The Appropriate Response to the Burning of our Education System.

Richard Prebble is right on the money in this morning’s NZH.

A few key points:

“Chris Hipkins, the Covid Response Minister, has been in politics all his life. He joined the Labour party as a schoolboy. You have to be highly political not to have acted on the Simpson/Roche report. Last weekend he was even denying the MIQ booking system is a failure.”

“The Minister insists New Zealanders should have travelled when he advised there were MIQ places. He has yet to explain how we get cancer to obey his MIQ timetable.”

“The MIQ system is a shambles. The government’s Covid policy relies on luck.”

“Covid is not the only crisis Hipkins is presiding over. He is the Minister of Education.”

“After receiving a glowing independent report saying that Charter Schools “are meeting their learners’ needs using good and innovative practices”, Hipkins abolished Charter Schools.”

“In their NCEA results Maori and Pacifica pupils attending Charter schools exceeded the average achievement of all students.”

“The Minister assured us that he was going to introduce policies to ensure pupils succeed in state schools.”

“Where are these policies?”

“Under his watch education standards across the board have fallen. Once we led the world in English and math. Now we are near the bottom of the countries that participate in education comparison testing.”

“The failure of education standards will prove to be a far greater catastrophe for New Zealand than Covid. Without the next generation of well-educated school leavers we are destined to be a failed state.”

“For Maori and Pacifica students, it is already a tragedy. The majority are leaving school after 16,000 hours of tuition unable to read or do math at a level required by the modern economy.”

“While the taxpayer paid for 16,000 hours of tuition, these pupils actually received half that amount. Today approximately half of all Pacifica and Maori children are not at school. Nothing remarkable about today. Half of all Maori and Pacifica children are absent every day. Even before Covid absenteeism by all pupils under this Minister’s watch was increasing.”

“The Education Department has research that shows every day at school is vital. The data shows pupils who do not miss a day’s schooling pass NCEA. Pupils who are absent half of the time fail.”

“Attendance might be the reason Charter Schools succeeded. In their contracts the government required Charter Schools to have high attendance. The independent report noted that: “Student attendance: 7 out of 8 schools/kura met or exceeded their targets.”

“The government has just delivered a gesture apology for the Dawn Raids. I was the first Minister of Pacific Island Affairs. I held many meetings with the Pacific communities. No one asked for an apology. What the meetings said was “We came to New Zealand for a better education for our children”.

“Under Chris Hipkins our education system is completely failing those children. It is far more damaging than any historic dawn raid.”

My Comments

For the last two years the Villa Education Trust has offered the government a Designated Character School (you know – the ones they said we could have opened instead of Charter Schools) for 480 diverse learners near an Auckland transport hub. The Ministry refuse to allow it to even go to consultation and Hipkins has infamously said: “there are available supports for all learners in existing State schools.” The fall-out on that statement has only just started. No one believes it.

The Ministry processes and misrepresentation of our applications have been so bad that we have formally complained to the Minister about the Auckland head official, and complained to the SSC, Ombudsmen and NZHRC about the Ministry’s behaviour towards our Trust and outright bullying of one of our connected families by a specific official.

Hipkins has refused to meet with us for four years (last week he stated: “my current commitments make me unable to meet with you”.)

There is some light in the tunnel. I have been wondering why in 4 years the Ministry of Education staff has gone from 2800 to 3400 employees – and what they do. Yesterday there was a hint. To meet with one Villa Education Trust member (the frightening Karen Poole) on some pretty straight forward admin – they had 7 (yes seven) Ministry officials. The light in the tunnel was a torch coming back.

Our education system is in real trouble. Unlike Richard Prebble normally would – he is understating it. Nationally we have 35% of our students fully or partially disengaged and very little being done. When someone offers to do good (and the Ministry reports at least acknowledge our excellent and ongoing results for children otherwise failed) they get, at best, ignored.

An adult friend of mine once ended a bar-b-cue at night by tipping the hot embers over in his father-in-law’s hay field. An hour later the field was alight.

The father-in-law’s comment to my friend? “You need a damn good kick in the a%$e!”

Hipkins’ hay field is the NZ education system.

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