A Slippery Slope of Education Regulation

Much has been said about the United States’ poor education system in international rankings and the ridiculous cost of college tuition. Now, the Department of Education is at it again, this time unveiling new guidelines for states to receive a total of $500 million to reform preschools.

Although Secretary of Education Arne Duncan swears we will not see 3-year olds filling in bubbles for standardized tests, there will be, “more observations necessary to evaluate programs and students and to improve instruction.” In other words, one way or another, the federal government will soon be playing a larger role in a preschool near you.

What concerns me most about this new initiative is that it will open the door to a slippery slope in which the government begins to raise a child more than the parents do. The White House website has already cited a statistic saying only 40% of 4-year olds are enrolled in preschool. If they are drawing attention to this now, it may only be a matter of years until preschool, or even earlier childhood education, is mandatory.

The White House also admits implementing this program will “make it easier for working parents to hold down a job,” because they will no longer have to care for the child themselves or find a daycare provider to do it for them. This, however, raises the question, “Why are we discussing the parents’ interests at all?” Education should always be designed solely to help children learn and develop in the most effective way possible. The real question is whether that is best accomplished by tearing them away from their parents at an ever decreasing age or allowing each family to individually assess their child’s needs. Don’t get me wrong — I absolutely loved preschool, but I think we should preserve the option for parents to enjoy a few precious years of bonding before their children have to worry about preparing themselves for a job decades down the road.

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