Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Ian Leckie’

Christchurch, choice, and charter schools

15 September 2012 17 comments

.

.

National is a Party of choice. National loves to give individuals choice. National hates the idea of  “Nanny State” taking away the individuals’ right of  choice and governments making decisions on their behalf. National believes that  individuals know better than the state.

“Choice is good”.

“State decisionmaking is bad”.

According to National.

Which is why, when National announced it would be adopting ACT’s policy of implementing Charter Schools (in poor areas only – but no doubt that was just a coincidence), choice was high on the list of rationale’s for this policy,

.

Full Story

.

Dear Leader John Key stated,

” It’s a step towards more choice, at the end of the day I expect the vast bulk of schools will be the same as they are now.”

See: Ibid

Little Dear Leader, Bill English, parrotted the Party line; Charter Schools offered choice,

Hon BILL ENGLISH: As the member knows, the issue of whether teachers are qualified is being discussed in the context of charter schools, which will offer an element of choice, although a very small element of choice, in the general school system. All other schools will continue to run with registered teachers.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: In respect of the State-run schools, no. In respect of the charter schools, it is an aspect of providing choices for young New Zealanders that are not currently available to them. “

See: Parliament: Questions for Oral Answer

National MP for Maungakiekie, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, repeated the mantra (in case we missed it the first time),

With our Government’s focus on raising achievement for all our students, I see partnership schools as just another option for our parents and students. It will give them more freedom to choose the type of education that best suits their children’s learning needs.

See: Scoop.co.nz – Partnership Schools are Good for High Needs Communities

And the only human member of ACT with high-functioning mental processes, Catherine Isaac, chipped in (as it was ACT policy after all – even though it had never been announced during last year’s election campaign),

Well, what is different is that these schools are going to get greater freedom to innovate, to find different ways of engaging with children who are struggling to learn, and you need more opportunities, more freedom... “

See: Scoop.co.nz – Q+A – Corin Dann interviews Catherine Isaac and Ian Leckie

It is abundantly clear that National’s preference is always; choice. Lots and lots of choice!

Except…

When National takes away an entire city’s choice.

Like with Christchurch,

.

Full story

.

On 13 September, National announced the closure or mergers of dozens of schools in the quake-hit city of Christchurch. Amongst those closing or merging, according to  NBR and Radio NZ stories on 14 September,

Schools to close include:

  • Aranui High years 1 to 13
  • Aranui Primary
  • Banks Avenue Primary, or relocate depending on geotech report
  • Branston Intermediate
  • Burnham Primary
  • Burnside Primary
  • Chisnallwood Intermediate years 1 to 13
  • Duvauchelles Primary
  • Glenoor Primary
  • Greenpark Primary
  • Hammersley Park Primary
  • Le Bons Bay Primary
  • Linwood Intermediate
  • Manning Intermediate
  • Ricmond Primary
  • Wainoni Primary

Who will merge:

Avonside Girls High will merge with Christchurch Girls High as a “dual shift” or may close depending on geotech report.
Christchurch Boys High will possibly merge with Shirley Boys High as a “dual shift”.
Central New Brighton Primary will merge with New Brighton Primary.
Burwood School and Windsor School on Windsor School site
Discovery One School and Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti as Year 1 to 13 school
Freeville and New Brighton North School
Linwood Avenue School and Bromley School on Bromley School site
Lyttleton Main School and Lyttleton West School
Philipstown School and Woolston School (moving to new site)
South New Brighton School and Central New Brighton School
Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o te Whanau and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Waitaha

See:  Up to 13 Chch schools to be closed, as many as 18 will merge

See:  13 schools to close, others to merge in Christchurch

The shock news was delivered to a packed meeting of  principles and Boards of Trustees members by these three,

.

DELIVERING THE NEWS: Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, Education Minister Hekia Parata and Secretary for Education Lesley Longstone deliver the news.

Source

.

The proposed closures and mergers would result in hundreds of teachers losing their jobs; thousands of students uprooted and moved; and the remaining  centres of communities – which have lost many of their infra-structure and services – finally eradicated.

The response from many Christchurch education-sector workers, parents, and residents was unsurprisingly one of anger and disgust. It seems that what the earthquakes had begun – National was hellbent on finishing off.

For many, this was an unprovoked, unforeseen, craven attack on their communities,

I state here and now … Shirley Boys’ High School as a school exists and will continue to exist – mark it. There is no way in God’s creation that we cease to exist. (source)

We are not going to merge for the most practical reason. I have 1300 students in the school I think Trevor McIntyre at Christchurch Boys’ will have something similar.

To simply say that Shirley closes and suddenly Christchurch Boys’ High School is equipped to double in size is absurd. They don’t have the land, they don’t have the infrastructure. It’s nonsense. (source)”

– John Laurenson, Shirley Boys’ High School principal

I just don’t understand what’s going on . . . my boy’s got three years left and I didn’t want him to move.

We live nearby and yes, it’s damaged but this is our community so you can’t just pick us up and move us.”

