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Parata robbing from the poor to give to the rich

2 November 2012
Parata robbing from the poor to give to the rich

The government is so short of cash it can’t afford to keep special schools open or provide extra staffing for low decile schools – yet it seems to have a spare $3 million to prop up ailing private school Wanganui Collegiate.

The education minister - whose constant mantra has been the importance of raising achievement for Maori, Pasifika, special needs and low socio-economic students - today announced millions of dollars would be spent integrating a school that does not serve those most at risk into the state system, PPTA president Robin Duff said.

Wanganui Collegiate is a decile 10 school that, according to its 2011 ERO report, has no Pasifika students and only 11% Maori.

“That Hekia Parata could possibly think she is helping our most vulnerable by pouring millions into a school that serves society’s privileged defies belief. One would have to question whether she has actually lost the plot,” he said.

If the $3 million a year it is going to take for tax payers to prop up Wanganui Collegiate was spent on at risk students it could buy a lot – for example:

Extra staffing - $3 million a year could pay for one additional teacher in each decile 1-3 school above current staffing levels, so students in low socio-economic areas can also enjoy small class sizes and a more diverse curriculum.

Food in schools - $3 million a year could feed the 154,248 students identified by the Ministry of Health as going hungry at school.

Support for Maori learners - $3 million a year could go towards Te putting Kotahitanga into more schools – a programme which has made a real difference for many Maori learners but is in the process of being watered down and eventually phased out.

Keep the special schools open – It would cost $4.2 million a year to keep the residential schools for intellectually impaired and at-risk girls open. Three million would go a long way towards that.

AIMHI – over five years $4.5 million could restore and expand the Achievement in Multicultural High Schools (AIMHI) initiative which provided wrap around health and social services in decile 1 high schools.

The fact the money was instead going to a school that catered for the elite was “an example of corporate welfare of the worst kind and shows exactly where this government’s priorities really lie,” Duff said.

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