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 oppose HB 96 regarding taxpayer funded preschool
Date: Thu Feb 06 04:17:51 MST 2014
Since time is very short I can't craft individual letters, but I trust you will be interested in the perspective of a Clinical Mental Health Counselor on this issue:
We need to oppose the institutionalization of ever younger children for many reasons:
Research: The last 20 years of research on attachment of youngsters to primary caregivers shows that early maternal deprivation and high stress situations (such as separation anxiety) actually results in epigenetic changes to young brains. What changes? It creates a dearth of GR receptors which makes the uptake of cortisol and other "stress hormones" much less effective over a lifetime. What does this mean? These kids are much more easily upset and difficult to soothe because the GR receptors aren't present in large enough quantities to break down the cortisol. This is a recipe for more mental health problems, learning problems and problems with violence. The way to solve parental neglect is to educate and inform the PARENTS, not remove little children from their mommies.
Research: Every major study has found that early childhood education lacks enduring value cognitively and any gains which are made pretty much dissipate by the 3rd grade. Head Start has been a dismal failure on every major indicator and has cost the nation billions to learn this hard lesson.
Research: Every theory of child development and generations of research show that the most important tasks of the preschool years is NOT the accumulation of facts and "book knowledge". The child absolutely must have a foundation of trust in her primary caregiver (most often Mom), and autonomy (not being constrained by a group), and initiative (the ability to exert power in an environment-- not being dictated by a "program"). Without successfully mastering these tasks, the ability to master the academic and work tasks in school is seriously compromised.
Research: Children (especially young children) need to be treated as individuals by caring adults who advocate for them. Massing children into groups to be programmed into pre-planned "lessons" and activities denies these children the individual caring and attention they require for healthy development. Caring for many young children is inherently stressful and even if the state could afford a 2-1 student-teacher ratio, a paid caretaker can never replace the inherent love of a parent, grandparent or family member. Preschool is a poor substitute for parenting.
Please feel confident in knowing that the best course for Utah's young children is to stay in the primary care of Mom, Dad or extended family. If resources are to be spent, we should concentrate on teaching and training the parents to be the kind of Mom or Dad they know they can be. With that high leverage activity, we improve the lives of at least 2 people (Mom and child) or more rather than focusing just on one individual
Thank-you for understanding the inherent risks and harms of early childhood relational disruption commonly called "Early Child Education."
Joan R. Landes, ACMHC