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"Look at us" say the early childhood sector

"Look at us" say the early childhood sector.

The Early Childhood Council congratulates Deborah Coddington on her new book "Let Parents Choose". CEO Sue Thorne says she is thrilled that it is finally being recognised that a regulatory and funding model that takes the power away from politicians and bureaucrats and places it firmly in the hands of parents and education professionals is the way to raise our education standards.

"This is exactly the model that has allowed the New Zealand early childhood sector to flourish since the early 1990's when funding that follows the child was introduced by the Lange Government. The State's involvement in early childhood has been as a funder, not a provider which accounts for the responsiveness, diversity and vibrancy of the sector. It's not compulsory for a child to participate in formal early childhood education yet the sector enjoys a voluntary participation rate of 98.5% for 4 year olds. Parents choose to enrol their children in a particular service because it is providing what they want for their child. The decisions about which services thrive and which ones close are not made by bureaucrats in Wellington, but are in the hands of parents. And parents and professionals are free to establish the services they want if their needs are not being meet in a particular community," said Mrs Thorne

For years complacent New Zealand parents have sat back and watched the State monopoly dictate to them the one size fits all model of education that their children will receive once they turn 6. They have blindly accepted that once their child goes to school their rights are extinguished and the State surely must know best. It is only now as they see overwhelming evidence of increasing numbers of children leaving school after 15,000 hours of compulsory education without the basic numeracy and literacy skills needed to become useful members of society that they are beginning to realise that indeed the State does not know best. The number of failing children is clear evidence of that.

Thanks to books like Deborah's and the recently released "Schools of Excellence" policy paper from the National Party, parents will realise that for years they have been duped into funding a poor education system through their taxes.

The reforms being suggested by the centre right parties for the compulsory education sector are long overdue. And we suggest parents, politicians, and policymakers look no further than the NZ early childhood sector for a shining example of the success of a model "lets parents choose".

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