairua-to-stay-open–hekia-parata

(3) http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/regional/279642/charter-decision-dismays-maori-principals

(4) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10887167

(5) http://www.3news.co.nz/tvshows/campbelllive/the-communitys-view-on-christchurch-school-closures-2012091316#axzz3gnj2cJea

Further reading/viewing:

http://www.3news.co.nz/tvshows/campbelllive/the-communitys-view-on-christchurch-school-closures-2012091316#axzz3gnj2cJea

http://www.meganwoods.org.nz/christchurch-school-closures-dont-add-up/

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11138079

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10866097

New school on site of closed Linwood school

This weekend the special character school, Te Pā o Rākaihautū, opened in its new site, having been in a different temporary location since opening in January.

It may well be a marvellous school – it certainly looks interesting, and I’ve no reason to think it’s anything but good. That’s not what raised my eyebrows. No.

What made me look twice is that it is on the former Linwood Intermediate School site. You know, one of the schools closed by Hekia Parata.

An article about the school quotes Rangimarie Parata Takurua. as saying:

“Linwood Intermediate was closed after the earthquakes and I came upon the buildings quite by chance,”

The Christchurch schools closed by Hekia Parata

Christchurch schools closed by Hekia Parata

Really?  Is there an educator in Chch that doesn’t know the name of every school forcibly closed by Hekia Parata?

And this from Rangimarie Parata Takurua, cousin of the person that closed the school…

Which was in the media for months…

But she came across it “quite by chance”? ** (Update, I am informed that “Although Linwood Intermediate was closed by the minister the site was reopened in January 2014 for another school that was found to have a black mould problem 7 days before that school was due to reopen for the year. That school returned to their original site Easter 2015. The chairperson of Te Pā went to a fitness class, when it was occupied by the other school, and then proceeded to question MOE of it’s availability.”) Source

The article then quotes Rangimarie Parata Takurua as saying they:

“worked hard with the Ministry of Education to secure [the site]”

Can you see the Ministry putting up much of a fight to give Hekia Parata’s cousin the school site she wants? Perhaps they did…? (UPDATE: the new information above raises a new question  – given the Linwood Intermediate site was deemed to need over $3 Million of repairs to be fit for use, how come two schools have used the site since Linwood was moved out? Was it not as damaged as claimed?)

What am I missing here?

As I said at the start of this post, this school may well be fabulous. It certainly sounds good from the article (and people on the SOSNZ facebook page are saying great things about it). The quality of Te Pa is not what I’m querying.

It’s more that something doesn’t seem to sit right when a school is closed due to unsafe buildings and then the site is used by one, perhaps two, other schools. Did the site miraculously repair itself? I’m sure the community that fought so hard to keep Linwood open would love to know.

_____

Related reading:

http://www.3news.co.nz/politics/anger-over-christchurch-maori-school-closures-2012101118#axzz3gQVx7HV6

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/8602929/Talks-under-way-on-Maori-school

(Article edited 10.30pm to remove paragraph containing unclear/inaccurate information on which bilingual units were/weren’t eventually closed as per 2012 Stuff article.)

Notes from a visit to Christchurch primary schools four years on, by Professor Martin Thrupp

quake train tracksLast month I was in Christchurch and took the opportunity to visit some primary schools including an intermediate. It happened to be September 4th, four years to the day since the earthquake sequence began.

I spoke mainly to principals and wrote a few notes. They are obviously only impressions from a short visit but I thought they would be useful to share, especially for those of us who don’t live and work in Canterbury.

The first thing to emphasise is that just as ‘The Press’ reported last month that only 10% of the rebuild was so far complete, quake-related problems in schools are by no means over either. Instead they trundle on and on and manifest in different ways over time.

A central problem is that many staff are exhausted after years of dealing with the problems at school as well as their own family and housing problems. As one principal put it, ‘There’s not a lot left in the tank’. It’s been hard for principals to get a proper break too. In the post-quakes scramble for attention and resources they needed to be constantly available at the end of a phone.

