Nats paving the way for ECE cuts

Written By: - Date published: 7:40 pm, April 28th, 2010 - 19 comments
Categories: education - Tags: , ,

The Nats are getting ready to cut 20 Hours Free Early Childhood Education, after having promised during the election campaign not only to keep it but extend it.

Given the opportunity during Question Time to restate National’s 2008 promise to ” retain all the existing subsidies and fee controls” on early childhood education Tolley instead said “this Government is committed to ensuring that early childhood education remains affordable and accessible”. Word games: she’s clearly leaving herself some linguistic wiggle room for breaking her promises later.

Now, as r0b noted earlier today, Bill English and, now, Tolley are laying the groundwork for cutting 20Free ECE by saying its cost has tripled in five years. Well, we all know by now that English will lie bare-faced about numbers when it suits him and you wouldn’t trust Tolley to count her fingers and get the same number twice. And this time they’re just being tricky by talking about the cost of all ECE funding and taking a comparison date from before 20Free started.

Before 20Free was introduced in Budget 2007, the annual government budget for ECE subsidies was $586 million. 20Free cost $109 million more in the first year. With inflation etc, the total cost rose to $755 million in 2007/08. In Budget 2009, the cost was $1,106 million.

That’s not a tripling like the Nats want you to believe, it’s a 46% increase. Take out inflation and it’s a 38% increase – and that’s all from providing more hours, getting in more registered teachers, and paying them better.

For that $1.1 billion, the government pays for a mind-blowing 150 million hours of ECE per year. What an incredible bargain to get our children off to the best start in their education.

Look, the Nats don’t have to lie. If they want to break their promises to expand 20Free ECE they should just say ‘we just wanted to get elected, so we said what you wanted to hear. We’re going to break our promises and cut ECE’.

Of course, all National sees is expenditure with no short-term economic gain. They don’t understand the concept of long-term investment, they see this as waste they can eliminate to pay for tax cuts for the rich. By the time we’re bearing the costs, the Key Government will be long gone (and if we’re really unlucky some future National Government will respond to the predictable results of undereducated kids entering adulthood by getting tough on crime and ‘bludgers’).

How can I make an analogy for the foolishness of trying to make small savings on ECE given the long term costs? It’s like a government saying that it will cut house building costs by relaxing building standards, then acting surprised when the crap houses start failing a decade or two later. Oh wait, the Nats did that too.

19 comments on “Nats paving the way for ECE cuts”

  1. Steve 1

    F*cking hypocrites, yet they won’t even consider looking at the time bomb that is superannuation, too many votes in that. Mind you this is the same government that thinks increasing tax on booze won’t affect consumption but it will for tobacco. Anything to please the pollsters with these muppets..

  2. Good post

    I did not realise it (ECE) was so cheap. I thought maybe that Blinglish was telling the truth because the scheme introduced by Labour was so superior that maybe it did cost three times as much.

    Blinglish is showing that he does not let truth get in the way of political propaganda. Someone should set up a site listing Blinglish’s porkies.

  3. Rex Widerstrom 3

    Well it will still be “affordable and accessible”.

    She just didn’t mention you’d need a helping hand from Owen Glenn to afford and access it.

  4. Macro 4

    “There are lies, damned lies, and Blinglish” – I think a politician said that once.

    I’m not a great fan of ECE – certainly not the sort that has young kids sit on a mat and then ask them “make up a sentence with the word “am” in it”. Yes I have seen that done! The kids didn’t even know what a sentence was! Hell I remember being taught what a sentence was when I was about 9 at the earliest. Fact is, you don’t let toddlers drive cars despite the adds on tv, because their minds are not ready for it. Neither should we be sitting kids of 3 and 4 on a mat and trying to fill their heads with concepts that they do not need. Better for them to be playing in the sand or running around outside.
    On the other hand I accept the fact that for the majority of parenting couples today the need for two incomes is imperative to cover even the basic costs of living. (The result of globalisation and the depression of real wages across the entire western economy over the past 3 decades.) So whereas, we in the western world, used to look down on the preschool child care of the USSR where the mothers were required to work – now, from necessity, we have a similar system. BUT! being capitalist we do it MUCH better! We make the struggling parents pay! All this 20 hours free stuff is a step backwards to communism of the worst sort. Even better – having the parents pay for childcare is another way to subsidize the business that employs them – meaning more money for the wealthy. Tolley is on to something here!

    anti spam – “amounts” – I tell you that thing is spooky!

    • Marty G 4.1

      “certainly not the sort that has young kids sit on a mat and then ask them “make up a sentence with the word “am’ in it’. Yes I have seen that done! The kids didn’t even know what a sentence was”

      probably one of the reasons why Labour wants to get registered teachers into ECEs. Nats want to leave it to unqualified amateurs.

      • lonelyavenger 4.1.1

        There is no correlation between teacher qualifications and teacher quality, at least at primary and high school level. Why do you think this would be different at preschool level?

        • Zorr

          Would love to see proof of that little statement considering nearly my entire family are qualified teachers from ECE through to secondary school and I am aware of no such correlation ever being discussed – despite them being involved through the system from being principals to auditing with ERO.

          The issue with ECE currently is that it is currently possible for unqualified amateurs (as correctly stated by Marty) to be looking after and educating our children during some of the most important learning time of their life. Labours 20 Hours Free was aimed at not only making ECE more accessible but making it more of an attractive option to new teachers.

          • lonelyavenger

            Teacher Certification Reconsidered
            is the best I can do. The most important metastudy was by Erik Hanushek, which is referenced in that report but I can’t find an online link for that.

