Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tough Times for Preschools

Today's front page of The Washington Post (below the fold), warned of dire space shortages at area preschools.

For years, I have heard and read about parents jockeying to get their kids in a good preschool -- sleeping in cars to ensure their place in line on registration day. This article focuses on the lack of space for preschools more so than the competitive drive of the parents. This article focuses on the immigrant population, the quotes at least come from parents not born in the U.S.

The article makes a few comments about the need for preschool --

Local officials attribute the crunch to a soaring demand for preschool, fueled in part by immigrant parents who live inside the Beltway, tend to have larger families and have become more aware of the benefits of preschool. Studies have shown that children who attend preschool generally have higher success rates in elementary school and beyond.

and this

She said the families she works with have high birthrates and are increasingly aware that preschool is an investment in their children's future.
"But when the family gets that awareness, they turn around and
there's no center," she said.

Why is preschool necessary and why are immigrant populations becoming aware of its necessity? Is it possible that someone is bullying them into thinking that they are inadequate to teach their children colors, numbers and letters? I don't know, but personally, I like William Raspberry's approach better.

But I am convinced that all the other things we do will have limited impact unless we also undertake to enhance the competence of our children's first and most effective teachers: their parents.

He has started a small program that focuses on the home:

Baby Steps, I call it, and the major aim is to help parents understand the critical value of what they do at home. We try to do it by teaching parents of young children -- birth to age 5 -- some of the tricks for getting them ready for learning and for life. And we try to make it fun.

Back to the preschool article -- it continues to address potential solutions to the dearth of preschools:

Some states have begun to consider universal preschool: Georgia has it, and Florida is working toward it.

I'm not sure how Universal Preschool will solve the problem of lack of space for preschools. Maybe the government takes over and can use imminent domain to force the reticent churches to give over their space for preschool?

Hmmmm...I wonder how those universal preschool efforts are going in Georgia and Florida? I don't think everything is hunky dory and in other states considering it, there are some serious fights going on. Certainly, universal preschool is not a magic bullet.

What goes on in preschool that is so important?

On a recent afternoon at a center on Mount Vernon Avenue, one of the two that will close, children called out numbers and colors with a teacher as their mothers looked on.
I always thought that an involved parent can cover stuff like that at home. Read about preschool and see what goes on at a typical preschool -- its not that big of a deal. Certainly not worth sleeping in a car, if you ask me. (And if you want to read about what is wrong with preschool, I wouldn't stop you) As to 'socialization' (assuming you don't examine the issue and decide there is a greater downside to preschool socialization than there is an upside), there are always playgrounds where your child can get sand thrown in her face or pushed over for a shovel.

Morena Parada, a Salvadoran immigrant who is an assistant at the center, said that enrolling her daughter Diana, 4, there has enabled her to work and has taught her daughter to get along with others.
Aha -- its a daycare issue. Lets call it what it is. An ancilliary issue -- if the government took over and provided Universal Preschool, standards for teaching and assisting would follow and if this woman didn't have the time or money to get the required credentials, she could lose her job. So much for helping the immigrant population.

1 comment:

GF Veg Mom said...

Have to say I agree with you on this... how would universal preschool create less of a demand? Perhaps we can send our kids to the already overflowing public schools. Hmmm. No again. I guess they'll have to keep thinking. I also wanted to say I enjoy your blog and would have added a link to it from mine--hope that's okay!