Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Diane Lenning's Response to Alan Bonsteel's Article "Reiner Initiative Bad for Preschoolers"

In response to Alan Bonsteel's February 6, 2006 article in the OC Register,
"Reiner Initiative Bad for Preschoolers"

Bonsteel's article left the reader wanting more information about why
Reiner's plan is flawed. I believe the debate will be won over factual
representation of the issues. Voters are tired of the old attack and run
tactic used by both sides of the political spectrum. Unfortunately, it has
worked in too many cases for politicians to easily let go of this tactic;
however, as an educator for over thirty years, I would like to make this
issue an item of intellectual discussion and debate rather than political
wrangling. Educational issues are too important to be designated for
political posturing, maneuvering, and "winning" for political reasons. Our
kids suffer, our economy suffers, and our society suffers when kids are used
as pawns of the battle.

We need to look at what is best for our kids, our communities, our state,
and indeed our society. All of us need to understand why this issue is or
is not good for our children and our communities, and whether the costs
incurred are worthy of this plan for spending our hard earned tax dollars,
whether they be a "rich" or a "poor" person's tax contributions toward the
education of all of California's children.

Some historical facts for us to consider concern the conclusion that
statistics show over the last twenty years that the bureaucracy of public
education in California has lowered the achievement levels of California
students. Academic achievement scores have only recently begun to slowly
rise due to the implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) through
national federal government regulation. There are many reasons the academic
achievement decreased many years ago from the once nationally rated
top-notch public school system California provided.

The women's movement allowed more opportunity for highly-educated and
high-achieving women to move into other professions such as law, medicine,
and business; leaving a different population from which to draw today's
educators. There has been a high influx of population in a short period of
time since the 1970s, which has caused stresses and strains on a
fast-growing educational system. Many of these new students have arrived
with unique disabilities, language differences, and different societal and
educational goals and expectations than had previously been held in high
esteem by the general population of California.

It is important to consider that including public preschools within the
current public education system of California such as the Reiner Plan
suggests, would very likely sedate the educational process for preschool
children in a status of mediocrity and mass conformity; stifling creative
and high-level educational opportunities for our children. Statistics over
the last twenty years have shown that bureaucracy in public education has
lowered the achievement levels of California's students. The achievement
levels have only recently begun to rise due to the implementation of No
Child Left Behind (NCLB) within the states through the regulation enacted in
NCLB by the federal government.

Studies continue to point in the direction most high level increased
academic achievement is best derived from healthy competition such as exists
in the free-market enterprise of a democratic society. A monopoly in
education that Reiner's Plan inherently provides, would harm the free choice
and free development of an educational menu for parents and communities that
currently exists through before and afterschool programs; thereby stifling
the rapid rise of academic achievement and development.

There are proponents of the Reiner Plan who would say the children of
minorities and socio-economically disadvantaged families will benefit, and
thereby benefit society due to student improved educational skills and
abilities. However, the question arises, is this really intended as a
mechanism to provide "child-care" for economically disadvantaged families,
or is it truly to improve education? If so, why not call it what it is,
childcare, and let voters decide on the real issue. What other hidden
agenda items are inherently built into the Reiner Initiative, such as
societal structuring and engineering?

The real issue is whether our current public education system in California
provides a free and equally accessed education for all students within
California that meets the level of expectation of our society as stipulated
in NCLB. The reality is that our students compete every year in a
ever-growing and competitive market for jobs. As our world becomes more
interconnected, it become increasingly important our students are
academically prepared to compete on the national and international levels.

More and more, businesses are finding it necessary to re-educate their
entry-level job applicants before they can fully function at a profitable
level for their companies. If companies do not make profits, they cannot
hire new workers.

The fact that income of public education is provided by tax payer dollars
contributes to an unfortunate side-effect that causes public education to be
a politicized item. It also includes over half the expenditure of the state
budget. Therefore, public education is of great concern to all people of
California. It has become a struggle between the key players of educational
funding and distribution. This has become a serious problem in need of a
serious resolution. As citizens, taxpayers, educators, parents, and
neighbors, educational issues have become a top priority for all voters in
California today.

Diane A. Lenning, Ed.M.
Candidate for CA Superintendent of Instruction, 2006


Blogger Tom Woods said...

