Subject: Oppose H.B. 96
Date: Fri Feb 07 17:45:33 MST 2014
I am asking you to vote NO on H.B. 96 Utah School Readiness Initiative.
Some of my concerns with this bill are as follows:
DWS involvement: I noticed the Department of Workforce Services is heavily involved in this process (line 110, 218, 283, etc). Why would the Department of Workforce Services be involved in a program for preschoolers? It seems we are tying education with the workforce, even in pre-k. This is troubling. Education is not meant only as a means to get a job, but that seems to be the singular focus in the current education dialogue and in the current legislation.
Data Tracking: This bill increases the amount of data collected on children at an earlier age (line 85-86, and throughout the entire bill). The State Longitudinal Data System is set up to identify students on an individual basis using a "statewide unique student identifier". Longitudinal data is used to continuously study a child over a long period of time. The data is classified as P20w, meaning preschool through grade 20 into the workforce (see above comments under DWS involvement). Many parents have legitimate concerns with this. Parents currently cannot opt out of this data tracking and it is a requirement in order to participate in this program (line 464-467).
Standardized Testing: This bill requires ongoing assessments on very young children (line 176-179), which will be shared with an independent evaluator (line 408-413). It also requires 3 and 4 year old children to take uniform tests (line 454). Early childhood development experts have said preschoolers are too young to be evaluated by standardized tests in part because they don’t have sufficient ability to comprehend assessment cues.
Young children learn best through play:An institutionalized setting for three to four year olds (with up to 20 children per class – line180-181) is not an effective place for children of that age to learn and grow. Will this preschool program be 5 days a week? How many hours a day? What kind of effect will that have on these children? I have experienced first-hand how frustrated a 3 year old can become when going to preschool only a couple hours a day twice a week. It was not because of the teacher (who was incredible, fun, loved her students and who provided many fun activities), it was not because of his lack of intelligence, it was because he simply was not ready and he became overwhelmed. I learned an important lesson: EARLIER IS NOT BETTER.
Cost: This program will be costly ($5 million) and many fear it will become compulsory for everyone, which will increase the cost and lead to more data collection.
Thank you for your consideration.