The Hillary Project is a website dedicated to attacking anything the former First Lady and now Senator and presidential candidate says or does. Not surprisingly, the “Project” quickly picked up former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice Moore’s column (see item just below) recommending a return to the educational practices of the 1750s as a way to restore enlightenment and wisdom to the Republic. Hmmmm. So, let me see if I understand the strategy of the judge and his intellectual fellow travelers: How about we use the Internet to distribute a screed arguing for going back educationally to a time before electricity….
I know these are fringe elements but the point of view that rearing children prior to school ought to be in the hands of Mommy wearing an apron while Daddy goes off to work at the big office on the train remains strongly held by more people than a journalist might suspect…..talking to these people and letting their views be examined and questioned is an important task….
“> Anyone who pays attention to the unfolding debate over the propriety and educational effects of public investments in preschool and child development has encountered fears of “government” brainwashing. Though not all such fears emanate from the dark imaginings of the far right, that crowd is certainly far more vocal. (Never forget that the seeds of dreaded liberalism tomorrow find fertile ground in the preschool sand tables of today!).Judge Roy Moore, (left, at a younger age), the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who was ousted after refusing to remove stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments from his court room, demonstrated this once again in this Internet column.
The column is a mish-mash of references to studies and research that he misapplies and misinterprets for his purposes. In addition to the usual rhetoric, however, the good judge added a new leap of logic that I’ve never seen anywhere. The “founding fathers,” reared in 18th century colonial America, did not go to public schools and they did pretty well. Americans back then were the “most literate and well-informed in history,” he contends, and “poetry, religion, and history flourished…without support from the state.” I know that many critics of public education claim, without much foundation, that student achievement has been sliding the past three or four decades. But I had no idea that the zenith of U.S. education was in the 1750s! Sure, recreating slavery, ridding ourselves of 300 years of technology and medicine, and reclaiming our true heritage as colonies would be problematic, but is there any other way to be competitive in this global economy? Let’s turn back the clock three centuries before it’s too late!
All Gregory Mankiw, former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, did was post on his blog the headline “Preschool Pays” and link to the Joel Waldfogel Slate entry mentioned just above. That touched off a flurry of comments, pro and con. Many of the comments wrestle with the economic analyses themselves, especially what can be concluded from the Perry Preschool study of the effects of high quality preschool designed to serve the most disadvantaged. But some reflect the fears referenced by Waldfogel, that good quality voluntary preschool undermines the family and replaces parents with “government agents.” (One has to think that if preschool teachers really were government agents they’d be earning a lot more money!).
In any case, I urge economists or journalists who are examining the economic returns of investing in preschool to start with the superb “Dollars and Sense” report to gain perspective. Although put out by a group that advocates for universal preschool, the report examines the strengths and weaknesses and generalizability of various analyses of economic returns from preschool. It also acknowledges the bias of Pre-K Now, which issued the report.
Bridget Gutierrez, who is writing the Get Schooled blog on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution website, noted that although kindergarten is offered in public school systems all around Atlanta and the state provides free pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds, a third of children get to first grade without having attended either one. Gutierrez was commenting on legislative proposal to lower age of mandatory education to five.
The Get Schooled blog gets lots and lots of traffic. This entry had 64 comments. Many along the lines of “the government is taking away our children” or “destroying families” and lots of use of the word “indoctrination.” Somehow I suspect that those who worry about such things are not exactly spending a lot of time talking to their kids, nurturing them, playing with them.