Friday, August 5, 2011

Jenks puts the ‘early’ in early childhood ed

Dr. Burton White, former director of the Harvard Preschool Project, once wrote:
After more than 30 years of research on how children develop well, I would not think of putting an infant or toddler of my own into any substitute-care program on a full-time basis, especially a center-based program.

That's not a quote you're going to find in the Jenks Public Schools "Early Learning Center" handbook. Though, on the bright side, you will find assurances that Jenks students are placed on their backs so as to avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

A six-week old "problem solver"
Let's step back for a moment and review how it is we came to arrive on this planet. Originally, Oklahoma's state constitution required compulsory school attendance for children "between the ages of eight and sixteen years, for at least three months in the year." The legislature later expanded the school year and lowered the age to seven, then to five. Today, an astonishing 71 percent of Oklahoma’s four-year-olds are in state-funded prekindergarten and, incredibly, 2,325 three-year-olds were in pre-K classrooms last year. One is reminded of the fire captain's remark in Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451: "We've lowered the kindergarten age year after year until now we're almost snatching them from the cradle."

Almost? No, the Jenks Public Schools will gladly enroll your six-week-old scholar in an "education" program (6:30 AM to 6:00 PM if you like) whose "curriculum" encourages "language enrichment" and "problem solving." Jenks schoolteachers also strongly emphasize "the development of language skills (which is probably why they assure parents they are careful to wipe the students' gums with a clean washcloth after feeding).

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