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Be the village for Kiwi kids in need



Sometimes a cause touches your heart, and for me that is SmileDial.

SmileDial is a charity that does something special.  Kelly Dougan, SmileDial CEO explains:

“In 2011 I became the parent to a child with special needs and soon found that there was very limited support for parents and families like mine. It seemed the focus was always on the child with the special need yet mums, dads and siblings were not provided the support they required (and deserved).

I created SmileDialNZ (a registered charity) to “Support Kiwi Families Raising Kids With Special Needs” to fill this gap and provide the support so desperately required.

Since then we have supported thousands of families all over New Zealand with luxury weekends for mums and dads, home renovations, financial support, huge family events, Christmas gifts, sky diving, entertainment vouchers, airfares, specialist care and so much more totalling over $200 000 of support.”

To keep SmileDial running, funds are needed to pay Kelly. If he isn’t paid in this role, he will have to go and get another paid job – he has a family, too. But all donations to SmileDial go 100% to the families, and applications for grants have not so far secured the funds needed.

So to keep SmileDial helping people on the scale it does, a wages fund has been set up and a cash giveaway competition has been entered which has the potential to win them $5k or $10k.

How is SOSNZ Helping?

Well, SOSNZ has no money, but I have plenty of ingenuity, so I’m hiring myself out to friends in my community and they are paying my ‘wages’ to SmileDial. So far I’m booked for gardening, garage clearing, babysitting, cleaning, cooking, driving, and to go have coffee with someone!

And all the money I earn is paid straight to SmileDial, to Kelly’s wages fund, so he can continue the great work.

How can you help?

Easy! You can help by voting for them in the Jenian Homes cash giveaway. With a click of the mouse, you’ll be helping them towards winning $5k or $10k – money they desperately need to keep going.

So please do you bit –  just click and vote – it’s really that easy.

Oh, and share to get others voting, please.

Another way to help…

Also, if you are able to make a donation or set up a standing order (no matter how small), please make it to:

Acct name: SmileDial

Acct #: 03-1700-0623377-000

Reference: Wages

Other ref: SOSNZ

It takes a village, and that village is us.

Thank you, Dianne

Pssst – please remember to do you bit –  click and vote 

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child

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:


Kids more likely to be in poverty than any other group in NZ – Tick For Kids

tick for kids very large logo w quote

More than 30 organisations supporting the Tick for Kids campaign leading up to the General Election on 20 September are disappointed to see the latest Household Incomes Report and Economic Survey showing there are still far too many children living in poverty, leading to many going without the basic good and services they need.  Children carry a disproportionate burden of poverty in New Zealand, with 22 percent of those aged 0-17 years in poverty because policies do not maintain adequate income levels for young families and housing costs lead to high outgoings.

Director of Mana Ririki, and Tick for Kids spokesperson, Anton Blank said, “The report confirms the difference that can be made to New Zealanders’ standard of living when the right policies are in place.  Older people are a powerful lobby group – consequently the political parties have responded with policies that provide a guaranteed minimum level of income that keeps up with inflation and wage growth.  Just 7 percent of those over 65 years live in poverty.

“The report released today is a reminder of what happens when voters and political parties ignore children.  It shows a widening gap in the incomes of those on benefits and those on wages, particularly for sole parent families.  It also shows that half of families living in rental accommodation and receiving the Accommodation Supplement are paying more than 50 percent of their incomes on housing costs.

“Successive governments have neglected children and voters have allowed them to do so.  As a result, children are those most likely to live in poverty – with all of the negative health and education impacts that result from it.  The reports shows that:

  • half of poor children are Maori/Pacific (34% of all children are Maori/Pacific).
  • half of poor children are from sole parent families and half from two parent (24% of all children are from sole parent families).
  • half of poor children are from households where the highest educational qualification for parent(s) is school or less (31% of all children are in these families).

“Anyone concerned to ensure that New Zealand is a secure, productive and creative nation needs to call on political parties to prioritise children.  It is time to build the political consensus that ensures children have a standard of living that supports their development and meets our nation’s legal obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said Mr Blank.

