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National’s prioritises Education needs

2 November 2012 26 comments

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More craziness from National…

In a repeat of National’s cost-cutting and closure of  critical social services in the late 1990s, Education Minister Hekia Parata has announced the closure of  two very special; much needed, schools – Christchurch’s McKenzie Residential School and Nelson’s Salisbury Residential School,

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These are schools  which provide special education for children with severe behavioural difficulties. These are safe environments for children, who, because of their special needs, would find it difficult – impossible –  to cope in mainstream schools.

Despite most of  365 submissions opposing the closure of  McKenzie Residential School, the decision to close McKenzie and Salibury proceeded.

Which begs the question as to why bother making submissions when National rarely listens to a community.

As the decisionswere announced, Parata stated,

At the very heart of this difficult decision lies the opportunity to provide services and support for more children with complex needs in their local community.

The net result will be better support for more students and keeping communities together. I am satisfied that this combination of services will make sufficient provision for all children with special education needs both locally and nationally.

Our priority now is to ensure that every student currently enrolled in one of the schools closing has an individualised transition plan developed with them, their parents or caregivers, the residential school and their local school. That plan could be to support the student returning home and going to their local school with the wrap around service or to transfer to one of the residential special schools staying open.”

Source

She added,

We can link local services with the remaining residential provision to achieve a more personalised and high quality approach for children and their families.

Source

All of which is  meaningless drivel; platitudes to attempt to quell growing unease within two communities that they are losing two vital services from their areas.

National is promising something it calls a “wrap-around” service for children who are moved from McKenzie and Salisbury, to mainstream schools.

This blogger holds grave concerns for any such promises of  such a service.

In the 1990s, as Psychiatric Institutions closed, and their patients emptied into communities up and down the country, the-then Bolger-led National government promised extensive funding for  support services for  psychiatric patients.

That funding was nowhere as much as was promised or required, and ex-psych patients ended up living in public toilets; on the streets; and mostly with very little vital support.

Some ended up committing violent crimes.

National has a track record in closing down social services; making grandiose promises for funding alternative services – and failing to deliver.

This blogger predicts  precisely the same will happen in this situation. Ex-students of Salisbury and McKenzie will not recieve the support they require; they will end up being “excluded” (modern jargon for expelled) from mainstream schools; and will end up living at home with their parents.

This is utterly predictable.

Only a fool would believe liars such as the Education Minister and others within the National “government”. None of them can be trusted.

National carried out similar  policies in the late 1990s, which resulted in cutbacks to health, public housing, education, police, and other essential state services. All carried out in the name of  “efficiency”.

The result was a country in turmloil; National being thrown out of office on 27 November 1999, losing five seats, whilst Labour picked up twelve, and subsequently formed a new government. (Source)

One questions why two perfectly acceptable; well-run; community-based schools are facing closure? Why is National then planning (?) to spend heavily (?) on support workers for each child integrated into a mainstream school? What is the point of disrupting the lives of so many young, vulnerable children?

Is National so desperate to save money to balance it’s precious books that it is willing to take away a valuable resource for children with severe behavioural difficulties?

The mind of a government minister that can contemplate such a destructive act is perhaps more disturbed than the children at the centre of this tragedy.

Salisbury School is considering legal action – which this blogger supports 100%.  If the only persuasion that National will listen to is a Court injunction, then so be it.

Personal Story

In a previous blogpost – Once upon a time there was a solo-mum – I outlined the true-story of solo-mum, Sally*,  and her sons, Wayne*,  and Zack*. (* not real names)

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I referred to Sally’s younger son, Zack (11),

During her studies and part time job, Sally raised her two sons – one of whom was increasingly “challenging” with Aspergers and ADHD.

(This blogger can confirm that young Zack – whilst a bright, personable child – can also be “a handful”, and was effectively thrown out of his previous school for “disruptive behaviour”.)”

Since that blogpost was written in March of this year, young Zack was “excluded” (ie, expelled) from his second school.

Zack’s ADHD, Aspergers, and Oppositional Defiance Disorder makes him very hard to handle within a mainstream school. He requires a full-time, one-on-one, support-teacher to keep him steady in class and to direct his learning.

Without that support, Zack becomes confrontational; difficult to communicate with; and reacts badly to other children’s behaviour.

Zack was receiving only 3 or 4 hours per school day (six hours) assistance from a support-teacher.

The remaining hours, he was left without support and the class teacher had to handle his unpredictable behaviour,  which could disrupt class proceedings, as well as 30 other children.

