The Yuba College Faculty for early childhood education is staunchly opposing a bill making its way through the state legislature with so little noise, one can wonder what all the silence is about. The bill is SB 837 and it forces four-year-olds around the state out of state funded pre-schools into so-called transitional kindergartens. It increases class sizes and expels their former teachers unless they hold a state teaching credential. The problem is these teachers have degrees in Early Childhood Education, while most credentialed kindergarten teachers lack any training in ECE. That means college professors with doctorates would be unable to work, except as an aide. But it also means jobs and union dues for unionized teachers in the push to monopolize our schools.
Although I have no proof, the old looks-like-a-duck-and-quacks-like-one school of thought indicates the silence is about unions scratching political backs and vice versa. But whatever the reasons, this bill is a bad bargain for kids and families. And – like so many state policies – it works by coercion where it cannot work through persuasion.
Early Childhood Education longitudinal research began in the 1960s with Project Head Start and the Perry Preschool Project. More than half a century of solid data backs the concepts and methods of ECE. SB 837 falsely states this research supports the transitional kindergarten model; in fact, this model did not exist until quite recently and has never been tested. It is a whole different approach to educating young children, but its methods and models already appear to contradict the findings of ECE programs over the years. The evidence supports ECE, not TK.
837 places four-year-olds in classrooms with five and six-year-olds, and on campuses with children more than twice their age. By and large, they are not ready for such interactions on a large scale; and these interactions will be largely unsupervised. There are just too many kids on a campus and too few teachers to watch all of them, the bullies, and their victims. ECE schools operate under safety regulations that are neither present nor feasible in large elementary schools.
The children will be forced into learning modalities that are appropriate for grade school students but harmful to pre-schoolers. And their natural energies can virtually guarantee many will be labeled ADHD and put on heavy psychotropic drugs like Ritalin, or equally inappropriate medications like Strattera. The latter is intended only for children age six or older, and its most prominent side effects are suicidal thoughts and serious liver damage – in that order. Yet it is well known that schools and doctors are increasingly willing to drug the child who is too much in motion rather than attempting to deal with him in an age and learning-style appropriate way. This is an epidemic in our present culture.
Perhaps the worst feature of this bill is that it denies parents the chance to choose ECE for their children, a choice they have been able to take for granted up until now. These parents will be forced to place their children in the care of teachers who are credentialed, but completely untrained and unqualified for the children they will be asked to teach. Let me stress that not one unit of early childhood education training is required for a credential that includes kindergarten. But those trained in ECE and lacking state teacher credentials will simply find themselves unemployed if this bill passes. Meanwhile, California parents and their children will once again be expected to bow and suffer at the altar of “one size fits all.” The value-added horror is that if this thing goes forward in California, it will soon be the pattern for the nation–that is, the national trend for the past half century and more.
The bad news is the unions will be the big winners. More jobs and more educators will come under their control.
The good news is just what Jesus famously says about the little children being the stuff of the Kingdom of heaven, as He recommends we become more like them instead of insisting they become more like us. He is not saying children are smarter or more socially advanced than adults. But they are more simply and more purely the persons they are, without masks and layers of dysfunction to hide behind. Defeating this bill makes a chance to leave the children to develop along more natural lines than crowded classrooms and hard drugs can ever permit. This posting will come out too late for the vote in the Senate; contact your assembly member to voice your concern. Then spend some time playing with your children.