Friday, May 13, 2005

Pre-K goes to conference committee.

Pre-K has now passed in both the House and Senate and will go to a conference committee to iron out the differences, back to each body for the expected "Ayes" and then on to the governor for his signature. Here are a few snips from local newspapers covering the issue.

Critics said the measure could eventually cost the state more than $200 million.

The Senate fought off a number of Republican-backed amendments that would have restricted the proposal and given private preschools more of the money.
He [Sen. David Fowler] said the program's own criteria calls simply for the teaching of such easy tasks as learning to use scissors and glue. The program is more about "baby-sitting" and was part of the state's efforts to "socialize" children, Fowler said. Knoville News Sentinal

I agree with Sen. Fowler. As I've said before, how is it that folks who've been mostly educated in the public school system cannot teach their own children the basics of colors, counting, matching and the proper use of scissors. All this sure comes across as an expansion of a system that has yet to provide a consistently successful track record.

[Clarksville's] Schools Director Sandra Husk said in March that if the district receives approval to operate preschool classes, $96,000 would have to be added to the school system's 2005-06 budget proposal for each class.

One main hurdle for the school district is finding available space for the classes, Wallace said.

"If we have the room, it's not going to be a huge impact on the budget," she said. "However, just because we apply does not mean we will be approved." Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle

Let's not overlook the fact that this $25 million from lottery funds is only the beginning. Local districts, already strapped for cash, will have to pony up also.

The administration is comfortable with the amendment, [which says that if there aren't enough 'at-risk' students non-at-risk children may be enrolled] said Patrick Smith, liaison to the governor's legislative office.

"We believe that it maintains the integrity of the program's high standards [with] a focus on serving at-risk children by allowing slots to be filled by other children when space is available," Smith said. Nashville City Paper
So, there may not even be enough at-risk students to fill classes? Then why create the program? I remember when all day kindergarten came to Nashville. The number of 'at-risk' 5 year olds was in the hundreds but for the sake of that small number all the children were compelled to leave their homes and spend the day away from moms and dads, g'mas and g'pas and private day cares that were, for the most part, doing a fine job caring for and training them.

So what about those at-risk three year olds? Are they next?

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