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This tag is associated with 17 posts

Child Poverty in New Zealand

Prime Minister, John Key, today suggested it was too hard to deal with child poverty because it’s not like just counting rodents. I would suggest the issue is not in the counting or even the method of counting, Mr Key, but in the political will to deal with the problem. Policies that exacerbate the wealth gap, homes that are legally be unhealthy, homelessness, poor health care… these are all political decisions.

The way Mr Key faffed around the issue on Radio NZ today showed how little he actually cares about children poverty. I can only hope he is voted out next year and the next government has more compassion and a will to actually get things changed for these kids.

Poor Budget For Poor Families – Bryan Bruce

All economic decisions are moral decisions Bryan BruceThis from Bryan Bruce:

The day after the budget is announced there is always a blizzard of big dollar numbers that often blind us to the underlining moral decisions that went into producing it.

(Because make no mistake in the end all economic decisions are moral decisions.)

So what moral decisions did our government make this particular budget?

Well, here’s a few.

1. The poor are undeserving

It’s really their own fault that they are poor. So let’s progressively give less money to them through Working for Families,let’s deny our poorest families the in-work tax credit of $72.50 a week and let’s not increase the maximum rates of accommodation subsidies.

You can read more about this in an analysis by Associate Minister of Economics Susan St John here.

2. You don’t have to keep your word

Commissioner for Children Russell Wills reminds us in the article below that in 1993, New Zealand ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child one of which is the right to an adequate standard of living, including a home.

Yet “50 per cent of Pasifika children and 25 per cent of Maori children live in crowded homes. Forty per cent of families on low incomes spend more than 30 per cent of their weekly income on rent. In South Auckland, rents have increased 25 per cent since 2010, so typical rents for a three-bedroom house are about $400 a week.. and …..The Salvation Army estimates around 10 per cent of garages in South Auckland are being used as a residence.”

You can read more of what Dr Wills has to say here.

3. State Child Abuse is OK

The government knows that around 42,000 children a year end up in hospital with chest infections and respiratory illnesses caused by bad housing and that it’s estimated 15 kids a year die as a result .(See  article by Dr Wills)

The answer to this on going tragedy is to provide warm dry affordable homes.

Do I see a determined effort to do that in this budget? I do not.

4. Rich people are more important than poor people

The top 10% of New Zealanders now own over 52% of the Nation’s wealth. We are no longer a fair society yet we know that countries where the gap between the rich and the poor is narrower than our do better in all sorts of areas from lower crimes rates to better education outcomes.

Did this budget do anything to redistribute the nation’s wealth more fairly by making the rich pay their fair share of taxes ? No it did not.

5. It’s OK to say one thing and do another

At the beginning of his third term in government Prime Minister John Key said he would make addressing Child Poverty issues a priority .

Well I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen much of an effort being made to address the Child Poverty issues he says he now knows exist in our country.

Truth to tell – this is yet another budget that won’t help poor families break out of the cycle of poverty.

by Bryan Bruce (Source)

NOTE: Bryan Bruce will be on the panel at Waatea 5th Estate at 7pm, 27th May 2016 on Face TV (Sky Channel 083) along with Andrew Little , Helen Kelly and Oscar Knightly talking about events this week. You can watch the live stream here http://www.waateanews.com/Waatea+TV.html

Bryan’s Facebook page is here.

Does poverty impact student achievement? The research says yes.

Hekia Parata today wheeled out her favourite trope “decile is not destiny” in a bid to convince us that poverty has little to no impact on a student’s educational and life success.  She quoted (or misquotes or misrepresents, take your pick) OECD research, saying poverty only has an 18% impact on students. Source

Whether the Minister truly believes her own rhetoric, one can only guess, but it is safe to say that for most students the socio-economic background in which they grow up has a life-long impact on their chances of success.

And whilst we disagree on many things, I believe Ms Parata and I agree on this: the current situation isn’t good enough and needs to change.  So here’s some further research for her to consider:

  • Because of the socio-economic gap, there is an “enormous disparity in children’s home backgrounds and the social and cultural capital they bring to the educational table” (Benn & Millar, 2006 p. 23).
  • The “gap” is not restricted to one society (e.g. USA or NZ) or to one type of society (e.g. English-speaking); it occurs in every developed society. Students with good family resources out-perform those without (Biddulph, et al, 2003).
  • Most significantly, the OECD having studied 25 school systems (not including New Zealand) to determine the determinants of school achievement, found that, “the first and most solidly based finding is that the largest source of variation in student learning is attributable to differences in what students bring to school” (OECD, 2005, p. 2).
  • “The evidence from empirical research is that education and social disadvantage are closely connected and that people from less advantaged family backgrounds acquire significantly less education than their more advantaged counterparts.  This translates into significantly reduced life chances as individuals’ economic and social outcomes as adults are significantly hampered by lower education levels owing to social disadvantage.” (Machin, OECD Social, Employment and migration Working Papers No. 32 – Social Disadvantage and Education Experiences, p. 26 – Source).
  • Even the US Office of Education, despite its support for “accountability based programmes”, having reviewed the international evidence, admitted that it was clear that “most participating countries do not differ significantly from the United States in terms of the strength of relationship between socioeconomic status and literacy in any subject”  (Lemke, et al, 2002, p. 35).
  • When children attend schools which are widely different in social class composition, the gaps between the aggregate achievement of schools mirrors closely the gaps between the social classes which predominate in them.  Based on his research in New Zealand (and consistent with many overseas studies) Richard Harker has claimed that “anywhere between 70-80% of the between schools variance is due to the student ‘mix’ which means that only between 20% and 30% is attributable to the schools themselves” (Harker, 1995, p.74).

And a final sage word from David Berliner:

“People with strong faith in public schools are to be cherished and the same is true of each example of schools that have overcome enormous odds. The methods of those schools need to be studied, promoted and replicated so that more educators will be influenced by their success.

But these successes should not be used as a cudgel to attack other educators and schools. And they should certainly never be used to excuse societal neglect of the very causes of the obstacles that extraordinary educators must overcome.

It is poor policy indeed that erects huge barriers to the success of millions of students, cherrypicks and praises a few schools that appear to clear these barriers, and then blames the other schools for their failure to do so.”

If we truly want to improve the chances for those with lower socio-economic backgrounds, we must stop the soundbites, blaming and ideology and turn our minds to the wealth of quality research, which must then be read without agenda and applied honestly. Our students deserve nothing less.

Dianne Khan

SOSNZ

Sources and Further Reading

The Gap – EXCUSES, EXCUSES: SOCIAL CLASS AND EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT, by Massey University Emeritus Professor Ivan Snook

Berliner, David C. (2009). Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit.    http://epicpolicy.org/publication/poverty-and-potential.

Chenoweth,Karin. (2007). It’s Being Done: Academic Success in Unexpected Schools. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Ministry of Education (2009). National Standards and Reporting to Parents. Wellington: NZ Government.

Lemke,M et al (2002). Outcomes of Learning:Results from the 2000 Program for International Student Assessment of 15-year-olds in Reading, Mathematics and Science Literacy. Washington: US Office of Education

OECD (2005). Teachers matter: Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers. Overview. Paris: OECD.  http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/39/47/34990905.pd

Rothstein, Richard (2004). Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap. Economic Policy Institute, Teachers’College, Columbia University.

Tunmer, W. and J. Prochnow (in press). Cultural Relativism and Literacy Education: Explicit Teaching based on Specific Learning Needs is not Deficit Theory.

Wilkinson,R. and K.Pickett (2009). The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always do Better. Allen Lane, an Imprint of Penguin Books, London.

SOCIAL CLASS AND EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT: BEYOND IDEOLOGY. Ivan Snook Massey University, October 2009

How to turn child poverty around

NZ child poverty-pass-it-onThe most effective, efficient way to improve the lives of children living in the poorest homes in New Zealand is to increase the income coming into those homes:

This is a problem which can be fixed by ‘throwing money at it.’

The ‘ask’:

Fix child-related tax credits (Working for Families) so they include the poorest children, are simple, inclusive, and don’t discriminate on the basis of how many hours parents are working.

Sign the petition asking government to effect these changes.

All Children

Tax credits and child benefits should not be used as a carrot only for parents able to find work.  It should be about ensuring adequate income and a standard of living that supports children’s wellbeing.

Limiting tax credits and child benefits’ availability for parents who can’t find enough work punishes the most vulnerable children.

Tax-funded income support should be universally available to help parents help their children flourish.  Making it conditional discriminates against some children and only makes the problem worse.

This is about priorities

We can afford to invest in children if we choose to.  This is about our Government making the youngest and most vulnerable citizens a priority and recognising its role in supporting parents.

The options for raising $1bn would need to be carefully considered but they could include taxing high income earners or introducing housing taxes.

It’s also worth noting that the 2010 tax cuts stripped $1bn out of Government coffers, which could have been targeted towards the children in most need.

Kids/Elderly

Children are the population group most likely to live in poverty in New Zealand, with significant impacts on their physical, mental and social development.  Child health data illustrates how damaging poverty is on young children:

24% of Kiwi kids live in relative poverty and 17% go without the things they need (eg protein, milk, fruit and vegetable)

In contrast, New Zealand has a low level of elderly poverty – at about 7%.  Older people are protected from poverty through the provision of a simple, inclusive, income payment that doesn’t discriminate against them on the basis of work status and is maintained even in hard times.

We should treat our children as well as we treat our elderly, through policy that doesn’t discriminate and is inclusive.