One day, in a fit of anger (because another stuudent was making a noise that Zack’s Aspergers-ADHD mind could not cope with) he ran off and left the school. Teachers were called out to search the immediate neighbourhood for him. Police were called and scoured the area.

Zack was found, collecting sticks of the road, and delivered back into the care of Sally’s grandmother…

This is one instance where “wraparound” care does not exist – and no school will accept Zack without it. But without funding from the Ministry of Education, Zack will not have that so-called “wraparound” support.

It should be noted that whilst Zack has challenging, disruptive behaviours, he has a high-functioning form on the autism spectrum (very bright).

The children at Salisbury and McKenzie would have behaviours far more challenging, and far more potentially disruptive, in a mainstream class.

Update; Zack starts at a new school next week. His attendance will be determined by Ministry funding  and time allocated  for a support-teacher. Adequate funding for a full day is by no means guaranteed, and Sally remain anxious on this matter.

Sally has been told in no uncertain terms; without a full-time teacher-support, his new school will limit his attendance within class.

This, folks,   supposedly constitutes National’s idea of a  “wraparound” service.

We should be very worried about assurances from Minister Parata.

Meanwhile…

Even as National closes down two schools for our most vulnerable, behaviourally-difficult children, we hear this news,

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Full story

So evidently, closing down schools for special needs children is a necessity.

Preserving, funding, and giving full State support for one of the most elite schools in this country – is National’s top priority?

Have we got that?

Good.

Meanwhile, one of the special-needs schools made this critical point to Minister Parata,

Salisbury School Board of Trustees chairperson Helen McDonnell said the school is concerned about the risks of the female students because they could be forced to move to the co-educational Halswell School 400 kilometres away.

“Parents are right to be anxious about their daughters’ safety at Halswell because a co-educational environment is inappropriate, unreasonable and potentially dangerous.

“[It] denies them the chance to get the specialist education they deserve and which their future depends on”.”

Source

The female students at Salisbury school, whilst having the bodies of an eleven year old – have the minds of a 5 year old. And they will be placed in a co-ed situation with boys.

I think we can all understand where this is heading…

National – never underestimate their ability to totally screw-up a perfectly viable situation, and cause utter chaos and misery for those involved.

Elite Wanganui Collegiate School, on the other hand, has no such problems.

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Sources

The Press: McKenzie Residential School to close (31 October 2012)

TVNZ: School says closure could put special students at risk (31 October 2012)

Radio NZ: Special needs school board considers legal fight (1 November 2012)

Radio NZ: Listen to item on Morning Report

The Press: Residential pupils sent to mainstream schools (2 November 2012)

Fairfax News: Legality of closing school doubted (2 November 2012)

NZ Herald: Wanganui Collegiate to be integrated (2 November 2012)

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Dear Leader – takes one to know one…

2 November 2012 12 comments

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John Key calls David Beckham “thick as batshit”?

What a coincidence…

 

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Charter Schools – John Key’s re-assurances

2 November 2012 19 comments

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1. The Prime Minister’s ‘committments’

Three months ago, Dear Leader gave assurances that National would dump Charter Schools if they failed to “work”.  He said,

If they don’t work then the Government will close them down very quickly – if they do work then it will be great for the children involved.” – source

Key then added,

If you look at the US where they are the most prevalent – there are about 5,500. Not all of them are successful but many of them are.” – Ibid

Those two statements are unfortunate for two reasons;

2. The Prime Minister’s ‘credibility’

Without beating about the bush and indulging in ‘niceties‘, John Key’s credibility is shot to hell.

As detailed in  previous blogposts and elsewhere on other blogs and in the MSM, John Key has not always told the truth, nor fulfilled his committments.

Past pledges and promises have been broken. Promises such as,

There are also instances where statements made by Key which have stretched our credulity,

More here.

And often indulges in flatout bullshit such as this little gem  on the public ownership of natural resources,

… So if you accept that viewpoint, then I think you have to accept that elements like water and wind and the sun and air and fire and all these things, and the sea, along with natural resources like oil and gas, are there for the national interest of everyone. They’re there for the benefit of all New Zealanders, not one particular group over another. “

See: TVNZ Q+A Interview with Prime Minister John Key

Politicians have a poor reputation when it comes to telling the truth. In the case of our current Prime Minister, in this blogger’s opinion, he has made bending the truth; with-holding information; and outright lying into a whole new artform.

No wonder there is a joke floating around cyberspace, on Facebook, blogs, and elsewhere,

Q: How can to tell John Key is lying?
A: His lips are moving.

Which probably explains why politicians are viewed with such disdain; League Tables that really count!

3. The Prime Minister’s ‘truthfulness’

Key said,

If you look at the US where they are the most prevalent – there are about 5,500. Not all of them are successful but many of them are.”

