The Green Party today announced that its key social platform for this election will be to tackle child poverty and inequality by ensuring every child in New Zealand has enough to thrive. The Green Party will make a series of policy announcements in the run up to the election which will cumulatively form a plan to ensure that every child has enough of what they need to thrive.
This aim by the Green Party seems reasonable until we continue reading the
press release below.
This is an investment in families and our kids’ education and in reducing poverty.
In the first of these announcements, made today, the party has announced a package to support families by extending access to free early childhood education and improve the quality of all ECE.The key policy points in the Green Party’s plan for supporting families’ access to ECE are:
- Extend the 20 Hours free early childhood education subsidy to cover two-year-olds, at an initial cost of $255 million. As the benefits of this successful scheme are opened up to at least another 40,000 children, more kids will get a good start in life and the burdens on their families will be eased.
- Provide $32 million a year to restore funding for 100 percent qualified teachers, as part of an ambitious plan to boost the quality of early childhood education and make sure every child gets the right care and support.
This does NOT give MOST children a “good start in life” and most parents do not see their children as “burdens needing to be eased”. The “right care and support” for most children is in their own homes. This press release does not help most families feel that they are doing the best for their own children.
“The total package will cost $297 million a year immediately rising to $367 million in four years.”Every child should have enough to thrive. Any less is a failure of our society,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei. ”One in four children lives in poverty, and 205,000 Kiwi kids are now living in severe poverty, and going without the basics.
“The cost of ECE in New Zealand is too high. According to a 2010 OECD study, New Zealand working families pay 28 percent of their net income on childcare – the fourth highest percentage of family income in the group.Extending 20 hours free ECE to two-year-olds will make a real financial difference to thousands of families. We estimate that families with two-year-olds in ECE could be up to $95 a week better off under our policy.
There is a need for some families to be using an ECE for their preschoolers when parents are working, for other personal needs etc. Families should be able to use these facilities without the rhetoric that ECE is better for their young children. The use of an ECE will not bring MOST children out of poverty – it will keep them there.
“By reducing the high cost of ECE in New Zealand we can both help struggling families access ECE and directly assist in reducing their weekly outgoings.The Green Party will help families out financially by reducing ECE costs, at the same time as improving access to quality education.
“Quality education” for most preschoolers happens in the home.
“It is a major investment in our kids. About two thirds of all two-year-olds are currently enrolled in ECE, but their parents miss out on the ’20 Hours’ subsidy given to three and four year olds. We will make the system fair by extending the same subsidy to the large number of two-year-olds in ECE. Despite the relatively low level of current subsidy, around 40,000 two-year-olds are still enrolled in ECE, significantly more than a decade ago. Our policy helps will make a big difference to those families straight away. This is an investment in families and our kids’ education and in reducing poverty.
As mentioned earlier the best children’s education is in the home not in an ECE. Keeping children in the home not sending them to an ECE is the best way to reduce poverty.
“Good-quality ECE helps children reach their full potential, both in education and in leading healthy and productive lives.
This statement is plainly wrong. It is designed to erode parents’ confidence in their parenting skills and encourage them to use ECE instead, for their preschoolers down to the age of 2 and, as seen in some articles, even younger.
“It can even make the difference, according to recent research, between being in or out of poverty in later life.
Where is their research? Here is some research that I have found:
“ECE has been shown to benefit children from disadvantaged backgrounds because these children often lack what their more advantaged peers have: a nurturing home environment. Educational researchers regularly report that a nurturing home environment will have a more profound impact on a child’s educational achievement than preschool programmes – a reason often stated for why more advantaged children are not often found to gain much, if anything, educationally from ECE. http://hef.org.nz/2012/should-preschool-be-compulsory/“Investment in ECE is a great education spend today, but it can also reduce poverty and inequality overtime. Supporting families by extending free ECE provides more choice for all families with young children. All the evidence shows that to get the full benefit of improved access to ECE it must be good quality. That’s why we’re also including an ambitious plan to boost the quality of early childhood education at the same time.
