Here is a link to the education debate that took place on radio on the 7th of November.
Worth listening to, I know I found out about policies being implemented I hadn't heard about. The ECE debate takes place from the 27th minute but since the children now in kindergarten will be at school in three years you should listen to it in full.
The highlight for me was the 3 R's Relationships, Resourcing, Relevance, something I readily agree with. There were also hints about compulsory early childhood, further funding cuts, hints about closure and consolidation of small and rural schools, privatisation of education, parent fees, class sizes (is the funding sufficient), teacher aides, ratios of qualified teachers to children (is funding only 80% trained a backdoor teacher child ratio cut), and food in schools.
Inform yourself, weigh the arguments and reasoning, and be sure to get out and vote for your choice.
Be aware there is a lot of spin with carefully phrased messages that may give an understanding to the listener different to what has actually been said. There is also quite a bit of and questioning as to who is telling the truth.
As a guide in the case of funding you might want to consider more funding total does not necessarily mean more per child. An increase in total child numbers for the country, percentage participation by the population,total hours of participation, inflation, g.s.t., planned increases for more qualified teachers, etc will all affect the actual funding.
To sort this all out you should seek out your own information to check the validity of the various statements. As a start below are some quotes and links to a few articles discussing changes to early childhood education over the past three years with some quotes from Anne Tolley and Sue Moroney that I've noted from 2011, 2010 and 2009.
I'd also recommend this link to 15 press releases put out over the last two years by the kindergarten's national body, but do look up your own links and check the party websites as well.
sample NZK release-STANDARDS UNDERMINED
“As at 1 July, groups of up to 150 children over two years old (75 under two years old) can occupy the same space at the same time – for example in the playground or while having a meal.” says Clare Wells, Chief Executive New Zealand Kindergartens (NZK)...“Being part of such a large group is not in the best interests of children and detrimental to their health, safety and wellbeing.” said Clare Wells.
Sample NZK release - 25 November, 2010 More funding cuts to kindergartens
Another million dollars will be cut from Government funding to kindergartens next year, on top of the estimated $14 million reduction in funding already announced in the budget, according to the New Zealand Kindergartens (NZK).
Services employing newly qualified teachers (provisionally registered teachers - PRTS) receive a grant to help those teachers to become fully registered. Each year, a grant of $4,300 per PRT is paid, supporting their two year induction programme. The programme is an essential part of the process of becoming a teacher. The research shows effective induction is critical to the success of newly qualified teachers in both ECE services and schools.
During a speech at the NZ Kindergarten’s Association Conference today, the Minister trumpeted the Napier Kindergarten Association as an example of being able to “do more with less”.
“But just moments later, she was corrected by the general manager of the Napier Association, Helen McNaughton, who was in the audience.
“Helen McNaughton said that in fact kindergartens are considering fee increases to families so they can balance the budget. She pointed out the figures the Minister had quoted were from the 2010 year – before the funding cuts were implemented.
“Anne Tolley also claimed that participation had increased at the Napier Kindergarten Association, but again, Helen McNaughton corrected her. She told the conference that the number of children accessing education through her association had actually dropped.
Kindergarten teachers say "brutal funding cuts" are threatening to squash their historic service to 26,000 Kiwi families.
On Friday, Education Minister Anne Tolley was challenged at the Kindergarten Association's annual conference over funding changes, which one service said would leave it with half of the money it had before.
Tolley was unapologetic over the cuts. She pressed kindergartens not to hike fees to make up the shortfall, but instead use fewer qualified teachers.
"You have your decisions to make around your budgeting. As minister, I have my decisions to make around my budgeting," Tolley said. "The rising costs were unsustainable."
The Government announced in the May Budget that the top rate of funding for early childhood education (ECE) centres with more than 80 percent qualified staff would be removed.
Kindergartens have 100 percent qualified staff. They estimate they will lose about $14 million as a result of the change.
Tolley said she did not accept kindergartens were at risk.
"You have a philosophical point of view and I respect that. But I can't afford to pay for it."
Kindergarten Association chief executive Claire Wells said research showed high levels of qualified teachers made for better ECE services.
...The Ministry of Education has estimated that 19,000 additional places will need to be found for preschoolers by 2011 just to keep participation rates at current levels and to improve the participation of Maori and Pacific children.
...“Since becoming Minister of Education, Anne Tolley has scrapped a plan to improve child – teacher ratios, cut funding for teacher professional development and reduced standards for ECE centres,” Sue Moroney said....