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Latest education stuffup quickest U-turn ever

Written By: - Date published: 10:12 pm, September 13th, 2012 - 37 comments
Categories: national, schools - Tags: , ,

Hot on the heels of the chaotic back-down over class sizes, I think we’ve just witnessed the quickest U-turn in the history of politics. In early coverage:

Thirteen Christchurch schools set to close

The Government is set to close 13 Canterbury schools and merge another 18 in an overhaul of the education sector in the area.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Education Minister Hekia Parata this afternoon announced a $1 billion suite of changes to education in Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri.

It includes a proposal to close 13 schools in the greater Christchurch area affected by the February 22 earthquake. Another 18 schools will be involved in mergers. Ms Parata said the closures and mergers were part of an effort to deliver better services to Canterbury students.

Later that afternoon accounts were updated:

A misleading announcement by the Ministry of Education over the future of Christchurch schools has caused widespread confusion and anger.

Plans were announced this afternoon to close 13 schools across Canterbury and merge a further 18 in a major overhaul of the region’s education sector.

The plans included merging Shirley Boys’ High School with Christchurch Boys’ High and Avonside Girls’ High School with Christchurch Girls’ High School.

But in a startling about-face, the ministry later reneged on these plans, releasing a statement saying there were “no firm proposals to merge or close Christchurch high schools”.

Blaming a “misleading announcement” from the Ministry? That’s so transparent I could build myself a conservatory. According to the first piece this announcement was made by Brownlee and Parata. Parata is quoted to the effect that “the closures and mergers were part of an effort to deliver better services to Canterbury students”. Clearly a rationale for closures that were expected to occur. And now they’re trying to pretend it was an accident and blame some hapless official?

Not buying it. This has “Typical Nat Stuffup” written all over it in neon letters. Quickest U-turn ever.

Update:  And this morning it seems that closures and mergers are back on again. “Principals in tears as ministry swings axe”. Does anyone know what is going on?

37 comments on “Latest education stuffup quickest U-turn ever”

  1. Dv 1

    Brownlie is a CHC resident he should know a little about chch schools.

    BUT SURELY some one in the ministry MUST have noticed and said Hey what about….

    bizzare

  2. mike 2

    This is a bit weird. At face value it looks like clear evidence that NAct ministers have no clue about their own policies. That they are just reading whatever piece of paper their media puts in front of them.

    Gotta love the irony of this gleefully dropped in by the 3news article: “In the initial release from the ministry, Mr Brownlee said it was important the Government “[takes] the time to get this right”.”

  3. Dv 3

    >> NAct ministers have no clue about their own policies.

    Parata does not have a handle on the education portfolio. Witness to continuous parroting of lines, especially in the class size turn uturn.

    And the other problem is Langstone has no nz background, seems does not listen to her staff.

    IThat two strikes now.

  4. McFlock 4

    The pre-quake growing christchurch enrollment has only dropped by 3 or 4 thousand students ( 61194 in 2010, 57528 in 2011). 13 schools + significant decreases in rolls in a further 18? 
          
    The devil will be in the june 2012 enrollment levels, but this sounds like an ill-considered or at the very least “back of the envelope” idea. And doesn’t bode well for the government’s hopes for a ChCh recovery (but then if the govt were attacked by awareness of its own ability, it wouldn’t have much hope for the rest of NZ, either).

  5. Blue 6

    I recall reading something about frustrated Nats wanting to lash out by causing trouble. And now, two fuckups by Gerry in as many days. Seems he might be a little discontented.

    Parata is just a moron.

    • Dr Terry 6.1

      Blue, the terrible thing is that Parata is actually highly educated but still acts like a moron!

      • bbfloyd 6.1.1

        So how many over educated morons does that make sitting on nationals front bench doctor? ……

        It’s starting to look like we are being herded along the path to the cliff behind a very well maintained, and coiffed mob of sheep…..the sheepdogs being the actual owners of our sovereignty…. Corporate head office…..

      • higherstandard 6.1.2

        Being highly educated is no guarantee that one is not a buffoon.

        • gareth 6.1.2.1

          You can’t teach that most valuable of attributes… Common Sense…

          • NickS 6.1.2.1.1

            Actually you can, it’s called “critical thinking” 😛

            It’s just something that has to be hammered into students to apply it to things outside of their subject area as well. Otherwise people just compartmentalise, and you end up with highly educated people who talk total shit about science etc

            (fun = biochemistry major who thinks evolution is wrongzors, despite being exposed to all the messy details of biology)

            • McFlock 6.1.2.1.1.1

              reminds me of a chap next to me in a law lecture once – the lecturer was talking about the history of law and how it essentially a social construct, and the chap next to me wrote on his notes in block caps, triple underlined “what about god?!?!”. 
                       

  6. Gruntie 7

    Is NAct trying to Create a crisis which they can then “fix” with more charter schools?

  7. higherstandard 8

    Two oxygen thieves.

    nuf said

  8. Parata was on tv3 this morning saying that these closures are being considered
    accross the country, so all are regions and small towns should be worried.

  9. marsman 10

    I heard that Bill English dictates the Education Portfolio policies, go figure. Tolley and Parata are merely moronic puppets.

  10. Carol 11

    Unbelievable. Just listening on RNZ Nine-to-Noon to a head of a school with little quake damage, now earmarked for closure. Her story of the handling of the announcements and how she was informed, points to monumental mismanagement and disrespect for the heads and their schools. Clumsy, lack of information…. Parata’s head should roll!

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/20120914

  11. Rodel 12

    Don’t worry. That nice knight Sir John Key assisted by Sir Gerry will ride in on their white horses and fix the mess created by those silly people in the Ministry of Education and ensure the undying gratitude of the people of Christchurch.

