Sunday, February 24

Utah's S.B. 71 Diminishes Importance of Parents on Early Childhood Development Regardless of Income Level

It's true. There's no substitute for good parenting, not even a top-tier, private preschool. 

And, just because you might not be in the top tax brackets doesn't mean you can’t find or take the time to instill values as well as age-appropriate counting and language skills on your child.

Don't get me wrong, I am not bashing preschools (not all of them anyway) or what proposed S.B. 71 could do for a small segment of Utah's very young children (3 and 4 year olds). Both my children attended preschool and they loved it (most of the time). The difference, and why I believe I can argue my "I'll take parents over preschool any day of the week" point regardless of the fact I sent my two children to preschool, is that I never once felt it was the job of the preschool teacher to parent my children. 

That's my job and my husband's job, and the theme of this post. 

As I read and fumed over the recent Salt Lake Tribune Op Ed in support  (no surprises hereof more pre-K funding for at-risk children or S.B. 71, I took a moment to reflect on what this legislation could mean for Utah and our future. 

While the Op Ed opens with some unfair and "out-of-context" jabs on former Congressional candidate Cherilyn Eagar, it goes on to further diminish the incredibly important role of the parent by insisting SB71 doesn't go far enough and recommends state-funded preschool programs should be a mandate for all pre-K children. For the record, the Op Ed cites "stacks of studies" in support of this legislation but doesn't provide the source links to any of them. 

It then gets better. The Op Ed makes the following sweeping generalization: 

"...Few parents of any religious background have the expertise — or the time and patience — to teach young children the basic principles of language and numbers, the understanding that can help put them on the same academic level as their classmates." 
Are you kidding me?! Just playing and talking with children doesn't count? Trips to the grocery store? Counting eggs? Come on, it doesn't require a Harvard degree to instill basic, age-appropriate language and number knowledge on a 2, 3 or 4 year old. Does it? 

How in the world do proponents of SB71— private/public funding for low income, at-risk preschool children—connect the dots between these preschoolers (i.e., those spending their school hours drawing, counting bugs, painting and making macaroni necklaces) and their need for and future financial impact on Utah's special education programs?  

I suppose the other question looming in my mind when it comes to S.B. 71 is: when is enough, enough? Where do we draw the line between parental accountability and the educator's and state's role? The last time I checked, private and public pre- and elementary schools were places where you sent your children to learn. It seems, however, that the state and unwieldy Federal government believe they must infiltrate the family for fairness purposes. I am not sure why any Utah resident would be okay with this.      

What I can say for sure is that this pervasive "cradle-to-grave" attitude doesn't bode well for Utahns or the rest of our country for that matter. It will lead to more bureaucracy, it already has. 

If you don't believe me, just read the bill and its creation of a yet another commission

Parenting by proxy, more red tape, and less accountability on parents — no thanks!

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