I was told that at a recent event for Christchurch schools, the amount and quality of work was down 20% on what schools had submitted in the past. While the pressures have been relentless, those who work in schools don’t complain much. In Christchurch it is unexceptional to have quake-related problems.

On the fourth anniversary of the initial quake, ‘The Press’ reported that babies born that fateful day in Christchurch were thriving. That may be so, but principals reported that many of the children arriving at school over the last few years have presented extra challenges.

Oral language skills have declined, perhaps telling a story of parents being more distracted than usual. Children have also been less independent, suggesting parents being highly protective after the quakes.

With many stresses including anxieties around their children, Christchurch parents have also become more difficult for schools to deal with. Families are less invested in their local schools as many have had to move house permanently or at least temporarily. Parents often can’t afford the school trips and other extras they once could.

There is erratic behaviour and chippy attitudes from some parents that leave schools wondering ‘what was that all about?’ Sometimes parents have gone to the media and had their concerns blown out of proportion or ’spun’ in ways that are not constructive.

It is in the more middle class school settings that these changes are being felt the most. I visited a low socio-economic school on the eastern side of the city where life for families has long been highly uncertain anyway.

For many Christchurch families the way forward in creating social mobility for ones children is not as certain as it once was. Old rules of middle class advantage that had come with living in particular parts of the city are being rewritten. Some schools are closing and others have become unusually oversubscribed as new housing developments have sprung up.

In this situation there is often increasing competition between schools. Zoning and enrolling children from beyond the ‘natural’ catchment of schools has become a concern for many principals. Most are still seeing the ‘bigger picture’ of education in Christchurch but some prefer to mostly focus on what is good for their own particular school.

Adding fuel to the fire is that some schools have been rebuilt with flash new ‘modern learning environments’ while others are going to have to wait years to get the same treatment, or won’t at all.

How do those in Christchurch schools view the Government’s response to the educational problems caused by the earthquakes? As a mixed bag but generally with scepticism.

Putting schools into voluntary clusters was a positive move but one that was overtaken by the ‘reorganisation’ of Christchurch schools. This revealed an appalling lack of consultation and was also a communications fiasco. One principal described ‘watching grown men cry’ as principals realised that they had been gathered together to tell them which of their schools were to be ‘winners’ or ‘losers’ after the quakes.

The Interim Response Fund has worked quite well for getting support with some children with extra needs. But the specialised psychological, speech and language and occupational therapy help that children need is hard to access. The Ministry isn’t seen to have the answers to ‘mainstreaming’ children with special needs yet the McKenzie Special School has been closed.

Some schools have staffing levels guaranteed as their rolls drop off before closure. This is a great arrangement in vulnerable communities. But others don’t have the same deal. It leaves some teachers preoccupied with looking for replacement jobs.

An extraordinary amount of school leadership time has needed to be spent on matters to do with buildings, grounds and services. Prefabs come and go. Classrooms are deemed unserviceable and then suitable. Regular ‘5YA’ funding for upgrading buildings has been discontinued during the rebuild.

I think we should admire the efforts being made in all Christchurch schools and not become overly distracted by the shiny new developments in some of them. The context of earthquake recovery is bringing new opportunities but primary education in Christchurch is unlikely to be out of the woods anytime soon.

The schools still need more support in all sorts of ways.  Extra staffing, more specialist support and more attention to inequities within the educational market that is continuing to evolve in Christchurch would all make a difference.

– Martin Thrupp

Professor Thrupp works at the University of Waikato and has expertise in Social class and education; the impact of managerialism and performativity in schools; school choice and competition; international policy borrowing; contextualised approaches to educational leadership. 

Kids at the Heart Of Education – Nationwide Speaking Tour

*** LATEST DATES & VENUES LISTED HERE ***

 

 

kids at the heart - greens

At these events, Green Party MPs and guest speakers will discuss how our schools as community hubs plan can help schools play an even greater role in engaging families and ensuring a great education is accessible to all children.

 

Auckland

30th April 6-7.30pm (Join or follow this event of Facebook)

Green Party Education Spokesperson Catherine Delahunty

17 Mercury Lane, Newton Auckland

You are invited to “Meet Your Greens” with Green MP Catherine Delahunty. We have organised a get-together in the Auckland Greens’ office, and everyone is welcome to come along.

