Universal PreK, What Would the Founders Say?

In response to the Capitol Beat OK article on the Oklahoma State Department of Education FY 2011-12 budget, ROPE is floored that our new Superintendent would remove the stipend for teachers with National Certification, but funnel 100 MILLION dollars from the budget into early learning opportunities. National Board Certified teachers have to go well above and beyond their required work at the state or collegiate level to attain this certification (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 2011). Final competencies for teachers undergoing this rigorous certification come from peers (Oklahoma's Official Web Site) after a thorough review process. This does not parallel the certification process for Oklahoma classroom teachers who are certified after completing an education degree (not a degree in the subject to be taught) and passing three competency tests (Oklahoma State Department of Education). It seems a huge disappointment to remove the incentive for teachers to attempt this more rigorous certification. OCU, for example, requires only 19 hours of Biology (Oklahoma City University) to get a teaching degree in Biology and 37 hours of Chemistry for a Chemistry Ed degree. Any further attempt by teachers toward making them better able to produce learned students should be lauded. This disappointment comes into stark relief when realizing that 100 million dollars will be spent on programs for pre-K. Over the years, researchers have argued about the value of prekindergarten programs – especially those implemented with state or federal tax dollars. More research is coming to light today, however, indicating pre-K programming to be a failure (Burke, Long Overdue Head Start Evaluation Shows No Lasting Benefit for Children, 2010), overall (Schaeffer, 2008). As an example, the federal government contracted a large study of the publicly-funded Head Start program in 1998 only to squelch findings until last year, possibly because results indicated ZERO (Burke, Long Overdue Head Start Evaluation Shows No Lasting Benefit for Children, 2010) long term benefits to children. (Head Start, as well as the first federal funding of education [dubbed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, ESEA], were begun in 1965 during President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty”, based on the incorrect assumption that poverty causes illiteracy. (Schlafly, 2000)) Darcy Ann Olsen of the Cato Institute wrote the following in her paper,” UNIVERSAL PRESCHOOL IS NO GOLDEN TICKET (Olson, 1999) Why Government Should Not Enter the Preschool Business”, “Public preschool for younger children is irresponsible, given the failure of the public school system to educate the children currently enrolled. The desire to "do something" for young children should be tempered by the facts and proposals for universal preschool should be rejected.” Preschool was begun in Oklahoma in 1998. In 2009, Lindsay Burke of the Heritage Foundation assessed a number of studies done on Oklahoma pre-K and concluded the following (Burke, Does Universal Preschool Improve Learning? Lessons from Georgia and Oklahoma, 2009), “The experiences in Georgia and Oklahoma suggest that a federal program to encourage states to offer universal preschool would be costly and ineffective in delivering the significant, long-term benefits that its supporters promise.”

Beyond the studies, however, is what we believe to be a real conflict of interest on the part of the Oklahoma State Board of Education. Phil Lakin is the newest member of the OBOE. Mr. Lakin’s profile on the State DOE website says the following, “Phil serves as a director of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Tulsa Beautification Foundation, and Tulsa Educare (Education, 2011).” Just last month (June) George Kaiser of the George Kaiser Family Foundation joined with the Obama administration in announcing the new Race to the Top contest (Editorial Board, 2011). Wouldn’t EduCare (Oklahoma City EduCare, 2011) stand to gain some of the 100 million budgeted? It does seem odd that a board member presiding over millions TAX PAYER dollars might stand to want to see his organization benefit from such largesse. But that isn’t all. Just this month ROPE completed a large body of research (Jenni White, 2011) including, among other things, relevant history of public education in America. We show that the ‘father’ of universal preschool is none other than Dr. John Dewey, a neo-Marxist and the Father of Progressive Education. Dewey, who witnessed the socio-economic and family upheaval of the American Industrial Revolution first hand, came to the conclusion that urban families (particularly) were ill-equipped to raise their children. Schools, therefore, must be all things to all children and supplant the family as the ultimate center of life (Warde, 2005). Unfortunately, this tenet has been advanced through presidents and education policy analysts and spread throughout public education across the US since. Americans have always had the freedom and opportunity to express Socialist or Marxist thought, but these thoughts may not be placed into American Republican government through a state-run institution using taxpayer funds. In fact, Samuel Adams said that the Founders had done everything possible to make the ideas of socialism and communism unconstitutional (Skousen, 1981). Not only would the Founders of this country be dismayed by Universal PreK, it is decidedly un-American and ineffective to boot.

END NOTES________________________________________ Burke, L. (2009, May 14). Backgrounder on Education. Retrieved August 16, 2011, from The Heritage Foundation: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2009/05/Does-Universal-PreschoolImprove-Learning-Lessons-from-Georgia-and-Oklahoma#_ftn53 Burke, L. (2010, January 14). The Foundry. Retrieved August 16, 2011, from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org/2010/01/14/long-overdue-head-start-evaluation-shows-no-lastingbenefit-for-children/ Editorial Board. (2011, June 2). Editorials. Retrieved August 16, 2011, from NewsOK: http://newsok.com/article/3573278?highlight=%255b%2522new%2522%252C%2522race%2522 %252C%2522to%2522%252C%2522the%2522%252C%2522top%2522%252C%2522a%2522%25

2C%2522good%2522%252C%2522fit%2522%252C%2522for%2522%252C%2522oklahoma%252 2%255d Education, O. S. (2011). Members of the State Board of Education. Retrieved August 16, 2011, from Oklahoma State Department of Education: http://sde.state.ok.us/Law/BoardsofEduc/state.html Jenni White, L. H. (2011, June 13). Common Core State Standards and Race to the Top - An Introduction to Marxism 101. Retrieved August 16, 2011, from Restore Oklahoma Public Education: http://www.restoreokpubliceducation.com/node/687#content National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. (2011). The Standards. Retrieved August 2011, from National Board for Professional Teaching Standards: http://www.nbpts.org/the_standards Oklahoma City EduCare. (2011). Home. Retrieved August 16, 2011, from Oklahoma City Educare: http://www.okceducare.org/team.html Oklahoma City University. (n.d.). Department of Education, Biology and Chemistry Requirements. Retrieved August 2011, from Oklahoma City University: http://www.okcu.edu/petree/education/science_ed.aspx Oklahoma State Department of Education. (n.d.). Professional Standards Teacher Certification. Retrieved August 2011, from Oklahoma State Department of Education: http://sde.state.ok.us/Teacher/ProfStand/default.html Oklahoma's Official Web Site. (n.d.). Education Leadership in Oklahoma. Retrieved August 2011, from Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation: http://www.ok.gov/octp/National_Board_Certification/index.html Olson, D. A. (1999, February 9). Policy Analysis. Retrieved August 16, 2011, from CATO Institute: http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa333.pdf Schaeffer, A. (2008, June 27). CATO at Liberty. Retrieved August 16, 2011, from CATO Institute: http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/ok-preschool-study-provides-no-evidence-of-lasting-benefitsfrom-preschool/ Schlafly, P. (2000, April). The Phyllis Schlafly Report. Retrieved August 16, 2011, from Eagle Forum: http://www.eagleforum.org/psr/2000/apr00/psrapr2000.html Skousen, W. C. (1981). The 5000 Year Leap. In W. C. Skousen, The 5000 Year Leap (p. 337). National Center for Constitutional Studies. Warde, W. F. (2005). Marxists.org. Retrieved August 2011, from John Dewey’s Theories of Education : http://www.marxists.org/archive/novack/works/1960/x03.htm

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