Zoo Station

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The institutionalization of our children

Posted by Chance on April 10, 2007

From the Tulsa World

Gov. Brad Henry [of Oklahoma] recently announced his commitment to piloting a voluntary preschool program for 3-year-olds. He understands that the key to the state’s success is creating strong students from the beginning so children have the ability to graduate from high school, college and technology schools ready to be responsible members of society.

[…]

Some argue that the best place for young children is at home with their mothers. That could be the case. The reality, however, is that more than half of Oklahoma’s children under 6 live in low-income families. Mothers work for the families’ survival. About one child in four under age 6 is being raised by a single parent and one child in four children is born to a mother without a high school diploma. For those families, staying at home with their children is a luxury they cannot imagine!

The author does make a good point in that it is nice to have a program available for working mothers.

I do have a couple concerns, however.

For one, the author, and I’m sure Governor Henry, insist that the program is voluntary. But will this always be the case? I could see the government deciding that it is in the “best interest” of the children to start school at 3 years old. But maybe I am just being paranoid. After all, our 13 year primary/secondary curriculum has been constant for some time.

Secondly, I personally feel that kids need more time to just be kids. Even though the program is voluntary, and it is there for moms who can’t stay at home, I can envision stay-at-home moms enrolling their children to keep up with the Jones’s children. Parents, not wanting their kids to be left behind in the 13-year long competition that is our classrooms, will start feverishly searching for the best 3-year old education as soon as they are born. What was once “extra education” now becomes the status quo. Parents (most typically Moms), who would otherwise stay at home, may enroll their children so they can go to work.

Lastly, related to the previous paragraph, is just the transfer of raising our children from the parents to the state. We want our children to go to school at a younger age. Many of us (not me) think that higher education should be covered by the state. Where does it end?

As the author said, this school for younger children could be good for dual-income families. However, I do fear the other consequences of this measure, such as the increased institutionalization of our children and erosion of the family.

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One Response to “The institutionalization of our children”

  1. Josh said

    Interesting Post. As long as it’s voluntary I can see it being okay. It’s kind of a slippery slope, and I’m sure there were major antagonists to the Kindergarten idea too.

    I’m glad they were wrong, though. I had a huge crush on Mrs. Lederman!

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