Catherine will speak about how the Green Party can help schools play an even greater role in ensuring a great education is accessible to all children. She will also speak about her extensive history of community and environmental activism and how this influences her work in Parliament.

We also look forward to hearing from you about the issues that you and your community hold most dear for you.

Seating is limited, please RSVP to deirdre.sims@parliament.govt.nz

 

Lower Hutt

Tuesday 15 April, 7.30pm (Join or follow this event of Facebook)

Green Party Education Spokesperson Catherine Delahunty, and local MP Holly Walker

Lower Hutt Tramping Club

Birch Street, Waterloo

With special guest Julia Milne, founder and co-ordinator of Epuni’s Common Unity Project.

 

Invercargill

Saturday 12 April, 7.30pm (Join or follow this event on Facebook)

Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei and Education Spokesperson Catherine Delahunty

Oreti Room, Ascot Park Hotel

Corner or Tay Street and Racecourse Road

 

Christchurch

Friday 11 April, 5.30pm (Join or follow this event on Facebook)

Green Party Education Spokesperson Catherine Delahunty

Upper Riccarton Library Community Meeting Room

71 Main South Road, Sockburn.

With special guest Liz Gordon, local Christchurch education activist and researcher.

 

*** ADDITIONAL DATES & VENUES LISTED HERE ***

 

Other meetings

Further meetings are being organised for Gisborne, Tauranga, Thames, Whakatane, Whangarei, Rotorua, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Whanganui, West Auckland, South Auckland, and Palmerston North.  I will share those details as they are finalised.  

You may also want to follow Catherine Delahunty on Facebook so that you hear about these and other events that way just follow the link and click on the follow icon, top right.

I would love to hear back from people who attend, with their thoughts on what they heard.

~ Dianne

 

School closures about saving Hekia, not kids

The National Government’s decision to merge Phillipstown and Woolston
schools is another disaster for Christchurch and proves this Government is
more interested in saving face than in what is best for children, the Green
Party said today.

“Hekia Parata’s stubborn refusal to budge on her closure plans is a
tragedy for the children who fought so desperately for their school to remain
open,” Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.

“This is about Hekia Parata trying to save face after a litany of
back-downs, U-turns and policy failures, but it’s come at the expense of
hundreds of little children and their families.

“The children of Christchurch have become a scapegoat for Hekia Parata’s
incompetence.

“Even in the last few days, evidence has emerged that the second round of
consultation over the closure plans has not been fair, or accurate.

“This is not a ‘new decision’, as the Minister claims. She went in to
this second so-called consultation process with her eyes closed and her mind
made up.

“From the very beginning Hekia Parata lost sight of what was the best
decision for the children of Christchurch and has set out to use the
earthquakes to reinforce her hard right agenda to damage and dismantle public
education.

“If she had really listened, and engaged in proper consultation from the
beginning, the children of Phillipstown and Woolston would have had some
certainty, instead many have found themselves fighting the very person who
should have been working in their interests.

“The Green Party stands with the communities of Phillipstown and Woolston
and wishes them well in their attempts to do what’s best for their kids,”
Ms Delahunty said.

headdesk

Festival of Education is a glittering cover for something very ugly

While there are some admirable people appearing at the festival they come from a very narrow band of what New Zealand education is about, says Kelvin Smythe:

“There will be no dissonance at the festival only a sheen of commercialism and one side of education on smooth display.

“There will also be people there from naivety: gulled if they think this travesty is about education or a festival.

“I felt nauseated at the dishonesty of the programme and the purposes of the festival.

“Heading it, of course, is  that academic tricky-dicky John Hattie.

dodgy clown “The real purpose of the festival is to promote the commercial interests of Cognition and Core in association with ideological ones of the government.

“Cognition and Core are being positioned, as part of wider government policy, on contract, to take over many of the roles of the ministry.

“This positioning is being undertaken as part of the government’s cluster and executive principal policy.

“Cognition and Core are to move into the clusters with their own employees also with the expert teachers as part of their armoury.

