| July 1, 2011

Jenks Puts the ‘Early’ in Early Childhood Ed

Question: When has early childhood “education” officially gone off the rails?

Answer: When a public-school handbook feels the need to inform parents that students are placed on their backs to sleep so as to avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

As we ponder that reality from the Jenks Public Schools, let us review how we got here. Originally, Oklahoma’s state constitution required compulsory school attendance for children “between the ages of eight and sixteen years, for at least three months in the year.” The legislature later expanded the school year and lowered the age to seven, then to five. Today, an astonishing 71 percent of Oklahoma’s four-year-olds are in state-funded prekindergarten and, incredibly, 2,325 three-year-olds were in pre-K classrooms last year. One is reminded of the fire captain’s remark in Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451: “We’ve lowered the kindergarten age year after year until now we’re almost snatching them from the cradle.”

Almost? No, the Jenks Public Schools will gladly enroll your six-week-old scholar in an “education” program (6:30 AM to 6:00 PM if you like) whose “curriculum” encourages “language enrichment” and “problem solving.” Jenks schoolteachers also strongly emphasize “the development of language skills,” which is probably why they assure parents they are careful to wipe the students’ gums with a clean washcloth after feeding.

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