Baby charter schools raise more questions – NZEI

charter schools look before you leapNZEI Te Riu Roa says concerns around the potential of new charter schools being extended to babies and pre-schoolers show that the government needs to come clean about the full extent of its plans for the education sector before the election.

NZEI President Judith Nowotarski said extending the charter school experiment to babies signalled a radical escalation of the privately-owned and taxpayer-funded schools that were supposedly a “trial” when the first five schools opened this year.

“How far and how quickly is the government planning to bring the private sector into the running of our schools? And how long will they continue to fund these charter schools at a far higher rate than public schools? Voters have a right to know before the election,” she said.

A preference for charter school models catering to 0-8-year-olds was one of six preferences listed for second round applicants, with successful applicants expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Ms Nowotarski said since charter schools were outcomes-based, the threat of toddlers being tested and measured against each other was very real.

When asked about charter schools for pre-schoolers this week, Education Minister Hekia Parata told One News, “At the point that we decide on particular partnership schools, we then go into our contract negotiation, and it would be in that phase, against a specific proposal, that we would agree what the targets and measures are.”

Ms Nowotarski said most parents would be appalled at the thought of targets and measures being applied to their very young children.

“Children learn in different ways at their own individual pace. National standards for primary school students is bad enough, but the thought of applying a similar measure to toddlers and labelling their natural development is just appalling,” she said.

“Charter schools are not required to hire trained teachers, so even the current minimum requirement of 50% trained teachers in early childhood centres could possibly be side-stepped by charter school providers in pursuit of profits.”

Questions were raised in Parliament this week about whether the extra government funding that babies and pre-schoolers attract could instead be diverted to run the rest of the school or boost owners’ profits. Opposition parties also raised the mixed results of charter schools so far and the risk that taxpayer-funded assets may be lost if a school closes.

New Zealanders coming together to put children on the election agenda

tick for kids very large logo w quote

The launch of the Tick for Kids campaign  marks the beginning of a national movement to create the political will to improve the status and wellbeing of Kiwi Kids in the lead up to the election and into the new parliament. UNICEF NZ is pleased to be playing a central role in Tick for Kids and urges all New Zealanders to get involved.

UNICEF NZ National Advocacy Manager and Tick for Kids spokesperson, Deborah Morris-Travers, said, “Political parties are starting to pay attention to the growing public concern about children suffering permanent damage from rheumatic fever, going without nutritious food and blankets on cold nights, and unable to participate in the ordinary activities we expect for Kiwi kids, like school trips.  We all want Kiwi kids to do well.”

In the lead up to the election, Tick for Kids will reinforce the message that our country will only do well when our children do well using the slogan, ‘It takes a child to raise a country!’ 

 Ms Morris Travers added, “Tick for Kids includes UNICEF NZ, Plunket, the Paediatric Society, the Royal NZ College of Public Health Medicine, the National Council of Women, and a range of others concerned that political parties have not paid enough attention to child wellbeing.

“The campaign will be working to engage the public so that all of the parties take meaningful action to address the public policy issues that can help improve life for families and children.  People interested in supporting the campaign can contact any of the partner organisations to offer help with local events, to find out what questions to ask candidates, or to write to MPs.

An advocacy toolkit is available at

“It’s essential that all parties have strong policies for children that give effect to children’s rights, so that the new parliament can make progress on some of the urgent issues facing children and their families. Tick for Kids will remind voters to keep children in mind when they go to vote.

“It’s a truism to say that our future depends on today’s children, but somehow successive governments seem to have forgotten how important our children are.  It’s only a few years until the number of labour market entrants will be on a par with the number of people leaving the labour market to retire* – reinforcing the urgency to ensure that all children are healthy, educated, safe and able to participate.

“UNICEF NZ urges all parties to engage positively with debate about children’s rights and interests in the election campaign and to prepare bold policies designed to make a significant difference for children,” concluded Ms Morris-Travers.

Campaign launch Tuesday 17 June at 11.30am


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.


Further reading:

Principals urge government to put our children first

We wish to add our voices to the growing number of New Zealand’s principals expressing concern over the government’s direction, implementation and timeframe of its Investing in Education Success initiative.

