Recently, Wellington parenting writer Emily Writes stood at the steps of Parliament and issued stern warning to our country’s politicians as they approach September’s general election.
“Parents are a powerful force,” the author of Rants in the Dark warned. “Ignore us at your peril. Because when it’s time to vote, we’ll be voting for our children. And if you don’t listen to us, you don’t stay in Government and you won’t be in Government.”
Emily, who is gaining a global reputation for her witty, and uncensored views on the challenges of parenting, was speaking at the launch of the Have a Heart pledge to restore funding and quality in early childhood education.
And in her own brutally inspiring way, she hammered home the message the NZEI Te Riu Roa will be spreading this year:
- Election 2017 is an enormous opportunity to fix education and get it right for all our children.
- New Zealand can afford to provide the best education in the world, for every child.
- Despite our political differences, almost all New Zealanders believe children have the right to have their learning nurtured through the best education we can possibly give them.
- By putting the child’s right to that education at the centre of the upcoming election, we can win for this generation of young people, and the next, no matter who’s in power.
One of the goals of projects like the Have a Heart pledge is to give voters a clear choice between those parties that are prepared to put children’s rights first, and those who aren’t.
The other goal is to achieve good change now with the Government we’ve got.
Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First signed up to the Have a Heart pledge that day, promising to restore millions in funding that the Government has stripped from ECE through seven years of freezes, and to restore the goals of 100 percent qualified teachers in ECE.
Now the focus moves to the National Government. Will Ministers continue underfunding ECE or will they listen to parents like Emily, and educators, like NZEI members and show every child they’re worth the best education we can give them?
As the election approaches, the power of those of us who’ve come together to fight for children’s education grows and the hope for change increases.
Getting used to winning
When the Government is denying so many children the support they need to learn, and schools and ECE services are buckling under its funding cuts, it’s easy to lose hope.
But there have been some huge wins for us to draw hope from.
Together, we won a u-turn from the Government on its attempt to increase class sizes, and we defeated its plans to introduce bulk funding. These were huge victories for our children, and for the taonga of public education.
Together shown we can win, and we can influence. Securing a funding jolt for schools, and the restoration of funding and quality in ECE is the next win on the horizon. It’s the best opportunity we have to get the change our children need.
And the good thing is, parents are standing with us.
The night before she spoke at the Have a Heart pledge launch, Emily Writes reached out to thousands of parents around New Zealand who read her blog and asked what messages they had for educators and for the politicians.
“They wanted me to come here today and speak for them,” Emily told the politicians, teachers, support staff and parents who were there.
“They wanted me to say to you – educators of New Zealand – we support you, we stand with you, we love you. You are our village. You love our children as your own. You raise them with us. And nobody is going to mess with our village.
And to politicians, she reminded them. “Hear us. We are fighting for our children. We are fighting for our teachers. Every child counts and no child will be left behind.
“But I can absolutely assure you – your party will be left behind after the election if you don’t listen to us.”