Sign the petition asking government to effect these changes.

Child Poverty: Real Action, Real Change

empty purseParents know best what their kids need, and ensuring their income is adequate allows them to get more fresh food, warm clothes, heating for the house, and enable children to participate in normal things like school trips, swimming lessons, music lessons and other educational opportunities. The government doesn’t need more cumbersome programs to deliver support, just give the parents tools and resources to help their kids thrive.

All the available data internationally shows that, with few exceptions, parents in low income households prioritise the needs of their children.

Research published by Superu (formerly the Families Commission) shows that:

  • Making ends meet is stressful and requires planning, time and effort.
  • Families often go without, for example by skipping meals and by children missing out on opportunities.
  • Parents prioritise spending on accommodation, power, food and transport.

Parents want to do their best for their children, both in terms of care and providing material resources.

When these parents have additional income it is the needs of children which are given first priority.

Moreover, New Zealand expenditure data shows that low income and beneficiary households spend less on alcohol, drugs, tobacco and gambling and a greater percentage of their income on food than high income households.

THE NUMBERS

The Household Expenditure Survey provides a range of data on patterns of expenditure in different households. While it doesn’t directly provide data on the expenditure of beneficiaries with children, it does provide data on income groups, expenditure for recipients of benefits and wages and for different types of households with children.

  • Households with the lowest incomes spend 18.4% of their income on food compared with 15.3% for the highest income group.
  • They spend 1.8% of their income on alcohol ($8.20) compared with 1.9% ($42.9) for the highest income group.
  • Both benefit recipients ($14.70) and wage and salary households ($34.70) spend the same proportion on alcohol, cigarettes and drugs (2.7%); comparable figures for spending on alcohol are not available.

Turning to households with children, the percentage of income spent on food ranges between 15.6% for a sole parent household with dependent children ($116.1) and 18.8% ($273.20) for a couple with three or more dependent children.

Turning specifically to alcohol expenditure, sole parent households spend the smallest percentage of their income on alcohol ($6.00 or 0.80%) while the largest expenditure occurs among couples with one child ($22.20 or 1.7%).  A similar pattern emerges for overall expenditure on alcohol, cigarettes and drugs with sole parent households spending the least both as a total expenditure and as a proportion of their weekly spending.

Ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, by Slane (used and cropped with permission)

Ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, by Slane (used and cropped with permission)

State Responsibility

Government is obliged by international law to ensure that all children have a standard of living that enables their physical and mental development.  Government should provide support to families to ensure they can meet their children’s needs.  Children need to be healthy, educated, and have a sense of belonging to participate in New Zealand society.

Children also have a right to the highest attainable standard of health and it’s clear that those living in poverty are unable to achieve this.

60 babies under the age of 1 die each year from poverty-related illness;

40,000 hospitalisations from poverty-related illness each year

Scale of the Problem

The government currently spends $6b-$8b each year mopping up the costs of poverty and its effects.  That cost is made up of the high health needs of children in poverty, remedial education, justice costs, and lower productivity downstream when children don’t get the best start in life.

If we spent just a portion of this – $1bn – we would significantly improve the standard of living, health and well-being of children, while also strengthening our economy.

Real Action, Real Change

The petition is advocating for a move away from the current tinkering approach to the issue of child poverty.

We are demanding the government makes this an unequivocal priority and puts the resources in place to generate the step change for thousands of children and the future of our country.

– END

Petition Link: http://www.actionstation.org.nz/endpovertynz

Cartoon Sourced from: http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=79654&l=mi

#endpovertynz

Charter boarding schools for the poor – the latest in a long line of morally dubious education reformer ideas

social-engineering-basics.1280x600The New York Times is reporting the latest in a long line of morally dubious education reformer ideas – taking children from low socio-economic backgrounds into full time boarding school, the logic being that if poverty has such an impact on students and the student’s family is poor, then the solution is to take the child out of their family environment.

The NY Times reports that Carl Paladino “envisions a charter boarding school in Buffalo where students as young as first or second grade would be assured proper meals, uniforms, after-school tutoring and activities.”

Why, I would ask, can those things not be provided in the current system? Why are they dangled as a carrot that can only be had if you give your child into a boarding school system? Imagine being a parent wanting the best for your child hearing that your option is no help or hand over your child. Repulsive.

The idea is supported by Tanika Shedrick, a former charter school dean who, of course, wants to open one of the schools. Possible motives for that interest might be summed up in this quote from the NY Times:

[Shendrick] estimates the per-student cost at $20,000 to $25,000 per year, to be paid for with public funding and fundraising.

New York’s traditional charter school allocation is about $12,000 per student.

