Thursday, June 29, 2006

Speaking of the education system:

First I want to tell Dennis I got a chuckle out of his post because I also give the cashier in these places the extra penny so I don’t get back unneeded change. I laughed because whenever I do I always wonder to myself if they know what I’m trying to achieve by giving them the penny. I do have to say Dennis that I have yet to experience what you did but the fact that I wonder every time if they’ll catch on says something about my faith in the people behind the counter.

Speaking of the education system, this weekend I had the pleasure of watching my son graduate from preschool. Now for the last 4 years I have sent my son to private school. The school is not connected to any religious institution and was actually a publicly traded company before it was bought out late last year.

My point is when watching my son and his classmates (15 in total) you can’t help but be amazed at their progress at this private institution at such an early age. They can recognize, pronounce and write the complete alphabet. They can spell and write their complete names and phone number. They can write all their numbers and count in English, Spanish and French. They also have been introduced to simple addition and subtraction.

They have been taught dozens of topics from how the weather works to the dinosaurs, including how they became extinct. They have been taught how to use a computer. They also have been taught proper manners, as my son says, “hold the door for the ladies”. They can also completely recite the Pledge of Allegiance (my personal favorite) and more.

Now my point is not to be a proud father, though I am, or to say my son is so smart. Frankly there are children in his class more advanced then he is. The goal is to compare my son’s school to that preschool program the city and Christine Quinn claim to be a huge success, Universal pre-k.

Now I’m not saying Ms. Quinn’s program isn’t a good idea or that the children don’t get something out of it but I wonder if after seeing my sons school if the taxpayers and parents who send their children to the city’s pre-k program could be getting more for their money. My wife and I have a friend whose son is the same age as ours who sent him to the Universal pre-k program. Her comments about the program are not that impressive with the best thing she can say about it being she now has some alone time during the day and he has had a chance for social interaction. The education portion has seemed to be left out. Further my son’s aunt who is a first grade teacher in the New York City school system has said after seeing my son that he is on the same level as some of the kids coming into her class.

Not satisfied with their comments I though I would do a little more research and came across a Universal pre-k newsletter sent to those involved in the program called “news flash”. In the programs own newsletter it bragged how:

“The children have learned various skills, such as identification of shapes and colors, cutting and gluing their own creations, and interpreting their environment”.

Cutting and gluing? Shapes and colors? Are you kidding me? My son was learning his shapes and colors in his private school when he was two not to mention at home. Are we supposed to be applauding that four year olds in Universal pre-k are learning the color blue?

Comparing the difference between what private school provides versus what public can provide is like comparing night and day. What’s really sad is what it costs the taxpayer for this level of education. Now my son’s school wasn’t cheap nor is the private kindergarten he’ll be going to in September but it’s less than what it costs for each public school student. This is why we need to continue the fight for school choice in the form of vouchers. Though I can afford to send my child to private school to get him the best education possible for his age there are families who don’t have that money but would love the chance to send them to a school that is actually teaching, then a school like Universal pre-k that is just growing vegetables. If New York wants to cut the budget they can start by paying private schools to do a better job at a lower cost, killing two birds with one stone.

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