Parata tries to head off revolting masses
"Heads should have rolled. Parata has been missing in action."Featured comment
The success or otherwise of a charm offensive today by Education Minister Hekia Parata may determine the strength of a planned demonstration tomorrow.
Ms Parata arranged to chat with journalists at The Press newspaper this morning.
Whether she intended it or not, The Press announced the briefing in its publication today and asked readers for queries that would be put to her.
Her visit marks the onset of three weeks of statutory “”consultation” on a planned major upheaval for local education.
Her attempts to smooth the way for up to 13 closures and 18 mergers of schools has caused furore and distraction for Canterbury educators in recent weeks.
Local education spokespeople generally accept that some rationalisation is necessary, especially in eastern areas.
But the reform plan goes well beyond post-earthquake reorganisation.
This is evident in the litany of errors which has been revealed in the information the Education Ministry has used to justify the upheaval.
They include false descriptions of the number of classrooms in schools, incorrect assessment of damage and wildly inaccurate estimates of costs.
And some of the schools earmarked for closure or merger are in urban growth areas.
The huge errors echo the amateurish and disorganised launch of the reforms when announced to principals at Lincoln a couple of months ago.
Government ministers subsequently tried to blame confusion and distress on the media for breaking embargoes.
But the plan remains exactly the same as the initial media releases stated – except for Ms Parata's subsequent insistence that they were just proposals ahead of "consultation".
Meanwhile, tomorrow’s demonstration is timed for 4pm, starting from the Hagley Park netball courts and ending up at the art gallery near the city council building in Hereford St.
The advertising for the demonstration is titled “Christchurch has had enough!”