As usual, Dear Leader’s comments can never be taken at face value.

The truth is that a Stanford University CREDO analysis of Charter Schools in the US revealed the disturbing fact that only 17% of American charter schools did better than non-charter schools.

See: Stanford University: Charter School Performance in 16 States (USA)

The rest achieved same, or worse results,

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Source: Wikipedia Charter Schools (based on CREDO study)

So who will trust John Key on this issue?

Who will trust Key’s committment when he says “if they [Charter Schools ] don’t work then the Government will close them down very quickly” – when he doesn’t even give us accurate information about the efficacy of Charter Schools?

Telling us that “not all of them are successful but many of them are” – is disingenuous. It is a deliberate ploy to mislead the public.

And proves yet again – if evidence was needed – that this man is the most untruthful Prime Minister we have had since —?

4. Furthermore…

John Key assures us, hand-on-heart, that “if they [Charter Schools ] don’t work then the Government will close them down very quickly“…

Which is all very nice (if he can be taken at his word, which is doubtful), but how will he know if Charter Schools “don’t work “?

Actually, we won’t know.

National intends to remove Charter Schools from all public scrutiny and will be exempt from Official Information Act requests. All information regarding Charter Schools will be kept secret by National,

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To put it mildly, this is an extraordinary state of affairs. A radical new experiment in education will not be open to public scrutiny. According to John Banks, the architect of this crazy programme,

DEVELOPING AND IMPLEMENTING A NEW ZEALAND MODEL OF CHARTER SCHOOL

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Ombudsmen Act and Official Information Act (OIA)

These acts would not apply to Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua because they are not Crown Entities. This is the same case for private schools.

This will help to ensure Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua are not susceptible to costly and vexatious requests. The contract will specify the information that must be provided to government, and this will be subject to the OIA.”

Source:  Office of the Associate Minister of Education (Hon John Banks) – Developing and Implementing a New Zealand Mode of Charter School

It’s interesting that a politician with the lowest reputation for honesty and openess in this country’s history – John Banks – has decided that Charter Schools will be exempt from OIA requests and Ombudsman oversight.

Banks’ attempted to justify this paranoid secrecy by suggesting that Charter Schools would be “susceptible to costly and vexatious requests“.

Laughable…

Extraordinary…

Worrying…

And scandalous.

5. Summing up…

So what do we have here?

  1. The  Prime Minister promises that  “if they [charter schools] don’t work then the Government will close them down very quickly “.
  2. Key assured the public that ” not all of them are successful but many of them are ” – ignoring the truth that only 17% of Charter schools in the US have been deemed “better” by a Stanford University CREDO study.
  3. There will be no public oversight of Charter schools.
  4. The Minister in charge of Charter Schools, John Banks, justified the removal of public oversight and secrecy on the flimsiest of excuses.
  5. The public will have to rely on the National Party for accurate and impartial reporting of Charter Schools progress. (Imagine Key’s reaction had Labour proposed such a thing! Imagine the cries of “nanny state” and “Helengrad”?!))
  6. Neither John Banks nor John Key are held in high regard in many parts of New Zealand society. Key is known for breaking promises; abandoning committments; and mis-representing the truth. John Banks was engaged in dishonest activities surrounding his mayoral campaign donations; lied about his activities; claimed “forgetfulness”; and was investigated by the police. He was not prosecuted – but only because his actions went beyond a statute of limitations. (Banks still refuses to publicly release a record of his police interview, despite his assertion of “nothing to hide, nothing to fear”.)

This blogger finds nothing reassuring in the utterances of John Key and John Banks.

An incoming Labour-Green-NZ First-Mana government has no option but to close down this dodgy programme, or at the very least, incorporate these schools into the state system.

Otherwise, Charter schools are a ‘time-bomb’ waiting to go off.

Does Shearer really, really want such a  legacy from John Banks?

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Previous related blogposts

Christchurch, choice, and charter schools

Charter Schools – Another lie from John Banks!

Dear Leader, GCSB, and Kiwis in Wonderland (Part Rua)

Sources

TV3: Key defends charter schools trial

Otago Daily Times: PM vows charter schools out the door if they fail

NZ Herald: Charter schools escape scrutiny

Radio NZ: Charter school group wants to register unqualified teachers

Additional

Many oppose proposed charter school

Charter schools: They’re not better for our kids

Other Blogs

Seemorerocks:  One video exposes Key, GCSB’s & Banks’ Dotcom lies

Not PC: John Key lies [updated]

Infonews:  National’s growing list of broken promises

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