I didn't catch David Shearer's education speech yesterday, even though it was in my neighbourhood. The reaction to the speech has been mostly positive, and it is a pleasant change to learn that Shearer has been talking about bread and butter issues for a change.
From Labour's release here are the four main highlights of the announcement:
Labour will extend reading recovery to all NZ schools because our children shouldn’t be dropping out without basic skills.
This is a good move. The Reading Recovery programme works well, so extending it to more schools makes sense. The cost of doing so isn't huge, considering the downstream costs to society of children with poor literacy, and it demonstrates that Labour are committed to helping those who need it the most.
Labour will work with community agencies to put food in schools so children are no longer failing to learn because of hardship at home.
This is another good move. There's something seriously wrong when thousands of kids are going to school hungry every day. Politically it is also smart, because it brings more focus onto the issue of child poverty, an issue National are particularly vulnerable on. Additionally, using government money to feed hungry kids is something most people can easily understand and get behind.
The fact that Cathy Odgers hates the policy is also an excellent sign.
Labour will introduce clear and easy to understand school report cards so that parents know whether their child’s school is up to scratch.
I have no idea what this means, but it sounds a bit like the argument for National Standards. Maybe it's just some harmless bullshit inserted into Shearer's speech to appeal to the "centre voter".
Labour will develop new ideas to bridge the gap between the classroom and workforce so young people go into further training or work instead of ending up on the unemployment scrapheap.
I'm not sure how anyone could think this was a bad idea, but we will need to see what concrete solutions Labour come up with. With over two years until the next election, they don't need to release everything yet.