Closures ‘like a death call’
Thirty Porirua teachers ‘‘ redstickered’’ Education Minister Hekia Parata’s electorate office last Tuesday in a protest against the closure of Christchurch schools.
Protesters waved flags and banners and chanted ‘‘ Heck no, Hekia’’ to honks of approval from passing cars on Semple St. Labour’s Mana MP Kris Faafoi and Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel were in attendance.
Ms Parata announced on February 18 that seven Christchurch schools would close due to unsafe buildings and falling rolls across the city.
Twelve schools were to merge and five new schools would be opened.
The timing of the announcement, four days before the second anniversary of the earthquake, was insensitive, said Dianne Khan, a former teacher and head of activist movement Save Our Schools.
‘‘Doing it the week of the second anniversary of the earthquake is beyond belief.’’
There was no need to close many of the schools or build new ones – teachers did not require fancy buildings to do a good job, Mrs Khan said.
‘‘We don’t need a good building to teach well. I could teach on a beach, in a paddock.’’
Some of Christchurch’s five new schools were likely to be charter schools, Mrs Khan said.
‘‘It’s an underhanded way for [the Government] to bring in charter schools. This really is rotten to the core.’’
Glenview School teacher Tufaina Faraimo said hearing the list of closing schools was like getting a kick in the guts. ‘‘It just felt like a death call. ‘‘It was like we were being hit in the guts.
‘‘And you could imagine how devastating it would be for those schools.’’
Christchurch teachers, parents and children have hardly had time to recover from the earthquake, let alone a drastic overhaul of their school system, Mrs Faraimo said.
The Education Ministry handled the announcement badly, she said. ‘‘They said they care for people but it doesn’t look like that, it doesn’t feel like that.’’
Heck no, Hekia: Porirua boy Monty Khan, 4, joined his teacher activist mother Dianne Khan in a ‘‘red sticker’’ protest outside Hekia Parata’s electorate office last Tuesday.
Solidarity: Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel joined 30 Porirua teachers outside Education Minister Hekia Parata’s office last Tuesday in a protest against Christchurch school closures.