Thursday, October 7, 2010

ECE Budget Task Force

I just heard on the news that Ann Tolley has set up a task force to examine the way the ECE budget is used. I dont often rave in public but I cannot help myself today!

I have also posted this at the ECE Together website.

Warning! Long Rant ahead!

Although we have no real details as yet I think the fact that there is only one ECE person on the team and that Tolley has admitted that she consulted only herself about setting this up, is worrying.

Reading the Stuff news item critically makes for concern I believe.

"Mrs Tolley said that under Labour, ECE costs had "blown out" to treble within five years to $1.3b a year.

There is no mention here about how ECE had grown, the demands on costs due to actually having some qualified staff and the impact of the 20 hours. And maybe that teachers were now actually being paid a reasonable salary - for the most part.

"It's vital this money is well spent to ensure the greatest number of children gain access to ECE and fully benefit from it," Mrs Tolley said.


Mrs Tolley said the review was "absolutely not about cost- cutting".

"We are determined to reach those children and families who need it most and to give every single child the best possible start in life," she said.

This is suggesting that the money is not now well spent. It ignores the fact that a lot of money has just been spent on contracts to increase participation but that these have only just begun.

The taskforce would:

* Do a full review of the value for Government investment in early childhood education.

That wont take long! There is no shortage of international and local research to show that money spent on quality ECE is money well spent.

* Look at the efficiency and effectiveness of current ECE expenditure and possible improvements for Maori, Pasifika, and children from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Does this suggest that efficient and effective use of money is to target ECE funding at specific groups and maybe remove or reduce funding for others?

* Develop innovative and cost effective ways to support children's learning in early childhood and the first years of compulsory schooling.

Innovative and cost effective to me DOES mean cost cutting as well as redistribution. If I am innovative and cost effective about my supermarket budget it is going to mean cutting the cost!! Using these words together means being innovative in order to cut costs! Otherwise we might go back to being innovative to increase quality - like before MOE funded PD was cut.

* Make recommendations to Government about proposed changes to funding and policy settings for early childhood education."

Changes in funding and policy are the most definitive. I believe this will mean some major changes including not going for the 80% registered teachers and staying at 50% (at best), targeted funding and probably targeting of the 20 hours. In the current economic climate it is not going to mean any increase in costs!

Rant over! I can go make dinner now

Maureen Perkins

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