Arne Duncan, Obama’s Secretary of Education, has announced $500 million in government spending for the Early Learning Challenge portion of Obama’s Race To The Top initiative (RTT-ELC) in collaboration with Kathleen Sebelius and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Obamacare moves to Early Education emphasizing birth to age 5!
Many educators are thrilled with the opportunity to compete for more funding but is this really good for America’s families? Children and Education are buzzwords that tug at all of our heart strings. What parent doesn’t want smart kids? We all do. But once we get beyond the buzzwords into the dirty little business of what’s behind them, we don’t find this initiative so appealing.
Just like Obamacare, Obamacation is far reaching and threatens the privacy of individuals at extreme levels. Statewide and national databases, criminalization of babysitters, regulation of church based centers and prenatal public education are among the most dangerous aspects of Obama’s Early Learning Challenge.
Public schools beginning at birth ought to frighten parents. William Ross Wallace praised motherhood with his poem entitled The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Rules the World. Now it seems like the government wants a part of that action. The Department of Education’s executive summary states in its third priority: “To receive competitive preference under this priority, the State’s Plan must be designed to increase the number of children from birth to kindergarten entry who are participating in programs that are governed by the State’s licensing system.” [Emphasis mine]
During a teleconference with Department of Education and Stakeholders, Joan Lombardi (Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development in the Department of Health and Human Services) indicates that their real goal actually ranges from prenatal through age eight. Prenatal public schools? Seriously? This is beyond intrusive. Just how they plan to implement this is puzzling and I find it odd to be a stated goal. We do not need womb to the tomb government intrusion.
The fact is that parents are the best providers of early education for their children. Do we really need government involvement from birth and before to prepare our children for kindergarten? Do you want a truant officer coming to your house because your nursing baby didn’t make it to school? We are not simply talking about better health care or providing options. This is the government intruding upon our families with the pretense of improving education.
Thomas Edison stated “My mother was the making of me. She believed in me, and was so sure of me, I knew I could not disappoint her.”
We need to be extremely skeptical about allowing government to encroach upon these early and formative years of childhood. Mom’s need to rock the cradles. They are the first, best teachers. When someone created a list of Winston Churchill’s teachers, he observed that they had omitted his greatest teacher: his mother. Thomas Edison stated “My mother was the making of me. She believed in me, and was so sure of me, I knew I could not disappoint her.”
With the government growing evermore intrusive, let’s not surrender our homes and our children. When children enter this world under government supervision and documentation it will seem to be a normal part of life.
National Tracking System
One of the stated goals of the Department of Education is the creation of a “uniform data collection” system on a statewide level that “facilitates the exchange of data among Participating State Agencies.” This is essentially a federal data system operated by the states. The stated purpose of this system is to generate “information that is timely, relevant, accessible, and easy for Early Learning and Development Programs and Early Childhood Educators to use for continuous improvement and decision-making.”
Hold on a minute! This might be good management for national corporations but does little Johnny need all this. Can’t Mommy just talk with Daddy and come up with a decision on how to teach colors, numbers and letters? Do we really need a national data collection bureaucracy that doesn’t even know Johnny by name to administrate and coordinate his education? What are the ulterior motives? If this is just the beginning, where will it end. Big Government wants to start early and work its way through our children’s lives. That’s how Socialism starts.
It is a dangerous thing for the government to begin tracking our vital information beginning at birth. It is an invasion of privacy that will have serious repercussions immediately and grave consequences farther down the road.
Criminalization of Babysitting
The third priority also calls for a “licensing and inspection system that covers all programs that are not otherwise regulated by the State and that regularly care for two or more unrelated children for a fee.”
This means that if little Suzie from the youth group in your church habitually babysits children from more than one family, she will need to be licensed and inspected after June 30, 2013.
Detrimental to Faith Based Preschools and Daycares
Will Big Government regulate babysitting and cross the line between separation of Church and State?
The current licensing system for preschools and daycares primarily focuses on safety issues and yet is very cumbersome and intrusive. The proposed initiative demands that states align their K-3 academic standards commensurate with nationally recognized standards. These curricula standards will be linked with the State licensing system.
This means that the State intends to reach beyond safety measures and dictate or at the minimum approve the curriculum churches must use in their daycare/preschool settings. Remember, we are talking about three year olds and below! Page 11 states that states must “include evidence that the Early Learning and Development Standards are developmentally, linguistically, and culturally appropriate across each age group of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, and cover the Essential Domains of School Readiness.” [Emphasis mine]
Maureen Weibe, AACS National Legislative Director, states “ELC will increase the onerous, regulatory burden on private, faith based preschool centers. Some states currently choose not to license or regulate church-operated centers. Priority 3 punishes them for taking that position, a position that has been thoroughly argued and considered in their state. With this priority, the Department attempts to force those states to either adopt the Department’s political slant on this issue or give up their opportunity to compete for these funds…RTT – ELC encourages state officials to formulate reform plans that will threaten the autonomy of private, faith based preschools even if they do not receive federal funding. ”
The Early Learning Challenge is a competition between the states to receive a piece of the $500 million. The issues we have discussed are the initial expectations outlined by the Obama administration if a state hopes to win any money. All grants will be awarded by the end of 2011. Ohio and 36 other states have submitted an intent to apply.
Legislation that is cloaked in caring for children and educational advancement often flies under the radar. Contact your representatives and let them know why you oppose the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC). Encourage them not to compete for these funds. Then make the effort to share this information within your circle of influence and encourage others to take action as well.
Download the Department of Educaion’s Executive Summary of RTT-ELC.