Only a fool would close schools that are succeeding

[…] Students, parents and staff at two of the country’s 10 charter schools say they are in “limbo” over whether they’ll have a school to attend in the new year.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins is reviewing all 10 charter schools on a case-by-case basis and he has written to them saying the Ministry of Education will meet with them individually in February, but until then all contractual agreements remain in place.

It is totally unacceptable that he is hinting that the government intends to break its contractual obligations to some if not all of the schools. A new government has the right to not renew contracts but the idea that they would not honour the contracts signed by the previous government is unheard of and surely illegal?

[…] Alwyn Poole oversees two Auckland charter schools and says students are really concerned about their future at the schools.

“There’s been this underlying expression of concern, from our students as well, who are quite politically aware. Even though they’re relatively young they follow what’s going on and they’re concerned about their own education,” he said.

“There’s some strange things going on and we think there’s some Ministry officials who have pre-empted Mr Hipkins taking anything to Cabinet. We’ve had one comment come through that we’ll all have to close and reopen after some new configuration if that’s possible.”

It sounds like proper processes are not being followed.

Poole believes the Ministry is “overstepping their jurisdiction” given no specific directive has been given by Hipkins yet.

In the meantime, he says he has a growing waiting list of 100 at South Auckland Middle School […] but no answer for parents as to whether they’ll face closure at some point next year.

Last month Hipkins said there were currently about 1200 young people attending charter schools and he wanted to “take the time to work to find a solution that works for them”.

Closing a school where they are succeeding will never be an acceptable solution.

“I’ve asked for advice on the status of the charter schools, including those that recently signed contracts with the Ministry of Education and are due to open in the next two years. I don’t want to pre-empt that advice.”

[…] National’s education spokeswoman Nikki Kaye says parents and schools just want answers, which they’re well within their right to ask for.

“Partnership schools and parents are quite rightly just wanting answers about their futures but either the Minister has no idea or he just doesn’t want to deliver bad news at Christmas.

“This is one of the largest school reorganisations or potential closure processes in our country’s history. It involves more than 1000 children, including a number with very complex needs,” she said.

[…] “He’s failed to answer really basic questions such as will the schools be able to remain open for the whole 2018 year and what will the requirements and options be if the partnership school model is cancelled and schools have to reapply to stay open?”

It is shabby treatment indeed and is no doubt creating a lot of what in hindsight (hopefully) will turn out to be unnecessary stress for students and their families. Only a fool would close schools that are functioning so well where Ministry schools have failed.

Surely Chris Hipkins is not a fool?

– Stuff

 


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