Why Your Child Doesn’t Need Preschool (No Matter What the President Said)

Apparently the president pushed universal preschool in his State of the Union speech the other night. Aside from the fact that we as a nation can’t afford it, most kids don’t need it. In fact, studies have shown that kids who go to preschool often burn out on school by second to third grade. There’s just a small group of kids who need it, and your child isn’t one of them.

How do I know this? Because you’re reading this right now. The kids who actually need preschool have parents who have no interest in educating their children or even raising them properly. Check out this experience of a Lucianne.com commenter with the government preschool program Head Start:

I worked for Oakland Public Schools in 1965…Headstart was cranking up then. And..one focus of Headstart at that time (I witnessed it) was to teach the kids to sit around a table to eat their orange slices and dry cereal rather than grabbing their food and running to a corner of the room to eat it like animals.

It’s very sad that there are children like that, children who would be better off raised by wolves than by the parents they have. But that doesn’t mean all children need preschool just because a small percentage of them have lousy parents.

Just the other day, my daughter-in-law posted an adorable video on Facebook of a “conversation” she had with her 3-month-old baby, our grandson. You see his happy little face, cooing and giggling, while in the background you hear her immediate responses to him.

I’m sure you’ve talked like this with your kids. It’s what all good parents do: they respond to their children and meet their needs. This is the kind of environment kids need in order to develop properly. They don’t need preschool unless their parents’ parenting ability is non-existent.

So why is the president pushing universal preschool? I think we know why, but let’s let another famous leader tell us:

Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted. Vladimir Lenin

Do Kids Need More Time in School?

President Obama recommends  shorter summer vacations for U.S. schoolchildren so they can attend school for more days than they do already, because he believes that they’re at a disadvantage compared to students in other countries.

His Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, says more school hours will “even the playing field” when it comes to comparing our schoolchildren to those in the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, homeschoolers excel with far fewer hours of instruction than most public schoolchildren receive. So is it really more hours of instruction that schoolchildren need?

First off, President Obama’s assertion appears to be inaccurate:

Obama and Duncan say kids in the United States need more school because kids in other nations have more school.

“Young people in other countries are going to school 25, 30 percent longer than our students here,” Duncan told the AP. “I want to just level the playing field.”

While it is true that kids in many other countries have more school days, it’s not true they all spend more time in school.

Kids in the U.S. spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do kids in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the U.S. on math and science tests – Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013). That is despite the fact that Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong have longer school years (190 to 201 days) than does the U.S. (180 days).

Apparently children in the countries that outscore ours in math and science attend school for more days per year but fewer hours per year. So the suggestion by Obama and Duncan that a longer school day results in “gains” (test scores, which do not necessarily equal learning) is not backed up by the foreign countries whose kids outscore ours. They actually have shorter school days.

But if you read the entire article, you find that merely educating kids isn’t really the point anyway. Here are your clues:

The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they have a safe place to go.

Summer is a crucial time for kids, especially poorer kids, because poverty is linked to problems that interfere with learning, such as hunger and less involvement by their parents.

That makes poor children almost totally dependent on their learning experience at school, said Karl Alexander, a sociology professor at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, home of the National Center for Summer Learning.

Aside from improving academic performance, Education Secretary Duncan has a vision of schools as the heart of the community.

Those hours from 3 o’clock to 7 o’clock are times of high anxiety for parents,” Duncan said. “They want their children safe. Families are working one and two and three jobs now to make ends meet and to keep food on the table.”

Do you see it? What we’re talking about here goes way beyond merely educating a child. This is about raising children because their parents have been deemed unable or unwilling. This is about schools becoming publicly subsidized daycare centers for school-age children, even on the weekends.

What it’s not about is how many hours of instruction it takes to educate a child so he can beat the math and science scores of kids in other countries. Homeschoolers have already demonstrated that.

Public Education and President Obama

Elementary School Children with Heads Down on Desk During Rest Period in Classroom by Alfred Eisenstaedt
Elementary School Children with Heads Down on Desk During Rest Period in Classroom

I don’t get it. If something doesn’t work, why would you want more of it?

President Obama recently spoke about his goals for public schools*. He acknowledges that American students have fallen behind young people in much of the rest of the world, but his solutions include longer school days and a longer school year. He said this even though he also admitted that his mother had to augment his own education by making him get up to study at 4:30 a.m.

I’d go on about this but someone else has already done a fine job of it. Check out Judy Aron’s take  comparing President Obama’s speech to hearing a real expert speak about what’s wrong with public education: your friend and mine, former public school teacher and homeschool advocate John Taylor Gatto.

* where he chose not to send his own children