Green MPs standing down

The Green Party has added to the retiring MP announcements. Stephan Browning and Catherine Delahunty will remain as MPs until next year’s general election but won’t seek re-election.

Delahunty is currently ranked fifth and Browning twelfth amongst Green MPs.

I doubt that many voters will miss them, they haven’t had big profiles.

This will give the party a chance to refresh a bit more – they have already had two replacement MPs during this term with Russel Norman and Kevin Hague retiring.

Catherine Delahunty in Parliament recently:

Green Party PR:

“I’m very proud of my eight years as a Green Party MP, and the many, many years I spent before that as an activist fighting for women, our environment, and the rights of tangata whenua,” said Ms Delahunty, who holds the water, education and te Tiriti o Waitangi portfolios.

“It has been an honour to represent the Green Party and our supporters in Parliament.

“I feel particularly proud of the work I’ve done around building a quality, more inclusive public education system, leading our Party’s nationwide campaign for swimmable rivers, speaking up for the people of West Papua, and working for a national register of contaminated toxic sites.

“I intend on spending the coming months campaigning hard on these issues, which I know many thousands of New Zealanders care deeply about.

“After that, I am looking forward to continuing my lifelong commitment to activism and community building, as well as spending more time writing and being with my family,” said Ms Delahunty.

Stephan Browning recently in Parliament:

Green Party PR:

Mr Browning, who was elected to Parliament in 2011 and holds the pesticides, organics and food safety portfolios, among others, says he is pleased to have played his part in advocating for change.

“Holding the organics portfolio has meant that I’ve been working alongside some of the most innovative New Zealanders, who are creating a more sustainable future for our country, today,” said Mr Browning.

“Another personal highlight was my Spray Free Streets and Parks campaign. It’s really struck a chord with communities around the country who want a pesticide-free future for their kids.

“I’m also thrilled that just last week my Consumers Right to Know Member’s Bill was pulled from the ballot. New Zealanders should have the right to know where their food is from and how it’s produced – and, if it passes, it’ll be great for our local growers and suppliers too.

“I’ll be continuing to work hard on those kinds of issues, and more, after I finish up my time as an MP,” said Mr Browning.

‘Special needs education’ – sooner or more?

The Herald reports that ‘Special needs’ term singles out students and will be scrapped – Government

The term “special needs” education is likely to be scrapped because of concerns it singles out students.

They don’t say what it will be called but that’s only a minor point.

More money will also be spent on preschoolers to try and help them as early as possible – likely meaning less funding for special education at school.

The possible changes are outlined in a Cabinet paper released by Education Minister Hekia Parata as part of an “update” of the system focused on high-level changes.

The Ministry of Education has been struggling to meet growing demand as the school-age population grows and there is better and earlier identification of needs.

Last year about $590m was spent on special education. No change in overall funding is proposed in the Cabinet paper – but how and when funding is spent will be overhauled.

Initial work will focus on:

• Reviewing the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) that provides support for students with the highest levels of disability.

• How help is provided for speech disorders like stuttering and oral language delay, to work out how things could be improved if help is provided earlier.

• “Clustering” services and removing sometimes arbitrary eligibility criteria. For example, the intensive wraparound service is currently limited to children aged 8 to 14, when “early intervention might be more beneficial in the long-term”.

But Opposition parties are not happy.

Labour’s education spokesman Chris Hipkins…

…said early intervention should not come at the cost of cutting support for school-age children with special needs.

“It is short-sighted and stupid…I absolutely agree that the government can do a much better job of identifying and supporting children with additional learning needs earlier.

“But depriving older kids of the support they so desperately need is no way to accomplish that.”

Green Party education spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty…

…said the proposals would not help.

“The Government is proposing to shift money around, and short change children and young people over the age of seven. Everything I have heard shows the need for more support, and more funding, across all age groups, not less.”

Their proposed approach is to spend more to achieve more.

But Education Minister Hekia Parata said…

…evidence showed that providing learning support early in a child’s life had a much greater impact.

“We want to make sure that the over $590 million we’re investing in additional learning support is being spent in the most effective and impactful way possible so that kids get the best chance to achieve educational success.

If learning and behavioural problems are identified earlier and dealt with effectively then there should be less need for some of those children at least as they get older.

But identifying special needs students earlier who still need assistance throughout their education could cost more.

It is difficult to know what will be the most cost effective approach.

But identifying and addressing educational issues with children as early as possible should be the starting point.

Some of the cost savings won’t happen until much later, when they become adults. If learning difficulties are resolved early it could help avoid unemployment and crime, including expensive imprisonment.

But it will be difficult to measure, and it may be changed if a Labour-Green government decide that it isn’t the best approach.

Charter Schools mistake

A wee mistake in a media statement by David Seymour was picked up by the Greens without realising that it was a mistake.

Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education
18 July 2016 2:24 pm Media Statement
Seymour announces fourth Partnership Schools application round

Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education David Seymour has announced a fourth round of applications to establish Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua (Partnership Schools). The fourth round will open in August, with successful Partnership Schools opening in 2018.

“The continuing growth of this policy reflects the achievement of the eight existing Partnership Schools, and the strong levels of interest educators and community leaders are showing in the Partnership Schools model and what it offers students and their families,” Mr Seymour says.

“In the latest application round we received 26 applications, which easily exceeded the available funding. I expect a high number of applications in round four as well.”

All innovative proposals are welcome. However, preference will be given to proposals that:

• make effective use of the model’s flexibilities

• offer innovative solutions for 0-8 year olds

• are large enough to be comfortably viable

• target students who are not well served by the education system

• bring together effective education, community or business partnerships

• have a focus on science, technology, maths and engineering (STEM)

• are not existing private schools seeking to convert to a Partnership School

Greens were quick to react, as they often are:

Monday, 18 July 2016, 4:08 pm
Press Release: Green Party

‘Charter schools for babies’ a bad deal for Kiwi kids

The Government’s plan to expand its charter-school experiment into Early Childhood Education will put children’s learning development at risk from an even earlier age, the Green Party said today.

The fourth round of applications to establish more charter schools was announced today by ACT MP David Seymour, and will prioritise funding for organisations that cater to children from the ages of 0-8 years.

“Early childhood education is critical to a child being ready for school and it is reckless for the Government to put that at risk for the sake of an ideological experiment,” Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said today.

“Targeting toddlers and babies for educational experimentation seems extreme, even for the ACT Party.

“Having Government-funded charter schools for toddlers and babies is another business opportunity for a few, but won’t help improve the quality of early childhood education across the board.

“Funding for education is great, but it needs to be backed up with accountability and oversight. Unfortunately, existing charter schools have shown that they are unable to provide this.

“Complaints about cultural awareness for Māori students, having far fewer students than contracted for, rewarding students with KFC, and student safety concerns are just some of the issues with current charter schools.

“It is disturbing to see that the Government is prepared to sell out more kids in order to secure the support of the sole Act MP, David Seymour.

“The state school system ends up having to pick up the pieces when these experiments go wrong, and it is children’s education that suffers.

“A greater investment needs to go into public schools that need it, not these experimental, and unproven charter schools,” said Ms Delahunty.

But the mistake was spotted once this went out.

Correction [5pm]: An error in a press release from David Seymour indicated that the Government’s charter school programme would be expanded into education for 0-8 year olds. This is not the case. Please disregard the below media release.

I believe that “offer innovative solutions for 0-8 year olds” should have referred to years 0-8. Even year 0 is a bit odd.

However toddlers and babies have been targeted for educational experimentation for years now with major changes to early childhood education.

Greens on the budget

Green response to the budget:

James Shaw: Budget catches National not caring

The Government’s visionless budget has failed to deliver the big solutions to the housing crisis and climate change New Zealanders want and instead is plastering over the cracks, says the Green Party.

“This do nothing budget will leave a legacy of more poisoned rivers, more extinct wildlife, and a nation divided into those who own a home already, and those left further behind,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

James Shaw: Green Party Co-leader James Shaw’s 2016 Budget Speech: Time to change the Government

E te Māngai o te Whare, tēnā koe.

Mr Speaker, greetings to you.

Ki a koutou, huri noa i te Whare, ngā mihi o te wā ki a koutou katoa.

To all of you across the House, greetings.

Mr Speaker, when New Zealanders needed homes, the Government has given us toilets.

The extent of this Government’s vision for New Zealand is a few more toilets for tourists, and presumably the rising numbers of Kiwi families who are living in cars.

 

Catherine Delahunty: Shock school funding freeze means parents pay more

Parents up and down the country will have to pay more for their child’s education, following the National Government’s surprise budget move to freeze funding for schools’ operational grants, the Green Party said today.

“It is shocking that National is freezing funding for schools. Education should be at the top of any Government’s agenda,” said Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.  

“After the class sizes back-down a few years ago, it is surprising to see the Government again attacking school funding and our kids’ education.

Gareth Hughes: Budget comment: Government cuts Warm-Up programme that saves lives and cuts power bills

National has cut home insulation funding to its lowest ever level in Budget 2016, which will leave thousands of people shivering in their houses again this winter, the Green Party said today

Budget 2016 allocates just $12 million this year for the Warm Up New Zealand programme this year and $4.5 million for the Healthy Homes programme, compared to $23.9 million for Home Insulation last year.