“Those planning the policy are confident the razzle-dazzle from Cognition and Core will be too much for parents, boards of trustees, and principals to combat – anyway they won’t have any choice.

“Schools will be contracted to submit to Cognition and Core policies.

“A longer term aim is to have larger classes through highly computerised classrooms using programmes purchased through Pearson and other multi-national companies.

“This is your standardised, anti-democratic future – this is about the minds of the children of New Zealand being filched for ideological purposes.

“John Hattie has for long been connected with Cognition and, it seems, not averse to considering imposing policy on schools against their will (Inaugural speech).

“I am particularly disturbed at the use of children stage performing at such a dishonest happening; they are, in my eyes, being sullied.

“Also the arts.

“The whole thing has a decadence to it – a sense of the Gatsby.

“This is about business people seeking the main chance.

“It is not about education because education in a democracy should be about the free exchange of ideas.

“There is much to celebrate about New Zealand education but there is nothing to celebrate in this charade of excess.

“A charade brought you by two commercial companies and the ministry in venomous association.

“And now the ultimate: education money has gone into this festival obscenity – money that could have gone into helping children with special needs, more teachers to help children with their reading, more money to compensate at school for children’s home backgrounds – yet this money has gone into a mammoth propaganda exercise intended to put public schools more under the heel of those driven by imported education ideologies.

“They are dancing on the struggles of our wonderful public schools; celebrating their imminent demise with displays of reckless financial abandon – and smirking as Hekia did in parliament last week when talking of this terrible thing.

by Kelvin Smythe – for more of Kelvin’s thoughts, go here.

The world had dug us a very deep hole – Lewis MacDonald

Sometimes only a child can say something just the right way, and this is one of those times.  Lewis MacDonald of Christchurch wrote this for an assembly to commemorate the 3rd anniversary of the big earthquake:

speech marksThree years ago when the door was the haven from the crumbling floor, our strength was strained and courage crushed, beams buckled, buildings broke, we needed a light. After the earthquake, aftershocks struck, liquefaction leaked along with our stories. Cats ran, dogs strayed and howled, hoarders gathered their shattered treasures off the ground. The world had dug us a very deep hole. There were casualties, and in our hearts were scars for life.

But cities are like puzzles, except you choose the pieces to fill the holes, and the more people helping the faster it grows. Now is the time to think about what piece you will or already have contributed to help this city get on its feet!speech marks end

By Lewis MacDonald
Year 8
Clarkville School, Christchurch, NZ

Beautifully said, Lewis.  Kia kaha Christchurch.

flowers in cone Christchurch

Wanganui 1: Christchurch 0 – the education game

So, Christchurch schools were forced to close  because of falling rolls…

But Wanganui Collegiate, in an area with 1400+ unused school places, is given bailout after bailout.

Guess which of these schools was a private school?

Guess which was rescued from debts of over $800k despite having assets worth millions?

Guess which had rolls that were growing?

Yet more evidence of the way this government favours private business over public schools and looks after the top few at the expense of the majority of ordinary New Zealanders.  Shame on them.

And who wants to join me in betting that Wanganui is a charter school within a couple of years, with higher level decile 3 funding and not much oversight?  I’m willing to put a tenner on it right now.

Labour - education and inequality 2

politicians and private schools

Dom Post quake hekia cartoon

Private not better than public schools

Education Minister & Ministry: Ombudsman Unimpressed

The Ombudsman’s annual report is out, along with a summary in the Office’s spring newsletter, and it makes for some rather disconcerting reading.

OIA - Official InformationTo my mind, it speaks volumes about the workings of this current government that the Ombudsman’s Office is dealing with “a 29 percent increase in complaints and other work coming in compared with the previous reporting year”

and that the Office “received and completed the highest ever number of complaints and other contacts about state sector agencies.”

Add to that the fact that “Official information complaints increased overall by 92% this year” and you have yourself something to seriously ponder over.

The complexity of the issues regarding the way Christchurch school closures and mergers have been dealt with is such that the Ombudsman has had to extend its review period in order to gather all the relevent information:

“Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem is continuing her investigation into the way in which the Ministry of Education undertakes consultation on school closures and mergers. 