Tracey Dearden, Parent

We’ve got five classrooms at our school, excellent staff doing wonderful things and just can’t for the life of me see why they would want to close Ouruhia.”

” I wonder how many people who were staying so their kids had stability and didn’t have to be uprooted from schools, will now leave and follow all the others to Brisbane… say 20 schools x 500 pupils/school… is a lot of affected families…. “

Anonymous

Men and women are in tears at the possibility of losing their jobs, their schools and communities.

Schools are the focal point of their communities. Schools are identified by the names of their community. Families now have to gravitate, take their children to other places, create new identities.

This is going to affect families in a major way. This is going to affect parents in a major way, just like it is going to affect teachers and children.”

Paul Kennedy, Cathedral Grammar school headmaster

Our house is TC3 and everything around this school is red-zoned pretty much, but Banks Ave has been the one and only constant in their lives since the earthquakes.

Children had gone through enough without having their school taken off them“.

Haley Thompson, Parent

We got more than we bargained for today.”

Philip Harding, Paparoa Street School principal

 “Where are the kids supposed to go? Haven’t we been through enough? Half the kids are on medication because of the earthquakes.”

Thea Turner, Parent

No parent is going to enrol their child in an intermediate school that they know is closing so already we’re looking at losing half our pupil population next year alone.

I need to look after my staff, maintain the quality of teaching and keep looking after the children because they’ve been heroes since the quakes . . . everyone has gone through so much and now we have to go through this.”

Geoff Siave, Shirley Intermediate principal

As this blogger pointed out above; National loves choice.

Except when it’s not convenient.

Then it will  act with all the ruthlessness of a mad Arab dictator or  ex-Soviet Asiatic republic that never quite “got democracy“.

National will give us the ‘choice’ of Charter schools, whether we want them or not.

Whilst at the same time it will gut the heart out of Christchurch, inflicting more heartache, stress, misery, and uncertainty on a city that has endured more than the rest of us could possibly imagine.

I leave the reader with this piece, taken from a National Party 2011 policy-document on education,

12. Support Canterbury

Rebuilding Canterbury is a top priority for National. We supported the people of Canterbury in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes and we are committed to getting greater Christchurch back on its feet over the coming months and years.

National:

• Ensured all schools were up and running eight weeks after the February earthquake.
• Double-funded students who moved out of Christchurch for 2011. That is, we funded the Christchurch school they no longer attended and also funded the school outside of Christchurch they did attend.
• Created new exemptions so that Christchurch students would not unfairly miss out on NCEA qualifications.

National will rebuild the Canterbury school network

* Ensure schools make the most of their facilities and resources, and they collaborate rather than compete with each other.
* Ensure there is a range of education provision so parents can continue to have choice about what type of school they send their children to.
Schools in Christchurch will become part of the most advanced schooling network in New Zealand with facilities that support education in the 21st Century.

See: National Party – Education in Schools – Building Better Public Services

Choice.

We all have it.

Especially on Election Day.

Christchurch schools

Lest We Forget

.

*

.

Additional

Scoop.co.nz: Christchurch schools to reopen as charter schools?

.

.

= fs =

Q+A – 5 August 2012

5 August 2012 13 comments

.

Q+A,  Charter schools

.

See video

.

The highly contentious issue of Charter Schools was canvassed on Q+A this morning (5 August). Corin Dann interviewed  NZEI President Ian Leckie and Former ACT president Catherine Isaac.

The Associate Minister for Education and ACT Party MP, John Banks, was nowhere to be seen. Curiously, it was left up to Catherine Isaac – not an elected member of Parliament – to front on the issue of Charter schools.

As Corin Dann said to Ms Isaacs,

.

CORIN OK, Ian Leckie, thank you. Now, Catherine, just finally, is it disappointing-? Are you disappointed that John Banks couldn’t come on this morning and front this issue? I mean, he’s your minister, your person in Parliament. We were pretty disappointed that he couldn’t come on.

ISAAC I couldn’t comment on that. I’m not sure why he couldn’t come on. I haven’t discussed that with him.

CORIN Well, it seems to be… Our feeling is that he’s reluctant, because he may be asked questions about the saga, of course, that’s been running over donations. And why I’m asking you this question is because does that make him an ineffectual minister to be fronting this flagship policy of your party’s?

ISAAC I’m sure you’ll find he’ll be fronting it.

CORIN So he won’t-? Does that mean he’d be-?

ISAAC Well, I can’t speak for him, of course, but he’s very positive about this policy. He’s extremely excited about it, and I’m sure you’ll see him appearing as often as he can.

CORIN But as a high-ranking party member, can you speak for the party? It must be disappointing.

ISAAC I can’t speak for the party. I’m not an official of the party, so I can’t speak for the party. But I think that you will find that John Banks will be a powerful advocate for this policy.

CORIN Do you think he’s been unfairly treated by the media and others?

ISAAC I don’t have a view on that.

CORIN You don’t have a view at all?