Interestingly, research done on this model, undertaken by the National Bureau of Economic Research, outlines the potential gains students make but has no mention of the human cost.  The report notes that  “SEED schools have an extended school day, provide extensive after-school tutoring for student who need support…” and goes on to note that “[w]hether or not the total benefits of attending SEED outweigh the costs can be known [only] with the passage of time“.

follow the moneySo, on one hand we have state schools being closed early due to lack of funds, and on the other hand we have proposals such as this, despite no clear indications of success, despite huge costs, and with no research on the impact on the students or their families.

It is also striking that money can be found to fund private charter schools, but not fund state schools fairly and properly in the first place.

Yes poverty has an effect on educational outcomes – a big effect – but we have to ask why anyone would think that, rather than dealing with issues of poverty and the underlying system that creates it, or even funding state schools properly, it is preferable to remove children from their families.

– Dianne Khan

Sources:

Public Boarding School _ the Way to Solve Educational Ills? – New York Times (Firewalled – non-firewalled version at Trib Live, link below)

Buffalo weighs public boarding school proposals for at-risk kids – Trib Live

The Potential of Urban Boarding Schools for the Poor: Evidence from SEED∗ Vilsa E. Curto† Roland G. Fryer, Jr.‡ October 14, 2012

Feed The Kids Bill – please email j.key@ministers.govt.nz by 3rd Nov

feed the kidsLast week Metiria Turei of the Green Party took over the Feed the Kids Bill that Hone Harawira had introduced to Parliament. If passed, the Bill will provide government-funded breakfast and lunch in all decile 1 and 2 schools.

Metiria explains, “Hungry kids can’t learn and are left trapped in the poverty cycle when they grow up. Let’s break that cycle, lunchbox by lunch box. We can feed the country’s hungry kids, if we work together.

“My Bill is at a crucial stage of its progress – part way through its First Reading – and may be voted on as early as next Wednesday 5 November.

“The way the numbers stack up in the new Parliament the Bill will be voted down unless we can persuade the National Party to change its position and support it going to Select Committee. National have been talking a lot about child poverty since the election, and supporting my Bill is one way they can start to address it.

“You can help me persuade the Prime Minister to let the public have a say on this important issue by emailing John Key, asking that National support my Bill at least to Select Committee.

“We need to broaden and build the public debate on addressing child poverty, and submissions on this Bill to a Select Committee will help achieve this.

“Because of the potentially short time frame, you’ll need to send your emails as soon as possible and before Monday 3 November at the latest.”

Email John Key at  j.key@ministers.govt.nz 

The problem of hunger in our schools

by Judith Nowotarski, NZEI Te Riu Roa President

When it came out this week that Treasury had advised the government that school breakfasts had no measurable impact on educational performance, principals of low decile schools around the country were flabbergasted.

It appears the officials at Treasury know more than the doctors and nutritionists who have long championed the crucial importance of breakfast, especially for children. They certainly think they know more than the principals who see the difference a full belly makes on concentration and behaviour levels. They have even managed to find one study from Auckland University to support their stance, despite what the overwhelming majority of other local and international research says.

Windley School in Porirua has a breakfast club five days a week and principal Rhys McKinley has observed that on the three occasions that fights have occurred, they involved students who hadn’t had breakfast. Many of the students come from very difficult home situations and being able to come to school and start the day with a hot, nutritious breakfast means they can focus on their work rather than their gnawing hunger.

The students at Windley School are lucky to have a breakfast club, run most days by volunteers from Arise Church and school staff, but many low decile schools are missing out or receive support and funding on an ad hoc basis from various NGOs and community groups.

Certainly the government doesn’t want to get involved – they are trying to farm out social services such as housing. They don’t want to take on any more initiatives, even though every charity that works with impoverished families thinks school meals are a great idea.

Feeding hungry kids is surely a moral obligation in a country that can afford to do so. It is also just the beginning of what needs to be done to break the cycle of poverty that is trapping too many families.  It is almost two years since the Children’s Commissioner’s Experts Advisory Group released its report with 72 solutions to child poverty, but it was largely sidelined. Boosting family incomes is the obvious key to reducing poverty, but that will take time and investment. In the meantime, children still need energy to learn.

The Treasury paper from February 2013 warned that if the government itself got involved in providing food ibowl of cornflakesn schools there was a risk of “scope creep” – uncontrolled or continuous growth in costs. It pointed out that the government already supplies fruit in low decile schools and the likes of KidsCan, Fonterra and Sanitarium run breakfast clubs. The fear of spending too much money is apparently a good justification for spending hardly any at all.

Treasury recommended more research on the extent of the problem and engaging with existing providers of food in schools to understand the level of need.

Meanwhile, as the numbers are crunched, children are going hungry through no fault of their own. As treasury pointed out, not every child who misses breakfast does so because of a lack of food, but tens of thousands do. Many of these children went to bed hungry in the first place. And then we ask them to come to school for a mentally and physically exhausting day of learning.