While the information gathering stage is mostly completed, and many affected schools have taken the opportunity to meet with investigators assisting the Chief Ombudsman, the complexity of the issues have necessitated an extended period of review. Dame Beverley is currently working with the Ministry of Education in order to assure herself that she has all information needed to form robust conclusions. This requires a number of further meetings and interviews with key Ministry staff.

It is important to bear in mind that any aspects of the processes which occurred at the Minister’s direction, including actual decisions about individual schools, are outside the scope of the Chief Ombudsman’s investigation. Rather, the focus is on whether, over a range of closure and merger processes, the Ministry undertook fair and meaningful consultation within the confines of its role.”

Also of interest is the Ombudsman’s findings on the government’s refusal to release funding information relating to charter schools.  With a swift rap on the knuckles, the Ombudsman points out that, seeing as the decisions about how charters would be funded had been made when the request was made, there was no good reason to withhold the information.

Good to know the government is working honestly and openly for the good of all New Zealanders, isn’t it…  Tui.

Sources:

http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/ckeditor_assets/attachments/295/spring_ombudsman_oqr_2013_aw.pdf?1385454228

http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/newsroom/item/ombudsman-quarterly-review-spring-2013

More privatisation of public education.

Education about people, not profits

The National government’s agenda to corporatize and privatise the education system is becoming clearer by the day, Labour says.

“Not content with introducing privately run charter schools, the Government is now considering using Public Private Partnerships for all of the school rebuilding work required in Christchurch,” Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins said.

“Clearly there is no limit to the National Party’s profit-making ambitions when it comes to education. They’re even willing to use the Canterbury earthquakes as an excuse to corporatize and privatise schooling.

dollars“PPPs will take the power away from local communities and hand it straight to private and corporate interests. They will see money that should be going into education instead being paid out in shareholder dividends.

“Decisions around school rebuilds should be based on what’s best for education, not what’s going to maximise profits for the private sector,” Chris Hipkins said.

Labour’s Associate Education spokesperson Megan Woods is concerned that local schools in Christchurch are being shut out of critical decisions being made around the rebuild.

“Hekia Parata made it very clear in Parliament today that the local Christchurch community will have no right of veto over the use of PPPs for school rebuilds.

“It’s yet another example of people in Christchurch having central government decisions imposed on them without ever having the chance to have a meaningful say.

“Our local communities in Christchurch could end up with new buildings they have little or no control over the use of. That is not right,” Megan Woods said.

Christchurch population grows, so why the school closures?

Further evidence Christchurch education plan driven by ideology

Census figures showing that more than half the communities in Christchurch facing school closures have grown in population is further evidence that the government’s plans are based on ideology, not what’s best for children and communities.

NZEI National President Judith Nowotarski says the government has clearly  rushed its flawed plans for Christchurch education.

“This once again points to what we have been saying all along – that Christchurch children are being used as guinea pigs for a radical shift in education.

“Decisions on things like supersized schools – putting years 1-13 on one campus – along with the excessive number of mergers and closures have been made for political and ideological reasons rather than educational ones.

“It’s clearly something the government would like to roll out in other parts of the country

“NZEI, along with many other organisations, has asked the government on numerous occasions to support the current needs of Christchurch children and to slow down the changes.

“Instead, this radical overhaul is being pushed through before any heed is taken of the population trends or the real needs of Christchurch children and their families.

“Once again we ask the government to stop using Christchurch as an experiment and to go back and start the consultation process again, and this time do it properly, based on the needs of Christchurch children and their families, not on an ideological experiment.”

Phillipstown, Christchurch, meet Cedar, Canada. You two have much in common…

Global reforms are just that.  Global.  The same damage is being inflicted worldwide to schools in large and small communities, causing distress and doing nothing to improve education.  Often quite the opposite.

This is Cedar, a small community in Canada.  I only heard about Cedar because my gorgeous friend James lives there.  James isn’t a political soul.  Or he wasn’t … until the GERM arrived in Cedar and started on his local schools:

cedar schools

James writes:

Our school district wants to close down four schools in our community.

