Preschool for All

The California crowd, a generally insecure lot who so worries their pretty heads about whether their infant is reading a Baby Einstein flashcard more quickly than their neighbor’s, tends to take preschool pretty darn seriously.

Private preschools and kindergartens and such can run you $20,000 per year easily. You are often judged as a parent based on your child’s preschool. Yes, the preschool. People have every right to do this, of course.

I’ve heard many moms tell me that they dropped their three-year-old off at preschool with the little one crying for mommy not to leave. “But I had to,” one mother dramatically said, “It’s for his own good!” At three? That particular mother spoke two languages and yet, she evidently found it beyond her reach to think about teaching her own child the alphabet of either language. Or anything else.

These parents have, no doubt, believed all the First Five of California propaganda that we’ve heard these past few years. They believe that if they don’t make their child go to preschool; learn to socialize, whatever that vague term means; and have their child reading by age five, that little Johnny or JoEllen will be merely a dumb mass of unfulfilled neurons for the rest of his or her life.

Prop. 82, on the Tuesday, June 6th ballot, will attempt to extend this kind of thinking to everyone, proliferating the thought processes of those who spend $20,000 or so on preschools with chickens and with rooms decorated as if they were featured in last month’s Architectural Digest. Why should only the very wealthy believe that their progeny must feel the pressure to succeed by age six? If Prop. 82, heavily promoted by former sitcom star Rob Reiner, passes, then every four-year-old will have a chance to sit in a classroom at least three hours each day, listening to socialist propaganda that their change agent teachers will tell them. And of course, this schooling must come at the government’s expense.

Preschool fever has so hit California that most parents believe that we’re not smart enough to teach our own children. We proletariat types may not be dumb enough to pay $20,000 so that our child may have contact with a chicken each day, but we’ll certainly take the free preschool that our local government prison, I mean government school, dishes out. After all it is free!

Diane Flynn Keith, who has not only written extensively about Prop. 82 and its negative consequences, but who also encourages parents to teach their children at home, especially in the early years, is one of many smart mamas who is vehemently against Prop. 82. On her blog, a kindergarten teacher fears that if Preschool for All comes into being, “children will be raped of their childhood.” I worry about this as well. I’ve noticed that the heavily preschooled often have trouble talking with adults. I was with a group of homeschoolers the other day and noticed that the children talked with me as easily as they talked with other children. Imagine what wonderful things are in store for the three and four set when the government takes over their mind for three hours each day. Building a bridge out of Legos will no longer be merely a fun learning activity; it will be an assessment that a child can be slotted into civil engineering, or whatever is needed on the School-to-Work agenda.

While many in California are oblivious to the harm that lots of preschool, and I don’t mean the occasional Mothers Morning Out, can do to their child, some see the problems with early childhood education outside the home. There are thinking mamas, such as homeschooler Karen Taylor, who realize that placing their young children in the care of others can have unintended consequences:

“I took my son to the local community college plant sale today. There were a lot of kids, but mine was the only one with his own mother. The others were preschoolers, several classes of them, each tied to the other so that they wouldn’t get away from their adults. We watched one class walk in, while we were deciding which tomato plants to buy. The teacher said slowly to the kids, “These are veg-e-tables.” She selected the two closest tomato plants with no discussion, and as she left, with the kids following her, another adult asked what color the plants were. That was it. The field trip was over, but I imagine they’ll tell the parents that they went to the college and learned about gardening and plants. And the parents will be so pleased that their children are in school at such a young age, and learning important things.”

I happened to read Karen’s story on the same day that my five-year-old and I had gone to a garden center. As he and I looked at and talked about the plants, even with my limited horticultural knowledge, I talked about farming and gardening and how important plants are to us and to our survival. In his secure familial environment, my son learned more in a few minutes than he would have in an entire day of public preschool.

In crazy, socialist California, however, smart, thinking mamas are not the norm. Between parents who are so strapped due to our high tax rate that both need to work; and parents who hire nannies to take care of their children, one of these told me that she had a nanny from 5 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. each day; there’s hardly any reason for parents in California to reject Reiner’s attempt to force schooling on three- and four-year-olds. Of course, Reiner and First Five tout that it’s a voluntary program only for four-year-olds now, but if it ensures the “right of all children to receive” one year of preschool, how long will it remain voluntary? How long will it be before the age is lowered even further?

