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Minister of Miseducation fails test

Minister of Miseducation fails test

The Green Party is asking the Minister of Education to prove to parents, teachers and pupils that it is justified in closing at least 300 schools over the next ten years.

Green Co-leader, Rod Donald had officially requested information from the minister regarding capital spending on schools in nine regions currently under review. The minister had previously provided information for the Mosgiel-Taieri, Invercargill and Grey Valley review areas but has just refused to provide the same information for nine other regions, claiming 'The work involved...will disrupt the opportunity for consultation".

The regions the minister is refusing disclose information on are: Timaru, Upper Hutt, Taihape, Okato (Taranaki), South Egmont, Wairoa, Matakaoa (East Coast), Central Northland and Russell Peninsula.

Mr Donald said the minister had also refused to provide full information on the population projections that were being used to justify the closures.

"The minister fails the test of responsible government on every count," said Mr Donald. "He has a duty to make public the facts and figures behind any act as severe as closing such an integral part of the community as the local school.

"Instead, he unfairly refuses to disclose vital information that would enable communities to fight these unwarranted closures. Unlike Mr Mallard, I have attended the final assemblies for schools that are closing and the atmosphere is that of a funeral, with people grieving for the death of a close friend.

"It is absolutely outrageous that the Education Ministry has undertaken no research on the effect of school closures on the wider communities they have served for, in many cases, more than a hundred years.

"The proposed closures completely undermine the government's regional development strategy. It is spending hundreds of millions to encourage job creation in regions outside of Auckland but is destroying the very infrastructure that makes those communities viable and attractive places to live in.

"To claim, as the minister does, that the school review policy is not aimed at rural schools is disingenuous. The reality is that he's picking off rural and provincial schools first.

"We applaud any review that results in better opportunities for pupils, better services for the community and a higher standard of education. However, school closures must be based on research that takes into account both the social and financial costs involved and which is genuinely supported by the local community.

"Do your homework, Mr Mallard, and be prepared to share it with the rest of the class."

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