Thursday, March 6, 2008

Rainbow's End

For many children, the pot at the end of their public school rainbow is filled with unemployment, illiteracy, and disenfranchisement from society. Some would suggest the need for gateway examination requirements as a measure to prevent the undereducated masses from being shuffled into mainstream society. I say, too little, too late.

Our learning trajectories are set during pre-school years. Although negligible at first, these subtle differences at the starting gate quickly grow into the unbridgeable chasm separating the haves and the have-nots. To illustrate, start with two points at one end of the chalkboard. Angle one upwards, ever so slightly, (the winners), and the other on a slight downward slope (the losers). To exacerbate the problem, there are numerous external factors weighing on the downward slope until it bows. These include poverty, illness, drug use, violence, and many other statistically significant factors impacting a child’s educational trajectory. (Read Lee & Burkham’s Inequality at the Starting Gate)

NCLB mandates educators somehow bring these diverging dots together and we are spending billions of dollars to do just that. Unfortunately, as my Pappy used to say, “The hay is already in the barn” by the time children enter kindergarten.

Both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton have proposed pre-school initiatives to give educators a fighting chance. This is by no means a political blog. However, if it were a one issue election and the issue was support of education and educational technology, Obama (see zero to five initiative) appears to be the best choice. I applaud Senator Clinton’s proposed $10 billion dollar pre-school initiative (education wins). I fear her propensity to impose governmental control as with the bill she tried to pass to regulate the video gaming industry (technology loses).

Most understand you can’t change people…they have to decide to change on their own. If given a choice of whose trajectory to change, I’d prefer to work with the pre-school child who still dreams of castles and fairies. Who still believes in his or her own ability to succeed.

When you cast your vote, please speak for those too young too vote, too naïve to know what waits for them over the rainbow.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting information. Does MCain have a plan. In Pennsylvania we are extrememly lucky to have great pre-school education.

Pub Ed said...

John McCain is on record as favoring parental choice and student involvement in the educational process. I am presently unaware of any specific preschool initiatives put forth by the Senator.