Letter: Drawing the line on a community's role in raising a child

To the Editor:

The arguments for all-day kindergarten in Shelton continue to percolate. Simultaneously, there is a growing call at local, state and national levels to go even further, making pre-K a mandated, taxpayer-funded part of the educational system as well.

Those arguing in favor of expanded public education at these early levels point to studies showing, for example, that reading to a child at an early age can be critical to the child’s later success in school and in life.

They argue that, since this is essential “learning,” it ought to be part of the education system’s obligation to provide it.

I would bet there are studies out there (or in the works) that show the same for even earlier activities like coloring, stacking blocks or just playing with other kids. Don’t children “learn” from all of these? How about walking, talking and potty-training?

I’m sure studies can also be had that correlate successful early “learning” of these skills with better acclimation to a school environment and, therefore, higher school success rates. So, by extension of logic, should the school system take on responsibility for providing these skills as well?

In fact, there have even been suggestions that playing classical music to a child while still in the womb can have a positive impact on their “learning” abilities, so should the public schools set up listening areas with recliners for expectant mothers?

Why don’t we just go all the way: I’m sure there are studies that show how proper pre-natal care and even a smooth birth process can make a difference in the child’s abilities, so why not provide banks of publicly-funded surrogate mothers into whom a couple’s egg and sperm can be implanted and fertilized to ensure adequate care from inception?

Small steps to a larger agenda

Of course this is kooky, but we have lots of kooky situations today that started with small steps that were sold as being rational and logical at the time. Usually, there was some larger agenda at play, often orchestrated by parties who would eventually profit.

The public needs to understand that education is not just a public service; it is an industry. Teachers’ unions, administrators, consultants, providers of educational materials and technologies, and even architectural firms specializing in school construction are some who comprise this industry and benefit from its expansion.

They have learned how to push parents’ buttons, raising anxiety about what is needed to adequately prepare their children. They then guide them in ways to secure more of it from the deeper pockets of the community at large.

Often, this involves sweeping more into the category of essential “learning” so it can be lumped into the public education charter.

The question is: How far should the community’s obligations extend in the raising of a child?

We are already paying for numerous Advanced Placement classes in later years, essentially relieving parents of some of the obligations of college costs. Should we now take on any element that is labeled “early learning” as well?

William O’Leary