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Mallard Must Front Over Possible School Closures

Mallard Must Front Over Possible School Closures

Friday 5 Sep 2003 Deborah Coddington Press Releases -- Education

ACT New Zealand Education Spokesman Deborah Coddington today demanded that Education Minister Trevor Mallard keep his word to consult parents, Boards of Trustees and the wider community before closing any schools, in light of his announcement that the Education Ministry is to review the viability of Wairoa schools.

"The future of some, or all, of Wairoa's 23 schools is in doubt. The community must have confidence that they will be consulted should any schools be closed or merged, and that Labour will not continue its habit of closing schools without first listening to the concerns of parents and teachers, Miss Coddington said.

"The reality is that, sometimes, schools close or merge. But parents and BOTs should make that decision - not the Minister. Wairoa should be concerned about Mr Mallard's unbridled enthusiasm for closing schools. Until 1999, there were only one or two closures a year. Since Mr Mallard took office, around eight schools have closed a year - 33 in 2001 alone.

"School closures or merges will bring about dire consequences. Teachers will be forced to reapply for their jobs, children will have their education disrupted, and schools will inevitably lose some of their community support.

"East Coast MP Janet Mackey and Associate Education Minister Parekura Horomia must stand up for the community they purport to represent. Unfortunately, Labour MPs have a nasty habit of representing their caucus's decisions to the electorate, rather than vice versa. Both MPs have a duty to represent the concerns of the Wairoa community.

"If any schools are closed or merger, Mr Mallard must answer directly to parents - rather than cowering behind officials. If he closes schools, then he should have the courage to face parents and teachers in person. The community deserves to know how he justifies any move that will affect their children's education," Miss Coddington said.

ENDS


For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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