Friday, February 07, 2014

Federal Preschool Proposals Will Cost Billions and Have Limited Impact on Participants

In November, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative George Miller (D-CA) introduced the Strong Start for America's Children Act (S. 1697 and H.R. 3461), which would create a federal preschool program for all four-year-old children from low- to moderate-income families in the country. It mirrors President Obama's call for a new $75 billion federal preschool program.[1]

Policymakers at every level of government should exercise caution when it comes to establishing federal or state preschool programs. Evidence from existing programs raises doubts about their efficacy-not to mention the significant costs to taxpayers.

The Harkin-Miller proposal would provide billions in federal grants to help states grow center-based preschool programs for three- and four-year-olds and require states to match the federal funding. Initially, states would be required to provide a 10 percent match of their federal grant, growing to 100 percent in year eight and thereafter.

States must also have a "comprehensive early learning assessment system" that "organizes information about the process and context of young children's learning and development to help early childhood educators make informed instructional and programmatic decisions." This system must include, among other things, "measures of the quality of adult-child interactions."

States must also:

    Establish or plan to establish "early learning and development standards that describe what children from birth to kindergarten entry should know and be able to do,"

    Implement performance measures for obesity prevention programs,

    Ensure that preschool teachers have comparable salaries to teachers in the K-12 system, and

    Increase the number of preschool teachers with bachelor's degrees in early childhood education.

Once a state establishes universal preschool for every four-year-old under 200 percent of the federal poverty line, it may then use federal funds to extend eligibility to three-year-old children.

New Spending Financed by Taxpayers

The Harkin-Miller proposal would cost federal taxpayers roughly $26.8 billion in the first five years and "such sums as may be necessary" thereafter. This figure does not include taxpayer obligations for the state matches. So not only will taxpayers be on the hook for billions in new federal spending, but the "federal-state partnership" obligates taxpayers to finance billions more in new state spending.

It is also likely that a new large-scale government preschool program will crowd out private preschool providers by encouraging participation in "free" government programs and by threatening to over-regulate private providers that opt in to the federal program. For example, a provider that is not a local public school but enrolls students through the subsidized program must "enter into strong partnerships" with the local public school district.

Not Supported by the Evidence

The legislative text of the Harkin-Miller proposals notes that "research has consistently demonstrated that investments in high-quality programs that serve infants and toddlers better positions [sic] those children for success in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education as well as helping children develop the critical physical, emotional, social, and cognitive skills that they will need for the rest of their lives."


British boy, six, who was suspended from school after taking a packet of Mini Cheddars in his lunchbox is now EXPELLED for his sausage roll and scotch egg habit

Parents' view that the food they provide is healthy is branded by the school as 'continuously breaking school rules'. One wonders  what they would say and do about real rule breaking

A six year-old boy who was suspended from his school after he took a bag of Mini Cheddars in his packed lunch has now been expelled.

Riley Pearson, from Colnbrook, near Slough, was initially excluded from Colnbrook C of E Primary School after teachers discovered the snack and called in his parents.

After a meeting with headmaster Jeremy Meek, they were sent a letter telling them Riley would be excluded from last Wednesday until Monday because he had been 'continuously breaking school rules'.

But his parents have now said he has been expelled after they spoke to the media, while his younger brother has also been banned from its pre-school.

The school has insisted a pupil was not excluded 'for just having Mini Cheddars in their lunchbox' but because there had been a 'persistent and deliberate breach of school policy, such as bringing in crisps, biscuits, sausage rolls, mini sausages, scotch eggs and similar'.

Riley’s dad, Tom Pearson, said he was 'devastated' that the school had not only deprived Riley of his schooling but also his younger brother who attends its pre-school.

He added that a scheduled meeting between the family and headteacher Mr Meek, due to take place yesterday was cancelled when he arrived.

Mr Pearson then saw Mr Meek in the school playground as he picked up Riley's brother Jayden from pre-school but Mr Meek told him he would telephone him by the end of the day to let him know what was happening.

Minutes later Mr Pearson received a phone call telling him both Riley and Jayden were not welcome back at the school.

'I’m just devastated,' said Mr Pearson, last night. 'He rang and told me the decision had been made to exclude Riley permanently and we had given the school a bad reputation because of the media coverage.

'He also said the funded sessions Jayden has at the school’s pre school were being withdrawn too. I think he’s a coward for not telling me to my face.'

The airport worker and wife Natalie, who is due to give birth to her fourth child next week, are now waiting to hear from education officers from Slough Borough Council to see what to do next.

In a statement the school said a pupil had been permanently excluded because 'during the course of a recent four day exclusion, the pupil’s parents made it publicly clear that their child would not be following the school's policy on healthy eating upon their return'.

The school also said the decision was taken because of 'the parent school relationship suffering an irretrievable breakdown' due to 'misrepresentations in the local and national media that were both wholly inaccurate and grossly misleading, abusive language being used towards staff, and other inappropriate actions being taken that were designed to damage the school’s reputation'.

The school, which was placed in special measures after Ofsted inspectors deemed it 'inadequate' in 2012, introduced a healthy eating policy at the start of term.