While acknowledging the commitment in making New Zealand’s education system second to none, pumping $359 million into schools without transparency and meaningful engagement with the sector is throwing the money away. We urgently ask that the government first lift its constraints already placed around the funding and secondly, consider without prejudice, the overwhelming evidence around what can best be done to support our children and ultimately our society as a whole.

invest wiselyNew Zealand evidence based research provides a clear pathway for governments to follow if they are to effect real change for our children, particularly the ones who comprise the tail. The first three years of a child’s life clearly determines future outcomes for that child and ultimately our nation. Research shows clearly that poor patterns of behaviour, disconnectedness, failure to provide for adequate bonding, limited economic involvement etc., all have an effect on a child’s potential and achievement at school. Targeting resources to developing consistent, sustainable support for our children from birth to three years old will be a better spend than on the leadership proposals of the government. If positive patterns are not supported in these early years then the negative patterns are set for the future.

While the support for schools and the education sector is welcomed, we urge the government to meaningfully and collaboratively engage with the education sector without the straightjacket, in order to determine where best that resource can be applied, to effect real change.

Democracy should not exclude or restrict those who are directly engaged in the delivery of service from informing decisions – decision-making needs to be inclusive and transparent. The government’s willingness to provide significant financial resources to lift achievement around supporting change should be the catalyst to engage with the profession to effect the best possible outcomes. Unfortunately the format for this expenditure has been set with deliberately minimal opportunity for input from the sector – consultation being an ‘added extra after the fact.’

Rather than inject a large single resource at the top via salaries, we say give the money to the kids as early as possible in a real effort to effect long term change that will benefit children, families, and society as a whole.

Kelvin Woodley – Principal, Tapawera Area School

Bruce Pagan – Principal, Kaikoura Primary School

Ernie Buutveld – Principal, Havelock School

Christian Couper – Principal Little River School

Peter King – Principal, Maruia School


For more information contact:
Kelvin Woodley – Principal Tapawera Area School

021 024 75147 or 03 522 4337

Global Citizenship – Growing children’s compassion, respect and leadership

hands worldThe most valuable skills we can give our children are those that help them care for, understand, and be tolerant of others.  How good we are at reading, running, experimenting, calculating, writing and all that other great stuff is important.  But the value of being a positive global citizen is immeasurable.

What is a global citizen? 

There are many definitions, but in essence it boils down to:

  • caring for ourselves and others, worldwide.
  • understanding that our actions have an impact here and around the world.
  • taking action to build a more just and sustainable world.

You are the changeLEARN MORE

If you are a social media junkie, like myself, you might want to go look at the NZ Global Citizen Facebook page and learn more there.

You might also want to talk to other schools, such as Auckland Girls’ Grammar School or  Tairua Primary School, that have already invested in explicitly exploring and promoting global citizenship, incorporating it into their learning “to develop Global Citizens of the Future, citizens that will contribute to society in diverse and creative ways.”  Look here for information on what Tairua School are doing and how – it’s very inspiring.


global citizensI love the idea of Purple Cake Day.  It’s a charity event that supports children worldwide to receive the education they need to break the poverty cycle and create a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities. It’s about ‘kids helping kids’. The activities celebrate and connect children around the world, helping them learn about their role in the global community, and grow their sense of compassion, respect and leadership. This year’s global Purple Cake Day is Friday March 7th, but if this doesn’t suit you can still get involved – just choose a day and GO PURPLE!  You can find out all about it here.

World Vision run the Kids for Kids annual choir event, with thousands of children singing together.  The Kids for Kids event “encourages young people, their whanau and school communities to make a difference in the lives of children around the globe, through the work of World Vision” and helps “schools introduce the concept of global citizenship” to students.  World Vision provides schools with resources that teachers can use to help students understand and discuss the causes and consequences of global poverty, in order to develop compassion for others and build a desire to take appropriate action.


Are you a global citizenThere are NZ curriculum resources that look at New Zealand citizenship, but is very much focused on being an NZ citizen rather than a global one.  Nevertheless, it might be a good unit with which to introduce the wider topic, especially given the diverse make up of Aotearoa.

