When President Obama made the statement that he plans on making Head Start free for every four-year-old, my heart sunk. When he explained that he and his wife could never afford quality child care as a reason, I was infuriated. What I heard was this:
Dear preschool teachers across the country:
We know you work hard. We just don’t care. We know that you barely scrape by, never really getting ahead because you put your career choice ahead of the needs of your family because you felt the calling to teach children. We just don’t care. Nothing you have done, through your blood, sweat, tears, accomplishments, and failures means anything to us. We are the government.
The problem with you is that you have a brain. You see that the most important years are the preschool years, and you have taken that opportunity to make a difference for a better future. We also see this, and we want the future to be a country embracing the need to depend on the government for everything.
We’re working on universal health care. We own the major financial institutions, all of the big car companies (except for that pesky Ford company that wouldn’t take any of our money), and now we’re going after education.
We don’t care how long you’ve been in the game, how many honor students you’ve created, how many kids enter college with their freshman credits completed in high school, or what impact you have on your communities. We don’t care that forty people can go to work because of you, and they do so knowing that you are teaching them well. We.don’t.care.
Your program may be wonderful, but we don’t agree with all of that hippie tree–hugging play based mumbo jumbo you guys are pumping out now. We don’t care about Waldorf. I’m not very fond of striped hats. We don’t want Montessori. We can’t even pronounce that very well. Process-not-product doesn’t make sense to us, because everyone knows that children love it when you hand them pre-cut garbage to paint. We know every parent wants nice projects to hang on their walls and show off to their friends. We believe that peace can only be achieved by lowering the standards in an attempt to stifle the free thinking minds that may cause trouble for us later.
We don’t care. We want your future. We want your children in Head Start, and if I have to plaster posters of myself saying ‘we want you’ while pointing a giant finger in a weird red, white, and blue hat, I will. I don’t want to, but at least I’ll look better than that Waldorf guy.
You were too good for us when we couldn’t afford you, so now that we’re the kings of the universe, we’re too good for you, so shut up and get ready to close your doors.
With my deepest regrets,
Now, for the record, he didn’t really say that, but what he did say was that preschool teachers will soon either have to work for Head Start, or be obsolete, because who would pay for education that children can get for free. FREE! Did you hear that? In a country with an embarrassing deficit, nothing is free. There is no money, and someone will pay. Any guesses who? Us.
In Oregon, we have a program called ERDC. It is a subsidized program that pays for daycare while low income parents are at work. This means, parents can find quality care that fits their belief system, their educational requirements, and their lives.
Instead of funding Head Start, the government education program, why aren’t they looking at programs within their borders that are working?
I am a preschool teacher. I have been for 20 years. I have built a play based progress-not-product program with a focus on environment and science. We are a Christian family that also teaches Christian values. That doesn’t work for everyone, but we’ve been blessed enough to have a wonderful client base that it does work for, and we’re always full. We’re not the most expensive, but we’re not the cheapest. We definitely feel we have the most to offer in our demographic. A Sunny Place Learning Center is in business because we want to change the future. We raise the standards all the time, and our children leave here ready for first grade when they enter kindergarten. I’ve been doing this long enough to see the fruit of my labor come to fruition. Many of my past students have entered college with sophomore credits. I cannot take all of the credit, but it has been proven time and time again that the foundation of education is built in the preschool years, and without a strong foundation, no structures can stand for long.
Write letters to your law makers. Fight for a better tomorrow, not for more government control.