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The ghosts of elections’ past are haunting Pennsylvania Avenue. If you’ll remember, it was Illinois’ own fallen Governor Blagojevich who promised Universal Preschool. Likewise, the massive tentacles of the new administration are prying their way into the nation’s playpens, targeting children so young they still hug their mother’s knee at the sight of a stranger.
Nationalizing preschool, like medical care, will not just be for those who can’t afford it, it will be for everyone. I won’t glaze your eyes or numb your mind with the staggering numbers it would take to pull this one off. Leave it to say that when it was proposed here in Illinois, it was projected that at three years the expansion would hit the $400 million a year mark. (Should I mention that, currently, 21 percent of all school districts in Illinois are on the state’s financial warning or watch list?)
California also spent untold amounts of money trying to convince voters that Universal Preschool was a good thing, yet they voted it down.
Every time they try to push this, they pull out the same tired laundry list statistics: failing schools, illiterate children, plummeting math scores, drop out rates, unemployment, crime rates, and incarceration costs. In a nutshell, they are saying that government schools have failed at every level, and their proposed solution to this crisis is… give us your babies.
Let’s stop a minute and take a look at just who they are talking about. They are talking about very young children still in critical developmental stages of life. Many of these little people have barely mastered speech. I have known many bright, inquisitive, intelligent 3-year-olds who needed to have a translator (mommy) by their side to ask for a drink of water.
This is an age where the world is just opening up to them, as their language and cognitive skills are beginning to hit full stride. They argue, “So put them in school and get them ready to learn.”
Consider this; let’s say that there is a real problem with toilet training. Teachers are complaining that children are coming to school who are not ready to learn. Some children are not being trained appropriately at home and teachers are spending too much time in remedial potty training. It is a health hazard to the staff and the rest of the student population, and a financial burden to the state.
New legislation is proposed; all children must be completely toilet trained by the beginning of school. We must start earlier screening and intervention for “at risk” children. Perhaps it could read something like this:
Whereas; all children have a right to a fresh start in education from the earliest possible moment,
Whereas; too many children come to school unprepared to learn the fundamentals of education,
Whereas; the cost to the state in antiseptics and diaper supplies is reaching into the millions,
Whereas; sickness and disease are easily spread by inappropriate disposal of soiled diapers and clothing,
Therefore; Be it enacted this day, that all children will have the opportunity to begin toilet training by age 6 months. We must start earlier screening and intervention for “at risk” children.
Yes it is. And so is ignoring the facts that children need to learn more than their abc’s; basic developmental and emotional needs must be met before academics should be introduced.
It is also illogical to ignore the mountains of research pointing to the consequences of institutionalizing young children. It is unreasonable to take a child away from the one person he or she needs and relies on the most and place him in a system that is fundamentally flawed and admittedly inadequate.
The obvious is often overlooked by policy makers, and bad laws and programs are also made when politicians read polls rather than research, and when parents listen to rhetoric rather than their own better judgment.
Sadly, it is a political sin to tell intelligent young mothers that their children need them. Instead they feed them the lie that they are easily replaced by paid professionals, and brush good mothers aside while children are turned over to a fat, soulless government nanny.