World Vision has a heap of teacher resources on global citizenship, including online games, web links to other students, videos, photo sets, FREE photo posters, student textbooks and teacher resource folders, so there is plenty there for any school to use to start to look at global citizenship

Oxfam has some good resources on its site, much of which are aimed at Britain but that can be used as a good starting point for teachers anywhere.

UN Youth Aotearoa New Zealand  has good information for schools and teachers to review, in order to look at the issues and consider how global citizenship can be included in the school’s vision  and/or planning.  UN Youth’s goal in this is:

The promotion of attitudes that reflect an openness, interest, and positive attitude towards cultural differences. This will empower students who do not have the opportunity to develop such attitudes at home, and will also engage students for whom cross-cultural navigation is a more frequent experience.


Tertiary education institutions also support and promote global citizenship.  For example, Auckland University is part of AIESEC New Zealand, which “runs the Global Citizen programme for students of New Zealand tertiary institutes to go abroad and create a positive impact in society while connecting to the local realities of different communities”.  It challenges students to:


And there it is in a nutshell, what it is all about.  Being more able to see things through other people’s eyes.  That can only ever be a good thing.



Further reading and sources:

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

“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.

When young children know they are being graded…

This is a 7 year old child.  Here she is feeling the pressure to be great, to excel, to not get left behind, not be put in extra help.  She has internalised the message that she is being graded – you have to get everything right. Her mother has told her it’s okay to leave the problem, but she won’t. Is this what education is about? Her mother thinks not, I think not, what about you?

Something is seriously wrong when 7 year olds areinternalising educational pressures this way.

Something is seriously wrong when 7 year olds are internalising educational pressures this way.

This child’s mother writes:

This is my daughter … I want to take a moment to explain this image so as those who do not know me, can understand how this image came to be. 

I am a photographer, a hobby farmer, a child advocate and a mother of 3 elementary-aged children. This is my middle child in the photo … she is 7 and is in 2nd grade. My kindergartner and my 4th grader were already finished with their homework and had left the table. I had brought my camera in to work on my white balance skills while shooting in low light as I had a session the next morning to prep for. 

After checking her work, I had found 2 math problems were incorrect. I tried to help her understand where she went wrong through her process but I don’t understand it myself and was not much help. 

I told her to forget about it and we’d try again tomorrow but she became very upset that she could not get the answer and kept trying and trying to fix it. She is hard on herself as she very much wants to excel in school and not be pulled for extra help all of the time. I was talking to her and clicking my camera as I changed settings … it’s something that is very common in our household … and that is when I caught this image. 

Please know that 5 minutes later I had convinced her to leave the homework behind and go snuggle with her dad on the couch and watch some Olympics coverage. She is not neglected. She was not abused or left alone to cry. And this photo was not staged.

This is America with the Common Core.  It will be here in New Zealand soon if we continue to focus only on standards and benchmarks for our primary school children.

Let them learn.  Let them enjoy.  Let them grow.


One in five gets a raw deal in NZ…

Funny how on one hand we’ve got Hekia Parata having a pink fit that 1 in 5 leaves school without NCEA2 in maths and English….

and on the other hand Paula Bennett saying 1 in 5 children in poverty ain’t so bad….

and both insisting there is no link between the two….


Paula and Hekia 1 in 5


Might want to read some actual research on that, ladies….

To improve student achievement, we must face the real problems

Who achieves what in secondary schooling? A conceptual and empirical analysis

Child Poverty Expert Goes it Alone – Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills has decided to publish his own annual stock take of child poverty after the Government spurned his call to publish official measures and targets.

Mind The Gap – A documentary about growing inequality and poverty in New Zealand, by Bryan Bruce


Inside Child Poverty New Zealand, by Bryan Bruce

poverty - bare feet OK, let’s get some things straight about providing free healthy meals in schools.

1.  First of all let’s decide on the principle before arguing about the detail.

Let’s admit there is a significant problem of children turning up to school hungry and that a lot of kids are eating low cost foods that contain a lot of sugar and fat , causing obesity , diabetes and long term health problems.

