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?