INDEPENDENT NEWS

Mallard Says: Lets All Give Up

Published: Tue 13 Nov 2001 11:07 AM
Education Minister Trevor Mallard has decided to do absolutely nothing in response to the ground-breaking `Let's All Read' Select Committee Inquiry, ACT Education Spokesman MP Donna Awatere Huata said today.
"I am disappointed. Parents will be totally gutted by Mr Mallard's response to the Select Committee Inquiry into the teaching of reading. He has chosen to do sweet nothing.
"Mr Mallard has decided it's all too hard, all too expensive, and all too new. He's happy to let the rotten system continue to rot. Frankly, he doesn't appear to give a damn about the kids.
"The Select Committee spent seventeen months listening to 360 submissions. The fifty-one recommendations were unanimously supported by MPs from the Alliance, Labour, New Zealand First, National and ACT New Zealand. The Inquiry was described as a "must read" for parents, the "best report on education in 20 years", and the "best report out of parliament in 10 years".
"Mr Mallard's reaction is lazy and small-minded: `the Government considers the current work programme' will meet the intent of almost every single recommendation. In other words, he's not going to pull finger and do anything new.
"I call on Maori and Pacific Island MPs from Labour and the Alliance to attempt to justify their Minister's inaction on closing the literacy gap. They must act.
"If adopted, the recommendations would result in lifting standards and expectations for every child. It promised to eradicate the bigotry of low expectations for Maori and Pacific Island children. It would have lifted the standards for trainee teachers. It would have ended the damaging whole language-phonics wars.
"This reaction confirms my belief that Mr Mallard is the worst Minister of Education since Merv Wellington. Mr Mallard had an opportunity to improve literacy for a generation of New Zealand's children. Instead, he's chosen to turn this inquiry into a waste of time and money.
"Parents and educators must not give up. We must ensure this report is read widely."
As a result of the Minister's response, Mrs Awatere Huata has decided to write a book for concerned parents. The best-selling author's new book will include the recommendations of the report, action plans for families, and stories from distraught families.
"My book will include a history of New Zealand's education system, showing how we got into this disgraceful state." Mrs Awatere Huata's book will be on the shelves in March next year.
ENDS

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