And at least get the Feed The Kids Bill to Parliamentary Select Committee.  You can argue all you want about how it should be funded or what’s going to be on the menu there.

If you don’t think we have a community responsibility to feed children and/or educate their palates to healthy eating habits – then read no further it will only make you angry.

2. It doesn’t fill a hungry kids tummy to point at their parents and shout “Your problem is you have bad parents”.

Inside Child Poverty New Zealand takes the view that kids don’t get to choose their parents and we have a community responsibility to ALL our kids to make sure they grow up healthy. And if that means feeding them for free- then that’s what we do.

lunch box3.  No one is going to force feed any child food they don’t want to eat or is culturally inappropriate.

If you watch the video that I filmed in Sweden for the documentary you will see children from multi -cultural backgrounds CHOOSING their food. And Yes children with allergies are catered for and Yes children can still bring their own lunch prepared by the parents .

4. Free healthy school meals can be paid for without raising taxes. We just choose to re-distribute the existing pool of tax payer money and give up on some other things.

Here are some suggestions.  I’m sure you can think of other ways we could spend smarter.

  • (a) We could fund school meals out of the Health vote rather than the Education vote. In a document released under the Official Information Act I revealed that children under 14 receive 10% of the money set aside for health care. But children under 14 represent 20% of our population. So we could fund some of it – if not all of it – by giving kids their fair share.
  • (b )It is a well accepted health statistic that for every $1 we spend on preventing disease we save $4 in expensive hospital cure. So within a few years the scheme will fund itself out of what we save. If we DON’T do it, taxpayers will be spending much more than they are now on the Health budget in the future.
  • (c) We could make children a spending priority. National plans to spend a billion a year on Roads of National Significance over the next 10 years. What about Children? – aren’t they of National Signifcance? I’d much rather feed our kids than be able to by – pass small towns while driving to Auckland.
  • (d) We could pay the pension to people when they actually stop working and not just because they reach 65.
  • (e) We could spend more energy making sure people paid their taxes . Last year the IRD detected about a Billion dollars worth of tax evasion mostly by businesses. It’s estimated that the real tax evasion in NZ is between 4 and 5 Billion.

we have enough - shareIf you pay PAYE you can’t cheat your taxes.  So we could easily pay for free school meals if more adults played fair.

Let’s impose greater penalties for tax evasion, and let’s stop thinking of tax as a bad thing.  Tax is a good thing – it’s giving to ourselves.  That’s how we can have schools and hospitals and yes even Roads Of National significance. Tax is the price of civilisation.  Get over it.

Now whether you agree with some of the above, all of the above or none of the above , let’s at least agree that the Feed The Kids Bill should at least go to Select Committee after its First Reading so the issue can be properly debated.

Please contact your local MP today and urge them to support the Feed The Kids Bill.

You can find their contact details here – just click on their name.

Thank you,

About Bryan:

Award winning documentary maker Bryan Bruce spent 6 months investigating what’s gone wrong with child health in New Zealand and what we can do about it.

He interviewed parents , teachers and health professionals, he even went to Sweden to find out why they are No2 in the OECD for child well being and we are second to bottom at No 28.

1 in 5 of our children now live in a home where the principal care giver is on some sort of benefit . It is children from these low income families who are largely suffering a number of the diseases associated with poverty including Rheumatic fever, Tuberculosis and serious skin infections.

Bryan is convinced from what he has seen in Sweden that there are many things we can do today that would solve our child health problems. So please watch and make your thoughts and feelings known to your local politician.

Follow his work and add your voice here.

Some of Bryan’s other work:

New Zealand Child Poverty in this day and age?

Why New Zealand Has Child Poverty

Join the discussions online:

Inside Child Poverty New Zealand – Facebook Page

hungry girl

Stop Blaming Schools for Inequality – Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch shares her thoughts on inequality – thoughts that apply as much to NZ as they do to the USA:

“In a terrific opinion piece that was prominently featured in the Sunday New York Times, Sean Reardon of Stanford University wrote that the gap between the children of the rich and the children of the poor has grown by 40% in the past 30 years.

