Its hard to watch the battle of the schools unfolding in Christchurch for so many reasons.
Mainly because it adds another level of stress and concern that all of these people simply don't need and that could have easily been avoided.
Secondly because it was handled so badly and no matter how you look at it, it doesn't make sense
Thirdly, because the Government has again treated community representatives, particularly in this instance Boards of Trustees, who work enormous hours for next to nothing for the good of the community that is the school, as unworthy of any real consultation.
Today at Hagley Park people spoke angrily at the very well attended rally. The principal of Branston intermediate outlined her shock as a well attended school, with relatively light damage that has not been affected by population loss. She could not believe the annoucement that the school was being closed , but by next morning the school community was ready to fight it. Students from Glenmoor Primary School fought back tears as they told about not wanting to change schools.
Schools in the east have been badly affected by population movement and people would have been reasonable. Some of the schools themselves had been working on a proposal to being a good number of schools together. That was completely ignored and the key player in that scenario , Shirley Boys High School got a very surprising signal in the written documentation that they may merge, or double shift with Christchurch Boys High.
For anyone living in Christchurch this was fireworks. Or just plain daft.
Does the government want to muck up every education announcement it makes ?
But no, there was more... Girls High School and Avonside...also got the same shock announcement. And schools such as Burnham !! The heart of that community, and so important when so many of the parents are away ...is to be closed.
Chisnallwood and Aranui together ? Big surprise...
And what did Intermediate schools do to deserve such a pounding? Ouruhia School went into shock.
This was a roulette game of merge and close.
The wording in the announcement was bizarre. Rejuvenate can, according to the Ministry of Education, mean close. Not in any dictionary I've seen .
Apparently the precursor to this was two very woolly documents. That was the process of consultation.
I read those documentsand I understand consultation. I even answered the questions in the second consultation document. It was structured so that you couldn't say what you wanted. You just had to answer the Ministry's questions. Even that was patronising. But there was no way, no way at all , that you could make the leap from that document to the announcement last week.
So what was driving those weird decisions.?
Probably not where they were coming from, but they scored outstandingly well if this was the desire. Malcolm Gladwell talks about the Tipping Point. We saw it this week in Christchurch. In one week we got a continuation of Commissioners at the Regional Council so that our democratic rights ( ones we actively pay for in our rates ) got annihilated.
Was it educationally driven.?
They got everyone ...the two Kura get a merger proposal and the Intermediates offering bilingual units got savaged. There was no possible construct that made this a educationally focussed .So it's hard to find any rational around this ...
Was it about their property portfolio and the complete shambles it's in ?
That's my guess - and here's why
The Ministry's earlier stuff up and back down on the Intermediate technology teachers and bigger class sizes meant that they start the year with $140million deficit . And it just gets worse from there on.
From my estimate only about 30% of what's been damaged in the Canterbury area is covered by insurance . That leaves a huge hole . And then add to that the multitude of problems in the North Island. Leaky buildings galore in the school sector and large numbers of buildings that don't meet earthquake standards.
Yes, the people of Christchurch know its tough and we know there is not enough money. But tell us the real reason and we will help sort it -honestly and transparently. Stop treating us as people that need things done to. Among the many things we have learned in the last two years its that we can sort out our own future if you are honest and transparent and ask us. Don't tell us and don't treat us as idiots.
We are really , really sick of that - and actually if you look at the history of Christchurch we were never that good at that anyway!