Why Californians Should Vote NO On "Preschool-For-All" in June 2006
by: Diane Flynn Keith
Posted: November 1, 2005
Actor-director and self-proclaimed-child-advocate Rob Reiner, has submitted the Preschool-For-All Initiative that is slated for the June 2006 ballot. By taxing the top 1.7% of income earners in California (individuals that make $400,000 or more and couples that make $800,000 or more), Reiner seeks to establish "free" voluntary, half-day state-run preschools for all 4-year-olds regardless of want or need.
His preschool propaganda campaign claims that kids who go to preschool will do better in kindergarten and elementary school, graduate from high school, attend college, get better jobs with higher salaries and become happy consumers who will be less likely to do drugs and commit crimes than those who don't go to preschool. Really? According to many childhood experts, researchers and policy analysts, the case for universal preschool is much less convincing than Reiner would have Californians believe. Consider this...
- Preschool-For-All will not be free. It will be under-funded by the tax dollars of the rich, and may cut funding for K-12 public schools. Analysts expect the estimated cost of $2.3 billion a year to be much higher than predicted. California schools are already experiencing severe budget cuts. If forced to absorb the unforeseen costs of preschools, there will be cuts in education that worsen the current fragile quality for K-12 public schools.
- Public preschools will put private preschools out of business. Private preschools currently enroll 60% of the preschool age children in California. Replacing thriving businesses that provide jobs and tax revenue is bad for the state's economy, and reduces educational & childcare options.
- California already provides preschool and daycare programs for families in need. State funded preschools (such as Kidango and Head Start) are available to citizens on an income-need basis. These programs are under-funded and have waiting lists. Rather than overburdening taxpayers and our existing schools with Preschool-For-All, we should properly fund existing programs and make them readily available to the disadvantaged folks who truly need them.
- Preschool-For-All is a prescription for stress, not success, and will literally make kids sick. The National Institute of Child Health and Development found that children who attend structured, curriculum-oriented, non-parental involved preschools have higher cortisol (stress hormone) levels caused by too early separation from their parents and too early academics. The Preschool-For-All Act dovetails with CA Assembly Bill 1246 that implements "preschool learning standards" in line with public school curriculum standards that include Math, English Language Arts, History, Science, and Social Sciences. Accountability will be required in the form of testing. This kind of academic stress takes a physical toll on young children reducing tolerance to viral and bacterial infections that result in chronic childhood illnesses.
- Children enrolled in preschool have higher incidences of obesity. Physical activity is restrained in typical preschool classrooms. Fine motor development is impaired, contributing to learning disabilities. Active play such as running, jumping, climbing, and gross motor movement is discouraged. Kids get flabby and fat with lifelong health consequences.
- Children who attend preschool exhibit problem behaviors, and are being expelled! The National Institute of Child Health and Development found that children who attend non-parental, structured, curriculum-oriented preschools have poorer work habits, lower grades and test scores, inferior peer relationships, substandard emotional health, aggression, and they are disobedient. In fact, children are being expelled from preschools at an alarming rate!
- There is no such thing as "quality" public preschool. In fact, so-called "quality" state-run preschools can harm little kids. The artificial environment of a classroom, the supervision by transient, impassive strangers (certified teachers and aids), and indoctrination with standardized curriculum has been shown to be harmful to the intellectual, social, emotional, psychological and physical development of young children by researchers and educational psychologists including David Elkind, Kathy Hirsch-Pasek, Mary Eberstadt, and Jane Healy. These kinds of preschool environments are of a very poor quality. Current research studies show that young children learn best through interest-initiated learning, lots of imaginative play, and the opportunity to explore their environment in a natural rhythm and routine such as takes place at home, under the guidance of parents and attentive, loving adults.
- Preschool-For-All is being introduced to manage 39% of the preschool population that does not speak English. Four out of ten preschool children do not speak English. When these children enter school they are at a disadvantage and tracked in expensive Special Ed programs. To reverse this expenditure, public preschools will be used as English language immersion centers. Preschools may eventually become mandatory to assure an English-speaking population.
- Preschool-For-All is a financial windfall for special interest groups that care more about paychecks than what's best for preschoolers. Preschool-For-All provides job security for teachers and education administrators - and lucrative contracts for specialty interest groups such as providers of curriculum, transportation, and food services, construction companies that build schools, maintenance and custodial services, school psychologists, etc.
- Never underestimate the interests of drug companies in Preschool-For-All. Preschoolers will be tested and funding of preschools will be based on test results. What happens when a little kid doesn't test well? Will a small child's inability to focus be diagnosed as ADD? Stress, depression and bad behavior are common problems for institutionalized tots that can all be remedied with drugs. At a recent "Preschool Advocacy Day" in Sacramento, sponsored by the Packard Foundation, one speaker said that one advantage of Preschool-For-All is children will be identified younger as having "special needs" and get "intervention" sooner.
