Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why does the Education Ministry hope to get by with less funding?

While this is obviously a national issue, it is also a local issue. Just what is the Government up to with funding for special needs education? It was reported that Education Ministry papers revealed officials hoped to save more than $23 million in funding for special needs students in coming years.

How would these savings be made? It was suggested it could only be achieved through "underspending" on these children, despite principals up and down the country stating more money, not less is needed.

It was reported by the SUNDAY STAR-TIMES that in papers it had obtained the ministry hoped to underspend in the Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme(ORRS)by $23.5 million between 2006 and 2010. ORRS is for the highest special needs - many of whom are in mainstream classes. Why would the ministry make such a strange prediction when everybody involved knows full well that many more funding dollars will be desperately needed in coming years?

It is hypocritical of the National Party Opposiion and a particular spokeswoman to criticise, shed crocodile tears and claim anger at officials who "are picking on the most vulnerable children in society to slash funding". She says most schools struggle for special needs funding and rely on dipping into general budgets , fundraisng or pleading with parents to top them up.

The National Party is directly responsible for the situation under the Education Ministry's Section 9; they dismantled the widesread system of special education schools and many units when they were last in power in the 1990's, and only allowed funding for special need students until they left primary school. Once in Intermediate School they had to rely on the limited funding these schools received and raised.One example of this was my grandson who had good special needs support at Stokes Valley School, but only a total of seven hours mainstream support at Avalon Intermediate. I was told this was quite usual, almost the norm at intermediate schools.

To get ORRS funding a child almost has to be at the stage where they can't walk, talk, feed themselves and aren't toilet trained. I support this claim through first hand involvement wth my granson's education from the age of eight to fifteen years.

I believe the present Government and its Education Minister tried to prioritise the average mainstream education at the expense of special needs education, and their policy has blown up in their faces. New Zealand parents and teachers won't tolerate this situaton any more. The Education Ministry will just have to find the money for special needs education from other sources.They will just have to forget about tryng to save money over the next few years.

The National Party's dubious role should not be forgotten in actually creating this volatile situation, and their hypocrisy in trying to make the Labour Party the villains of the peace should not be forgotten as we move closer to the next general elections. They really are a mean spirited bunch who should be alert to the possibiliies of their own children being victims of such an education system - wealth is no guarantee against childhood learning problems.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Tana Umaga was not an All Black legend - just a great captain...

Tana Umaga was not an All Black legend - just a great captain...

I don't wish to demean the very successful career of Tana Umaga, from the Lower Hutt suburb of Wainuiomata. There has been emotional outpouring for Tana since he hung up his boots as far as playing in New Zealand is concerned.He played league in Wainuiomata, and was selected in the Junior Kiwis, before switching to rugby and playing in the Petone premier side.In the early days Tana was a very quick attacking player, but a bit of a soft-arse on defence at times.

He progressed to the Wellington senior representative side and became one of the original Hurricanes players. He also progressed to the All Blacks on the right wing; Jonah Lomu( a real legend ) being on the left wing then. Tana was a prolific try scorer on the wing, but looked towards his future by shifting to centre. He wasn't an instant success in that position - he left a lot to be desired there, but improved as a professional rugby player.

A claim from Wainuiomata that he stands up there with Meads and Kirkpatrick was rather ridiculous. Tana may be a legend in Wainuiomata, Petone and Wellington, but he is not an All Black legend as a player.

To be an All Black legend a player had to be world class, or one of the greats in his position. Tana was neither as a player. He improved with age as a centre, a bit like old wine, and became respected by his peers and supporters. We do not have to dwell too much on his on-field negativity, but it is a fact and affected his overall record as a player.

Of course it is a captain that Tana will be remembered the most, firstly as captain of the Hurricanes, and then Reuben Thorne's successor as All Black captain with the change of coach. Tana became a very successful captain of a very successful All Black team, which has progressed even further with Richie McCaw at the helm - a team that stands close to immortality with the beckoning Rugby World Cup in a few months time.

Tana's decision to only criticise referees, whether rightly or wrongly, after his retirement doesn't do much for his credibility - it was considered rather arrogant by some people.The referees probably deserved it, but it probably would have gone down better if Tana was still captain of the Hurricanes.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Now there are four...

Now there are four blogsites at Kiwi Riverman.

"Down by the Huttriver" is my local blogsite dedicated to local interests, issues and political events.

You may not like or support everything I post here - you don't have to. But it is important to have a site dedicated to Lower Hutt City, its suburbs, its people and its government - as I see it!

You are invited to comment here - but please be polite!