Greens pledge help for low-decile schools

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei announced the policy today. File photo / Brett Phibbs
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei announced the policy today. File photo / Brett Phibbs
The Green Party has launched its election year by announcing a $90 million a year package for low decile schools, including free after school care and holiday programmes, free lunches, and school nurses in every decile 1-4 primary and intermediate school.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei announced the package, dubbed Schools at the Heart, at the Green's annual 'State of the Planet' picnic in Wellington today.

She said the measures were aimed at tackling inequality and would be delivered through "community hubs" set up in every decile 1-4 primary and intermediate schools. The party also wanted to build at least 20 new early childhood centres in low decile primary schools, which it expected to cost $25 million.

"The evidence shows that if kids are fed, are healthy and have the support services they need then they do better at school. This announcement represents a significant commitment to eradicating inequality in New Zealand and it's effects."

The hubs would be led by a school hub coordinator whose role would be to recruit adult and community educators, as well as early childhood, social and health services, and look at other ways to develop services which were needed in any particular school community.

Ms Turei said ensuring children were fed and healthy was critical for learning.

"Kids in lower decile schools will be fed through a national school lunch fund, sick kids will get medical attention from dedicated school nurses, and families will get the support they need to work, further their own education and be engaged in their kids' learning."

The hub coordinators would take the workload of establishing the hubs off teachers and leave them free to teach.

Ms Turei was critical of the National Party's education announcement last week. That policy rewarded good teachers and principals and set up a system for them to share their skills and knowledge across other schools. Ms Turei said it did nothing to address the primary cause of under-achievement which was poverty.

Education was the most important factor in a child's ability to escape poverty, she said.

"But's that's a challenge because a poor kid here is less likely to do well at school than a poor kid in almost any other developed country."

The Greens policy would secure savings in health, education, stable school rolls as well as stronger communities, she said.

Ms Turei also said reducing inequality would be the Greens' primary focus in the election year. She said the party's time had come to be part of a Government, and although it recognised it would have to compromise for that to happen, it would not compromise on its values such as reducing inequality.

In May last year, Prime Minister John Key announced a further $9.5 million over five years for the current KickStart programme run by Fonterra and Sanitarium. That was to allow the breakfast in low decile schools programme to be extended to five days a week and to more schools.

The policy included:

* employing a hub coordinator in each of the targeted schools, at a cost of $28.5 million;

* free after school and holiday care programmes for the targeted schools at a cost of $10 million a year, as well as extending the current after-school care subsidies to children at decile 5-10 schools;

* a national school lunch fund, expected to cost $40 million a year, to provide lunch at all decile 1-4 schools, and other schools where there was a need; and

* dedicated school nurses in the targeted schools, expected to cost $11.6 million a year.

- Claire Trevett of NZ Herald

Borrow

They'll probably borrow it like National did for tax cuts for their mates (not social programmes), Dunedin Born.

The money

The Greens have wonderful social programmes, but they need to support mining, because the money has to come from somewhere.  Where is the money coming from Greens?

Take with one hand and give with the other

Turei says that the existing breakfast programme is likely to be axed, even though it's half funded by corporates. Indeed, because it's half funded by corporates. Rather she would use loads of tax payer dollars only and give the kids lunch instead which is not as important as breakfast. Mind blowing how they think they can just tax us for their sticking plaster policies.

The Magic Money Tree

Some good stuff in these announcements, and a clear example that the Green Party do provide an important, and intelligent, position with respect to social-community justice. However, unless they can find a business growth agenda (which is relevant, not just ideologically dogmatic) then how will they fund these initiatives if they were ever in parliament? Planting magic money trees is not the answer either, these guys have to become business friendly, or business relevant at least, to ever have a chance of shifting from niche to mainstream.

Reduce inapropriate spending then

If the Greens are that serious about reducing povety, they would put more emphasis on the way the parents are spending the welfare cheque they are given which is actually meant for their child's welfare and not for their weekly pokies, racing, lotto, smokes and beer money so many are spending it on at the expense of their kids' welfare. This is ambulance at the bottom of the cliff policy, start with the parents and what responsible decisions they are making for the reduction of povety, are Iphones, sky TV, mag wheels, turbo charged cars & maccas everyday important to a kids survival? ironic when hard working people cannot afford half the luxuries welfare dependants can. Remove the cash from the welfare system now.

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