Letters to the Editor for Dec. 4, 2013

Written by Baker City Herald readers December 04, 2013 08:03 am

Preschool should be voluntary

With reference to Suzan Ellis Jones’ recent letter, I agree that establishing Early Learning Hubs in Baker is undesirable. As one of the few registered Libertarians around, I consider education — as well as healthcare — part of a belief system (religion) and as such protected under the First Amendment from federal intrusion. I consider compulsory education basically wrong. On the other hand, as someone once involved in founding a Montessori preschool when the concept was new in America and who is currently helping to send his grandchildren through preschool, I would like to promote the concept of modern preschool education which is voluntary and under parental direction.

Professional preschool education for children between the ages of 2 and 5 largely developed from the theories of European psychologists, particularly Jean Piaget and Maria Montessori. The general idea is:

1. Preschool children go through stages in development that vary widely in individual cases but follow in sequence, and are best addressed in a mixed age classroom;

2. Education is an active process in which the child is playing and adults are there to help them by providing play materials and options;

3. That there are two kinds of learning going on, social and individual:

• On the social side, language and morality is learned naturally through interaction, rather than by what we may try to instill

• On the individual side, while children cannot be taught abstract math and science directly at first, they are prepared for later learning through practicing motor skills encouraged by special learning materials provided

4. That early childhood is the most critical period to enhance an individual’s cognitive and social development.

What is happening now, for those who are fortunate to be able to afford it, is that these concepts are leading, seamlessly, into grade school and even high school education, usually under the rubric “Montessori.” 

The individual is driving his own education in his own direction after getting an early start. I think it more that anecdotal that the CEO’s of Google and Amazon.com received a Montessori education and didn’t feel the need to get a college degree. I also think that professional preschool facilities are largely lacking in Baker, and perhaps the county commissioners didn’t want to look a $50,000 gift horse in the mouth. 

The important thing is making preschool education based on the principles outlined above a priority in the overall budget. Full-day kindergarten can also be a vital step in that direction. 

Those who want to opt out of such programs for their children should be eligible for reimbursement or vouchers, to keep it entirely voluntary.

R. Mack Augenfeld is a Baker City resident. 

 

Early learning hubs all about feds supplanting parents

A notorious local liberal boasted in a recent letter to the editor that in “just a few minutes” he researched and rebutted the Oregon Republican Party’s stance on early learning by clicking just one link online. I’m not sure I’d brag about that. 

By contrast, the Baker County Republicans drafted and overwhelmingly voted for a resolution to join in the fight against early learning hubs, not on a whim, but after extensive research that included information from our State Attorney General, Rep. Cliff Bentz and other elected officials.

Early learning proponents don’t want parents to realize these hubs are Obamacare-spawned and designed as part of an enormous federal sweep to “bridge the gap between healthcare and education.” These hubs are far from innocuous one-stop-shops to help cut through government red tape, as seems to be the liberal talking point.

Hidden inside the “Affordable” Care Act is funding for these hubs. Obama wants several in every state. Funds are laundered through multiple agencies until their origin is obscured, but as with all federal dollars, these come with nasty strings attached, including the government “targeting all children” and visiting your home to analyze your child’s educational well-being. They include recommended hub placement of all children at infancy, and adherence to teaching methods for which parents and local instructors have little input, much like the big-government disaster that is Common Core. As for the money, the potential $50,000 grant wouldn’t even be managed in Baker County! And, the feds would have control of the thousands of match-funding tax dollars we’d be required to cough up locally.

I could list all the laws and departments that parents should research, but they’re too numerous to fit in this letter. Parents can go to www.BakerCountyRepublicans.com. In the news section, there is a full flow chart showing how everything ties together to make these hubs happen. Bigger government and increased socialism have no place inside our family units. It’s high time parents and our county commissioners not only “balked,” but fought hard, because the local hub issue is far from over.

Kerry McQuisten

Baker City