30 November 2017
Children are now looking more likely to be put before empire building by the Auckland Kindergarten Association as parents strive to have their voices heard. And their voices are having an impact.
At this year's annual general meeting, held Thursday 30th November 7.30pm, many families and supporters who were not allowed inside the meeting venue held a vigil outside.
Inside representatives from kindergartens squeezed into the 150 seat venue.
A number of motions were put forward aimed at increasing transparency and challenging the undemocratic decision-making that has operated at the AKA for many years now.
Standing together was something emphasised by the former chief executive, who resigned suddenly a fortnight ago, but this was so that no other voices other than that of management and its professionally appointed Board could be raised. Teachers were effectively silenced and information was not shared with parents and parent questions often failed to be answered.
"Since 20 Hour ECE funding came in the AKA has got badly off track in operating more like a corporate organisation and chasing the money, and forgetting to be about children and community", says ChildForum chief executive Dr Sarah Alexander.
Five positions on the professionally-appointed Board were up for election. One member only of the board had resigned. Two current Board Members were required to retire in accordance with the constitution but put their names forward to continue; and two Board Members, who were seconded to the Board offered themselves for election.
It was a major acheivement for parents, unhelped by the AKA's structures and treatment of kindergarten representatives, to get three parent and community representatives elected to the Board.
The Chairman, Simon Jones, said he will rename AKA's Queen Street management office as the 'support office'. He acknowledged for the first time (on record) that there were failings with governance and promised a change in the organisation's culture.
In 2015 the AGM was held on a Wednesday morning at 9.30am in a central Auckland office and finished at 9.45am. Only four board members attended the 2015 AGM and the chief executive officer – there was no one else except for a large number of management office staff who may have been counted towards achieving a quorum although under the AKA’s constitution these people were not members. Read more: Democracy missing – the troubling state of management and relationships at the Auckland Kindergarten Association
Earlier this year, AKA Life member Sue Crockett described how the AKA management had systematically excluded parent and community voice:
Annual general meetings are now in middle of the day – this is difficult for people who are working to get to and the meetings are for the management people and a few representatives. I remember we had as many as 300 people attend the AGMs in the evening before AKA started changing to a business model. (Read more: Heroes or dictators - a charitable community board, its CEO and standard of consultation).
Auckland parents and supporters are now reclaiming back the right to have say in the running of their kindergartens.
Tonight's significant turnout of parents represents a major occasion in the history of the AKA and for the kindergarten movement in general across the country.