Wednesday, May 25, 2005
MINNESOTANS FIGHTING ‘THE BATTLE FOR THE SANDBOX’
(This week, Go Big Ed is looking at K-12 education developments in other states.)
Should the government, or the parents, be in charge of early childhood?
The government’s own studies show that nine out of 10 children come to kindergarten rarin’ to go. In states like Nebraska and Minnesota that percentage is probably much higher.
But there’s still a nationwide push to drive K-12 No Child Left Behind governmental standards and regulations all the way down to the cradle under the banner of “kindergarten readiness.” Why? Because of those few disadvantaged kids who really do need help. But all children are being pulled in as a consequence of governmental action to help a few.
How? By using “public-private partnerships” with wealthy, politically powerful foundations and corporations allied with government agencies armed with state and federal tax dollars to steamroll private-sector day care and preschools, especially those operated by family members and in churches, out of the way.
The itty bitties and their families will be subject to the same mental health screening, career slotting, social activism, socioemotional assessments, intrusive data collection and reporting, and Politically Correct distorted curriculum that is now pestering K-12 curriculum.
If these new systems go through, then the feds will be told whether there are guns in the home of individual preschoolers, whether a young child is having problems “understanding gender” despite the use of anatomically correct dolls and explicit pictures of body parts, and whether they are “at risk” for school failure on down the road just because, in the subjective opinion of some 19-year-old preschool employee, they can’t sit still or otherwise live up to the government’s “norm.”
I call it “sandbox specs.” But I don’t think it’s cute, not in the least bit.
A highly effective grassroots advocacy group in Minnesota doesn’t, either. And they are doing a fabulous job warning the public about all the dangers inherent in the big push to standardize early childhood education.
Come see their rebuttal to the educrats who are trying to push a $185 million program through in Minnesota: www.EdWatch.org
There’s a similar fight going on, mostly under the radar, right now across the country and across Nebraska, as efforts continue to standardize preschool care. They’re using carefully-worded and highly ambiguous state regulations, innocent-sounding standards that can be easily changed, politically-savvy “partnerships” with nonprofit foundations associated with big employers, and federal and state tax dollars. It’s going on in North Platte and many other communities as “pilot programs” for “at-risk” preschoolers that no doubt will transform into ongoing entitlements and, eventually, mandatory universal preschool for all.
In the Unicameral, there was at least one bill, LB 577, that would have put early childhood education into the state-aid formula, and double the amount of the early childhood education grants for disadvantaged kids, from $9.5 million to $18.6 million.
And for a better idea of how far into all of this Nebraska has already fallen, see the Early Childhood Training Center run by Educational Service Unit #3, and check out the programs by which government employees are working with preschool “clients” on “home visitation,” “early learning guidelines,” “special projects and partnerships,” “career development” and “mental health.”
There’s a lot going on in the sandbox these days. Best that parents and taxpayers not . . . bury their heads in the sand.
Update on the battle for Nebraska’s country schools: a good account of the compromise bill that appears likely to be signed into law is available on www.northplattebulletin.com Headline: “Small Schools to Remain; Boards Eliminated”
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