Inevitably, in a discussion such as this, some people will blame the parents for inadequate budgeting, but whether parents could have stretched the grocery budget more effectively or not, the fact remains that children in our first world country are going hungry. If you don’t have compassion for hungry kids in this land flowing with milk and Weetbix, you could consider what a drain on the public purse their poor health and educational underachievement will be in the future.

For the government to depend on charities and corporate philanthropy to meet the needs of the increasing number of families that are falling through the cracks is like baling a sinking boat with a tea cup. Certainly the government needs to focus on growing the economy and creating jobs that families can afford to live on. But please, in the meantime, can we also ensure no child has to learn and grow on an empty stomach? What’s good for the weakest and most vulnerable amongst us, is good for all of us.

~ NZEI

_________________________________________________________________

Read also:

Superman socks: child poverty and education in New Zealand

Poverty of body, mind and soul

 

 

Education and Poverty in New Zealand – research, publications and groups

 

twelve thousand hours bookTwelve Thousand Hours: Education and Poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand

by Vicki Carpenter

“There is well-documented concern regarding the links between poverty and education; statistics demonstrate, over many decades, that the economically poorer the New Zealand child’s family, the more likely it is the child will not reach her/his potential.

“The blame for such inequitable outcomes is variously placed on children’s families and communities, on teachers and schools, and on wider structural and system injustices.

“The contributors to this book are key NZ writers and thinkers in the field of education and poverty.

“Reasons for our contemporary schooling’s inequitable outcomes are examined and critiqued.”

The book can be purchased here.

 

 

Child Poverty in New Zealand

Child Poverty in New Zealand

by Jonathan Boston and Simon Chapple

“Child poverty could be addressed with help from money freed up by lifting the age of eligibility for NZ Super, a new book, Child Poverty In New Zealand, out this weekend has claimed.

‘The book’s authors, academics Jonathan Boston and Simon Chapple, said progressively deferring NZ Super until age 67 would be a reasonable step to free up money to reduce the blight of child poverty.

“They canvassed various ways to raise the money needed to make inroads into child poverty and therefore lift the trajectory of our economy.”

Source: NZ Herald

 

Inequality - a New Zealand Crisis - bookInequality: A New Zealand Crisis

This book “examines the explosion in the rich-poor divide during the last 30 years, its effects on our society, and how it might be reversed.

“The book has generated widespread discussion and numerous reviews, articles and comments, many of which can be found at www.bwb.co.nz/books/inequality. Since its publication, the rise of interest in inequality has continued, and the issue is becoming one of the defining subjects of the 2014 election campaign.

“In March this year, we published ‘The Inequality Debate: An Introduction‘, a short guide to inequality in New Zealand based on the opening chapters of the 2013 work.”

Source: http://www.maxrashbrooke.org.nz/inequality/

 

 

Reports from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner

 

Children's Commissioner logoSUMMARY REPORT: PARENTS’, FAMILIES AND WHĀNAU CONTRIBUTIONS TO EDUCATION SUCCESS

Office of the Children’s Commissioner, July 2013

A summary of the working paper ‘Parents’, Families’ and Whānau Contributions to Educational Success’.

http://www.occ.org.nz/publications/reports/?category=6

 

 

Children's Commissioner logoPOSITION ON PARTNERSHIP SCHOOLS KURA HOURUA

Office of the Children’s Commissioner, May 2012

This paper outlines the Children’s Commissioner’s position on partnership schools kura hourua and his views on the key elements that could be implemented to support the education success of all New Zealanders.

http://www.occ.org.nz/assets/Uploads/Reports/Education/Position-on-partnership-schools.pdf

 

Children's Commissioner logoTHROUGH THEIR LENS – An inquiry into non parental education and care of infants and toddlers

Dr Janis Carroll-Lind and Dr John Angus, Office of the Children’s Commissioner, February 2011

This paper reports on an inquiry into the impact being enrolled in formal non-parental early childhood services has on children’s wellbeing and makes recommendations on service delivery.

http://www.occ.org.nz/publications/reports/?category=6

 

Other sources of information on poverty, children’s rights, and education

Inequality – a New Zealand Conversation – http://www.inequality.org.nz/

Office of the Children’s Commissioner – http://www.occ.org.nz/

Child Poverty Action Group – http://www.cpag.org.nz/

Tick For Kids – http://tick4kids.org.nz/

https://www.facebook.com/InsideChildPoverty

https://www.facebook.com/cpagNZ

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Childrens-Commissioner-NZ/186408948108425

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Political heavyweights go head to head on children’s issues

Key political figures will debate the rights and interests of children at a forum to be held at Ponsonby Primary in Auckland next week.

The event promises to be a lively one with Education Minister Hekia Parata facing off against a full complement of party spokespeople and candidates.

