Today, it is unusual to hear anything said about early childhood education that doesn’t end with remarks about the good of the nation’s economy. This involves pushing young children to do better in school. I have written about this, in regard to other issues, even most recently in discussing the push to extend the school day and year, but today I want to focus on the nation-building language itself.
Certainly, a purpose of public schooling is the collective education of our young people. We should hope for a well-functioning, intellectual country. But many educators and parents share the belief, that, if, we focus on the child and their good, they will find their true purpose in the scheme of things. If we provide children with a rich curriculum, interesting and personalized (meaning looking at the individual and their needs and not just sticking them online), they will grow up to be good people and do great things. That is a much different motive.
Here are some examples of what I am talking about. While one can argue that portions of these quotes might imply good things for children, the real focus is on the economy and the nation, not so much the children.
If you look hard enough at the links and connections, you will find the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many of the usual groups and individuals that applaud the privatization of public education. Some of the titles and quotes are petitions, and most of the groups seek donations. Notice how all the comments refer to America’s success with a thriving economy. Click on the titles to see the link.
- Grow America Stronger with Quality Early Childhood Education.
- Children who receive quality early childhood education are 24% more likely to own a home resulting in billions in tax revenue and prosperous, stable communities.
- Early childhood education is a top priority for voters, second only to increasing jobs and economic growth.
- Strengthen families. Improve school readiness. Prevent the achievement gap. Reduce deficit spending. Grow the economy. Every day, the news shows that Americans are turning to early childhood education as a solution.
- 71% of voters want to spend now to get later economic gains from early childhood education.
- Economy. Every dollar invested in quality early childhood education for disadvantaged children delivers economic gains of 7-10 percent per year through increased school achievement, healthy behavior, and adult productivity. Quality early childhood education is a cost-efficient strategy for reducing deficits and promoting growth.
- ReadyNation members educate policymakers and the public to advance effective policies and programs that improve business competitiveness by helping children get a good start in life.
- ReadyNation’s 1,000+ members work to strengthen business and the economy through effective investments in children and youth.
- Build a Better Nation with Early Childhood Education.
- It’s a challenge to public and private partners, business leaders, philanthropists, advocates, elected officials and you. Build a better nation by expanding high-quality early childhood education programs for children from birth through age five. When we invest in them, we invest in us.
- Businesses, foundations, organizations, and state and local leaders have made significant investments in quality early childhood education. See what they’re doing to create better education, health and economic outcomes for children.
This is just a small number of statements. I’m sure as you read about school reform or review school reform websites there are many more statements like this.
Why must so many from business and politics emphasize the need for business success in order to justify education services for young children? The reason is because they want a return on their investment. This is the way they think…and what drives school reform. This is why testing is so important in their eyes.
How often do you hear these folks say, we need good early childhood education because young children deserve it? That would involve an entirely different motive requiring a whole different kind of mindset.