If I ever say that out loud I hope someone shoots me. Read a piece in Sunday's paper by Rick Haglund who usually writes about all things automotive and the economic effects domestically, in Michigan and worldwide and I usually appreciate what he has to say and learn something. But yesterday was one of his "carrying water for Jennifer" days and mentioned the Chamber of Commerce as agreeing with their premise for balance. I don't think so!
He quoted a guy named Millett profusely, an apologist for early childhood education (from birth to 5 years old) which is a $100 million program in this state so far. If you want a bunch of cookie cutter kids who all think and reason alike, be my guest, but I've always thought one of the greatest attributes of American education is that we have original thinkers. In my old-fashioned generation the Americans did the inventing and the Japanese did the refining of certain techniques. I know, times have changed somewhat, but puh-leeze do not throw out the baby with the bath water when you're re-inventing the education system!
I find it scary when he says "education starts at birth. What happens in the first five years of a child's life is critical." I'll say it is. And I would hope that it is parental involvement and decision making at the top of the list. Wonder why we have so many home schoolers today? Because the MEA does such a great job? And the State can outperform any parent anywhere, anytime? And don't forget that it was Hitler who said give me a child until he is 7 and he's mine forever.
We have cities and towns of varying sizes. So, I'm sure that there will be some small town centers which will be housed in large and small homes with varying numbers of degreed and non-degreed "baby sitters" and in larger cities we will lease or build huge warehouse type buildings so all of the accoutrement's can be identical.
(What a windfall that will be to the manufacturer of play gym stuff, plastic letters and numbers, etc. You know what I mean.)
In small towns folks can sit down and decide if they have sufficient room to have an infant room with a couple of cribs, a toddler room, a pre-school room with cubbies to hold blankies and pillows for naptime, a break room for employees and then we have to look up the requirements for staffing. How many sitter/teachers per each age group, aides, cooks, janitorial staff, etc., etc. And don't forget the audio and visual aides and the outdoor play areas. All this and more, probably with security in the larger cities.
And all this because Millett says studies show early childhood learning solves the problems of drop-outs, going on welfare and commiting crimes. Oh and by the way for every $1 spent on these programs the result will be an economic payoff of up to $17, but he doesn't say how that was measured. I'd like to see the breakdown.
No, today's teachers have it right, not the MEA. Parents need to realize how important they are to their children. That it is time, not money or things such as i-pods they need from us. I really need to tell you a story:
Back in 1962 I had a friend whose husband was in construction and Martha did the interior design which helped sell spec houses. They were very busy and worked non-stop. One day she had stopped at a friends's to deliver something and collapsed on her front walk--she was having a heart attack. And while she was lying there helpless she told us later that the first thing she thought was that she had given her kids all the "stuff" their rooms would hold, but she didn't hold them enough. Carla had enough Barbie dolls, clothes and houses but she only had one Mom.
So when the Governor, the Chamber of Commerce, Ford Motor Company, Dow Chemical or Consumers Energy come knocking on your door asking you to get involved with Project Great Start, please be ready for them. If you agree, fine, but if you don't, please speak up. Your kids and grandkids will pay the ultimate price.