They’ve already voted to do so based on untruths and lack of information regarding the closures on the community as a whole. We’re a rural community.

They used to bus the grades 8-12 out of here to schools in town because there was no high school in Cedar. So they built one. Now they want to close all the elementary schools, merge them into one of 500 students, house them in the high school and bus the high school kids into town again!

It would be a stab in the heart for the community as a whole.

There are a lot of people not happy about this.

Closing schools?  Merging schools?  Leaving students to travel long distances?  And all against the community’s wishes?  Cedar, you really do need to speak to the good people of Christchurch, and in particular follow the Phillipstown School court case.

Kay says:

for young children to negotiate the Ferry Rd/Aldwins Road intersection [in Chch] always has me cringe since some years ago I witnessed a 10 yr old girl get crushed under the wheels of a giant truck as she cycled from school— this intersection could not be safely used with out direct supervision and who will the volunteers be — unpaid — because the dept wants to super school and destroy a community

Help Phillipstown School

A Campaign Fund for Phillipstown School legal challenge has been setup It is called WE ARE PHILLIPSTOWN.  The bank account for donations is ANZ 06-0807-0114631-75

Help Cedar Schools

You can stay follow and help Cedar schools’ campaign here:

Good luck to all concerned and to everyone out there fighting reforms that put children and learning behind money and politics.  The GERM is multiplying fast, but with loud and active enough parents and educators, it can be sterilised.

~ Dianne

 

Why Are Kiwis Taking To The Streets?

They are mighty pigged off, that’s why.

This Saturday, 13th April, thousands of teachers, parents, students and other supporters up and down New Zealand will march to protest some very disconcerting things that are afoot in GodZone.

What are we protesting?  Well I’m glad you asked.

Charter schools:  The government is hell bent on bringing in charter schools despite massive resistance and rafts of evidence that they just do not improve achievement, least of all for minority groups.  They are pushing an ideology that will privatise public schools.  No amount of questioning elicits from the government or Catherine Isaac any answers on just how charters will improve anything.

They have no answers – there are no answers.  The evidence is very firmly against them.  

Community involvement is not guaranteed in charter schools (goodbye BOT), teachers can be untrained, money paid to run the schools can be skimmed off as profit.  That’s your tax $$$ going not to resources of trained staff or even to pay for the building – just taken out as profit by the business owner.  Nice.

The largest study of charter schools, by CREDO,  showed that 47% of children did worse in the charter than in the local public school.  Only 17% did better.  Is that worth the cost, both financially and to communities?  I think not.

National Standards and Testing:  Teachers test all the time – we have to, to know where kids are and where to take them next.  Tests are best if acted on speedily by the teacher, to inform their practice.  National standards do nothing to inform teachers – indeed they eat up time best spent teaching or doing more useful testing.  National Standards do not look at the progress a child has (or has not) made, it merely pegs them against a standard that has been deemed to be about right for their age.  This is of no use to the child, to the parents, or to the teacher.  Each student is different – what matters most is not where they are in relation to their peers but how they are progressing.

Add to this the growing and very real concerns that the tests used to determine students’ levels are faulty and are giving inflated results, and we have a huge, huge problem.

Teachers’ Pay and Conditions:  You might think this is about Novopay; it’s not.  The Secretary of Education wants authority to change teachers’ pay and work conditions without consultation.  Like you turning up to work and finding your contract had been rewritten and there’s nothing you can do about it.  Nice eh?  Why would the SoE want to do that, you ask?  Most likely so that performance pay can be brought in.

Performance pay is an anathema to teaching.  By its very nature, teaching is collaborative, it means working in a team to get the best for the students.  The minute performance pay rears its head, that begins to change.  Why share your resources with someone who just got a pay rise when you got none?  Why agree to have more than your fair share of the trickier students if it might impact your wages?  Where it has been implemented, abroad, it has lead to some desperate teachers exaggerating test scores, and so on.  It’s human nature, and has been documented widely by many reliable researchers, including those at the OECD.  We just don’t want that.  We want to continue working together as a team within our school and with other schools in the wider community for the kids.

