Wonderful Progress!

April 3, 2008

Here is the text of the press release today!!!

“The changes in Ministerial duties and departmental responsibilities reflect the need to improve the way services and programs are provided to Islanders,” the Premier said.  “In particular, I believe the new emphasis on rural development will assist many communities to thrive in a changing world. In particular, I am confident that this approach will offer many more Islanders the opportunity to stay within their home communities – and still participate in a changing economy.”

As a result of the changes, three Ministers were sworn by the Lieutenant-Governor to new responsibilities:
  • The Honourable Allan Campbell is now the Minister of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development.
  • The Honourable Richard Brown is now the Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning.
  • The Honourable Gerard Greenan is now the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.
 “The decision to blend responsibilities for early childhood development with education makes perfect sense,” the Premier said. “The team that I have the honour to lead is very serious about improving the supports provided to families as they prepare their children for the education system. Government recognizes that education begins at home, and the new Department will ensure that there is a high level of continuity between early childhood and school programs.”
Finally, the new Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning will help government to sharply focus on the province’s inherent economic strengths.
“As I have said in the past, Prince Edward Island is not rich in natural resources like minerals or oil. Instead, our greatest resource is our people,” the Premier said.
“The new Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning will provide government with the tools to invest in Islanders, whether that is through the education system or through appropriate assistance to innovative new businesses.”
Over the course of the upcoming legislative session, further details on government’s specific policy direction will be announced. The Speech from the Throne will be read April 4th, 2008.
“The Speech will clearly spell out government’s plans for the next several years –  and offer a significant amount of detail about the changes that will take place. Of course, the budget will also offer government the opportunity to clearly demonstrate its plans. I am also looking forward to the release of a new economic strategy, which will help to guide decision making about the investment of public resources into areas designed to improve the Island’s economic performance in the years and decades to come,” the Premier said.
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What do we stand for? Our Kids and Our Future as a Society

March 15, 2008

Angie asked me to be more clear about what we stand for. We stand for our children and we stand for making their chance at being all that they can be be our priority. We have asked the Government to take a time out and hold off piecemeal change. We have asked them to look at the complete picture that is our children – how they are doing and what kind of result we need and why.

We have said that we will only have trouble and even tragedy if we continue to try and accommodate the competing and irreconcilable interests of the people who earn their living in the sector. We are saying that if we put what our children and our society needs first – then we can fit the suppliers into that picture.

I am sure that I may be upsetting you as I make these statements – so please look at the current reality: please have a look at Teresa Wright’s excellent piece in the Guardian today and ask yourself – how would any person reconcile the competing needs of the stakeholders – the owners, the ECE’s and the Teachers?

  • A small inner group of daycare owners and kindergarten who are worried about new competition or worse – universal Kindergarten – that would threaten their living.
  • ECE’s who are worried that Teachers will take their jobs
  • Teachers who are worried about declining enrollment and see Kindergarten as an opportunity to protect their jobs

This is only human – the livelihoods and the place in society that all hold dear are threatened by any change.

For each of these parties to WIN – means a loss for the others. More daycares and kindergartens of a higher quality than the existing ones, threaten the establishment. So the needs for parents to find more quality and more choice in blocked.

This need to protect the current owners is behind the existence of the Board and behind the attempt to change the act to give the board discretion. It is not about qulaity but protection.

Because we have the system we have, we don’t have quality care available to all children and we don’t even talk about them. Because our system is not universal – very large numbers of children have no access to quality care of any kind – their interests are never given voice.

The people who have the voice are those that have a stake. Owners, ECE’s and Teachers circle each other like packs of wild animals staking out their territory.

Where in all of this bitter life and death contest are the interests of children?

If we stay at this level of debate – the interests cannot be reconciled and the certain losers will be our kids and hence all of us.

For there is another layer of context fro all of this. We will have very few young when we are old. PEI will have amongst the least. Currently about 70% of the young who emerge from high school have neither the skills or the wherewithal to cope in society. We face a terrible crisis. Unless we can shift this so that many more can cope, can work, can be relied on to act as fully fledged adults and citizens – we are doomed.

The only place that we have a hope in acting that might give us a chance is in the early years – before our kids get to school. This is the time of greatest leverage where lifetime trajectories are set.

So if we cannot do a much much better job here soon, it’s all over folks.

No one and no interest group can put their immediate needs ahead of this – this being all our future.

So when we say that we stand for all out kids – we also mean that we stand for having a future here on PEI.

Stepping back and looking at what the real potential is and looking at how many are applying best practices in other places is our only chance


A way forward

March 14, 2008

April, Jane and I will be going to the Standing Committee for Social Development today – Here is our point of view:

Who Are We?
Parents for Choice and Quality support the development and implementation of a high quality early learning and support system for Pre School aged children and their families on PEI.

The group, representing mothers, fathers, grandparents, child care centres, industry professionals and concerned citizens of PEI, has grown quickly out of concern related to recent government decisions that are impacting early childhood development.

One of our key goals is to ensure that the interests of parents and our children are paramount and that parents get the choice and the quality that they deserve.

Rationale
We fear that the current debate – between owners and staff – is too limiting and does not help children or our province.

With so few children in the next generation, with so many of these few having learning, behaviour, food and health challenges, we know that our only chance of having enough competent, flexible and committed adults is to do the right thing between 0-3 years old. The research is well known and clear. By 3 our trajectory for life is largely set. By Grade 1, it is very hard to alter these trajectories. By grade 3 it is all but impossible.

The most leveraged place for us to intervene is in the Early Years.

Vision
We envision a system for Early Child Development that ranks in importance with the formal school system. Such a system would have to be universal. All children would have to be included. Such a system would draw on the well-established research and expertise in the field and on the new best practice in the nation in other provinces.

How to Get There

  • Stop the rush and the reactive solutions – call a time out
  • Acknowledge that Trust has to be rebuilt – put the interests of our children and our families first
  • Draw on the expertise available in the field on and off the Island and build a policy landscape that can be used as a foundation for a proper consultation
  • Design and launch a consultation that authentically interacts with Islanders
  • Then develop an action plan