From: J. Egan
To: Francis Gibson,
Subject: Please oppose HB 96, Utah School Readiness Initiative
Date: Thu Feb 06 17:10:37 MST 2014
Body:
Dear Committee Member,

I am writing to ask you to oppose HB 96, the Utah School Readiness Initiative. While this bill sounds good, in that it would provide preschool for economically disadvantaged children, I believe it will not help them at all and that it will pave the way for future problems. For the first point, that it would not help the children, I want to point out that other such preschool programs for disadvantaged kids (such as Head Start), has not helped them at all - it may, in fact, only lead to peer orientation (looking to peers rather than adults for clues on how to behave), as these links show:

http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/head-start-tragic-waste-money
http://www.imfcanada.org/issues/nurturing-children-why-early-learning-does-not-help

What would help these children is to stay home with a parent. I know that for many of these children, that may not be economically possible, but since research has shown that it makes no difference for them to go to a preschool program, why waste the precious funds?

For the last point, I worry about data tracking that would start with these preschool students, were this bill implemented. An LEA eligible to receive this grant must have "a data system capacity to collect longitudinal academic outcome data, including special education use by student, by identifying each student with a statewide unique student identifier" (line 85). While I understand the need to collect data to determine if a program is helpful, only aggregate data should be collected - being able to identify the student individually means an invasion of privacy! This data would undoubtedly go to the   Common Core P20W database Utah has already established. 

Please oppose this bill. At the very best, it is useless and a waste of money. At its worst, it would pave the way for future data-tracking of students who are not at risk.

Thank you,

Jessica Egan, a concerned parent