Christchurch school closures and mergers:  The schools in Christchurch just did not get a fair hearing.  Information was and still is being withheld by the authorities, preventing schools from being able to put up accurate arguments against the proposals.   Dame Beverley Wakem has deemed the Christchurch schools closures and mergers consultation process to be questionable enough to warrant an investigation.  No-one is arguing nothing needed to change post-quake.  But even schools with growing roles and good quality buildings and sites have been earmarked to go.  It makes no sense.

Christchurch has been bullied, there is no other term for it.  And teachers do not like bullies.

It’s time to say NO.

It’s time to insist it remains about the children and not about ideology.

It’s time to demand that changes are research based and not done on the whim of a one-man political party.

It’s time to include community MORE in schools, not less.

Join us – come and show your support.

school-protest-leeds-001

Read more:

 On the Christchurch debacle

On CREDO’s charter school research

On National and ACT’s agreement to bring in charter schools

Protests – times and places

Parata did “a pretty good job” consulting Christchurch schools. Tui.

Why is information being withheld?

Why is information being withheld?

Ach, just when you think you have heard it all, Hekia manages to open her mouth and spew forth another gem.

Despite Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem deeming the Christchurch schools closures and mergers consultation process to be questionable enough to warrant an investigation, Hekia is yet again flying in the fact of the facts.

An Ombudsman’s probe last year found the ministry “acted wrongly” in  how it handled official information requests on proposals affecting Christchurch schools.

But there’s nothing at all wrong and nothing to worry about at all, apparently.

No, Hekia says it’s all good:  “Ms Parata says she did everything she could.”

In fact she goes one further and says that the process was ” a pretty good job”.   Source

Sorry?

Run that by me again.

” a pretty good job”

WOW!

Tell that to the schools, parents and others who tried to get information through the OIA and were fobbed off.

The teachers’ union, NZEI, put out a statement yesterday saying “We also hope the Minister of Education is prepared to listen seriously to the Chief Ombudsman’s findings and engage with Christchurch school communities in a way that is more respectful and credible than in the past.

It’s not looking promising, is it, NZEI, let’s be honest.

And it’s not just Christchurch schools that have been rail-roaded by Hekia and the Ministry – Salisbury School for special needs girls has been treated despicably, too,  and now – having won a court case to halt its closure – is finding the Ministry is employing underhand tactics that will see it close eventually anyway.  Truly, these actions are not just despicable  they are quite possibly illegal, too.

top secretChristchurch schools have to have their submissions in tomorrow.  The inquiry is to be done the second half of the year.  Many commentators have pointed out that the Ombudsman’s investigation could well lead to legal challenges once decisions are announced regarding those schools.

This is no way for a democracy to run.

This is no way to treat our communities, our children, our education staff or our parents.

If there is a true and rigorous reason for a school to close, so be it.  If that is the case then there should be no need for hiding facts, refusing to share information, obfuscation and downright lies.

So why, Hekia?  Why are you treating schools this way?

And who is next?

*****************

Anyone who has information relevant to the investigation should contact the Ombudsman:

– Telephone on 0800 802 602,

– File an online complaint at www.ombudsman.parliament.nz

– Email info@ombudsman. parliament.nz

__________________

Read more

 The Press – Ombudsman probe into 5 years of school closures

Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Whanau Tahi welcome investigation

The NZ Herald – Ombudsman to investigate Education Ministry’s handling of closures

How to lodge a complaint with The Ombudsman (NZ)

Campbell Live’s investigation into the MoE’s treatment of Salisbury School.

Save Our Schools Christchurch

Christchurch School Closures and Mergers – the video

Christchurch schools are being done over – even those will GROWING rolls are being closed or merged.

You need to ask yourselves why.

Why close so many schools when 15 schools are scheduled to be built?

And while you ponder what is really going on, watch this:

Thank you to Simon Kenny for sharing this with me.

Kia kaha.

 

 

 

Follow Save Our Schools NZ on WordPress.com

Category list:

StatCounter

%d bloggers like this: