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Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 156

Christchurch
LABOUR MPs

6 December 2011

MEDIA STATEMENT

Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 156

A regular bulletin started by the Labour Party’s Christchurch team to keep people in their electorates and media informed about what is happening at a grass roots level.
As if communities and schools across central and eastern Christchurch haven’t enough to deal with, now the National Government has happily acquiesced to ACT’s demand to create charter schools in the quake-ravaged parts of the city.

This is a foot in the door to privatise schools, funded by taxpayers. It comes as schools across the eastern part of the city are reeling with roll losses of up to 20 per cent. This has meant losing up to a dozen staff at one school, with principals forced to issue redundancy notices because of cuts to next year’s funding. The message these schools needed from the Government was one of support. Instead, John Key is telling them they are failing schools, held captive by teachers.

That’s offensive to those who teach at a decile 1-4 school, as most are in eastern Christchurch. You face a whole array of other challenges before you can begin to teach in deprived areas. Yet the staff cuts include counsellors who help pupils address all the complex issues presented by growing up in poverty. The answer is not to create one or two charter schools which might, at best, cherry-pick some of the best and brightest and leave the rest behind. Already on Morning Report today, American educationalist and author Diane Ravitch, has said charter schools do not produce better results than state schools. She said if we want change, better to look at the well-resourced state school model of Finland. It’s not as if there is not already change within state schools. Look at the trades academies and other efforts to link pupils into vocational training. A request this morning to the Parliamentary Library has thrown up a number of reports, the first to arrive from Stanford University which found that in aggregate, students in charter schools do not fare as well as students in traditional public schools.

John Banks, riding into Parliament on ACTs grand total of 21,000 votes nationally, did not have to work hard to get the charter school concession. That’s because National is well-disposed towards charter schools as a step en route to its wish to bulk fund schools

A review of education provision across Christchurch was begun in October with commitments from Education Minister Anne Tolley that this was not about closing schools. Already communities have had their input. Now, they are being told that some will lose their state school or schools to a private provider. It makes a mockery of the consultation process to date. Central and eastern Christchurch school and communities did not vote for, and did not deserve to be chosen for this dodgy experiment in right wing dogma.

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