Kindergarten stoush badly handled

In normal circumstances, this week should be a time of celebration for Dunedin’s 24 kindergartens.

Dunedin Kindergartens (DK) proudly proclaims its position as the home of the kindergarten movement, beginning with the opening of the first kindergarten on June 10, 1889, in the Mission Hall, in what is now Carroll St.

But 135 years later, the movement here finds itself in a messy stoush over future control of local kindergartens and proposed changes to the way they operate.

Some parents have been alarmed at the proposals, which they say lack local voices and vision in favour of top-down management likely to be out of touch with communities.

They also worry the changes could lead to unaffordable fee increases and ultimately kindergarten closures.

On the other side, DK and the national body, New Zealand Kindergartens (NZK), say a major overhaul is needed to keep the association afloat and ensure its long-term viability.

Changes proposed include governance through a national board, moving to full day and all-year-round operations and changing to a 20-hours-free and cost-recovery model for fees.

Such major changes were always likely to be contentious.

All the more reason for communication around them to be top notch from the outset and for parents to feel their input was being heard.

The unedifying spectacle of frustrated people shouting at each other at the April annual meeting should have made it clear to DK and NZK there was a real communication problem.

At that meeting parents said they were blindsided by the announcement the DK board elections were suspended and NZK was stepping in to the governance of the kindergartens as part of a one-year pilot. DK says it advised its members of the proposals prior to the meeting.

Photo: file
Photo: file
There has been some acknowledgement from the DK board communication could have been better and that it had tried to progress constitutional change too quickly, but there does not seem to have been any real attempt to find some middle ground, perhaps with the help of a dispute-resolution practitioner.

This week’s letter from NZK and DK to parents warning a vote at tonight’s extraordinary meeting to break away from the national body could result in the winding up of all DK kindergartens was unhelpful scaremongering brinkmanship only likely to promote further division.

Regardless of the outcome of the vote tonight, there will be people left smarting and disgruntled. It did not need to be this way.

Cancer drug funding uncertainty

AS the weeks roll on from news of the government’s failure to fulfil its promise to fund 13 named cancer drugs in last week’s Budget, we are no closer to knowing how or when this will be resolved.

Health Minister Dr Shane Reti waffling apologetically to RNZ about the poor communication around the issue and how the government is working through the options for procurement will not be reassuring to anyone waiting for the promise to be kept.

Dr Reti also referred to the need for infrastructure to be developed for intravenous administration of some of the drugs.

As we said in our previous editorial on this topic, the impact of the current short-staffing in medical oncology on the logistics of delivering on the promise has never been spelled out.

It is not good enough for Dr Reti to suggest not having access to the tools of government as an excuse for the dilemma the government is facing.

It should have worked out how it was going to buy the drugs and how readily the system would cope with their administration before making the promise.

As former Pharmac chairman Steve Maharey says, if the government chooses to step outside the Pharmac model to buy these drugs it will set itself up to come under pressure from people expecting it to do the same for other drugs.

What National might have thought was smart politics during the election campaign is turning out to be dumb stuff, to borrow one of the Prime Minister’s favourite phrases.