Putting our children at risk

One of Terry Branstad’s first actions as Iowa governor might be one that we will all regret in coming years.  He plans to cut state-paid pre-school for 4-year-olds, something that we just can’t afford to do.  Sure, it will save the state $65-70 million dollars a year, but with national test scores down from previous years, is that really a smart thing to do?

One argument for this cut, besides the obvious monetary aspect of it, is that children benefit from the same education they would receive from attending kindergarten.

I disagree.

A mother of four, a grandmother to six, I have seen first-hand how pre-school benefits young children. Children who are shy, socially inept or simply do not have the opportunity to be around other children might have a more difficult time fitting in than those who have the opportunity to scoialize at a younger age.  Being around other children their age help them learn how to share, how to sit still to hear a story or take direction, focus on school work and play fair with others.

Kindergarten may be the precursor to education but preschool teaches them how to interact with others. Take away the funding for that important part of integration into society and it could mean the difference between being a leader or being a wallflower.

Cut our funding for education and we might as well cut any chance of raising our national test scores. It may start with cutting state-paid pre-school, but what’s to stop politicians from cutting other much-needed programs from the budget, just to save a buck? 

There is also discussion of cutting the Just Eliminate Lies (JEL) program, a program which promotes the prevention of smoking for teens. We should be strengthening these types of  programs, not eliminating them.  Does anyone wonder why teen pregnancy has reached epidemic proportions or why drugs and alcohol are still hurting our children?

If Branstad wants to cut the budget, why not start with the outrageous salaries politicians on Capitol Hill are paying themselves?  I’m sure they wouldn’t mind pitching in and helping out for the good of our children’s future.

Maybe I’m living in the past but educating our children used to be a high priority of our leaders.  What happened to the concept that knowledge is power? It’s unfortunate that our leaders have forgotten what’s most important.

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