I believe that we can stretch this research out way beyond pre-school though to the end of school years. “So making preschooling compulsory for the children of beneficiaries actually dodges the most critical factor for a child’s future – their home environment. Most child development experts will tell you children need a good home in which they are able to form an attachment to their parents for proper development. For that to occur, parents need to be nurturing and interacting with their children: talking to them, cuddling them, and generally taking an interest in their lives.”http://hef.org.nz/2012/should-preschool-be-compulsory/
“An early start in formal institutionalized schooling deprives children of the free exploration so crucial to the development of genius.” http://hef.org.nz/2012/14177/
“Neufeld is against four-year-old kindergarten. He’s also against five year-old kindergarten. And possibly even six-year-old kindergarten. Unless, of course, kindergarten is all about play and not at all about results.” http://hef.org.nz/2012/ece-preschool-is-no-good-for-4-5-and-possibly-6-year-olds-expert-says/
“We found that children whose primary care arrangement between 1.5 and 4 years was in daycare-center or with an extended family member were around 50 per cent more likely to be overweight or obese between the ages of 4-10 years compared to those cared for at home by their parents,” lead researcher Dr. Marie-Claude Geoffroy said in a statement Monday. “ http://hef.org.nz/2012/ece-linked-to-obesity-in-kids-study/
” The Swedish Government claims that research shows that children in day care develop and learn much better than home cared children. But the Swedish statistics tell another story. Psychosomatic symptoms such as regular headaches, tummy aches, worries and anxiety tripled for girls and doubled for boys during the years 1985-2005. A Government investigation quoted a study showing that Sweden has the worst development in psychological health among our youth in relation to eleven comparable European countries. The school results went down during the same period and are now, in some scholastic subjects, below the OECD average. The quality of parenthood has deteriorated, and adult sick leave is high, especially for women. As Sweden is materially rich with a wealth of public social insurances and good wealth distribution and low child poverty this is hardly the cause. The most realistic cause is the early separation of children and parents for too many hours per working day as strongly encouraged by our Government.” http://hef.org.nz/2012/about-early-child-care-in-sweden/
“METIRIA TUREI to the Prime Minister: When he said “we don’t want to see any New Zealand child suffer … children don’t get to make choices, they’re often the victim of circumstance” does that mean he will take tangible steps to ensure children don’t suffer because of circumstances beyond their control?” http://hef.org.nz/…/new-zealand-sweden-and-the-johanssons/ I am not sure we can trust the Government to “ensure children don’t suffer because of circumstances beyond their control.” The Government is more interested in policy, money and their own philosophy – which is at odds with the majority of New Zealanders – read the link to see what has happened in Sweden where the Swedish Government thinks that they know what is best.
“Long hours in nurseries or with childminders lead to mental health problems and difficulties at school for children, a leading expert claimed yesterday.
According to researcher Jonas Himmelstrand, falling educational standards and a wave of disorder and bullying in schools are directly connected to state subsidies for daycare.” http://hef.org.nz/2013/long-days-at-nursery-or-with-childminders-raising-a-generation-of-school-tearaways/
“Daycare or preschool stress can be measured by the levels of cortisol-—a stress hormone—-that children produce during the day. In normal, healthy people, cortisol levels follow a daily rhythm, peaking when they wake and then falling over the course of the day. Cortisol levels are the lowest just before sleep (Sapolsky 2004). But stress changes the pattern. If you are under stress, your cortisol level rises, regardless of the time of day. In the short term, this helps your body respond to the crisis. But chronic stress, and chronically elevated levels of cortisol, can cause health and developmental problems (Sapolsky 2004). Because cortisol levels are easy to measure in young children, researchers have collected samples from children who attend daycare and children who stay home. In study after study, the results are the same. When children stay home, their cortisol levels show the healthy pattern–rising at waking and decreasing throughout the day. When children attend daycare, the pattern changes. Cortisol levels increase during the day (Geoffroy et al 2006). See more at: http://www.parentingscience.com/preschool-stress.html#sthash.DxbP97o1.dpuf
The July 12-18 2014 Listener has a balanced article in it: http://www.listener.co.nz/lifestyle/the-best-start/. Dame Lesley Max wrote in Endangered Species “if parents-to-be learnt nothing more than the crucial importance of talking to and with their children, something greatly significant would have been achieved.” Once a teacher herself, she is dismayed that the impact parents could have as early educators is still being “studiously ignored”, and makes the point in the foundations’s annual report: “Currently, education policy is build around the fallacious principle that teachers have more influence on educational outcomes than parents and the home do.”
Read more here…
The Greens would be doing far better by helping parents to have the confidence and skills to parent their own children rather than separating parents and children