Reardon puts to rest virtually every reformer myth: schools don’t cause inequality; schools don’t cure inequality: the achievement gap(s) begin before the first day of school. Stop blaming schools for conditions beyond their control. Poverty matters.

Reardon writes : “We are still talking about this despite decades of clucking about the crisis in American education and wave after wave of school reform.Whatever we’ve been doing in our schools, it hasn’t reduced educational inequality between children from upper- and lower-income families.”

What have we been doing for the past 30 years? Relying on standards and testing to close the gaps. It hasn’t worked.

Are schools to blame for the growing gap? Reardon says no: “It may seem counterintuitive, but schools don’t seem to produce much of the disparity in test scores between high- and low-income students. We know this because children from rich and poor families score very differently on school readiness tests when they enter kindergarten, and this gap grows by less than 10 percent between kindergarten and high school.”

If the schools are not to blame, what is: Reardon says that growing income inequality is an important cause of the growing education gap.

But that’s not all. Rich families invest heir income in cognitively enriching activities: “It’s not clear what we should do about all this. Partly that’s because much of our public conversation about education is focused on the wrong culprits: we blame failing schools and the behavior of the poor for trends that are really the result of deepening income inequality and the behavior of the rich.”

What can we do? Reardon says, parent education, early intervention, support for children before the GPS grow wide: “The more we do to ensure that all children have similar cognitively stimulating early childhood experiences, the less we will have to worry about failing schools. This in turn will enable us to let our schools focus on teaching the skills — how to solve complex problems, how to think critically and how to collaborate — essential to a growing economy and a lively democracy.”

The original post can be found here.

Some things cannot be measured by a test and yet are the true measure of a person

random kindnessThis has blown me away and I just have to share it as it speaks volumes about what really matters in a person:

Me and the 4 year old banshee were in Pak ‘n’ Save, about to repack the stuff, and we passed three young lads playing with swords as their mum packed.   She told them to be careful as we passed, and I said it was okay cos the banshee and I appreciate a good Ninja game 🙂

The banshee sat on the side, watching the lads play for a few minutes, then one came over and gave him a sword to join in.  About a minute later the family were ready to go…. so the lady asked her boys if they would give my wee lad the sword, the scabbard etc to keep, and the boys beamed a huge smile and walked straight up to him and handed it over!

Really!  They just gave a stranger their toy!

My boy was aghast – I was aghast!

I told the boys they were the most kind and thoughtful children I had met in a very long time and should be so proud of themselves.  Then the mother and I looked at each other, both smiled with tears in our eyes, and off they went.

I am totally blown away by it.

Thanks you, lovely lady, whoever you are. Your boys are blessed to have you, and you to have them x

“A young magician in the streets of Cairns also had the right idea. He was accompanied by some young children and they worked as assistant magicians for him.

After watching the street show for a while I said to him, ”You should be a teacher”. ” I am, he replied, these are four of my pupils.”

A member of the watching crowd pulled me aside and said, “He is the greatest teacher we have ever had in this town.

The kids love him.  All the parents try to get their kids in his class.”

Apparently magic was an integral part of the classroom activities. Shades of Harry Potter.”

The Treehorn Express

Treehorn Express:

Shared opinions soaked in knowledge & experience – all well tested.


Distinguished Guest Writer

Bob Phillips

Bob Phillips has had a varied and intensive life as an educator. During his first eight years as a primary teacher in NSW he developed a keen interest in ‘how to make learning more interesting and meaningful’. Recognised for his outstanding talent, he moved into curriculum development and undertook ‘the interaction between curriculum and teaching’ as a major study. His career focussed on four major focal points:- Mathematics & Curriculum (1964-1990); Research & Scholarship (1973-1993): Development Education(1969-2003); Teacher Education (1969-1993).

Early in his career he worked as a Research Fellow, studying teacher education and testing of children using hypotheses based on psychological principles of learning and development. Pursuing his passion for learning he was a visiting scholar to the Universities at Virginia, Houston and Haifa. His abilities led him to…

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