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Early Childhood Education: More Harm than Good?

July 11th, 2022

What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

Should we allow the government to further dictate education requirements to younger and younger ages? As Christian parents, we should always be aware of who is influencing our children, especially in their youngest ages. Over the years, many bills have been introduced in California with the intent of making kindergarten mandatory. Fortunately, none of these bills have passed. First grade is currently the start of compulsory education, but SB 70, which makes kindergarten mandatory in public schools, is still an active bill in this legislative session.

Why does the California legislature want to require kindergarten? Because they have a plan for your children! California actually has a Master Plan for Early Learning and Care. One of the expressed goals is to “Strengthen Learning and Care Opportunities for Infants, Toddlers, and Other Young Children.”[1] Making kindergarten mandatory is an incremental step towards making government-directed care required at even younger ages. This movement is also known as Early Childhood Education (ECE).

Government Knows Best?

In order to understand why such ideas are continually promoted, you must understand the worldview behind them. Some politicians firmly believe that the government knows what is best for people, and that the government, not parents, knows better and should be making decisions for children.

An example of this type of thinking was evident in Virginia’s last race for governor. As Joel Grewe from HSLDA says, “Former governor and current gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe was asked why he vetoed a bill that would have given parents input into the resources available to their children in school libraries. This is how he responded: ‘I’m not gonna let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decisions… I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.’ This is disturbing. We live in a world in which a major-party candidate in America can say on television that they should be in charge of your child’s education, and that you as the parent should not have input.”[2]

The COVID pandemic has exasperated this situation by providing an unrivaled opportunity for government regulation and oversight. A pattern of control has been established that politicians do not want to give up, ranging from people’s workplaces, social lives, and children’s education. While not everyone involved in the formulation and oversight of social and educational programs is malicious, there is a design at work. A motivation to control. These programs are part of a larger agenda (expressed in at least one way through California’s Master Plan for Early Learning and Care).

Politicians devoted to a big-government philosophy desire to have everyone under the oversight of some type of government program. But their basic philosophy is contrary to the founding principles of this great nation. The legislation they promote is simply based on the wrong premise. Government exists to “establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”[3] In short, government exists to protect your constitutional rights, not provide for your basic needs!

Read more about whether the government has authority over the family and church at www.fpmca.org/govtchurchfamily

Here are some examples of government programs that have already been implemented to oversee ECE:

  • Cradle to Career
  • Master Plan for Early Learning and Care
  • First 5 California

These ECE programs are heralded by many as being beneficial to all. However, a new study indicates that in the long run, such programs deliver the opposite, harming the very students they were designed to give advantage to.

Research Negates ECE

Researchers from Vanderbilt University conducted a long-term study following a group of 3,000 children in Tennessee from kindergarten through sixth grade. Their initial goal was to provide free, quality preschool for children whose families were below the poverty level. Their study then followed the academic careers of both students who were randomly selected to participate in the preschool program and those who were not. The students who participated in the preschool program received 5.5 hours a day of instructional time from teachers having a bachelor’s degree and early childhood education certification.

At the beginning of kindergarten, the group of students who attended the preschool performed better than the control group on all academic measures. However, the control group soon caught up and, by third grade, performed better on all academic measures than the preschool group. Additionally, by third grade, those in the preschool group were more likely to have been diagnosed with a learning disorder or violate school rules.

By sixth grade, the control group scored higher on all achievement tests (reading, math and science). In addition, the statistical differences were greater than they had been when the students were in third grade. The preschool group was also more likely to be diagnosed with a learning disorder or commit a major rule violation like fighting or bringing a weapon to school. Statistically, those in the preschool “group were 48% more likely to have committed a behavioral offense at school than those in the control group.”[4]

“So, the major findings of the study are that this expensive, carefully planned pre-K program caused, by 6th grade, reduced performance on all academic achievement tests, a sharp increase in learning disorders, and much more rule violation and behavioral offenses than occurred in the control group.”[5]

Other research over the years supports this idea. Lisa Snell wrote in reference to ECE legislative proposals, “Michigan is considering investing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year in a program whose benefits disappear by 3rd grade to solve education problems that come after the 3rd grade.”[6] In addition, the RAND Corporation reported in 2006 that a study of almost 7,900 students found that “full-day kindergarten programs may actually be detrimental to mathematics performance and nonacademic readiness skills.”[7]

Read our ECE Research Summaries at www.fpmca.org/ECE

More ECE Government Programs

Biden’s Build Back Better Framework pushes the ECE agenda forward and California legislators are salivating over the amounts of federal funding they will have access to.

