From: Wendy Hart
To: Francis Gibson, Lowry Snow, Patrice Arent, Richard Cunningham, Steve Eliason, Greg Hughes, Brad Last, David Lifferth, Daniel McCay, Carol Moss, Jim Nielson, Val Peterson, Marie Poulson, Kraig Powell, Dean Sanpei, Keven John Stratton,
Subject: Please vote NO oh HB96:Preschool, Unintended Consequences
Date: Thu Feb 06 15:03:41 MST 2014
Body:
Dear House Education Committee Members:

I would, respectfully, ask you to vote no on HB96: Preschool.  I appreciate the care and the concern displayed by the author of this bill, but there are some issues I would respectfully ask you to consider.

I would like to share a thought about the unintended consequences of a voluntary state program, aimed at helping parents with the upbringing of their children.  I have a child who was born with a disability and, therefore, qualified for Early Intervention and Pre-School programs via a state program. What you need to understand is that, although, these programs are, in fact, voluntary, the fact that the state is offering them, comes with a sense and an understanding of coercion.  Only the state has the ability to take away my parental rights.  As such, when I was provided with the 'opportunity' for assistance, it came with a very heavy concern that if I were not to avail myself of this assistance, there was the possibility that the custody of this child, and my others, as well, might be seen in a negative light.  Was it an indication of my failure as a parent if chose not to take advantage of the experts the state was willing to subsidize?  

To provide additional information, I am a college-educated, business owner and mother of three.  Additionally, my younger sibling has the same disability as my youngest child.  Therefore, I had real-world experience with this disability for nearly 3 decades prior to my daughter's birth.  As my husband and I debated whether or not to accept this offer of service, the issue was never about our ability to properly raise our child or our inability to do so.  It was strictly a strategic consideration of whether or not we stood a greater chance of falling under state scrutiny by refusing the assistance or by taking it.  As always, we, as individuals and private organizations need to be helping and serving our fellow human beings.  However, when you add the involvement of government, even on a voluntary basis, it adds a level of coercion that doesn't exist in a private or religious setting.  I would hate to see other parents faced with this same dilemma of fearing their state who wants to 'assist' with their parenting.

To quote Ronald Reagan, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"  I must respectfully agree, that despite our best intentions, this is the practical result of government involvement in these areas.

Additional concerns:
Public/private partnerships remove the accountability that naturally comes with a purely public enterprise (public discourse/debate, and elections) or a purely private enterprise (free market factors).
Pre-schools, such as HeadStart, do not have a track record of being able to make a long-term difference in people's lives.  Most pre school program benefits disappear by third-grade.  Those that are routinely touted are around 40 years old and targeted to a very specific group.  Those benefits have never been duplicated.
More research indicates less focus on academics for small children and more on play for proper development.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has concerns about small children working with videos and screens, as it may delay their development. 

In the end, a parent is the one who is most able to work with their own kid, regardless of socio-economic level.  Private groups and organizations should be the ones to offer whatever assistance is necessary.  The State of Utah will bring with its imprimatur the leverage of government coercion.

Sincerely,

Wendy Hart
Mother of 3
Business Owner