Those taking part alongside Hekia Parata include:

  • Jacinda Ardern (Labour)
  • Denise Roche (Greens)
  • Miriam Pierard (Internet Mana)
  • Tracey Martin (New Zealand First Deputy)
  • John Thompson (ACT President)

The event is being run under the banner of ‘Tick for Kids’; a collective that seeks to put the interests of children at the centre.

Spokesperson Anton Blank says, “We want New Zealanders to engage with politicians about issues for our children. These local events provide platforms for everyone to articulate these concerns to political candidates directly.”

With so many important politicians involved the debate is bound to be vigorous and wide-ranging, covering education, health, housing and child poverty.

“We know that the New Zealand public is concerned about increasing rates of child poverty,” says Anton Blank.

He states that the ‘Tick for Kids’ movement, which is less than a year old, is becoming an important non-partisan force in New Zealand and the engagement of politicians in ‘Tick for Kids’ events is proof of that.

When: Wednesday August 6th

Where: Ponsonby Primary School, 44 Curran Street, Herne Bay, Auckland

See event information.

.

——————————————————-

For more information:

http://tick4kids.org.nz/

https://www.facebook.com/tickforkids

 

Survey Of Political Parties On Child Well-Being Issues

Bryan Bruce - Inside child povertyby Bryan Bruce, Knowledge is Power

Last week I surveyed all the political parties on where they stood on 10 issues  directly or indirectly  related to child well-being in New Zealand.

They were asked which of them they would or would not support  in principle  should it come to a vote in the upcoming parliament.

Bill English on behalf of National refused to take part in the survey saying the questions were ‘hypothethical”.

National are also now the only party not to commit to cross-party talks after the election to see if some long term solutions to issues surrounding child poverty can be found.

Some parties chose to give ‘No Answer’ to some of the questions because their party had not yet formed a view. National’s refusal to respond has also been listed as ‘No Answer’ …..

1. Warrant of fitness to be compulsory for all rental properties within three years.

WOULD SUPPORT

Green Party

Labour

Mana

NZ First

Maori Party United Future

Alliance

Democrats for Social Credit

Internet Party

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

ACT

Conservative Party

NO ANSWER

National

2. Progressively extend the paid parental leave period to 12 months within the next six years.

WOULD SUPPORT

Green Party

Labour

Mana

NZ First

United Future

Alliance

Democrats for Social Credit

Conservative Party

Internet Party

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

ACT

Maori Party

3. Free healthy lunches to be made available to all school children within the next 6 years. The scheme to be introduced first to decile 1, 2 and 3 schools and then rolled out progressively up to decile 10 schools.

WOULD SUPPORT

Green Party

Mana

NZ First

Maori Party

United Future

Alliance

Democrats for Social Credit

Internet Party

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

Labour

ACT

Conservative Party

NO ANSWER

National

4. Free 24 hour medical care be made available to all children and young people up to, and including, the age of 18 within the next three years.

WOULD SUPPORT

Green Party

Maori Party

Mana

NZ First

United Future

Alliance

Conservative Party

Democrats for Social Credit

Internet Party

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

ACT

NO ANSWER

National

Labour

5. One health nurse for every 300 school children and a free doctor visit to schools once a week

WOULD SUPPORT

Green Party Mana

Maori Party United Future

Alliance

Democrats for Social Credit

Internet Party

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

ACT

NO ANSWER

Conservative Party

Labour

National

NZ First

6. Create low interest initiatives to allow families to build or buy affordable healthy housing.

WOULD SUPPORT

Green Party

Labour

Mana

NZ First

Maori Party United Future

Alliance

Democrats for Social Credit

Conservative Party

Internet Party

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

ACT

NO ANSWER

National

7. The introduction of a “living wage” rather than a “minimum” wage?

WOULD SUPPORT

Green Party Labour

Mana

Maori Party

Alliance

Internet Party

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

ACT

Conservative Party

Democrats For Social Credit

United Future

NO ANSWER

NZ First

National

8. Remove GST from food.

WOULD SUPPORT

Mana

Maori Party

Alliance

Democrats for Social Credit

Conservative Party

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

ACT

Green Party

Labour

United Future

NO ANSWER

Internet Party

NZ First

National

9. Repurchase the electricity system to be run as a public utility and not for profit?

WOULD SUPPORT

Mana

NZ First

Alliance

Democrats for Social Credit

WOULD NOT SUPPORT

ACT

Green Party

Labour

Maori Party

United Future

NO ANSWER

Conservative Party

Internet Party

National

 

10. Does your Party undertake to take part in cross party talks after the election to reach long term solutions to child poverty related issues?

YES

Green Party

Labour

Mana

NZ First

Maori Party United Future

ACT

Alliance

Democrats for Social Credit

Conservative Party

Internet Party

NO ANSWER

National

 

Source: Knowledge is Power

See also: www.facebook.com/InsideChildPoverty

Superman socks: child poverty and education in New Zealand

I have a 5 year old, and a lucky one at that.  If he’s had a bad night and is tired, I can keep him home from school or collect him early.  Either way, he is warm and well fed.  Some days, even with all that, he’s not on top form.

