Let these schools keep their secrets – they are Maori and deserve special treatment

Alf is by no means surprised to learn that Maori-language schools are prominent among those refusing to hand over national standards data to the Government.

These are schools for the nation’s special people, and inevitably our special people want special treatment.

Hence they won’t want to comply with the rules that apply to schools frequented by the rest of the country.

News of the special treatment sought by the Maori-language schools can be found here at Stuff today.

A Ministry of Education report released under the Official Information Act shows almost half of schools given extra funding to teach in te reo have refused to report their pupils’ literacy and numeracy progress data.

A total 81 of 198 schools, including kura kaupapa Maori and bilingual education schools, told the ministry they had no plans to hand over the Maori version of the controversial national standards data – Nga Whanaketanga Rumaki Maori. They claimed they had either “political” or “capability” reasons for their failure to hand over the data, the report said.

Political reasons?

Good grief. What could that possibly be?

Must have a natter with Tariana Turia. She should have some idea of what it’s all about.

As for capability reasons, we are left to suppose these schools have different capabilities from the schools that comply with the requirements.

But does the Government recognise these schools deserve to be treated differently?

Oh dear. Maybe not, because an education union fears at least one school is being made to pay for its opposition.

Last July, Education Minister Hekia Parata appointed limited statutory manager Helena Barwick to Porirua School, which has a te reo unit. Acting principal Dino Perez said he was unable to comment on the ministry’s reasons for the intervention, which remains in place at the school’s own cost, more than a year later.

A statutory manager is called in either by the board of trustees or by the minister when a school becomes at risk of being unable to govern itself effectively. An intervention can be lifted once approved changes have been made, and the board of trustees maintains governance throughout the process.

Fair to say, ministry regional operations deputy secretary Katrina Casey said the action was not taken over the school’s refusal to implement national standards. Rather, its concerns related to pupil performance and how the school was operating.

But NZEI president Judith Nowotarski isn’t buying that.

She said she had heard a different story from Porirua School staff. She feared it would set a precedent.

“It is very heavy-handed and it’s putting the school under pressure.”

The Stuff story explains that schools are required to report literacy and numeracy results to measure their pupils’ progress from years one to eight.

This sounds eminently sensible.

But some schools have held out in opposition.

Not surprisingly these are “special” schools.

A Christchurch special character school has also been told it could be stripped of its powers after refusing to report its national standards data. Tamariki School received a letter in June stating that the ministry would recommend a limited statutory manager be appointed.

But sure enough, some of our special citizens have popped up from the lofty heights of academia to plead the case for special schools to be given an exemption from the rules and regulations that the rest of our schools must abide by.

Massey University Maori education expert Professor Taiaraha Black said the Government should take a hands-off approach with Maori immersion schools and let them develop their own “quality assurance” methods.

“Before kura kaupapa came through, the Maori language was lost. I don’t think it would be of use to attempt to make comparisons between mainstream education and te reo Maori schools,” Prof Black said.

Yep. It’s a plea for special treatment.

What’s the betting Professor Black was waving a copy of the Treaty while making the plea?

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