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Preschool Initiative May Not Be Good for South Dakota Children




*This is the first of a series preschool and early child development.

In August 2006 news reports revealed the story of a 16-year old South Dakota wrestling champion who has been indicted on 21 counts of rape/attempted rape. How very criminal. How completely disturbing and emotionally devastating this must be for his six or more victims.[1]

Why this young man has exhibited such aggressive, violent behavior and lack of self-control is a mystery. One might wonder if he is from a family with difficult issues or if he has an extreme personality disorder. But more and more, both the medical community and the criminal justice system are asking questions about the care criminals received as young children and the influences that lead them to commit such behaviors.

Advocates of universal preschool claim that it reduces crime and violent behavior.[2] Art Rolnick, Minneapolis Federal Reserve representative, visited Sioux Falls in May 2006 begging South Dakota to invest huge sums of money in pre-kindergarten and government-based preschool. He said, “The goal in Minnesota, for example, is every at-risk child has a mentor at very early ages, and a scholarship to go to a high-quality early-education program.”[3]

Rolnick fails to tell us if mentors and scholarships for private schooling for middle school, junior high and high school students are next on Minnesota’s list of goals. He fails to tell us what the price tag will be when his plan gets off the ground and is fully implemented. He fails to tell us just how much taxpayer funding he is seeking for preschool managers, “teachers,” bussing, classrooms and supplies.

Rolnick also appears to ignore research in his own backyard about placing young children in center-based settings for long periods of time each week. The University of Minnesota released a study recorded in the journal, Child Development, showing a significant increase in cortisol, a stress hormone, for preschoolers who attend childcare centers.[4] USA Today reported that about 7 out of 10 of the preschoolers increased their output of cortisol at center-based care compared to days spent in a home.[5]

A study released in November, 2005, by researchers at the University of California Berkeley and Stanford found that long hours in preschool centers hinder social development. According to UC Berkeley sociologist and co-author Bruce Fuller, the study, “How much is too much? The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children’s Development Nationwide,” found that children who attended preschool at least 15 hours a week are more likely to display more negative social behaviors, such as acting up or having trouble cooperating, than their peers. [6]

Preschool enrollment actually declined in Minnesota and 10 other states in 2005, according to The State of Preschool: 2005 State Preschool Yearbook released by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) based at Rutgers University.[7] Twenty-one states cut funding to preschool programs in 2004.[8] In 2005 inflation-adjusted state spending per child declined by 7.3 percent.[9] Perhaps parents and lawmakers are realizing that preschools’ benefits are tenuous at best.

California voters rejected a referendum in June 2006 that would have created a $2.4 billion universal preschool program. The major proponent of this legislation was Hollywood actor-director Rob Reiner, the infamous “Meathead” of the 1970’s “All in the Family” TV program.[10] Reiner and his advocates continue to push for $5 billion for universal preschool with cost estimates ranging from $6,000 - $12,000 per pupil.[11]

Commercial daycare centers contribute to more aggression, violence and depression in children.[12] They are a serious risk to a child’s normal development.[13]

These statements are made based upon numerous studies compiled and reviewed in Daycare Deception, by Brian C. Robertson, a Kohler Fellow at the Howard Center for Family and a researcher with the Center for Marriage and Family at the Family Research Council.[14] In addition, a recent Child Trends study found that the more time children spend in day care or preschool the year prior to kindergarten, the more likely they are to have “less optimal self-control.”[15]

Brian Robertson shows in his book that every year the universal preschool/daycare lobby pours more and more money into elections. Sadly, governors and other lawmakers are moving to provide more public subsidies for commercial child rearing while parents are increasingly calling for policy options that would give them more choices in child care, whether it is family-home daycare, in-home care or stay-at-home parenting.[16]

In his State-of-the-State address on January 11, 2005, Gov. Rounds noted that K-12 is down 4,100 students since 2000. Fewer students mean less money for our schools, according to our school aid formula. Could there be a movement by so-called “child advocates” to add preschool to the ADM (annual daily membership) allotment in order to pump money into the state’s education system again?

On January 9, 2007, Gov. Rounds revealed that a preschool pilot program, not under scrutiny of the state legislature, is to commence in Sioux Falls. Certainly it takes little stretch of the imagination to see that a request for funding is in the works in the next year or so, in order to expand public preschool throughout the state.

Finally, concerning Mr. Rolnick: Are we in South Dakota going to accept at face value what a man from Minnesota tells us to do with our education programs simply because he works for the Federal Reserve System? Rather, it is time for us to be our own bosses.

Cindy Flakoll is a farm/ranch wife in McPherson County. She is also Legislative Liaison for Concerned Women for America of South Dakota. Concerned Women for America, a women's public policy organization, has more than 500,000 members nationwide.



[1] “Parker wrestler indicted in rapes,” Argus Leader, August 22, 2006 http://www.argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060822/NEWS05/608220306&SearchID=73254652382054 [2] Rolnick, Art and Gruenwald, Rob, “Early Childhood Development: Economic Development with a High Public Return,” March 2003, http://minneapolisfed.org/pubs/fedgaz/03-03/earlychild.cfm

[3] “Economy & Early Childhood Education,” 05/15/2006 http://www.keloland.com/NewsDetail2817.cfm?Id=25,48058

[4] Hooks, Kathryn, “Congress Spends Billions on Bad Parental Substitute: Studies Show Link Between Early Childcare Centers and Aggressive Behavior,” 7/29/2003, http://www.beverlylahayeinstitute.org/articledisplay.asp?id=4370&department=BLI&categoryid=dotcommentary

[5] Ibid.

[6] Peterson, Kavan, “Preschool gets record boost in '05,” November 16, 2005, http://www.stateline.org/live/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=136&languageId=1&contentId=68296

[7] “State-Funded Preschool Programs Serving More Children, But Spending Less Per Child: Growth in Quality of Programs Lags,” Mar 23, 2006, http://nieer.org/mediacenter/index.php?PressID=52

[8] “Annual Survey Finds High-Quality State Preschool Programs Are the Exception, Not the Rule Preschool Enrollment Increased Nationally, Spending Per Child Dropped,” Nov 22, 2004, http://nieer.org/mediacenter/index.php?PressID=43

[9] http://nieer.org/mediacenter/index.php?PressID=52

[10] http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20060607/a_primaries07.art.htm, 6-7-06

[11] “AB 172 Preschool for All Talking Points,” Updated 4/05

http://www.cwfa.org/images/content/AB172%20Talking%20Points.pdf, --accessed 6-20-06

[12] Morse, Anne, “Do You Know Where Your Children Are?” Book Review of Day Care Deception: What the Child Care Establishment Isn’t Telling Us, Brian C. Robertson, Encounter Books, http://www.crisismagazine.com/book3.htm

[13] Lopez, Kathryn J., “Who’s Minding the Kids? Opening the day-care-center doors,” October 01, 2003, http://www.nationalreview.com/interrogatory/robinson200310010847.asp

[14] Ibid.

[15] Halle, Tamara, “Child Trends - Society for Research in Child Development,”April 9, 2005 http://www.childtrends.org/Files/SRCD_presentation_March_2005_4-09-05.pdf

[16] Day Care Deception: What the Child Care Establishment Isn't Telling Us --- Book Review --accessed 8-23-06, http://www.encounterbooks.com/books/daca/daca.html

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