Still, even with bad days, research shows that children like him stand a good chance of doing well in life.  He has access to a warm, dry home, to medical care, to good and plentiful food, to books and computers, and he has shoes, a coat and a bed.  Not everyone is so fortunate.

Over 285, 000 Kiwi kids live in poverty, with 17% of our tamariki going without the day to day things they need.  Three fifths of those children live like that for years on end.

Many children don’t eat well and don’t have access to proper medical care.  They live in houses that are not healthy. They might be cold.  They may not sleep well.

But whatever their circumstances, five days a week, 40 weeks a year, off they go to school

Hard Yakka

A student’s job is to learn.

For six hours, five days a week, students come face to face with new challenges, new information, old problems they haven’t yet mastered, social interactions that need to be manoeuvred, and physical challenges big and small.  It’s no mean feat to be a student.

Even when it’s fun and you’re motivated, it’s hard yakka.

Even when you are healthy, happy and safe, it’s hard yakka.

Yes,  student’s job is to learn – and that’s not easy when the odds are stacked against you.  That’s bloody hard yakka indeed.

Walk in their shoes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPut yourself in the shoes of a less fortunate child for one moment.  Imagine sleeping in a damp bed, maybe top to toe with someone else, that’s assuming you have a bed. You’re cold all night and not getting a good rest. Then waking up to an inadequate breakfast – or no breakfast at all.  Off you go for the day in bare feet or worn shoes that let water in.  No, you don’t have a coat – and you are walking – so if it rains you get wet.

Now imagine working all day in those damp clothes, with cold feet and a rumbling tummy.

You have to think, listen, cooperate, learn, exercise, share, write, read, calculate….  You might just have thought about lunch, but no, you don’t have lunch either – or nothing worth mentioning, nothing that will sustain you.  And you still have a couple more hours to go.  No-one can collect you early because they’re at work.  And even if they could, it would be the same tomorrow.

Now imagine doing that day after day after day after day…

If it were you in those circumstances, how well would you do your job?

Pull your socks up

old socksThere are always those who blame the poor for their own circumstances.  If only they’d pull their socks up, these people contend, then they’d be fine.

It’s a simplistic and insulting argument to put forward – arrogant, in fact.  People’s lives vary so widely – no one person lives through the same circumstances as another.

As Bryan Bruce recently put it:

“I also find it interesting how some people who have ‘made it’ out of poor circumstances have the attitude “if I can do it anyone can”.  Not true. Not everyone’s life experiences are the same and we have working poor now – people who work all week and still can’t make ends meet- which is a relatively recent phenomenon.”

It is well documented that poverty leads to poorer mental health and cognitive development. Put simply, if you grow up in poverty, your chances to learn well and do well later in life are reduced.

Conversely, giving children the tools so they have a far better chance of moving onwards and upwards is good for all of us, as it lessens many potential future burdens, not least of all in the health sector, unemployment, and crime.

So, when someone says, “See, poverty doesn’t matter. High expectations are all it takes to overcome poverty,” tell them to read the work of Shonkoff and the Harvard Center on the Developing Child. Some children survive the most extreme adversity, but far more do not

Social Braces and Superman Socks

superman socksIt pays to remember, as well, that children have little to no power to change their lot.  They are at the mercy of whatever circumstances they are born into.  And that lot is what governs their future.

Isn’t it, then, a better plan to reduce poverty and make it easier for more people to be able to ‘pull their socks up’?

Children who are fed, warm, healthy and safe learn better, not just as children but also as adults.   They are less likely to put financial burdens on society. They are more likely to do well.

The least a decent society can do is give them the basics to keep them fed and healthy, so they can learn and have a good chance.  It’s not charity.  It’s not a hand out.  It’s a hand UP.

If we want people to be able to pull their socks up as adults and we want our tamariki to succeed at school, we must prevent the metaphorical socks being so far down to begin with.

Let’s give our tamariki superman socks and watch them fly.

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Further reading:

https://blog.greens.org.nz/2014/05/14/inequality-in-new-zealand-is-getting-worse/

http://www.occ.org.nz/assets/Uploads/EAG/Final-report/Final-report-Solutions-to-child-poverty-evidence-for-action.pdf

https://saveourschoolsnz.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/inside-child-poverty-new-zealand-by-bryan-bruce/

https://saveourschoolsnz.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/breaking-non-news-the-rise-of-poverty-and-the-fall-of-the-middle-class-affect-schools/

Government error hides true size of child poverty

PovertyThe Government is continuing to fail our kids who are in poverty by not even
measuring the size of the problem correctly, the Green Party said today.