Yes, Diane, you are so right. As a four year vetaran of the California State Assembly Education Committee I know that too much time is spent in business and post-secondary education re-educating our children. Yes, there are model schools out there, but as you look at the numbers state wide something must be done to improve our children's accumulated knowledge by high school graduation Other than socialization, I believe accumulated knowledge is the ultimate goal of primary and secondary education.
Tom Woods
State Assembly - District 2 (Retired)

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Brian Ashurst said...

Very reasonable response, agreed with much of it. There are basically two views of education: the utilitarian (What is best for the country) and the individual (How is this child's life going to be enriched). This is what is at the heart of the educational debate and I suppose the answer is a balance between the two. The Reiner initiative tilts the balance too far in the utilitarian direction at the expense of the child's natural way of growing. I went to school in England in the aftermath of a war and we had almost nothing, but we were happy because we were valued as individuals, not regimented by a national curriculum and driven by the demands of regular testing.
--Brian Ashurst

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Jim Rohrig said...

All this is good Diane and I’m supporting you all the way. Just to kick in my two cents. I think the issue that is maybe even bigger and often overlooked is that more and more students seem to lack the desire, drive, and motivation, (call it what you like), to learn. Whether it's a cultural stigma or lack of discipline or just plain laziness the problem is getting worse. I see kids wanting diplomas but not wanting to work for them. I see kids getting diplomas but not jobs because they can’t read (or speak) English. I see kids dropping out because they just don't care. I see educators and legislators making a high school diploma almost worthless and then wondering why the kids don't care. I'd like to see the day again when an education was deemed a privilege and respected.
It’s just human nature. There isn’t much value in something that’s just given to someone. The value comes in the effort or cost. Until this is resolved I think we can count on declining test scores and a declining society. Just one Dads opinion.
--Jim Rohrig

9:57 PM  
Anonymous Diane Davis said...

There are valid reasons, fiscal and otherwise, to oppose tax-supported, universal pre-school. One reason that I have yet to hear or see anyplace is that "one thing leads to another". Once universal pre-school becomes a reality, it will be only a matter of time before there will be a campaign to create a government boarding school system that all children will be required to attend. What better way for the forces of political correctness to force social change than to herd the children into government boarding schools and mold them into glorified robots.

6:11 AM  
Blogger Olaf said...

The Californa School Boards Association shot down a motion to support Propostion 82 because it harms our K-12 kids financially.
Proposition 82 is bad fiscally (taking money away from regular education while spending 2.4 billion to create a bureaucracy where 600 million would accomplish the same thing without it), ethically (placing the burden on a select and sufficiently taxed group), and morally (opening the door for the State to control children from age 4 or earlier).

Olaf Landsgaard
Trustee, Southern Kern Unified
Delegate of District 12, California
School Boards Association

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Tom Kiefer said...

The blindnesses and inadequacies of public education are coming more and more into the light, and yet the government answer always seems to be to add more and more of the same. If it's not working now, how will more of it work any better?

If it's broke, don't expand it; fit it.

An excellent book, BTW, that discusses this topic in great breadth and detail is Jane Healy's Endagered Minds, which can be perused at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0684856204/tgk-20/. A dense read, but worth it.

10:31 PM  
Blogger suzyrice said...

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2:10 AM  
Anonymous Vladimir Val Cymbal said...

I agree with the things you say (I think). Politicians have tendency for quantity of prose. I will just point out that immersion is the best way to assimilate newcomers into this country. At the age of nine, speaking no English, (except for “Good morning teacher”), and being in this country only three weeks, my parents enrolled me in PS122. I did not feel alone and isolated, on the contrary I was excited to mingle with the other kids. English came to me very quickly since I needed to learn it to be able to have fun with the other kids, even though mainly Czech was spoken at home and the various social events my parents dragged me to. Once a week for a period of time I went to a Czech school. This was so I would not forget how to read, write, and speak Czech. By being immersed into the workings of the United States, not only am I a better American, but by having to interact with people who not only spoke a different language but also had their own perspective on life in general made me, I believe, a better person. Had I gone to a bilingual school I might not have learned so quickly nor would I have learned to think as an American. Bilingual education would have been a monstrous disadvantage, as I would have ended up translating every conversation in my head.

Best Regards

Vladimir Val Cymbal

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Kata124 said...

I am soooo voting you superintendant.... when I'm 18 that is.

1:31 PM  

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