I went to a briefing when Anne Tolley was Minister of Education about the Christchurch education review. It was great, as a local MP, to get a briefing in advance of an announcement. The Minister was really clear that this was a review looking at taking positive opportunities from the earthquakes to improve educational outcomes. I remember a phrase she used which was that it was about how education was delivered, not where. She talked about collaboration and innovation. Well, we are certainly up for that conversation. But instead of innovation, we have had bizarre mergers and school closures. The new Minister has talked about earthquake damaged land and buildings and about depopulation in areas. These factors don’t apply to the six schools that are merging in my electorate. The population in four areas is stable and roll numbers increasing. In the other two, the residents are returning as their homes are repaired and rebuilt. I think they will bring their children home with them. None of the concerns the Minister talked about fit my schools. These schools are the heart of their communities. They have been the one place of stability for staff, students, their families and the broader school community over the last two years. They have been lifesavers. And now three of them are proposed for closure ( which is what merger is). The centre of our communities are going to go. The Minister said not one word about improved educational outcomes for our children. That’s what this should be about. And she hasn’t answered so many questions. Like is this a backdoor way of pushing more children into our classrooms? Or about selling land to fill the hole in the Budget caused by the backdown on the increased class size issue? But if it’s not about improving education then why do it? We have had enough change, hurt, dislocation and disempowerment. Our teachers and our local schools have been our rocks. We want them to stay. Leave them alone to do the fantastic job they have been doing. Listen to our communities. And put our children first.
Posted by Ruth Dyson on September 18th, 2012