16 Mar, 2015
Child rearing is too important to be left to the market
The Guardian | Zoe Wlliams | Early years education
| Sunday 15 March
“Early years” is the most freighted term in politics, deployed to convey so much. For me, the phrase conjures an image of toddlers, hefting great boulders of public policy intention – like dutiful dwarves in fairytales. At election time, you see it dredged out to convey the following: first, this party is “family friendly”, which really means “women friendly”. Even though men are, last time I checked, intimately involved in the creation of children, and tend by modern mores to consider themselves responsible for the rest of the child’s life, the provision of care for children is an issue for a lady-voter; something to pique her interest after she’s been turned off by the conversation about defence spending and economic stability.
Also, early years – when attached to the word “intervention” – is a way of talking about deprivation without sounding as though you might do anything to tackle its structural causes, while at the same time avoiding the trap of callousness. You care, of course you care: who would blame a poverty-stricken three-year-old for failing to extend their vocabulary to match that of their peers? But your answer never relates back to the deprivation itself, rather, it suggests ways in which the state can make up the household deficit with thrifty, well-costed interventions.