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Mallard Fails to Reduce School Suspensions

Mallard Fails to Reduce School Suspensions

Two percent of all New Zealand schools were responsible for thirty-five percent of last year's suspensions, ACT Education Spokesman Deborah Coddington said today.

"The latest Stand Down and Suspensions Report shows huge disparity between healthy schools and institutions in trouble. Three-quarters of New Zealand's 2,699 schools had absolutely no suspensions last year, while the remaining quarter had 4,937. Even more disturbing, two percent of schools (53) accounted for thirty-five percent (1,762) of suspensions.

"The figures that quietly slipped out of the Ministry of Education at 4pm today show Maori accounted for 49 per cent of suspensions last year year, but made up only 21 per cent of school students. That is exactly the same as the previous year. The Suspension Reduction Initiative - the one that Associate Education Minister Parekura Horomia said had "the aim of reducing the suspension rate of Maori students to that of non-Maori" has failed - across the 86 schools involved, the Maori suspension rate per 1,000 students remains ten percent higher than the total population rate.

"The authors of the Report have made a valiant effort to cleanse the report - for example, they forgot to compare Maori rates with those of the year before.

"But a careful reading will reveal that overall, neither suspensions nor stand-downs have reduced since 2001. Suspensions and stand-downs for lowest decile schools increased as a total, and as a rate per 1000 students. And when we look at the actions following a suspension, we find that twenty percent fewer children resumed schooling than in the previous year - that is truly shocking.

"There is no doubt that Education Minister Trevor Mallard is ashamed of these statistics. I'm not surprised he has taken the dishonourable route of quietly dumping the figures with no fanfare at 4pm on a Friday.

"This report shows, above all else, that there is a troubled core of Government-run schools which is in trouble. Zoning has locked children into attending these dysfunctional institutions. Labour's opposition to School Choice has blocked parents from getting their children out, and into better schools.

"Mr Mallard may cynically believe that his well-timed release will bury these figures. The saddest thing, is that Mallard's failure is felt most by New Zealand parents who couldn't care less how bad the Minister looks - they would just like to get a decent education for their child. Unlike Mr Mallard, we in ACT believe this Report deserves an audience. So we are providing a link to it on our website: www.act.org.nz/mallard ( http://www.act.org.nz/mallard) ," Miss Coddington said.

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