  12. Rob A 13

    My kids primary school is one of those due to close, along with the next closest.

    I can’t understand the thinking here, they are both undamaged from the quakes and my kids school roll has gone up because we are on the lucky side of town. And we have subdivisions going in nearby shortly. I suspect it’s all about the land they are sitting on and the dollars they are worth. I wonder if King Gerry is getting his cut from the developers

    • Carol 13.1

      On Nine-to-noon, a spokeswoman for the Ministry admitted they are taking the opportunity to restructure the whole of Christchurch schools, allegedly with an eye to the long term future.

    • NickS 13.2

      There’s one primary school I’m not sad to see closed though, and that’s Hammersley.

      Despite having the main special needs centre for that part of Christchurch, the school had and by all accounts still has a shit attitude towards bullying.

  13. Dv 14

    One of the factors about the earthquakes is how the school sector worked together to get through some very difficult times.
    AND this is their thanks.

    No consultation and just dumped upon.

    IT IS JUST DISGRACEFUL.

    I wonder if it will stick?

  14. mike 15

    WTF! What a mess. The video in the ‘Update’ link in worth a watch. Shirley Boy’s principal doesn’t hold back with his ‘get a clue’ message.

    • ianmac 15.1

      On Nine to Noon Mckintyre Principal Boys High was very relaxed about the plans. He is confident about his survival and dismisses any possibility with a merger with Shirley Boys. He seemed very smoothed about the whole program. Sounded very approving and supportive of Parata and Ministry.

  15. Robert M 17

    Clearly if you don’t go to Christs, St Andrews, Rangi Ruru or St Mags you count for nothing with the Nats. English and Finnalyson were allowed to get there cheap Catholic revenge on the Christchurch protestants. During the 2002 campaign, Bill English was quoted in Christchurch as saying Christchurch was Auckland for beginners.’
    One conclusion would be that the Ministry of Education hate Parata even more than Tolley. I can’t believe even Ann Tolley would have been stupid enough to deliver this load of shit.
    Mallards reorganisation of Timaru and Invercargill schools seemed effectively designed to destroy the best schools and effectively took Clark’s government out of office, on massive regional backlashes. More than ironically it was my old TBHS schoolmates , now headmasters that Mallard seemed most keen to destroy.
    Even Parata seemed to realise after five minutes that the whole project seemingly designed to destroy elite public education in mostly white Christchurch was indefensible. How could Brownlie keep a straight face and MC this hatchet job on the better face of Christchurch . Both my Nephews got scholarships at Shirely Boys and went on to firsts in half the usual time at the University of Canterbury and doctorates at ANU and Melbourne. Both of course were the sons of a teenage DPB.

    • prism 17.1

      robert m
      Good one. Especially the teenage DPB triumph. And NACTs seem to want to run down Christchurch and its amenities like education for all despite all the hoo-ha over business. The city is it’s people, empty buildings without people might as well be a movie lot. There are quite a few NACTs from that part of the country, are they thinking of setting Christchurch up as their city, as an alternative city to Wellington that is run to the requirements of local farmers and property speculators/investors?

      And I was remembering Mallard showing little concern for pupils during his restructuring. There were also cut school bus routes and force kids to ride bikes along busy highways. Doesn’t either of the main parties care about the people they are supposed to be serving?

  16. prism 18

    An education spokesperson Pippi Bluestocking said this morning it was all a misunderstanding and some things that were proposals only were taken as firm proposals and some things that were firm proposals shouldn’t be considered as that now until there was a technical report. Or words to that effect.

    Have to give her a handclap though for a cool explanation and equilibrium remained throughout the questioning. Is there a school for this sort of behaviour? Polly Benefit has been to it too.

    I guess all the ‘aspirational’ people in Christchurch didn’t like the idea of the ‘classes’ being muddied. And indeed if some of those big schools got amalgamated they would turn into factory style learning needing conveyer belts to pass the thousands of students between destinations. To those attending some might get lost in the mass of people. Less human interaction.

    • Rodel 18.1

      Prism asks:
      ‘Is there a school for this sort of behaviour?’
      Yes. Its called Frank Luntz..and his focus groups….an odious spin-man for the Republicans.Google him. His book, ‘Words that Work’ explains all.

    • millsy 18.2

      And the kids at the bottom would be quietly pushed into junk courses so the NCEA grades look good…

  17. millsy 19

    An unintended concequence of Tomorrow’s Schools. While more power was given to schools, they were left at the mercy of a centralised Wellington bearaucracy that could close or merge them at will. The Mallard Axe during the mid 2000’s is a chilling reminder of that, with dozens of schools in the terrible purgatory that is the Treaty Settlement landbank, falling apart with help from the criminal element. (Mallard should think about the schools that the ministry of education have sold off a a result of this before shooting off his mouth about asset sales).

    Mallard’s Labour predecessors in the education portfolio, Russell Marshall, and of course one David Russell Lange conspired to dismantle the elected regional education boards, which enabled decisions about education to be made close to the communities that were affected by them (and also facilitated the dirty words of ‘collaboration’ and ‘co-operation’). That was a move that even arch-decentralist Allan Peachey (RIP) lamented in his public education manifesto.

    It must also be said, that while Labour closed dozens of schools under Mallard, National closed dozens of schools in poorer areas during the 1990’s, though that was more a result of them earlier starving them of funds and expertise (through the aforementioned dismantling of the education boards and the old Department of Education’s support services), it was then able to label them as ‘dysfunctional’, and then close them down.

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