Monday, November 21, 2005

Bonoff: mandatory government preschool?

According to a candidate questionnaire given to the SD 43 Senate candidates Terri Bonoff and Judy Johnson by the Wayzata Legislative Action Committee, Bonoff would "work to shift our education structure and state government thinking from a K-12 model to a Pre-K-12 system. This means that our public schools could have both the resources and the accountability for early childhood education. Studies have shown that investment in early education has the highest rate of return in improving school performance later on."

First of all, early childhood special interest groups love to play the "studies have shown" card regarding early education, but not everyone believes that mandatory preschool (a.k.a. Baby Ed) for all would be an effective use of tax dollars (and it would be a lot of tax dollars). Well-funded early childhood education provider lobbying groups like Ready4K and Minnesota Early Learning Foundation will be meeting with the Senator from SD 43 next spring, urging the Legislature to fund the shift that Bonoff advocates.

Is this where we are going, the Profile of Learning (performance-based assessments) for tots? What's left for parents, just breed 'em and feed 'em?
Early education, or stolen childhood?

Britain wants kids to start training for school in infancy. The goal is babies who are "competent learners." The critics say it's madness.

By Shelley Emling
Cox News Service

Last update: November 19, 2005 at 6:20 PM

LONDON - Can your baby or toddler distinguish patterns? Surely he or she can make comparisons, right? Or perhaps your youngster is mostly good at just making a mess?

If the latter is the case then you might have something to worry about if you live in Britain.

Under a new government proposal, British children will start training for school almost as soon as they leave the womb.

Indeed, the initiative would require every nursery and every caregiver to teach newborn babies and toddlers an "Early Years Foundation Stage" curriculum beginning in 2008.

National inspectors would be required to verify that children are developing in four distinct curriculum headings.

Margaret Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, called the proposal "absolute madness."

"The government is trying to take childhood away from babies and toddlers straight out of the maternity ward," she said.

But the government says its aim is to help youngsters develop faster, both socially and intellectually.

Most children in Britain already start full-time school -- in so-called "reception" classes -- at age 4.

In general, the proposal would require babies and toddlers to become "competent learners," which means they would be able to accomplish a variety of tasks such as comparing, categorizing and recognizing certain symbols and marks.

They also would need to be able to classify items and to do imitations, while also being able to play imaginatively by using all their senses.

The proposal also would make it compulsory for all 3-year-olds to be taught rudimentary math, language and literacy.

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