The Government has today admitted that it got its calculations wrong when
measuring child poverty and inequality. The new figures show that there are
285,000 children living in poverty, not 265,000 as previously claimed, and
that the GINI inequality index is not improving.

“There is no reason that 285,000 children should be living in poverty in
New Zealand. This Government has failed to even measure the problem
correctly, let alone do anything to fix it,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria
Turei said today.

“National has been trumpeting its supposed progress on child poverty but it
turns out that was all due to the Government doing its sums wrong. It’s not
the first time that National’s numbers have turned out to be dodgy, and it
makes you wonder what else they’ve got wrong.

“It’s past time for National to wake up to the tragedy of child poverty
that is playing out in homes all across our country. Child poverty has gotten
worse under National, rising from 240,000 in 2007 to 285,000 in 2012.

“There is no excuse for 285,000 kids to be living in poverty in a modern,
wealthy country like New Zealand. Those 285,000 kids are victims of the
choices that governments make – like National’s decision to borrow for
tax cuts for the rich at the same time as cutting Working for Families
payments.

“The Greens will do better for our kids. We will extend Working for
Families, we will invest in nurses in schools, we will set standards for
warm, healthy housing, and we will raise the minimum wage towards a living
wage for all workers,” said Mrs Turei.

New plan to establish elite teachers ignores biggest hurdle to student success – NZEI

nzei logoCreating a new elite group of “change principals” and “expert teachers” misses the biggest reason children do not succeed at school – New Zealand’s high rate of child poverty and deprivation.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Judith Nowotarski says the Prime Minister’s announcement of $395 million for new principal and teacher roles and allowances does not address the key underlying causes of student underachievement – inequity and poverty.

Judith Nowotarski says the sector should have been consulted on the best way to use the new funding to support student learning.

“For example, we would like to see better support for students with special needs, a reversal of cuts to early childhood education, better professional development for teachers and school support staff, and extra assistance for students struggling with literacy and numeracy.

“NZEI has been working with the Ministry of Education for a long time to develop a career pathway that keeps expert teachers in the classroom and welcomes recognition of the importance of quality teaching and leadership.”

However, Mrs Nowotarski says members are concerned that aspects of the package -such as parachuting highly paid change managers into struggling schools – had not worked overseas and could increase competition rather than collaboration.

“Creating sustainable change requires genuine collaboration with teachers.   With “change principals” the government is again imposing a failed overseas experiment and putting ideology ahead of what will really work for children’s education.”

Poverty of body, mind and soul

family heirloom - povertyI was having a lovely day today, reading Bridget Jones, drinking coffee, chatting with friends online, and generally swanning around enjoying myself.

Well, that is over with a bang.

How anyone could continue to be content with their lot when this is going on in our beautiful country is beyond me.  I certainly can’t.

Overall 265,000 children live in poverty – 25% of our kids.  One in four.

Not to be party political, because this is an issue for all parties and one they really must face together, but Mr Key’s assertion today that “the fastest way out of poverty was through work,”  was a total evasion of the whole problem. Two fifths of those in poverty live in homes where the parents do have jobs.  So how about maybe looking at a living wage?

And this woman is working – but that’s no help if there is nowhere for her to live other than a bloody tent!

Sorry, but I am just so incensed.

Anyway, that’s poverty and this site is about education, right?

Well, to me they are intrinsically linked.

Nourish the body, mind and soul

feed our kidsYes you can learn when you are poor, you can excel, too.  Students and teachers together do amazing things all the time and poverty is not necessarily the end of a person’s chances of success.

But – and it’s a big BUT … if you grow up in poverty, your chances of succeeding are far less than if you have food in your stomach, a warm and dry place to call home, and the money for medical care when you need it.

A child growing up in poverty suffers from stress that can impact their learning and indeed their whole lives.

A student that is cold cannot concentrate.

A student that is hungry cannot concentrate, either.

And, yes, a student that is ill and has no medication is hardly likely to be doing their best work.

Poverty and educational outcomes are linked.

Lalalala Not listening (again)

Paula Bennet on child povertySo I cannot for the life of me see why the government refuses to acknowledge AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS.

It comes to something when the Children’s Commissioner, Russell Wills,  has to find alternative funding because the government will not look into this.

Refuses to.

And Paula Bennet won’t even comment on it.

Despite plenty of research, such as that by Prof. Jonathan Boston, showing the link and the scale of the problem.

Despite Bryan Bruce’s Inside Child Poverty highlighting the issues plain and simple, and offering solutions.

Shame on this government.

Not good enough, New Zealand

Our children deserve better.

They all deserve to be fed, warm, in decent homes, have access to medical care that is free and comprehensive, and be able to learn with as few impediments as possible.

After all, this is New Zealand.  This the Godzone.  This is Aotearoa.

Our tamariki matter.

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