“Over 2,000 families will miss out on getting a warmer, dryer, healthier home under this Budget,” Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes said.*

Notably there is no press release to date from the green spokesperson for finance Julie Anne Genter but she commented via Twitter:

@JulieAnneGenter

The Milli Vanilli #Budget2016. Pretends to do something for housing affordability, climate, rivers, jobs. In reality, does nothing. #nzpol

Green rhetoric versus reality

Greens have yet another Parliamentary inquiry under way, this one into selected special needs education. ODT reports: Limited scope of special needs inquiry criticised.

The inquiry, announced earlier this month, will focus on improving the learning experience of children with dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism spectrum disorders.

Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said, ”So many students are missing out on education because their learning differences are not identified early enough and help is not made available. We want to change the system so every child has a fair go.”

However Raewyn Alexander, principal of Dunedin special needs school Sara Cohen, said she did not understand why other ”challenges” such as Down syndrome and cerebral palsy were not included in the inquiry.

”If they want a fair go for every child, why have they only focused on those three specific challenges? If they want a fair go for every child, then they should be asking for an inquiry for all kids with needs, not just those three aspects of special needs.”

Alexander points out a basic problem with the Green approach. Selecting three disorders only for their inquiry is odd anyway, but it’s at odds with their “We want to change the system so every child has a fair go” rheotric.

Dunedin Green Party MP and co-leader Metiria Turei said the inquiry needed to be ”fairly clear in its scope” and restricting the investigation to three disorders would keep the focus on understanding what was lacking and what further resources needed to be provided so every child in New Zealand had a ”fair go” at school.

Turei re-emphasises the contradiction. It’s typical Green marketing practice to package things into soundbites of three, in this case choosing just three disorders to investigate. But that clashes with a general Green theme of giving every child a “fair go”.

”We want to hear from families and schools about what they need and what is clearly lacking, we want to hear about all those experiences so we can get a handle on the scale of the problem,” she said.

Except they only want to get a handle on only some experiences, ignoring the overall scale of any problem.

Ms Turei had been invited to Sara Cohen school events on numerous occasions, Mrs Alexander said, and had failed to ever respond.

”We find that pretty disappointing because of her party and also because she is a local,” Mrs Alexander said.

Ouch. Do Greens only want to hear from families and schools who fit the scope of their packaged inquiries?

Turei is a Dunedin based MP although stands in Dunedin North and Sara Cohen School is in Caversham which is in Dunedin South.

Maybe Greens should have an inquiry into why their rhetoric doesn’t seem to match reality.

Delahunty “political correctness gone mad” on Maori protocol modernisation

Green MP Catherine Delahunty has written a letter to the editor regarding the Speaker’s request for Maori protocols in Parliament to be “modernised”. She said:

…I was shocked…by the assumption that Parliament has the right to dictate Maori protocol.

If the Speaker pursues this review as described relationships with manawhenua could be damaged.

Delahunty wants Parliament to modernise it’s own traditions rather than “debate tikanga which belongs to tangata whenua”.

Why not both?

This is in response to a news report and an editorial.

Speaker calls for Maori protocols to be modernised

Parliament’s Speaker, David Carter, has sought a review of Maori protocols at Parliament after two senior women MPs were asked to move from the front row for a welcome ceremony to visitors.

He said he wanted to “modernise” the protocols. “Parliament needs a protocol that is modern and acceptable to a diversified Parliament.”

“I think Parliament needs to be in a position where it actually over time develops its own protocol under guidance from Te Atiawa and other iwi,” Mr Carter said.

An NZ Herald editorial supports this in Speaker’s look at Maori rules overdue

Over the years, there have been several instances in which Maori protocol has collided with women’s rights. In such cases, there is always a temptation to seek the path of least resistance. To hope, in effect, that belittled women will bow to cultural sensitivity and not make a fuss about it.

On most occasions they have opted against the fuss, with the result that nothing much has changed. Full marks, then, to Parliament’s Speaker, David Carter, who has been moved to seek a review of Maori protocols at Parliament and made it clear he intends to “modernise” them.

What should take precedence, Maori tradition or modern equality?

An example of why I fear a @nzlabour @nzgreens coalition. This really is “political correctness gone mad” 

I’d be happy for both Parliamentary traditions and Maori protocols associated with Parliament to be modernised. What suited Maori and Westminster two hundred years ago does not always fit with our modern secular world where equality is important.

NZ Herald:

The Speaker probably hopes that Te Atiawa will hear his concern and take the initiative in devising a protocol for powhiri at the nation’s capital. All iwi should take an interest in the review. This is an opportunity for Maori to make a statement that would resonate far beyond the precincts of Parliament. It would demonstrate the culture has the confidence to be modernised.

As Carter says, “Parliament needs a protocol that is modern and acceptable to a diversified Parliament.” 

And what is modern and acceptable to a diversified, multicultural, secular  New Zealand.