- Social Security solvency and the development of human resources is an underlying factor in Preschool-For-All. In 2005, the Economic Policy Institute released a report titled, Exceptional Returns: Economic, Fiscal, and Social Benefits of Investment in Early Childhood Development (ECD) by Robert G. Lynch that makes a fiscal case for U.S. government funded preschool programs. The book's introduction says, "...this study illustrates the potential benefit to the solvency of the U.S. Social Security system from ECD investment." This report makes a financial case that supporting universal preschool will allow children to be properly managed through the school system, so that they will grow up to become human resources that contribute to (and thus save) Social Security.
- Will Preschool-For-All be mandatory? While Preschool-For-All is being introduced as voluntary, there is plenty of inferred evidence (i.e., the CA Master Plan for Education) that within 10-20 years preschools will be mandatory for all children ages 2-5. If voluntary programs are seeded, and future legislation enacted to make them mandatory, voters must consider this: Currently in CA, students can opt out of public schools by attending private schools. However, private preschools come under a different set of health and safety codes that could effectively eliminate the home environment as an alternative to government preschools. Additionally, the Initiative in conjunction with Assembly Bill 1246 calls for all preschool teachers to be state certified, disqualifying most parents from teaching their little ones at home.
- There is NO DISCERNIBLE BENEFIT from government preschool programs for children from "normal" homes. A RAND research study used by Reiner to support his initiative showed that critically poor kids made some gains by attending preschool. However, that same report concurred with Ed Zigler (co-founder of Head Start) that there isn't any evidence that young children from middle class or advantaged homes receive any discernible benefit from typical preschool programs!
- Preschool-For-All is pitching a LIE. The only way to sell Preschool-For-All to voters is to make them think that they will benefit from it. That is accomplished by indoctrinating citizens to believe preschool is beneficial for every child while at the same time scaring parents into thinking that if a child doesn't go to preschool, he or she will fall behind and never succeed. It's a lie. That's what we're seeing today in the campaign propaganda and media bombardment to institutionalize our tiniest citizens.
- The TRUTH is Preschool-For-All is NOT what's best for children. Government preschools are artificial environments, where children's time is managed for the purpose of crowd control. Actions and behavior are continuously monitored and judged. Individual needs are diminished or neglected for the sake of group management. A child's curiosity and questions can only be dealt with when it is convenient for the instructor, and interest in anything has a time limit because, "we have to move on to the next group activity." Natural body rhythms are ignored and artificial ones imposed in the form of circle time, free time, nap time, snack time, and potty time. A little kid learns quickly that to trust and follow his or her own instincts and impulses is wrong and should be ignored. A tiny child must submit and surrender the self, so that self-identity, self-interest, self-direction, and self-confidence may not be discovered or explored. Children are forced through persuasion, rewards, and coercion to passively comply with an authority that does not have their individual best interests at heart.
Home Is A Child's Best Preschool. Little kids deserve a secure place to spend their days where they are encouraged to learn - especially in the first 5 years of life when their brains are growing rapidly. Somehow we have forgotten that home is a child's best "preschool." Since the beginning of humanity, parents have provided a safe place, a natural routine, a stimulating environment, nutritious food, and loving interaction. Children become smart, happy, self-confident, self-sufficient, curious and capable learners, fully prepared to successfully tackle academics and life skills when they are developmentally ready and motivated to do so. Learning at home with loving parents (who may also thoughtfully use appropriate private preschool programs in their community) is a better model for the healthy intellectual, physical, social and emotional development of young children than any government preschool could ever be.
Join The Opposition - Help Us Turn Out the "No" Vote In 2006! If you'd like to join the resistance to the Preschool-For-All Initiative here are some things you can do:
- Visit www.UniversalPreschool.com. You will find all kinds of research, commentary, articles, and news about government preschools that you can share with others.
- Write letters of opposition to legislators and newspaper editors - use the free sample letters we have provided at http://www.universalpreschool.com/action/contact.asp
- If letter-writing and protesting are not your thing, there are subtler ways to be effective in opposing Preschool-For-All. Simply talk to your friends and neighbors.
- You can fight against the institutionalization of young children by quietly supporting stay-at-home moms in your community who struggle to resist the noise of our culture that screams at them to send their little ones to public preschool. Support them, encourage them, and invite them to play groups, tell them where to find resources for learning with their little ones at home.
- Invite parents to use the free activities for teaching their tots at home located at http://www.universalpreschool.com/how-to/fall-leaves.asp.
- Invite parents to join our Unpreschool discussion list at Yahoo Groups and get our free weekly e-newsletter with tips and activities for learning with little ones at home by visiting: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/unpreschool/
- Tell parents they are their preschoolers' first and BEST teachers - and that together we can make a better universe, one child at a time.
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