A bureaucratic outrage in Holyoake country

Ha! Alf was right to advise Education Minister Anne Tolley to make bloody sure school closures have the community support she imagines.

The Dom-Post today says the Government is being accused of “duping communities” into reassessing the education needs of their children, only to get a foot in the door to shut schools.

The accusations and growing anger come from the latest community to be hit with a sweeping education review, the Tararua District, where eight schools have been signalled for closure.

The review process, called a Community Initiated Education Plan or CEIP, has also been criticised by the Principals Federation, which says the process is flawed as it leaves communities wrenched apart by uncertainty.

With two other review processes under way around the country, those already affected fear more reviews will be “forced on communities”, resulting in mass closures of rural schools.

Anne’s a good colleague, but she seems to have been suckered into believing the proposals announced on Wednesday in Tararua came about because that’s what the community wants.

The community will tell her otherwise – if she cares to listen.

However, all eight schools singled out in the 12-school district say they were approached by the ministry under the guise that a review would be “timely and help strengthen education in the district”. Two schools refused to be part of the process, but both are among those earmarked for closure. Education officials would not say last night who had initially suggested the review.

Alf will be advising Anne to go and boot her bureaucrats in the bum real hard.

And while she curiously believes they haven’t fed her with bullshit, Alf’s neighbours in the Tararua district are making plain they were misled.

“They said it was not about school closures. We have been lied to,” said Makuri School principal Keryl Lee-Kelleher.

“They told us if we did this review there would be some good creative solutions come out that could pull all the schools into working better together, so we thought it sounded good. In hindsight they were being very underhanded.”

Her decile five school, with seven pupils and one teacher, near Pongaroa, 26 kilometres from the nearest town of Pahiatua, is on the chopping block.

“The Government is trying to tell New Zealand that this new process is driven by communities themselves my word of warning to others is that is rubbish. We don’t want wholesale shutdowns, the Government does.”

Anne is displaying a dreadful naivette, if she believes the bureaucrats, not the citizens whose taxes pay her ministerial salary.

But – alas – that’s what’s happening.

A spokesman for Education Minister Anne Tolley said: “As far as she is concerned and from the advice she has been given, this is a community-initiated review.”

Alf urges her to wake up before it’s too late.

This is Holyoake country – a true-blue bastion of National Party support. Or it was.

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