The Framework will deliver the largest financial expenditure in childcare and early education in history. Part of the White House’s plan is to “Provide access to affordable childcare” and “provide universal, high-quality, free preschool for every 3- and 4-year old in America.”[8] This will definitely take a lot of funding!

And this is just one example of how big government seeks to insert itself into private family life. They say their plan will cover the families of 90% of young children in the state! That is incredible reach. That is incredible power.

Trust the Lord – Be Your Children’s Teacher

As Christians, we should not hand our children over to the influence of the state which has proved itself opposed to God’s values. As government pushes in and seeks to expand their authority over ever-increasing areas of our lives, we must stand firm. God has granted you the authority to train up your children. God will grant you the grace and the strength and the resources to train the children He has blessed you with.

It is critical to oppose bills such as SB 70. Even though SB 70 does not affect private homeschoolers as currently written, we must always be vigilant—looking for those next incremental steps. Left unchecked, government will keep marching forward, claiming more ground of your personal life. The government has their God-given right and good sphere of authority. Don’t let them encroach on yours!

Dr. Raymond Moore wrote, “What the child needs most to grow well is a warm one-to-one relationship with a parent (or parent figure) who is always there to comfort and guide him. During the first crucial eight years, home should be the child’s only nest and parents the teachers of their children.”[9]

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

Christian parents absolutely know what is best for their children. No parent is perfect, but a parent who diligently seeks the Lord and is devoted to raising their children according to the principles of the Bible is to be commended.

Trust the Lord to provide for you and your children. Whether your family is single income, low income or currently has no income—the Lord will be faithful to care for His own.

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26) “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)

Do not be intimidated by government “experts” telling you they know best—telling you that your child will not be successful without their government programs. The elite feel that they are entitled to make decisions for other people. This is the height of arrogance. The world will always stand in opposition to Christ. However, Scripture makes clear that the wisdom of this age is foolishness.

For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,”and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 1 Corinthians 3:19-20

[1] “California For All Kids.” Californiaforallkids.chhs.ca.gov, https://californiaforallkids.chhs.ca.gov/assets/pdfs/Master%20Plan%20for%20Early%20Learning%20and%20Care%20-%20Making%20California%20For%20All%20Kids%20(English).pdf, Accessed June 29. 2022.

[2] Grewe, Joel, et al. “The Dystopian Perspective Surrounding State Run Schools.” HSLDA Action, 1 Oct. 2021, https://hsldaaction.org/post/the-dystopian-perspective-surrounding-state-run-schools.

[3] “The Preamble.” Constitution Annotated, https://constitution.congress.gov/constitution/preamble, Accessed June 16, 2022.

[4] Gray, Peter. “Research Reveals Long-Term Harm of State Pre-K Program.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, January 31, 2022, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/202201/research-reveals-long-term-harm-state-pre-k-program.

[5] Gray, Peter. “Research Reveals Long-Term Harm of State Pre-K Program.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, January 31, 2022, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/202201/research-reveals-long-term-harm-state-pre-k-program.

[6] Lisa Snell, “Don’t Expect Long-term Gain from Early Education Money,” Michigan Education Report (Aug. 15, 2007) Para. 11. Available at https://www.mackinac.org/8835.

[7]Lisa Snell, “Don’t Expect Long-term Gain from Early Education Money,” Michigan Education Report (Aug. 15, 2007) Para. 11. Available at https://www.mackinac.org/8835.

[8] “The Build Back Better Framework Will Deliver for California,” Whitehouse.gov,  https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/California_BBB-State-Fact-Sheet.pdf, Accessed June 16, 2022.

[9] Raymond S. Moore, Ph.D., Better Late Than Early (1975)p. 3.