ISAAC I don’t

.

See: Q+A: Transcript of Catherine Issac and Ian Leckie interview

Corin Dann has summed it up perfectly; John Banks has become  an ineffectual Minister when he is no longer able to front to explain radical new policies that National/ACT are implementing. It’s fairly obvious Banks is too frightened to appear where journalists are in a position to ask him hard questions over the Undeclared Donations saga.

It is also astounding that Catherine Isaacs appeared for National/ACT, when, as she herself stated,

“I can’t speak for the party. I’m not an official of the party, so I can’t speak for the party.”

If she can’t speak for the ACT Party – what was she doing, fronting on Q+A, to promote Charter Schools, which is ACT policy?

Maybe John Banks just ‘forgot’ to turn up for the interview?

.

Q+A, Fred Pearce

.

Of particular interest to us should be journalist and author of  ‘The Landgrabbers: The new fight over who owns the Earth‘, Fred Pearce,

.

See video

.

Pearce was interviewed over the critical issue of foreign buy-ups of arable farmland threoughout the world. Pearce revealed that buy-ups of land wasn’t just occurring here in New Zealand – but was taking place in Africa, South America, and elsewhere.

He was adamant in stating that the “land grabs” were part of a process of certain nations securing food sources at a time in our history when this will become a critical issue. He stated, in part,

.

JESSICA Are we right to be jumpy here in New Zealand?

PEARCE I think you are, actually, because you’re a relatively small country. Your land is valuable. Clearly there’s a lot of interest internationally in your dairy farming. There’s a tradition of German interest in New Zealand. And it could easily get out of hand, but it’s still relatively small-scale in New Zealand. Now, the figures I’ve seen suggest 1% or perhaps 2% of New Zealand farmland is in foreign hands, and while that could increase, that’s a heck of a lot less than, say, Liberia in West Africa, where two-thirds of all their land is now under some kind of concession to foreign investors, or South Sudan, the new state that was just set up a year ago in Africa, where 10% of all the land had been given away in some kind of lease deal to foreigners even before the state was created, before they’d raised the flag. So, you know, on the scale of things, New Zealand isn’t in a bad state. But you do have to watch out, because there is a huge kind of land rush round the world going on, and prospectors and national governments and big corporations in expanding nations like China and India are looking out for really quite large areas of land, and if they can get hold of them and at a good price, then they will.

JESSICA Why does it matter whether its foreigners or locals who own the land?

PEARCE Well, maybe it doesn’t matter. In good times, people will invest and it probably won’t matter too much. But in bad times, it can be a problem. And you have to say that land is a very fundamental asset for a country. There’s nothing much more fundamental than land to a nation. And if you sell or give long leases on that land to foreign entities, then you lose control of it. You have much more democratic control, if push comes to shove, with a nationally owned company than you do with a foreign-owned company. But it is also true that we’re all part of a global economy now. Even if the company that owns the land is based in New Zealand, it may well have bankers who are abroad. So we can’t, I think, sort of put up very high walls around our country. But we do need to have democratic accountability. We need make sensible democratic decisions about how much we’re prepared to give land to other countries or other countries. Now, they may bring in expertise, which we want; they may bring in finance that we want. But there again, they may be out for a quick hit. They may be wanting to make a quick profit and not really contribute to the national economy, and those are the kind of things that one has to look out for. As I say, I think New Zealand is a kind of grown-up nation. New Zealand can look after itself. But many – especially in Africa – small, new, poor nations really do have great difficulty in keeping control of their assets if rich foreigners want to come calling.

.

See: Q+A: Transcript of Fred Pearce interview

It seems that we New Zealanders were right to be concerned with offshore investors buying up arable land and that we risk losing control of this valuable asset at our peril.

Whether foreign ownership emanates from Berlin, Beijing, or Boston – be concerned. Be very concerned.

As Pearce said about land,

You know, they’re not making land any more, so, you know, you’ve got to look after what you have. 

By the way, as a side-note; during the video interview with Pearce, an object appeared at the top right of the screen. It faded away momentarily, then came back brighter and more defined.

Anyone got any ideas what it was? (Cue: the X-Files  theme.)

.

.

Q+A, Paul Holmes

.

Also on TVNZ’s Q+A this morning; Paul Holmes.

But not the Paul Holmes we’ve known since 1989, when he first  beamed into our  homes.

This morning, Paul looked terrible;  gaunt, weak, with shaky voice – the result of recent open-heart surgery. At one point he had to reach and grasp an object to support himself on his feet. His appearance was so shocking that at any moment I expected him to collapse,

.

Source

.

What was TVNZ thinking, allowing him on-air?

It was irresponsible.

It was heart-wrenching, watching him struggle to stay on his feet.

Not good, TVNZ.

And for Paul,

Get well soon, mate.  You’ve got too much work to do, skivving of up on that farm of yours. TV is not the same without your impish grin on our TV screens.

Get better, please.

And we’ll see you back, when you’re 100% again!

.

.

= fs =