Media Release on Cook PS Closure

The Stanhope-Barr so called “Towards 2020” ACT schools policy, which should more accurately be called “Back to 1920”, will close the doors on the vibrant and excellent Cook Primary School and Cook Preschool this Friday.

“Friday 21 December 2007 will be a very emotional day for the Cook schools community,” said Cook P&C media spokesperson Debbie Newton.

“There is sadness when any school closes. But what the Cook community is feeling is deep grief and deep anger, because the closure decision is so wrong and such a backward step.”

The Cook community has given its much-loved primary school and pre-school a fantastic send-off year. Celebrations throughout 2007 have included a re-union school fete, gala concerts, regular community breakfasts, and a wonderful program of student excursions.

But Friday 21 December will be marked with a low-key barbecue and picnic, out of respect for the feelings of the students, families and teachers.

“As the climate change debate in the recent federal election has shown, voters will take decisive action at the ballot box to make sure that their political leaders are in step with the community’s views on the really important issues for our future, and our children’s future,” Ms Newton said.

“Schools policy is similarly going to be a vote-changing, watershed issue for the 2008 ACT election.”

“The Cook community has seen first-hand the outstanding merits of the neighbourhood schools model over many years,” Ms Newton said.

“ACT school and planning policies were ahead of their time in giving neighbourhood schools to the Canberra community.”

“Neighbourhood schools are good for students, good for communities, and good for the environment.”

“At a single blow, the Stanhope/Barr Government has trampled this precious legacy. They have done this in the name of their Towards 2020 vision, which is really an ideologically blinkered step back to large scale, factory-fodder schools more appropriate to the last century.”

“The Stanhope/Barr government is stuck in its last-century mindsets. They claim that small schools must be expensive to run and large schools must be cheaper; and that the community’s needs for land for schools must be pitted against the needs for accommodation for the aged and for non-profit groups.”

“Where is the real vision and the real leadership that would have moved these debates forward with innovative solutions?”

“The tragedy is that the Cook community has clearly demonstrated its willingness to partner with the ACT Government in new approaches, but the Government refused to engage with us. “

“The Cook schools site has a successful track record combining both school and community group use, and cutting costs such as through low-maintenance grounds, and we are prepared to go further.”

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