B. F. Skinner concocted a world in Walden Two in which children were taken from their parents as babies and conditioned to be exactly what society wanted them to be. When I used to teach this book to my students at NCSU, we all thought it was a sort of behaviorist science fiction attempt, and not an extremely well-written one at that. After being in the real world for a few years, with children in tow, I can’t help but wonder if Skinner was writing more of a how-to guide. And if our politicians and former sitcom stars, such as Reiner, are slowly and subtly promoting its contents.

I could go on and on, of course, about how strange it is to force money away from those who have more, to give to those who have less. Those individuals who are making over $400,000 or the couples who are making over $800,000 will pay for this “free” preschool. But that’s okay. They’re rich. What’s that thing about forced wealth redistribution? My publicly schooled mind just doesn’t seem to remember.

I could also mention the flaming tower of controversy that’s plagued California’s First Five, ever since before they started telling us via a massive media campaign, that failing to send our children to preschool would doom them to prison. Do you actually know people who didn’t go to preschool and managed to avoid prison?

Don’t tell the First Five folks. They’ve made everyone think that if we don’t send our children to government indoctrination plants by the time they are four, our children will be good for nothing except independent thinking. Without early indoctrination, children may even begin to see through the horrid and unnecessary War on Drugs and War on Terror. There may be a revolt in this country as we haven’t seen since 1776 or so. There may be blood shed in the streets because people care so much about freedom.

But wait a minute! As most people know, independent minds, such as the ones that helped to create our great country, are now deemed a danger to our society. We drug them and make them pay attention in classrooms all day, perfecting supposed critical thinking skills and making what is easy to learn seem hard to learn, as John Taylor Gatto points out that Socrates so aptly predicted would happen, when teachers earn money for teaching.

We simply must manage the populace, however. Independent thinkers do not a good socialist country make. Without proper management, learned early in the government schools, how will we continue our slavery to governments and corporations?

How better to continue this management program than to indoctrinate the very young? We’ve all heard that little ditty from Hitler about “When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side,’ I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already’.” Hitler, to be sure, wasn’t talking about homeschoolers with this quotation. No, in order to lay a whole propaganda campaign on children, there must be mass indoctrination of children. That kind of thing can only occur via mass forced schooling.

And from parents who believe they are too dumb to teach their child the alphabet. After all, if certified teacher and change agent knows best now, perhaps one day doctor will know best and patient will not question doctor or look for alternative treatments. Change agent teacher teaches, subtly, that government knows best. And then when children grow up, having learned to trust authority figures but not themselves, perhaps Marine commander will know best when he says shoot to kill, even when the killing involves a pregnant woman. Early schooling destroys our ability to trust our own hearts and minds, to make our own independent decisions.

The ugly truth for Los Angelenos, who hire nannies at a rate rivaled only by Manhattanites, is that young children need their mommy and daddy. The security that comes from a young child’s being around his or her parents all day is much better incentive to learn than giving the child to change agent teachers who take the child with ten other young humans on a leash and walk them to the library; the teacher will be lucky to remember a child’s name in ten years.

My children and I saw some of these children-on-a-leash as we went to storytime recently at our local library. I can’t imagine a less subtle or more effective way of telling these children that they are more like animals than humans. Sure, placing children on a leash provides safety, but then again, so does locking your child in a closet all day. Still, I wouldn’t suggest either one. Perhaps preschool, especially when it is supplied by the government, is a doggy obedience school for children.

    photo by John Thomas     The propaganda that Reiner and his ilk have come up with regarding this proposal convince me that more’s at stake here than a supposedly free preschool for children. Training future socialists can be quite profitable for the power elite. Slowly lowering the age at which our children begin their terms in the indoctrination centers and opening this supposedly free program to all children will produce fewer free thinkers and more socialists.

Spread the word: Vote NO on Prop. 82 if you live in California; and if you live elsewhere, watch carefully for legislation that will soon try to indoctrinate your state’s youngest members.

June 5, 2006