I am a dad. I am a student. I also teach high school. As such, while I can imagine what it’s like to have three children five years of age and under to be vying for your attention, and I can imagine what it’s like to seek the attention of a teacher, and I can imagine what it’s like to monitor and administer to the needs of 32 adolescents, I cannot imagine the patience I would need to occupy, teach and protect five to ten little ones in a pre-school setting.
With the problems my son has faced in pre-school with what I suspect to be bullying, and the possibility that his bully may be expelled, I’ve dedicated much of my coursework this semester to looking for solutions. How can I help my son deal with aggressive peers so he does not become a bully. So he does not perpetuate his own victimhood. How can I help the bullies in pre-school get the education they need and deserve just as much as my son? How can I help parents of both victim and bully to become greater advocates for their children?
USA Today published an opinion yesterday, and I’ve written about this before, that a study was released earlier this year indicating pre-schools with too few teachers and too many students witness higher numbers of expulsion rates. Is universal pre-school the answer? Oklahoma seems to think so. “Oklahoma offers ‘universal’ preschool which means that parents of all incomes have the option of sending their 4-year-olds to a state-sponsored preschool, transportation included. The state also insists that all preschool teachers hold bachelor’s degrees, and they are paid the same as regular school teachers.” My home state has yet to make kindergarten mandatory, so we lag a bit behind such an offering.
Oklahoma’s policy is not mandated, it is an option, and I think its being optional is a positive, but what I like best about Oklahoma’s policy is the bachelor’s degree requirement and pay. I’m curious though as to class size, and the article indicates there are dangers in states seeking to replicate Oklahoma’s success, and Florida is one example of how not to build a universal preschool program: “Florida rushed its preschool system out the door with seemingly little attention to setting standards. Florida cosmetologists face stiffer licensing than preschool teachers, and preschool operators there are free to pursue a choose-your-own-curriculum policy.”
With early childhood education funding part of the current presidential debate, like my colleague Jeanette’s concerns with health care, where would the money come from? More importantly, will it be done right?