            • Zorr

              That makes some very interesting reading however I would note several points here that mean that the study is mostly irrelevant with regards the currently discussed situation:

              Reading through the study and investigating the organization behind it (and btw, the Abell Organization sounds really good in all honesty) it does appear that the research and corresponding report were done specifically with the state of Maryland in mind and in response to decisions by local governing bodies. The fact that, as the report states, the state recognizes 66 different teaching qualifications as appropriate certification is certainly excessive!

              However the research investigated for this report were, as noted in the report, specific pieces of research that were cited by the Maryland State Department of Education with 1 paper published 2001, 1 in 1999 and all the rest 1990 or earlier.

              I am not about to discredit the effort that was put in to this and it does bear out that the details of the research done must be fully critiqued if it is to be judged worthwhile citing as reasons for decisions of governance. However I would require seeing a report that was more modern (preferably citing papers 2008 and later if possible) and written with focus on an education system more similar to NZs.

      • Macro 4.1.2

        “probably one of the reasons why Labour wants to get registered teachers into ECEs”
        Don’t want to disagree Marty – I agree completely with your sentiments expressed in the post. But I fear the mat time lesson is more to do with expectations about “readying” young children for school and the anxieties of parents that children learn to read at an ever reducing age. The “National Standards” is also driven by this sort of thinking. The trouble is children develop their mental aptitudes at very different rates. So while some pre-schoolers may be able to handle the symbols of the written word, many others find them incomprehensible. It is my belief that the task for the pre-school should be purely the “learning” of social skills, (“don’t bite lucy johnny it’s not nice!”) the more abstract skills should come later. The emphasis on “teachers” however, tends to promote the introduction of more abstraction into the curriculum of pre-schools rather than the retention of concrete play. (After all isn’t that what teachers do?)

        captcha “different” gotta be clairvoyant

  5. Clarke 5

    So National is ruling out increasing excise on alcohol, which would raise around $500m, but is cutting funding for early childhood education because it’s too expensive. Translation: we’re prepared to subsidise drunks, but not pre-schoolers.

    Is that what John Key meant when he said he was “ambitious for New Zealand”?

  6. Natasha 6

    I am a qualified early childhood teacher and in my expereince I have never seen a child forced to sit on the mat and form sentences (thankfully). National committed to improving the quality of early childhood education pre election. Last year they cut all funding for educators professioanl development and this years funding cuts are further going to effect the quality of care centre’s can providee. The education and care of our youngest citizens isn’t quite on the priority list, perhaps if they had voting rights the situation might be a little different.

    • Macro 6.1

      “I have never seen a child forced to sit on the mat and form sentences”
      Well I have!
      “The education and care of our youngest citizens isn’t quite on the priority list, perhaps if they had voting rights the situation might be a little different.”
      Their parents have the vote and they should exercise it to their children’s advantage.

      • Michael Over Here 6.1.1

        So one teacher does it in one class somewhere Marco and you’re assuming that all teachers are doing it everywhere? At the very least your assuming that it’s indicative of how early childhood is taught.

        The New Zealand Early Childhood curriculum is the world standard. Countries from around the world, including Australia, Britain and America, study our curriculum to find ways to develop similar standards. This is an area of resounding success and National wants to find a way to provide it to fewer children.

        Good, solid early childhood education has the potential to lower crime rates and raise the standard of living over the course of 20 years for a fraction of the cost of later incarceration and education. It’s a cut off your nose to spite your face type of argument to get rid of it right as it’s about to really start making changes.

    • lprent 6.2

      National committed to improving the quality of early childhood education pre election. Last year they cut all funding for educators professioanl development and this years funding cuts are further going to effect the quality of care centre’s can providee.

      Facetiously I’ll preempt the trolls and explain what they’d like.

      National will argue that this will ‘improve’ early childhood education. It costs less (in the short-term) and means that more money can given to John Key in tax cuts for him to not donate to charities. National motto – greed in the short-term is the only relevant factor. 😈

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    Look, the Nats don’t have to lie.

    Yes they do. If they told the truth they would never get voted in and you wouldn’t fear the bogey man.

  8. Sanctuary 8

    The over-rated and dismal Bill English is the best weapon Labour have got. Labour might still be getting hammered for it’s supposed inability to learn anything from its loss in 2008. But the same applies to Dismal Bill in spades. He appears to have learnt nothing from his years in opposition. He appears to have learnt nothing from leading National to it’s worst ever electoral result. He is still imbuded with the mentality of a small minded provincial shopkeeper that was the hallmark of the loathed Shipley government. People hated Shipley, Birch and co for their narrowed minded, mean spiritedness more than anything else. The collective joy at seeing the back of their curtain twitching philistinism was real and obvious. But Dismal Bill will have none of it. He is back, and is determined to bring another bout of his dank, cold and miserable small town Southland economics to the nation.

    Keep it up Bill, keep it up.

  9. Qualified ECE Teacher 9

    As a qualified Early Childhood Teacher I am astounded to read that one persons error and inability to know what they should actually be doing at Mat Time is viewed at what happens in all centres. I have worked in Early Childhood over the past 17 years and see a lot of highly qualified people who are fantastic enthusiastic “Teachers” and work hard to provide a high quality learning environment. This is what we have pushed for in nz over the years. Seeing more children accessing these centre’s due to the 20 hours ECE means more children heading into the New Entrant class with the skills and knowledge needed to support their future learning. If indeed National cut this support to parents then as a Teacher in the field where 100% of our role access this scheme and enjoy the benefits in our high quality centre, then in our low socio economic rural town we will sadly see a drop in enrolments because the reality is “parents will not be able to afford to attend”. These are both working and non working parents who only want the best for their children. Surely this is what we are talking about having an equal playing field with all other areas of education in nz. I don’t see parents needing to pay ‘weekly fees’ for attendance at Primary and Secondary level why should this be the case at Early Childhood level. Doesn’t this area of Education deserve to be treated as an “important part of the child’s learning years”.

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