Improving Education in Alabama (Birmingham, Bessemer: low income, sales, house)
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There is something good in The Western Star this week, but you have to look past the unreadable dark front page and other faults*.
The good is the Guest Editorial by Priscilla Dunn, our representative to the Alabama House of Representatives. In this week's issue, she writes in support of the plan to expand the Alabama pre-kindergarten program.
I am assuming her facts are true (she is not employed by the newspaper). Dunn writes that "children that attend a quality pre-k are less likely to repeat a grade, less likely to require special education classes, and more likely to graduate from high school." Sounds like a wish list for Bessemer education, doesn't it.
Pre-k in Alabama is entirely voluntary, and some parents say that a public program for four year olds infringes on the family. Apparently they don't understand the definition of the word "voluntary."
Now governor Riley is promoting a plan to expand the program (story)from the current level of around 2300 to around 21,000 kids. He says the legislature has to find a way to fund it and the money would come from the Education Trust Fund. Paul Hubbert, executive secretary of the AEA (and sort of the real governor of the state, but that's another story), says the governor needs to find another source of funding.
Huh? This is education. It makes education in Alabama more effective. Test scores will go up. Why should it not be funded out of the Education Trust Fund?
Use inovation (that is what the city of Fort payne did)
Year after year the question of allowing alcohol sales was on the ballot and got turned down. Last year the city stated if it passed, the tax that would go to the city would be given to their school.
It passed, about 2800-2600.
The Fort Payne school has recieved $367,000 from the city this year. It is paid out quarterly.
"children that attend a quality pre-k are less likely to repeat a grade, less likely to require special education classes, and more likely to graduate from high school."
Even if this is accurate, what does it really mean? Parents who presently sent their children to preschool are parents who value education. It's children with parents who value education that are less likely to repeat a grade, less likely to require special education, and more likely to graduate from high school.
This isn't to say I am entirely opposed to the idea of public pre-K, and I certainly feel preschool is important for my own children since I send them, but I am also very concerned about the ever-increasing academic demands placed on children at an earlier and earlier age. These children are expected to know more and perform more at an earlier and earlier age, and while this may make them perform better in school, I am not convinced it is best for them developmentally. This is why I have always chosen developmental preschools. I'm not convinced that the public education system would adequately keep the environment developmental at those early ages (and even if voluntary, most people WILL send their children if the option is available and free). I already think Kindergarten (which was originally supposed to be a developmental introduction to school) has become too too academic in some schools because of mounting pressure for schools to perform well on tests, etc. I have heard of schools telling their K teachers to remove home-play centers and other developmental options from the classroom, because "school is for academics".
What I think is preferable is to limit the program to a developmental "head start" type program, aimed at children from low socio-economic backgrounds and children with developmental delays, who are otherwise not exposed to developmentally enriching experiences or to the expertise necessary to address their special needs.
Also keep in mind the logistics of preschool. Kids that are still biting, who have not learned impulse control, kids that are not yet completely toilet-trained, can't dress themselves, etc. There is a whole spectrum of needs that come with preschool that I think is generally best handled in smaller and privately-run environments, except in special circumstances where those needs cannot be addressed privately.
We all want what is best for kids but I don't think more is necessarily better in this case.
I'm not sure about that. Everyone wants the schools to be improved but no one wants to raise taxes and the evangelicals won't allow a lottery. I mean you can't do much without the funds to do it.
The funds are there.............they are being mis-spent.
A good example is Langford raising taxes in Birmingham. The school system is aweful. He raised taxes to 10 cents(highest in the country)............to build a freakin dome that will flop and sit unused for years. He has failed at every project he has started and this won't be different. Why not use the extra penny to fund education and hire some literate teachers to teach our kids!
An anectode- It tutored someone in a suburban school district here that was in high school learning what should have been learned in 4th grade. The sad part was, while she had math-o-phobia and a mental block, she really wasn't dumb at all. I saw progress after a single session.
Supposedly the state has been improving, I guess. I agree it should be a top issue, rather than domes and such.
I looked at pre-K education a while ago and found it to not be definitive research, but I could be wrong. People seem to be saying its good. I always wondered if it was simply deemed important because parents are busy. I guess then it kind of becomes a women's equality issue.
Either way, I'm pretty sure kids in the US tend to fall behind after 8th grade, and while pre-K may have a long-lasting affect or not, I'd think putting resources into maintaining and improving our middle and high schools should be a priority. There is research out on this stuff as well to follow.
Not that I'm against pre-K either. Sometimes attacking it on all fronts is good. But as previously said: funding priorities, state-wide anti-tax sentiment, and corruption are a problem (as they are everywhere to at least some extent).
Speaking of how Alabama school district waste money..I wonder how many tax payers out there realize that our money is being spent every year on a group of self proclaimed "technicians" that travel around Alabama and Kentucky school systems checking hearing and vision on our low income children and collect the money from our government when NONE of them are certified to do so! They hire different people off the streets every year to work for them. Who knows, they could be child molesters, thiefs, anything. Yet we open up our school doors to these people. On top of that both of the owners are on disability from the government too! Talk about a racket. I don't know about any of you but I don't want these people touching my kids. If anything comes home with this name on it, PLEASE beware.... "QUALITY CARE FOR KIDS"
IMHO I don't think pre-K is the answer. I think the entire educational system is at fault. Sending kids to school sooner will not make up for the lack of solid teaching and learning on the students' part. We lost control of our educational system too long ago and, quite frankly, I don't think it will ever return. However, it does provide an extra year of funded baby-sitting service.
Kids just don't learn anymore than they have to....enough to get through the next test or the next grade. The kids that really want to learn do well and go on to further their education, and I really doubt it has anything to do with going to pre-K.
We've had Head Start for, what, 30+ years? Can anybody reference any studies on if it has helped? What's the difference between Head Start and pre-k?
One of our workers is paying to send his daughter to a pre-k. He says it's to teach his daughter colors and letters and numbers, and how not to use cuss words like she hears at home. I thought that's what parents did at home.
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