To: 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: HB 96
Date: Sun Feb 09 00:02:10 MST 2014
Please oppose the institutionalization of preschool children by voting no on HB96. While the sponsor of the legislation may be well-intentioned, I feel this idea is inappropriate.
First, I feel we need to support families first and foremost. We best serve children through supporting their parents and especially their mothers. While it may seem wise to some for the state to take responsibility for the education of small children, children are best served by staying in the primary care of their mothers and fathers. Not only that, much is to be gained from unstructured play and time spent outdoors experiencing the beauty of the world around us. Too much focus is placed on academics for small children. Too much time focused on electronics with small children is also detrimental. When I took my own child to visit his pediatrician, some of his advice included the following:
Limit screen time as it leads to shorter attention spans and less exercise.
Play games as a family.
Read books and sing songs together every day; take your children to story time at the library.
Be a good example.
Listen carefully to your child.
Your child may not want to be away from you or meet new people. This is normal at this age.
Talk about the things you see and hear together.
None of these things requires a preschool. All this requires is a loving parent.
Second, in reading Representative Hughes' update on this bill, I noticed it would extend to "economically disadvantaged" children who are at 185% of poverty level or below. I looked up the poverty level and this would include families with an annual income of up to $58,441 for a family of six. I found it interesting that the median Utah income in 2012 is listed at $57,049. For a family of eight then, it would include families with an income of up to $73,315. I respectfully submit that my family would fit in this income category since I have chosen to stay at home to care for my children and my husband is the sole breadwinner. Yet I would describe our children as anything but "economically disadvantaged." Representative Hughes' update stated that these children show a huge achievement gap. This is categorically untrue for my own children, all of whom have been early readers. All have been reading fluently before they turned five. I think this is an example of good intentions gone awry. Whenever we take responsibility from the people, it must be followed by a loss of liberty. Liberty and responsibility are inseparably intertwined. The role of the government is not to take the place of the family.
Please. Let's look for ways to make it easier for parents to care for their own children rather than usurping their responsibilities. Let's empower parents and support them in their efforts to raise happy, healthy children.