A letter was sent to parents saying that from January 14, packed lunches should be 'healthy and balanced'.

Parents were told: 'Chocolate, sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks are not allowed. If your child's lunchbox is unhealthy and unbalanced they will be provided with a school lunch for which you will be charged.'

At the time of his exclusion last week, Riley's mother Natalie said: 'We just do not see how they have the right to tell us what we can feed our son.  'If anything, Riley is underweight and could do with putting on a few pounds.'

Miss Mardle, who is expecting her fourth child, added: 'Having a balanced diet also includes eating some carbohydrates, sugars and fats.  'It is not about excluding some foods, it is about getting the mix right.'

Riley’s lunchbox usually contains a sandwich, yoghurt tube, Dairylea Dunkers cheese spread snack, and a packet of Mini Cheddars, with water to drink.

His mother said the 3ft 9ins tall schoolboy who weighs 3st 2lbs, eats home-cooked meals and plenty of fruit and vegetables at home.

Miss Mardle said: 'I would understand the exclusion if he was constantly throwing tables around or bullying other children, but it is just ridiculous for a packet of Mini Cheddars.  'Surely the headteacher has better things to do with his time than search lunchboxes?'


Australian Leftists wail at losing their grip on the young

THE vicious attacks on the expert chosen by Christopher Pyne to review the national education curriculum show just how much is at stake for the cultural revolutionaries dumbing down our schools.

Dr Kevin Donnelly is their worst nightmare, appointed to snatch the curriculum back from the brink of disaster.

For his trouble he has been falsely branded a paedophile, Islamophobe, homophobe, misogynist and Christian.

In the sewers of Twitter, people have wished him dead and asked him for his opinion on vibrators.

Among his and Queensland academic Ken Wiltshire’s tasks is to decide whether the three priorities of the new curriculum - sustainability, indigenous history and culture and Asian engagement - make any sense.

Absurdly, even in maths the curriculum claims “sustainability provides rich, engaging and authentic contexts for developing students’ abilities in number and algebra”.

Good grief. Pyne has rightly queried this politically correct attempt at brainwashing. He ought to rip the curriculum to shreds, but he is taking the gentle approach.

Clear-thinking Donnelly is the perfect choice. An unabashed critic of moral relativism, he wants education to be about “objectivity and truth”. He believes students should understand the foundations of Western civilisation and Australia’s Judeo-Christian heritage.

He thinks academic rigour and phonics and even - shock, horror - rote learning might be a good thing.

He is against the fashion of students “constructing” their own knowledge.

When university students need remedial reading classes, he knows something is wrong.

“The penny has dropped that what we are doing isn’t working well enough,” Donnelly told me. “In terms of falling standards something has to be done.”

Most parents would agree but the Marxist teacher unions are beside themselves, trawling around for something, anything, to discredit him.

The latest ploy was a story this week claiming Donnelly is homophobic because he once wrote, in his 2004 book Why Our Schools Are Failing, that teachers should not push leftist propaganda on gender and sexuality.

Donnelly criticised Australian Education Union policy that “homosexuality and bisexuality need to be normalised” in the classroom and “heterosexism” (the idea that heterosexuality is the norm) must be stamped out.

He cited the example that Cinderella and Romeo And Juliet are “condemned as heterosexist because they privilege traditional views about heterosexual love”.

Essentially, Donnelly’s view was that sex education is a sensitive and controversial topic and that parents have the right to know what is happening in the classroom.

The AEU seized the bogus story as “yet another reason why Kevin Donnelly shouldn’t be anywhere near a curriculum review”.

Others on Twitter claimed he would “rather have our youth committing suicide than be educated … If Kevin Donnelly comes anywhere near my children I can’t be held fully accountable for my actions. What a creep.”

The denizens of Twitter take their lead from the bile emanating from the education establishment, unions and academics who have presided over falling standards.

Worst was former NSW education director-general Ken Boston, who took to ABC radio last month with an extraordinarily unhinged tirade: “Kevin Donnelly is a polemicist. He’s not taken seriously. He doesn’t engage with reasoned argument or evidence. His views, or rantings frankly, are well-known and have been disregarded for many years. His publications are regarded as specious nonsense.”

And on and on he went for five minutes. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Donnelly could hardly be better qualified. He holds a master’s of education and a PhD on school curriculum, was on the panel of examiners for Year 12 English in Victoria and the Board of Studies.

He also was a secondary school teacher for 18 years. He is a thoughtful man who has devoted his life to education.

Boston, on the other hand, has a doctorate in “coastal morphology”. The 70-year-old devoted himself to the study of saltmarsh grasses into his 30s when he changed careers to become an education bureaucrat in Ballarat. Remarkably, he rose to the top of the NSW Education Department and landed a plum job in London as chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority but left in 2008 in a national fiasco over school tests. London’s conservative Daily Telegraph said that during Boston’s six years at the authority it “presided over the dumbing down of the curriculum, a decline in the rigour of tests and hyper-inflation in the results”.

He is hardly in a position to criticise Donnelly.

But all the vitriol is like water off a duck’s back to Pyne. The more the Left criticises Donnelly, the more he knows he’s on to a good thing. For our children’s sake, let’s hope its not too late.


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